said, that after the able and eloquent speech last night of the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, it was but natural for the House to suppose that some leading Member of the opposite side would have risen to reply to him. He waited for some time in expectation that this would be the case, and in moving the adjournment, he had been charged with standing between the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government and the House. He certainly should not have presumed to have got up at all had he known such would have been the case, and he thought it necessary to give this explanation, as he had been blamed, not only by friends, but by opponents. In resuming the discussion, he could not help observing that if they were to search for an illustration and a proof of the truth of the celebrated Swedish Chancellor's saying, "We are ignorant with how little wisdom the world is governed," it could no where be more readily found than in the conduct of the present Government in regard to their policy in Ireland. When he heard the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, and the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland defend the policy of the Government of Ireland, he could not help feeling that they were doing little more than splitting straws. He had listened with great surprise and equal attention to the speech of the right hon. Baronet. That it was all complaisance and mildness he was free to confess, but through all that speech of blandishments, it was very evident that in his heart was lurking the old principle of "Protestant ascendancy" and "No surrender." That speech would show to the people of Ireland that Ministers had never contemplated any measure whatever of effective concession and conciliation. He would not stop to enumerate the number of Repeal meetings held this year, and compare the number of people attending them with the numbers at the meetings in former years; but he would remind the 1002 House that there was a time when the Irish nation made their solemn renunciation of a Repeal of the Union—there was a time when there were no monster meetings, no meetings at all, save those of a few disinterested noblemen and gentlemen, who turned their backs upon the Lord Lieutenant, because he wished to govern the country in a spirit of fairness and impartiality. To use the expression of Mr. Hussey Burgh, Ireland was in a state of smothered war, and the Government of the country was transferred to three orders—the infantry, cavalry, and artillery. The right hon. Baronet called upon the House to stand by the principles of the Revolution. But he did not clearly understand what the right hon. Baronet meant by the expression. Certainly, he could not conceive any such principles to justify the proceedings of the Government. If the right hon. Baronet turned to Mr. Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution he would find the following passage:—Let us not confound all things which were done at the Revolution with the principles of the Revolution, as in most great changes many things were done from the necessities of the times, well or ill understood, from passion, or from vengeance, which were not only not agreeable to its principles, but in direct contradiction to them. In England, it was the struggle of the great body of the people for the establishment of their liberties against the efforts of a small faction. In Ireland, it was the establishment of the power of the smaller number, at the expense of the civil liberties and properties of the majority. It was not a Revolution, but a conquest, which is not to say a great deal in its favour. But to insist on everything done in Ireland at the Revolution is to insist on the severe and jealous feeling of a conqueror in the crude settlement of his new acquisition, as a permanent rule for future government.Such were Mr. Burke's sentiments with respect to the Revolution; and he wished that such reasoning was adopted and acted upon by the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, and the Government of Ireland would be very different from what it now was. There might have been Governments in Ireland more arbitrary and bloodthirsty than the present—for instance, those of Lord Strafford and Lord Buckinghamshire, but it was impossible that they could adduce an instance of any Administration that was more thoroughly inefficient for the government of a country than the present. Was he alone in this opinion? Indeed he was 1003 not; for during the last Session of Parliament the right hon. Gentleman the Recorder of Dublin (Mr. Shaw) maintained the same sentiments, though expressed, perhaps, in somewhat milder language. The right hon. and learned Gentleman maintained too, with great determination, and he was not alone in thinking so, that he was in the exclusive possession of religious truth. ["No, no."] Perhaps, then, the right hon. Gentleman would explain what he meant by saying that he and his party were in the exclusive possession of religious truth? Did he not say last night that he would sacrifice his life for that exclusive possession of religious truth which he and others held? The right hon. Baronet had a great capacity for all things; but this exclusive possession of religious truth was shared in common with him by some who gave rather a fuller explanation of their views than the right hon. Gentleman. He held in his hand a singular address, which illustrated this exclusive possession of religious truth, which was presented to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on the 14th of October last, from the "Dublin Protestant Operative Association and Reformation Society." The address was as follows:—May it please your Excellency, until idolatry is destroyed in Ireland the evils of this country will be perpetuated beyond the possibility of human remedy. … It follows, as an inevitable conclusion, that on us, the Protestants of Ireland, it rests, to destroy the idolatry that is in our country, and that on us accordingly the guilt of its prevalence will rest.In fine, we most humbly submit to your Excellency that what we want for Ireland is, laws which shall have for their end the abolition of Popery, for example:—An Act to withdraw all manner of support whatsoever from the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth, and from all other Roman Catholic educational institutions and ecclesiastical institutions at home and abroad.A law appointing a board of Commissioners to publish authoritative expositions of the errors of the Popish system, and answers to the attacks of its priests.A law to remove from the Legislature all persons who are disqualified by the nature of their principles from enacting laws of the kind which we have mentioned, that is to say, laws calculated to promote the spiritual interests of the people.It might have been expected, that to this address the Lord Lieutenant would decline returning any answer. He believed, that in 1829, the present Com- 1004 mander-in-Chief, then at the head of the Government, received an address from the Catholic Association, and the only answer that he gave to it was, that he had placed it in his tin box. Now he wished that the Lord Lieutenant had done so with respect to this address; but instead of this he returned the following answer:—Viceregal Lodge, Oct. 16, 1843.Sir,—I am directed by the Lord Lieutenant to acknowledge the receipt of you letter of the 14th instant, forwarding an address from the Dublin Protestant Operative Association; and his Excellency requests you to make known to the members of that association, who are parties to the address in question, his acknowledgement for this expression of their thanks for his conduct on a late occasion.—I have the honour to be, Sir, your very obedient servant,ARTHUR C. MAGENIS.William Compton Espy, esq., Secretary to the Dublin Protestant Operative AssociationThis was an admirable specimen of what was called the exclusive possession of religious truth in Ireland. It should be recollected, that it was from such a class as those who sent up this address, that the jurors had been selected to try men opposed to them in politics and religion. He came now to the conduct of the Government with regard to the late monster meetings in Ireland, and he must say that it appeared to him to be most extraordinary that, after watching them for several months, they almost encouraged them by not interfering, notwithstanding the Lord Chancellor declared several months ago, that he regarded those meetings but as preparations for rebellion; and this he reported in July, and that they then only acted at the very last moment, and that, too, with such precipitation. The exculpation offered by the Recorder of Dublin as to his conduct with respect to the jury list was at the expense of the High Sheriff, but his statement rested simply upon assertion, and he (Captain Bernal) was not satisfied with assertion when there was in existence au affidavit declaring that twenty-seven Catholic jurors had been omitted from the list, which affidavit had not been officially denied. [Mr. Shaw: I deny it. There is no such affidavit.] The right hon. Gentleman had not denied it on affidavit. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Home Department—so strong was his genius for conspiracy—had 1005 charged the traversers' counsel with a systematic attempt to provoke a breach of decorum, while the noble Secretary for the Colonies said, that the Attorney-general for Ireland had fallen into the trap laid for him. He (Captain Bernal) considered that such a trap existed nowhere but in the diseased imagination of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The Government had made but a poor defence of their law officers, their vindication resting upon the groundThat in the General's but a choleric word, Which in a Counsel were flat blasphemy.It appeared to him that the verdict of the jury had lost all moral effect, from the constitution of that body. The right hon. Baronet had announced the intention of the Government to propose an additional grant for education in Ireland. He would beg to refer to a recent appointment of Lord De Grey's, that of the very rev. Holt Waring to the Deanery of Dromore, with 1,500l. a year; and to show the qualifications of that gentleman for the promotion conferred upon him, he would give the House a description of some proceedings to which that rev, gentleman had been a party. It referred to an Orange meeting held at Hillsborough, in 1835. The account stated, that,—Shortly after eleven o'clock a tremendous shout from the town announced the approach of the first party. They were from Moira, and were headed by the rev. Holt Waring, who was drawn by the people. A flag, the Union Jack, was hoisted as the signal of their arrival. In a few minutes they were seen descending the steep hill from the town, and approaching the place of meeting, in a close, dark, and dense mass, comprising, certainly, not less than 20,000 persons. Having escorted Mr. Waring to the foot of the platform, they received his thanks, expressed in warm and energetic language; and having given three cheers (let the right hon. Baronet mark the next word), deployed around, and took the position assigned them.The report proceeds to state, that—Other 'battalions' arrived in regular order, and that the meeting comprised 'at least 75,000 persons.' At this meeting Mr. Waring made an inflammatory speech against the Catholics and National Education.Although this gentleman had been passed over by several successive Governments, it remained for Lord De Grey to promote him to this piece of preferment. The same observation applied to his Ex- 1006 cellency's thirty-nine chaplains (an unprecedented number), who, with two exceptions, are hostile to the Board, and who embrace every shade of theological opinion, high Church and low; and are agreed only in opposition to the National System of Education in Ireland. An additional grant for National Education! Why, this was trying National Education as the so called conspirators were tried, by a jury which was opposed to them. It was seldom that the right hon. Baronet betrayed his real sentiments, but in 1839 he said with great candour, that Ireland was his great difficulty. Well, what amount of difficulty did the right hon. Gentleman desire? Was he not satisfied with having rekindled religious animosity in that country—with having set sect against sect? He called upon the right hon. Gentleman to state what more difficulty he wished for. Did he mean to wait till the country was deluged with blood? He called upon the right hon. Gentleman to state, as he ought to have done last night, in answer to the noble Lord, what more he required. He regretted the apathy of the English people towards Ireland, but hoped, that if a sense of justice did not rouse them, a sense of self-interest would. The same scenes which were now rehearsing in Ireland might be enacted in England—"Jam proximus ardet Ucalegon." It was not the disposition that was wanting, but the opportunity. If the hon. Gentleman against whom the recent proceedings had been mainly directed had fawned upon power, or flattered its possessors, he might have received high eulogiums from the high and the great; but he would have been a bye word and a scorn to the people, whose admiration, respect, and confidence he now possessed. If the Government would secure peace in Ireland, they must rule the country according to Irish notions—nay, according to Irish prejudices, and above all must cherish the Catholic religion as a good, and not tolerate it as an evil. He would conclude with repeating the words of a great man, now no more:—I say the present Ministers of this country cannot govern Ireland in England; the loss of a nation's good will is synonymous with the loss of reputation. After an experience of years, your country, taking an impartial survey of all your offences, perhaps in the prodigality of mercy, may forgive, but surely she can never trust you.
§ Mr. Disraeli
said, that after the course he had taken last year it would be altogether unworthy if, on the present occasion, he were to shrink from expressing without reserve the views which he had taken on the general question before the House. He would, in the first place, remark upon an observation made by the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland. The noble Lord had repeated what he believed to be an historical error of the greatest importance in allusion to a fact a right appreciation of which would, he imagined, throw great light upon the subject, and facilitate the solution of this great political problem,—he meant the right government of Ireland. The noble Lord had mentioned, that the grievances of Ireland had existed for more than 300 years, referring to the introduction of the Reformed Religion into that country. The right hon. and learned Member for Devonport, while he equally with the noble Lord had avowed his conviction in the truth of Protestant principles, had alluded to the same circumstance. The natural inference was, that between the introduction of these Protestant principles, and the misgovernment of Ireland there was a necessary and an irresistible connection. If he were to refer to a period of the history of Ireland when the government of that country had approached nearer to the character which the hon. Gentlemen opposite desired, it would be a period by no means so distant as that to which the noble Lord referred. He would take a period only 200 years past—the period immediately preceding the breaking out of the civil war. At that period there was a Parliament in Dublin called by a Protestant King, presided over by a Protestant Viceroy, and at that moment there was a Protestant Established Church in Ireland; yet the majority of the Members of that Parliament were Roman Catholics. The Government was at that time carried on by a Council of State, presided over by a Protestant Deputy, yet many of the members of that council were Roman Catholics. The municipalities were then full of Roman Catholics. Several of the sheriffs also were Roman Catholics, and a very considerable number of magistrates were Roman Catholics. It was, therefore, very evident that it was not the necessary consequence of English connection—of a Protestant Monarchy, or even of a Protestant Church—that this embittered feeling at present existed; nor 1008 that that system of exclusion, which either in form or spirit had so long existed, was the consequence of Protestantism. Since the last discussion upon this subject in the House, a very curious and authentic work had been published, which threw important light on the political and social condition of the people of Ireland at that period. This was the journal of Sir William Brereton, an English Baronet, a great Puritan leader, afterwards second in command under Fairfax. He visited Ireland in 1636, a few years before the general Rebellion. He had given them an account of the social and political features of Ireland under a Protestant Monarch and under a Protestant Establishment, and which exhibited the most perfect civil and political equality, the government of the country being in general carried on by Roman Catholic subjects. The Oath of Supremacy, the only penal enactment, was then never called for, and this by the special desire of the King. Every corporation was open; and it was mentioned that the author had seen a Protestant Judge of Assize carried to his church by the Popish Mayor of Wexford, who was then carried himself to the Mass-house. He mentioned this to show that to attribute the present condition of Ireland to the consequence of Protestantism was an error. Its condition was to be traced, not to Protestantism, but to Puritanism. It was the consequence of that stern system which in this country had destroyed those institutions which they were now all banded together to support. He knew that it might be said that this social state, which they wished to see revived in Ireland, was immediately followed by the Irish Rebellion. A rebellion against what? Against a Parliament rebelling themselves against their King. That Rebellion in Ireland had led to the establishment of a Government of an essentially national character—the Convention of Kilkenny, a body with whom the King of England had been more than once in treaty. The King of England, through Glamorgan, afterwards the famous Marquess of Worcester, had entered into a Treaty for the settlement of Ireland with the Convention of Kilkenny, in the secret articles of which were laid down the principles upon which the pacification of Ireland was then to take place. The secret articles of that Treaty were merely that the Roman Catholics should enjoy the same civil and political equality 1009 which they had done previously to the breaking out of the civil war,—that was, that they should not be called on to take the oaths of supremacy; and, with reference to the Protestant Church, that there should be a recognized equality between the two Churches. These were the articles which Charles I., by his word of honour had ratified. It would then be seen that it was not the necessary consequence of their political opinions—it was not a necessary quality of what was called "Toryism," that they should look upon the Irish people as strangers to them either in interest or affection; on the contrary, the system of exclusion had been fostered not by the Tory party—they had not invented the Penal Code. All he meant by stating these circumstances was, that they should rescue the Conservative party from the untenable position in which hon. Gentlemen supposed it had been placed—that it was part of the heir-loom of their political connection to look with jealousy on Ireland; on the contrary, they were the natural allies of the Irish people. What! did the noble Lord deny this? Was it the Tory party that had introduced the Penal Code? It was not the Tory party that had made a factitious aristocracy out of the plunder of the Church. The Penal Code was introduced, and at the same time a new spirit had been infused into what was called the Protestant Church of Ireland—a puritanic spirit, and from that moment the Church of Ireland had lost all its influence, and then those unfortunate consequences which had ensued had their origin. He hoped he might be permitted to refer to a vote which he had given last Session. He did so, not for a moment supposing that anything he individually did would be of interest to the House, but because it was important to all that the legitimate character of party connection should be understood. He had never concealed it, but, on the contrary, had always frankly avowed that he was a party man. He did not consider, as some hon. Gentlemen seemed to consider, that party connection was an unfortunate or corrupt practice. He thought that it was the duty of a Member of that House to be a party man. It was a natural and necessary homage to the genius of our Parliamentary constitution. But if they followed a leader, the leader should be prepared to lead. Now, he did not wish captiously to advert to the conduct of any gentleman 1010 upon the Treasury Benches; and he should be particularly sorry to make any animadversions upon the conduct of the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government; but as the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House had reminded them, and of which, by the way, they had been so frequently reminded, that it had become a great historical aphorism, that Ireland was to be the great difficulty of the Minister—now, that was an opinion in which he had never shared. He never believed that Ireland would be a great difficulty, because he felt certain that a Minister of great ability and of great power would, when he found himself at the head of a great majority, settle that question. He (Mr. Disraeli) believed it then; he believed it still. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman would settle the question. For nearly two years after the accession of the right hon. Gentleman to power there was a lull in Irish affairs; and he (Mr. Disraeli) was glad to find it so. He knew very well, when the Irish question was again brought forward, a dissolution of all party on that subject must necessarily occur. It was the inevitable consequence of the circumstances under which the right hon. Gentleman had entered office, and to which he (Mr. Disraeli) would not now more particularly advert, because he had on another occasion clearly placed them before the House, and because he was ever disinclined to make captious comments on the conduct of the Government. That dissolution of party ties on the Irish question was, however, a fact, an inevitable consequence; he need not expatiate upon it, because the right hon. Gentleman, in reply to those very comments which he (Mr. Disraeli) had ventured to make last year, had instantly admitted that Ireland was no longer a party question. That was the greatest admission ever made by a Minister. Finding, then, last year, that Ireland was not a party question, forced to give an opinion on Irish affairs, Ireland being in a state of convulsive turbulence, he felt it his duty then to express his opinion that the Government should arrest that sedition—should, in fact, govern the country; and that they should make up their minds at last to recognize and remedy the cause of that disturbance. It had been urged that Government was watching events, that a resolution required time. Now, he (Mr. Disraeli) would never have presumed 1011 to criticise the conduct of a Government in a position of such difficulty, if they had only announced that they were merely watching events, and were prepared to take steps when they deemed that circumstances were ripe; but was that so? Was there not evidence of distracted councils? Was not one opinion given in one House of Parliament, and a contrary opinion given in another? Then, the question not being a party question, he was justified in giving an opinion—an opinion that the turbulence should be put down, and the causes of the turbulence removed. And the subsequent conduct of the Government justified his course. They had put down the turbulence, and they began to talk of the necessity of inquiring into its causes. He conceived, then, in the course he had adopted he was justified. And now, what remedy had they for the causes of this turbulence? Was it as complete or as comprehensive as he desired? Perhaps he might again subject himself to the imputation of new-born zeal for Ireland. Now, zeal was a quality so rare in that House, and he feared in this age and country, that the imputation of new-born zeal was not one that could be very overwhelming. He wished that everybody was equally regenerate. But he entertained no opinions with respect to Ireland other than those he had always held. The right hon. Baronet, indeed, had mentioned, that in opposition he had no recollection of hearing any demurs from him (Mr. Disraeli) on their Irish policy. Now, the only legitimate occasion on which he could express his opinion as to the principles on which the Irish Government should be carried on, was on the municipal corporations. On that subject, he, with great reluctance, had not only voted against the counsel of the right hon. Baronet, but, knowing, that the division might place him with Gentlemen for whom he entertained a most entire respect, but from whom he entirely differed on the subject of the Irish Government, he thought it best, painful as was the effort, not only to vote but to speak. That was the time when "justice to Ireland "was raised as a great party cry in this country. The author, or rather the reviver of that cry, was in the House, and would contradict him were he in error. Justice to Ireland was then said to mean, an identity of institutions with England. He believed that to be the 1012 greatest fallacy that could be brought forward. He always thought that the greatest cause of misery in Ireland was the identity of institutions with England. Surely we had given them similar institutions more than enough. How could people ask for an identity of institutions when the very primary and most important institution of all—the union of Church and State—was opposed by the Irish people? When the subject of Municipal Corporations was before the House, he expressed these opinions. He said, that instead of having an identity of institutions they should get rid of all those English institutions which they had forced upon that country. He then asked the House whether those forced establishments, those mimetic corporations, those jobbing grand juries, those imitative benches of English magistrates, could be expected to produce beneficial results, and he ventured to lay down as a principle, that the Government of Ireland should be on a system the reverse of England, and should be centralized; that they should have a strong executive and an impartial administration. He begged distinctly to say, that he had never changed his principles on Irish policy or in any other respect. He said this without reservation—at no time, at no place, under no circumstances, had he ever professed any other principles than those he now maintained. They were Tory principles, the natural principles of the democracy of England. They might not be the principles of those consistent Gentlemen whose fathers had bled in England for Charles I., and who now would support in Ireland the tyranny established by Oliver Cromwell. They certainly were not the Tory principles of those who would associate Toryism with restricted commerce and with a continual assault on the liberty of the subject. But they were Tory principles, such as he found them in the pages of eminent writers; such as they were practised, at happy epochs in the history of this country, by eminent statesmen. They might be opinions now very feebly advocated, feebly supported in that House, ill understood at this moment in the country; but they were principles which had made the country great, and which be believed could alone keep the country great. He gave the noble Lord opposite, who laughed, every credit for his principles, because they also were principles with 1013 an ascertained and avowed object; they were Whig principles—the natural principles of the aristocracy of the country. He opposed them, but he respected them; they had produced great men and great deeds. Whether or no, there were, as they were told, a happy via media between Whigism and Toryism, the principles of which were not so apparent, time perhaps might prove. He was content to tread in the old path, the natural way, he repeated, of the democracy of England. He had no idea, that the Tory party should be always regarded as the tyrants of Ireland; he had no idea, that they should be looked upon as those who had treated the Irish as serfs and slaves, the authors of their confiscations and of their penal laws. It was not so. Let them forget two centuries of political conduct for which Toryism was not responsible; let them recur to the benignant policy of Charles I.; then they might settle Ireland with honour to themselves, with kindness to the people, and with safety to the realm. At every period, when Tory politics and Tory statesmen had succeeded in breaking through the powerful trammels of Whig policy, they would invariably observe, that there had been a hope for Ireland, a streak of light observable in its gloomy horizon. Did not Mr. Pitt, the last of Tory statesmen, propose measures for the settlement of Ireland, which, had they been agreed to by Parliament, would have saved Ireland from her present condition? They would have had the Roman Catholics of Ireland emancipated at a very early period, and they would have had the Church question, too, settled at a very early period; and it would, in his mind, still be settled at a very early period; and it would be settled, he had no doubt, upon principles analogous to those which were laid down by a great statesman in 1636. If they wanted permanently to settle Irish affairs with credit to themselves, and to the satisfaction of the Irish people themselves, they must reconstruct the social system of that country; and they must commence by organizing a very comprehensive and pervading executive. When they had done this and got the administration of justice into their hands, they would perhaps find a less necessity for legislation for Ireland than had been considered requisite. With regard to the proposal of the noble Lord, if the noble 1014 Lord or any other hon. Member came forward with a comprehensive plan which would certainly settle the question of Ireland, no matter what the sacrifice might be, he (Mr. Disraeli) would support it, though he might afterwards feel it necessary to retire from Parliament, or to place his seat again at the disposal of his constituency. But he confessed he had no apprehension of that; he had the honour to represent the oldest Tory constituency in the country, and he had already succeeded in weeding from their minds some most inveterate Whig prejudices. Last year for example, when he was told that he had lost his seat because he had supported the right hon. Gentleman's tariff, he went down to see his friends in the country, and explained the history of England to them; and he could assure the House that after that they took the most enlightened views upon the subject, and were proud to recur to old Tory principles of commerce. That reminded him that he did not at all understand the new morality of the House of Commons, when Gentlemen said—"It is extremely desirable to do so and so; but it is so very difficult; and then there are prejudices—what are we to do against prejudices?" Why, everything great was difficult. In 1832, when everybody said, that the right hon. Gentleman's party was smashed, and that he was a doomed man, it was thought that nothing could be more difficult than to reconstruct the right hon. Gentleman's party. But the right hon. Gentleman looked about him and set to work like a man. Well, there was a difficult thing, a very difficult thing, to reconstruct a Conservative party after a revolution; but it was done, and done well. But there were prejudices to be removed, too, in that case—the prejudices of very eminent personages; but that was done too, with time and resolution; and there sat the right hon. Baronet at that moment, with a Secretary of State on each side of him, whose prejudices he had succeeded most effectually in removing. They were Colleagues of whom the right hon. Gentleman might well be proud, and it was a most encouraging circumstance, that he should have succeeded so readily in removing prejudices. He did not think it was more difficult to reconstruct the social system of Ireland than to reconstruct a party destroyed by a revolution; nor did he think it a more arduous task to remove the prejudices of those who thought 1015 very little upon a subject than of those who thought a great deal. He must protest against that false and cowardly delicacy which prevented Gentlemen from advancing questions which they deemed of paramount importance, lest they should offend existing prejudices. He thought it was the duty of every Member of that House, if he had a great truth to advance, that he should face prejudice; doubly was it the duty of every Member who was the leader, of a party; and trebly of him who was at once both the leader of a party and the Minister of the Crown. He had no doubt, if the right hon. Baronet brought forward any proposition which would settle a great question, and would appeal to the people of this country, that he would be supported. All the right hon. Baronet would have to do would be, what public men did not seem to think they had the power of doing, to create public opinion instead of following it; to lead the public instead of always lagging after and watching others. They heard a great deal of Reform Associations, of Anti-corn Law Leagues, Roman Catholic and Repeal Associations, Birmingham Unions, and other combinations of that kind; now, those things were merely the consequence of the people taking the Government of the country into their own hands, because the Government would not administer matters themselves. Opinions were afloat, the public mind was agitated, and no one who was in authority came forward to lead the people; as the natural consequence of such neglect they coalesced together and carried their own crude notions into effect; because nothing was clearer than this—that if the Government did not lead the people the people would drive the Government. The time was gone by when a Minister could with safety substitute the fulfilment of the duties of office for the performance of the functions of Government. With regard to the immediate question before the House, he (Mr. Disraeli) could not vote for the noble Lord, for this most explicit and frank reason—that he did not see that the noble Lord offered more than Her Majesty's Ministers. They offered a great deal for them, for men who did not pretend to offer much. But for the noble Lord who made a most spirited and animated speech, and in that truly heroic vein which always distinguished him when fighting against odds—what did he offer? The noble Lord offered a little thing in a 1016 great way. That was not what he wished. He wanted to see a public man come forward and say what the Irish question was. One said it was a physical question; another, a spiritual. Now, it was the absence of the aristocracy; then the absence of railroads. It was the Pope one day; potatoes the next. Let them consider Ireland as they would any other country similarly situated, in their closets. Then they would see a teeming population, which with reference to the cultivated soil, was denser to the square mile than that of China; created solely by agriculture, with none of those sources of wealth which are developed with civilization; and sustained consequently upon the lowest conceivable diet, so that in case of failure they had no other means of subsistence upon which they could fall back. That dense population in extreme distress inhabited an island where there was an established church which was not their church; and a territorial aristocracy, the richest of whom lived in distant capitals. Thus they had a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien Church, and, in addition, the weakest executive in the world. That was the Irish question. Well, then, what would hon. Gentlemen say if they were reading of a country in that position? They would say at once, "The remedy is revolution." But the Irish could not have a revolution; and why? Because Ireland was connected with another and a more powerful country. Then what was the consequence? The connexion with England thus became the cause of the present state of Ireland. If the connexion with England prevented a revolution, and a revolution were the only remedy, England logically was in the odious position of being the cause of all the misery in Ireland. What then, was the duty of an English Minister? To effect by his policy all those changes which a revolution would do by force. That was the Irish question in its integrity. It was quite evident to effect that we must have an executive in Ireland which should bear a much nearer relation to the leading classes and characters of the country than it did at present. There must be a much more comprehensive executive, and, then, having produced order, the rest was a question of time. There was no possible way by which the physical condition of the people could be improved by act of Parliament. The moment they had a strong executive, a just 1017 administration, and ecclesiastical equality, they would have order in Ireland, and the improvement of the physical condition of the people would follow—not very rapidly, perhaps, and they must not flatter themselves that it would—but what were fifty years even in the history of a nation? But he would say, if these recommendations were adopted, that in fifty years hence the men who should succeed the present generation in Parliament would find the people of Ireland a contented and thriving peasantry. He did not believe that this object would be carried by the personage whom the hon. Member for Belfast called Louis Philippe, meaning, he supposed, the King of France. He looked to no foreign, no illegitimate influences for bringing about that result—not to the passions of the Irish people, not to the machinations of their demagogues, not to the intrigues of distant nations, but to a power far more influential, far more benignant—a power more recently risen in the world, not yet sufficiently recognized—[Mr. Ward: "What Young England?"]—No, not Young England, but a power which young England respects—that irresistible law of our modern civilization which has decreed that the system which cannot bear discussion is doomed.
§ Mr. Ward
observed, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had made a most ingenious speech, which he could not pretend to follow, for the House had nothing to do with the hon. Member's regrets for occasional differences with his leaders, or with his definition of the old Tory principles. It was enough for them to deal with Tory principles as they found them. Another reason for not following the hon. Gentleman was, that he did not pretend to understand that which was unintelligible. He was in the habit of saying exactly what he meant, and he never was ashamed of his want of power of comprehension, when shared, as it must be in this instance, by a large number of those who sat around him. He would not, therefore, go into the singular theories propounded by the hon. Gentleman, or pretend to reconcile the hopes that he entertained of the speedy settlement of the Irish question, with the recent declarations made by his leaders. The hon. Member talked of an equality to be established, by some unexplained means, between the two Churches of Ireland, yet the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of 1018 State for the Home Department, had told them, that they had nothing to expect, since the one Church was to be maintained in all its integrity. The hon. Gentleman had referred them to 1636, as a time when Protestants and Catholics lived together in harmony, until disturbed by the rebellion of 1641, not against the Protestant King, but against his rebellious Parliament. Why, that very rebellion was caused by the confiscation of the Northern provinces of Ireland, on the plea of religion, by James I., and the ejection of the native population. He would, however, leave the theories of the hon. Gentleman, and come to the Motion of his noble Friend near him, though it was a fruitless, and even somewhat invidious task for a Member of the Minority to take part in such a debate as this, knowing that it must lead to a foregone conclusion. From the moment that right hon. Gentleman opposite had patched up their differences with their agricultural supporters, however good might be the Motion, and however irresistible the arguments by which it was supported, the struggle became hopeless, and the result inevitable. Gentlemen opposite had signed and sealed a formal compact, which delivered the country into the hands of the Ministry for the next three years. But a man must not shrink from expressing his opinions, because they were not palatable to the House of Commons. The tribunal they had to appeal to, was public opinion, and the only way for a Minority to triumph, was to keep those opinions, which they believed and felt to be true, constantly before the public. In the present instance, if "words were things," as Lord Byron said they ought to be, there was no substantial difference between the two sides of the House, as to their objects. There was, apparently, a perfect unanimity of feeling between them. The Member for Cavan told them, that his object was "present peace and future security." "Domestic peace was the one thing wanted," said the Recorder of Dublin, and his hon. Friend, the Member for Waterford, agreed with him, that all private, and personal, and party feeling, ought to be offered up on the altar of their country. The Secretary for the Home Department assured them, that there was not the slightest idea of holding Ireland permanently by means of military occupation;—that a hold must be gained upon the affec- 1019 tions of the Irish people. These were very pretty phrases, but he liked facts better than phrases, and when he looked to facts, he found that Ireland now, and for some time back, had been held neither by good feeling, nor affection, but by a new law of conspiracy, and by military occupation. They had 21,000 soldiers in Ireland, instead of 14,000, which they had six years ago. There was not the slightest chance that Lord de Grey could do that, with the increased military force, which Lord Fortescue was able to do with the smaller force, namely, to spare four, or five, regiments if wanted, for the suppression of disturbances in other parts of the Empire. They had, too, a fleet on the coast of Ireland—it was not a commercial fleet—it was not one that indicated an increase in the trade, or an addition to the commerce of Ireland; no, but it was one which proclaimed to all Europe, that they could not trust their Irish subjects. The Right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had said, last year, that the state of Ireland, was most perilous,—that it affected their position in the scale of nations—and yet, after six months additional consideration, they had a Government unable to suggest any remedy. But then they were told not to fear for there were remedies—both prospective and immediate. The immediate remedies they all knew of;—they were Barracks, Steamers, Garrisons in every part of the country, and military communications kept up between them. They had, too, the conviction of the hon. Member for Cork, obtained, to say the least of it, under very questionable circumstances. No man had been more opposed to the hon. and learned Member for Cork on one question than himself. No one had more strongly expressed his opinion in opposition to that learned Member; but, at the same time he could not but see that the hon. Gentleman had been made the victim of a law, of the very existence of which no man was aware until the termination of the Irish trials. He had read the whole of that trial. He had read the indictment, the speeches, the charge of Chief Justice Pennefather, and he could only say, that if the law laid down on that occasion, were the Law of England, there was not a single man, he cared not on which side of the House he sat, who had taken an active part in the settlement of great questions, during the 1020 last ten years, who was not clearly, and unequivocally, a Conspirator. He did not see how any men out of that House could express an opinion upon any public question without coming under some one of the Counts in the Irish indictment. He was quite sure of this, that under every one of them the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, and the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, might have been tried and convicted. Those individuals, because they had changed sides in that House, ought not to forget the part which they had acted on a former occasion. The right hon. Gentleman ought not to forget the struggle for the Reform Bill. He had no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman had conceived that a great National object was then to be gained, and that every thing might be risked by those who took part in obtaining it. But, might not a similar feeling actuate Irish Members, and the Irish people, when refused by that House the redress of admitted grievances? There could be no doubt, that the Reform Bill was carried by means, which might be regarded as next door to a Revolution. His noble Friend, near him (Lord John Russell) had seemed so to consider it, when he used the expression, that "the country could not bear a revolution every year." In that Revolution the right hon. Baronet, and the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) had borne a conspicuous part, and there was not the least doubt that, in 1831, they might have been indicted for "promoting discontent and dissatisfaction amongst different classes of the King's subjects"—for it would not matter, whether they were Whigs or Tories, or Englishmen or Irishmen. The Indictment against Mr. O'Connell would have included every step taken for two years by the party that carried the Reform Bill. The right hon. Baronet might tell him that, he was at that time a Member of His Majesty's Government, and that a Minister, bringing forward a great Public Measure, could not reasonably be called a Conspirator. But let not the right hon. Baronet forget the interregnum of 1832. Let him not forget what had occurred at the time Lord Lyndhurst had been sent for by His Majesty, to form a Conservative Ministry. Above all, let not the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, pretend to forget the part, which he had taken on that occasion. Never, he believed, in the annals of the country, 1021 had stronger words been used by any public man, than those employed at that crisis by the noble Lord. Let, he said, the noble Lord remember his words at the meeting at Brookes's, when there were three hundred Members present; when the noble Lord said distinctly—it was public, it was notorious at the time—The King might choose a new Ministry; but Lord Grey's Government had done its duty, in bringing forward the Reform Bill, and now he left the Duke of Wellington to take, if he pleased, place and infamy.And, when these things had been done by the Gentlemen now in power, within the recollection of everybody, were they to talk of "convicted conspirators," or to hold up their hands in horror when they heard of others who had been found guilty of a "conspiracy," forgetting that there was not, according to the new Irish law, a man amongst them, who was not a conspirator, who had taken part at a public meeting to carry the Reform Bill? If, every thing they had done for months had been lumped together in 1832, and if with their own acts they had been made responsible for what others had said and done and written, at a time of universal excitement and agitation, then there was not one man there who was not a conspirator. The noble Lord who had told the Duke of Wellington "he might, if he pleased, take place and infamy," was clearly a conspirator, and he did not think that the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department would be in a better situation. They had heard in that House from the present Member for Birmingham, that when the deputation from Birmingham came to London after one of their monster meetings, which helped to raise them to power, they were much gratified with the result of the interview they had with the right hon. Gentleman, who was now the peculiar guardian of the law and peace of this country. And yet that right hon. Gentleman had the other night, with a vehemence which he thought he must in cooler moments regret, denounced the conduct of Mr. O'Connell; he had refused to concur in the just, and generous, eulogium, which the noble Lord the Member for London had pronounced upon that Gentleman. For what had been Mr. O'Connell's conduct in 1836, 1838, and 1842? In one of these years Mr. O'Connell had risked his popularity, and even his life, in the stand he made against 1022 the Dublin Combinators; whilst in the others, every man acquainted with the condition of the Manufacturing districts, must know that if Mr. O'Connell had raised his little finger, the Chartists would have been joined by the whole of the Irish population in those districts. That population had been kept quiet solely by the influence of Mr. O'Connell. There was no one could deny that he had done great service on that occasion, and yet the right hon. Gentleman had construed it into a proof that there had been a more deep-laid conspiracy than they had anticipated. The right hon. Gentleman was, he thought, the very last man in that House who should hold such language; particularly when he looked to 1831, and remembered that he was himself brought into power upon the shoulders of Mr. Attwood; and had once admitted, in answer to the noble Lord near him, that his conduct as a member of the voting party at that time, went to the very verge of legality. The right hon. Gentleman had, to be sure, been very cautious himself, he had always been a sort of Embryo Home Secretary. He had been cautious; but he profited by the incaution of others. The noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies also profited by it. They were carried into office—the one into the Admiralty, and the other into the Secretaryship of Ireland, by means of the Agitation that was then going on. He might be told that there was no direct appeal to physical force on that occasion, but there was at least that which the hon. Member for Waterford said of the Orange Society, "there was moral force based upon physical organization." There could be no doubt but that the great Birmingham Meeting had a direct influence in carrying the Reform Bill of 1831. They had heard so much of late of Mullaghmast, and other multitudinous assemblies in Ireland, that they had almost forgotten what had taken place in their own country ten years ago. If they looked back to what then had happened in England, they would find that the Irish agitation was, after all, but a milk and water affair. There was in it nothing like that stern resolution, on which they had based the first Reform Government. Here, for instance, was an account of a meeting at Birmingham, which he took from the The Times newspaper:—"On the 4th of October, 1831, an enormous multitude of people from the whole of the Midland counties assembled. Mr. 1023 Attwood presided, and his first words were these" How much did Mullaghmast and Tara fall short of such a solemnity!—Mr. Attwood: I am about to ask you to cry out the words 'God bless the King.' I therefore desire that you will all take off your hats, and that you will look up to heaven where the just God rules both heaven and earth, and that you will cry out with one heart, one voice, 'God bless the KingThe Times itself says—The spectacle which here presented itself was beautiful, and magnificently sublime. Every head was uncovered, every face was turned up to heaven, and at one moment one hundred thousand voices responded to the cry of 'God bless the King.'That was a burst of loyalty; but he was afraid it would be found not to last very long. Here was the speech of Mr. Hayne's at the meeting. Mr. Haynes stated this:—I agree that the power of the people is greatest, not when it strikes, but when it holds in awe; not when the blow is actually struck, but when it is suspended. As Manlius said to the Roman people, Ostendite bellum, pacem habetis, so I say to you—Show that you can fight, and you will never be under the necessity of fighting. As Mr. Attwood had said, the Leviathan is hooked by the nose, and with 1,500,000 men at the foot of New Hall Hill to hold the rope, Leviathan could not escape.Speaking of the House of Lords, he said,—Now, their dynasty is nodding to its fall, the hand-writing has appeared against them, they have been weighed and found wanting, and if they do not speedily give to us that which is our own, it will be taken from them, Are you aware, my countrymen, we are met to the number of 150,000 to petition the Lords to pass the bill. The question has been frequently asked, will the Lords pass the bill? I answer that question by proposing another—Dare they refuse it? Can the Peers refuse the bill, because their trust is in the Army?Here was the point so much relied upon in Ireland. Mr. Haynes thus continued:—No! they cannot have an army to fight for them, without pay; and if the people refuse to pay taxes, how will that army be paid? Supposing the people foolish enough to pay taxes to pay such an army, where is the army to be found? Would the gallant men who have reaped immortal honours in foreign lands, consent to tarnish those honours by murdering their wives, their friends, and relatives. To support the tyranny of 400 men over 16,000,000, would they embrue their swords 1024 in the blood of their countrymen? There is not a town or village, nor even a hamlet, which has not contributed one or more brave men, to fill up the ranks of our army; and will these men, at the call of boroughmongers, come forth to shed the blood of their relatives upon their fathers' graves?Undoubtedly every man who profited by proceedings and language like this, might, according to the new law, be charged as a conspirator. He (Mr. Ward) was himself one who had taken part in that agitation, though he had profited nothing by it; but the noble Lord who now sat opposite, as well as the right hon. Gentleman, who profited directly by it, were as much conspirators as any one whom they had lately prosecuted. He would give them, not a jury of illiterate Dublin partizans, but a jury of their own colleagues, with the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln, or the right hon. the Secretary-at-war, for foreman—that right hon. Gentleman, who, on a memorable occasion during the contests on the Reform Bill, when the guns were heard firing which announced the approach of the King to prorogue Parliament, said, that "the next time those guns ware loaded, there should be shot in them." Now, with the benefit of a jury so composed—the Irish Attorney General to draw the indictment, and a suitable charge from a Chief Justice Pennefather, he would undertake to say, that the noble Lord, and the right hon. Baronet, if they had been put on their trial for conspiracy, would assuredly have been convicted and shut up in Newgate. The noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet might think, perhaps, that success, threw a halo round these proceedings, which they now said were illegal; and they kindly warned him and other incipient conspirators, that they had found a mode of preventing their repetition. The law forbade others to follow their example. The Anti-Corn-law League met, as the right hon. Baronet said, in a public theatre, but this was no safeguard against the charge of conspiracy. On conspire sur la place publique was the maxim of the right hon. Baronet, quoting some observations of Madame de Staël, and he was very much afraid that if the Government, who had sacrificed so many of their abstract principles to conciliate on commercial matters their supporters—who, to say the truth, had proved them- 1025 selves rather insubordinate—were to go on in this principle of conciliation, they might come at last to sacrifice the abstract principle of public liberty, rather than lose their majority. The principle of the sliding scale seemed to be so universally prevalent on the opposite benches, that it really appeared to him, if the same course were to be pursued in regard to their general policy as had marked that with their agricultural friends, there remained no security for the constitutional rights of Englishmen. Only take what the right hon. Baronet had said the other night, in connection with the opinions of many of his avowed supporters, and see what it would lead to. Take, for instance, the declarations of the agriculturists of Hertfordshire, the county in which he resided. There was a meeting of these gentlemen held at St. Albans on the 2d of February, when some very strong opinions were expressed, some of which he would beg to read to the House. One gentleman (Mr. Hale) did not scruple to denounce "The Anti-Corn-Law League as, as foul a conspiracy (the very words of the Attorney-general for Ireland) as ever was recorded in history, or threatened the destruction of any country." Lord Essex, also, who had shown himself a very enthusiastic supporter of the Government since their last declaration on the subject of the Corn-laws, but who had been a little shaky before,—Lord Essex said that the League was "the most cunning, unscrupulous, knavish, pestilent body of men that ever plagued this or any other Country." Lord Salisbury, the Conservative Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex, said, that it was "one of the most atrocious combinations ever formed in this country." There was one of the hon. Members for the County, too, who had never opened his mouth since he came amongst them, but still he could assure the House, who might have adopted a different impression of the hon. Gentleman's character from this circumstance, that there was not a Gentleman within these walls half so ferocious, or so formidable at a County meeting. That hon. Gentleman, in addressing this meeting, holding the League Circulars in his hand, said, that they were "a compound of hypocrisy, malignity, and blasphemy." That the League was a "blasphemous body," and as such, ought, of course, to be taken notice of by the Secretary-of-State for 1026 the Home Department. Now, however safe the hon. Member for Stockport might conceive himself to be, he would have the hon. Member beware of the danger that threatened him; for if he were to be tried by a jury of such squires as these,—if every man connected with any other interest were to be struck off it, as the Catholics had been in Dublin,—and if the learned English Attorney-General could but bring himself to forsake those principles of fairness and liberality, which characterised all his proceedings, to the same extent as his Irish colleague had done, he under took to say, that they would have the pleasure of seeing not only Mr. O'Connell, but Mr. Cobden shut up as a Conspirator. [Laughter.] It might amuse the House to treat these things in a jocular manner; but he should be alarmed at the prospect before them, if he were not perfectly sure that even if they could find a Judge in this country capable of performing the functions performed by the Judge on the other side of the Channel and an Attorney-General to frame an indictment, as had been said in the case of the conspirators of Ireland, "against a whole people"—they could never get a jury to convict on such evidence. This led him to a more serious question, and, in touching upon it, he must warn Gentlemen opposite to be cautious how they gave the rein to their prejudices and inclinations, in this matter. Where, he would ask, was the real conspiracy? Where was the root of that combination, which was overriding the Government, pillaging the people, and degrading the Crown itself, by making the Queen of England rather the servant of an Oligarchy, than the dispenser of equal laws amongst all classes of Her subjects? Here, in this House, was the real conspiracy. Here, in this very House, thanks to the spirit which Gentlemen sitting on the Ministerial benches, had fostered when in opposition, and which by a sort of retributive jusstice was now forcing them to rest their power upon monopoly and starvation in England, and in Ireland upon religious feuds and military occupation. Yes, they had got their majority. It had brought them into office under certain conditions, but so strong was that majority that it actually went beyond them, and persisted in dragging them after it, in spite of all resistance, placing them in the same dilemma as the Chambre Introuvable placed Louis XVIII., which 1027 was said to be, "Plus Royaliste que le Roi." Now to return to the case of Ireland. He gave the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland full credit for sincerity when he declared that, "In or out of office, he never would consent to any measure, which he did not feel convinced, would promote the happiness, and advance the prosperity of the people of Ireland." No doubt the noble Lord meant well; but he was rendered unable to carry any efficient remedial measure by the trammels of the party to which he belonged. He was compelled to consult the deep-rooted prejudices of that party, and the consequence was, that all he could attempt to do were half measures, as insignificant in themselves as his intentions doubtless were excellent. This was why they had the old system over again; imperfect grants, and comprehensive theories; things good in the abstract, but worthless practically. This was the system which Mr. Grattan deprecated in 1793, when he said,—"It only inflames, it cannot satisfy." And Mr. Burke, in the same year observed, "It would be no great boon to the Catholics to obtain a capacity for everything, and the enjoyment of nothing." Yet such was the policy then pursued, and still pursued by the party opposite in regard to Ireland. Every concession of the Legislature was neutralised by the spirit in which the law had been administered. The capacity to hold office was conferred upon the Catholics in 1793, but for thirty years this boon was suffered to remain as a dead letter upon the Statute Book; the first appointment of a Catholic to office having been made under Lord Wellesley's Government, in 1822: and with regard to Corporations, they had been kept hermetically sealed against the Catholics, till the year 1840. And yet in the face of facts like these, they heard Gentlemen complain, that the Catholics of Ireland were less grateful for what was given them, than irritated at what was withheld. No wonder they should be so, when they contrasted what was pretended to be done, and what was done practically. The present state of things was an exact repetition of what was going on in the unhappy period of 1793–5. The recall of Earl Fitzwilliam in 1795, found a parallel in the spirit, which dictated the declaration of the right hon. Baronet opposite, that "concession to the Catholics 1028 of Ireland had reached its utmost limits." The arrival of Earl Fitzwilliam in Ireland was hailed as the harbinger of a more just and liberal policy based upon the enjoyment of equal rights without religious distinctions. But how long was that nobleman allowed to remain? Only three months. He went there in January, and was recalled in March. He would not impute to Mr. Pitt and the Government of that day, a design so cold blooded and atrocious, as to have deliberately sent over this popular nobleman for the mere purpose of recalling him, with a view of provoking that Rebellion which was to be made the stepping stone to the Union; but then, as now, the moral responsibility attached to those "who held out the cup of hope to a generous, and confiding people, and then dashed it from their lips." At that period, as at present, Ireland was disturbed but loyal. Reform and Emancipation were loudly demanded, and if they had been conceded, he firmly believed they would have satisfied the great bulk of the people. Some few, perhaps, there were, who were tainted with Jacobinical principles imbibed from the leaders of the French democratic party; but the mass was sound at the heart; and it was not until the recall of Lord Fitzwilliam that that torrent of calamities commenced which preceded the Act of Union. Arms bills, Insurrection Acts, the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and the establishment of military government, following in frightful rapidity. Discontent then became so general, that the best names in Ireland, and her brightest ornaments, Grattan, Curran, and the Ponsonbys were tainted with the charge of disloyalty, because they could not but reprobate the conduct of the Government.Every good man" says Sampson, in his quaint memoirs, "was in some degree rebellious; some more, some less; each according to the warmth of his heart, the firmness of his mind, his compassion, his honesty, perhaps his ambition, or his interest. It is only for Him, who searches all hearts, to know the pangs which a conscientious man, in such a state of things, must feel, particularly one, whose connections, intimacies, and youthful habits, lie on the one side, whilst the voice of reason, and humanity, and the instinctive horror of oppression and cruelty, call him to the other.We might hear of these things over again. Honest intentions were compatible with the most unfortunate results. What could the noble Lord the Secretary 1029 for Ireland hope to do, when he had staring him in the face, the declaration of his official superior, that "the limits of concession and conciliation had been reached already."? Here was the determination again reiterated to concede nothing, or at any rate nothing that bore upon the main cause of the complaint. The Church question was now what the question of Emancipation was, at the close of the last century. And the Church question meant the Fifth Article of the Act of Union. This was what they were really disputing about, and upon which the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary had declared his opinion in that very debate by saying, "The Protestants of England had decided in favour of a Protestant Church; the choice made at the Reformation was confirmed at the Revolution, sealed by the Act of Settlement, and ratified by the Act of Union. It was the firmest foundation of our liberties." His (Mr. Ward's) opinion was, that the Fifth Article of the Act of Union, and the Church which it maintained, were the great obstacles to union of any kind—the bane, and curse, of both countries. The noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland said, that he was willing to give Ireland all the good things which she was susceptible of receiving. What did he think of a little religious equality—the most important benefit that she could possibly enjoy? The present state of feeling of the people of Ireland was foreseen by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, in the year 1817, when he said, that if the Catholics had the same nature and passions as himself, they would use their political power to get rid of a Church which was forced upon them. Human nature, and human passions were now at work amongst increasing numbers, intelligence, and property. That was the cause of all our differences. Horace Walpole asked in his Correspondence, "Why cannot we see the history of our own times, with the same impartiality with which we read it.?" He put the same question to the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Baronet could exactly foresee, in 1817, the position, which the country would be in in 1844, but now he refused to recognise in it the fulfilment of his own predictions. He repeated that he considered the Fifth Article of the Union the real bar to the possibility of its continuance. Old feelings and just feelings were en- 1030 listed against it. It cast a stigma upon the Catholic population, and added insult to injury. The Catholics felt it so. [Lord Stanley: Do they feel the same about the Act of Settlement?] No doubt they did originally. [Lord Stanley: Hear, Hear!] Did the noble Lord mean to say that the Catholics gained anything by the Act of Settlement? What would have been the feelings of the people of England if a Catholic Sovereign had been forced upon them? The first fruits of the Act of Settlement were the penal laws against the Catholics, the confiscation of their estates, and the degradation of their Clergy. In illustration of this observation, he would beg to read a few extracts from a very clever pamphlet, of which he would only say that he was not the author, though some persons had done him the honour to attribute it to him. The pamphlet was entitled, "Remarks by a Junior, to his Senior," on an Article in the Edinburgh Review, on the State of Ireland. It contained copies of a correspondence between Catholic clergymen and Protestant landowners in Ireland, which had been preserved in some of the Colleges abroad, and which had every appearance of being authentic; and it afforded a most curious picture of the degrading manner in which the Catholic clergy of Ireland were treated at the latter end of the last century. The hon. Gentleman then read the following letters from the pamphlet mentioned:—1766.Sir—I will draw my turf on Monday morning. Tell all the cars of the parish to be early at the bog, my own tenants in particular. Give this out at your Chapel, and show your good will in your language. J. S.To Priest Daly.1774.Sir—Some of your damned rascals stole my pointer bitch; give her out in your Chapel after Mass, and I will expect her on Monday morning.Yours, &c., P. D.1780.Sir—I hear you prevented Kitty Connor from kneeling at the front rail of your altar, and treated her with disrespect in my regard. I will have you to know that I will protect her, and level your Mass-house, if you, or yours, offend her; mind this.F. C.The next was a little more respectful in its style of address.1780.Reverend Sir—My lady is shocked with 1031 the dirty, naked beggars that crowd round the Castle, and the cries of the children, that fret, and torment her. His Lordship bid me tell you, he will quit the place if you don't keep them at home.Your servant,J. Turner.N.B. Your Reverence may mention that there are two wicked dogs in the yard.Sir—I will let out my stallion at 16s. 4d. a I—as the enclosed will shew. I will thank you to speak in his favour after Mass to the people. Both you and they can now shew your gratitude to me and mine.Your servant,W. F.The writer of the pamphlet went on to say—What must have been the feelings of the educated gentleman, if he consented to degrade himself and his ministry, by making the house of God the place for expatiating on the merits of the horse, or the dog, of his Protestant master? Is it surprising (although it is much to be regretted) that some Chapels have since become the scene of denunciation against the class, who degraded religion when unprotected by the laws.These observations in his opinion were perfectly just, and had a clear bearing on the Church question. The remembrance of abuses of a century's growth were not to be eradicated by mere lip service, or any professions of toleration. With respect to the Church question, he had trespassed too long already upon the time of the House to pretend to go into a detail of his views upon the subject; and having done so at such length last year, it would be the less necessary and the less pardonable in him to take up their time with a repetition of his former statements. But he thought he had some reason to congratulate himself upon the progress which his opinions had made since last year. He believed he might say, indeed, that extreme as his opinions were once considered, he was now one of the most moderate men in the House, upon Irish Church matters. The Edinburgh Review had adopted his views, upon many essential points, such as the substitution of the Congregational, for the Territorial system, and he thought he might rank the noble Lord the Member for London, and the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, amongst his disciples. He was wrong, however, in applying this term to that noble Lord, for he was always known to entertain very strong opinions upon this subject, though prevented from expressing them as freely as 1032 he (Mr. Ward) had done, by the restraints of Office. The noble Lord the Member for Sunderland had now proposed three plans. The first was to transpose the whole system, as it now existed, between Protestant, and Catholic; and to transfer the Establishment from the former to the latter. This he thought would be a very equitable plan, in all its bearings, even to the sending of the Catholic Bishops into the House of Lords. The second plan was to pay all Sects;—the third, which he much preferred, was to pay nobody. This was the principle which would probably prevail eventually in Ireland; for when he looked to the state of the Seceders in Scotland, and of the Dissenters in England, with these large bodies to deal with, he did not see how the principle of perfect equality could be carried out, unless by devoting the whole of the Church Property to purposes connected with education, and leaving the Clergy of the several sects to be supported by their respective flocks, reserving of course vested interests. Last year, he incurred some blame for some statements he had made in regard to the amount of property enjoyed by the Members of the Episcopal Bench in Ireland. He had since obtained a return of probate taken out upon the estates of eleven Irish Bishops, which fully had borne out all he had said. By this return it appeared that the gross amount of the fortunes left by eleven Irish Bishops within the last thirty or forty years was 1,875,000l. He confessed, however, that he did not see any hope of the settlement of this question, whilst the Gentlemen on the other side of the House were in power. The learned Recorder for Dublin, whose amiable blindness, and unconscious selfishness, had been made very remarkable by the speech which he delivered last night, said, that all he wanted was, "domestic peace founded upon religious truth." But, then, it was to be religious truth according to his own definition. The learned Recorder thought, that the Church question ought not to be further agitated, because it disturbed his peace of mind! The question was, however, what was truth? Every body knew its source, but where was the standard of it? Did the right hon. Gentleman command a monopoly of that article? If the right hon. Gentleman thought to tranquillise the population of such an Empire as this, by undertaking to define the truth, and 1033 to prove himself right by act of Parliament, he must be a most mistaken man, more fitted for a place in Bedlam than this House. Unfortunately the Union with Ireland was framed in precisely this spirit. The framers of that act might have taken advantage of the wiser and more conciliatory principles of Union laid down by Messrs. Jay, Maddison, and Hamilton, on the occasion of the remodelling of the Federal Constitution of America. The United States at one time were threatened with a Repeal of the Union, from the impossibility of adjusting conflicting interests between the States and Federal Governments. Fortunately this evil was averted; and the Philadelphia Convention placed the relations of this mighty republic upon a safe and lasting basis. Why should we not have a Philadelphia Convention for Ireland also? As a remarkable lesson to Legislators on Ireland, he would beg to read the words of Mr. Maddison on this subject:—Hearken not to the unnatural voice, which tells you that the people of America, knit together as they are by so many chords of affection, can no longer live together as Members of the same family; can no longer continue the mutual guardians of their mutual happiness; can no longer be fellow-citizens of one great, respectable, and flourishing empire. Hearken not to the voice, which petulantly tells you, that the form of Government recommended for your adoption is a novelty in the political world; that it has never yet had a place in the theories of the wildest projectors; that it rashly attempts what it is impossible to accomplish. No, my countrymen, shut your ears against this unhallowed language. Shut your hearts against the poison which it conveys. The kindred blood which flows in the veins of American citizens, the mingled blood which they have shed in defence of their sacred rights, consecrate their union, and excite horror at the idea of their becoming aliens, rivals, enemies. And if novelties are to be shunned, believe me, the most alarming of all novelties, the most wild of all projects, the most rash of all attempts, is that of rending us in pieces, in order to preserve our liberties, and promote our happiness.In the sentiments there expressed, he (Mr. Ward) agreed, but to be justified in holding them forth to the people of Ireland, they must be prepared to concede more than they had yet done, and to revise, if necessary, the Irish Union. As to the assertions that they had no power to revise that Union, why Mr. Pitt expressly reserved such a power at the passing of the Union Act, more especially in regard to the fifth article. Mr. Pitt said it was 1034 proper to reserve the power of revising that article, which referred to the Established Church; and unless they had that power, and were prepared to exercise it when necessary, the compact which had been entered into with the people of Ireland was fraudulent, and had been fraudulently obtained, and it was open for them to say they had never yet received an equivalent for what they surrendered. He had heard the charge of faction brought against those who should support the Motion of the noble Lord. Now, for himself, he could safely say, that he had not always followed the noble Lord in the days of his power, but he followed him now because he believed the principles of Government which the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, had laid down, must lead, if adhered to, to the destruction of this Empire. "We may tide over a few months, or years, without coming to actual collision with Ireland; but let the first cloud arise elsewhere—let our political connections with the Continent be disturbed or overshadowed, and instead of finding Ireland our right arm of support, we shall find there our most dangerous enemies. The struggle now going on in Ireland is but the continuance of that, which existed up to the end of the last century. We tried to stop it then by measures, which we can never again resort to. The improved morality of the country forbids it. I have been following out that fearful period of Irish history, and have seen England, in asserting her supremacy, wading through seas of blood, and violating every principle of Constitutional liberty. I have seen the whole Empire exposed to the most inconceivable calamities:—the two Parliaments and the two people arrayed against each other;—motions made here, denounced in Ireland as seditious, and acts in Ireland defended here, which makes the blood run cold to think of.—Such was the conduct of the English Government in times past. We know, that Mr. Fox's name was struck out of the Privy Council by the King himself, partly because he opposed his Irish policy; and yet after all was done—after the No-Popery cry had been raised—after the Rebellion had taken place, and many thousands of lives, and many millions of money, had been sacrificed, we saw the party opposite when in power, doing, in 1829, that very thing, which, if done thirty years before, would have 1035 averted all those calamities. Let me express, without any party feeling, or any reference to what may be the numbers in this division, my earnest hope that the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), profiting by his own experience—for he was one of those who rose to power by, I will not say the "No-Popery," but the Protestant, cry, and he, nevertheless, was the man who carried Catholic Emancipation—that he will spare this country, and Ireland, the necessity of risking the recurrence of similar evils; that he will take advantage of that devoted loyalty which still, without doubt, pervades the great body of the Irish people, however much they feel the Act of Union a grievance;—and that instead of using his power to provoke that, which he may avert, he will reflect deeply on the responsibility, which attaches to him as a Minister, and a man, and by conceding that, which may now be conceded with honour, secure the peace, and integrity, of the Empire."
§ Colonel Conolly
observed, that the hon. Gentleman who had just down had represented the Act of Settlement as a grievance in Ireland. Now, it was his opinion, that unless they adhered to that Act there would be no security for life or property in that country. The party opposite assumed too much to themselves when they supposed that they alone represented the feelings and opinions of the Irish people, and that these who sat on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, and who were connected with Ireland, had no knowledge, no idea, of the circumstances of the country, and could, therefore, offer no opinion upon the subject. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) was under the most egregious misapprehension as to the feelings of the Irish people, if he imagined that he enjoyed their confidence, or was at all trusted by them. Why, what had the noble Lord done for Ireland? With all the opportunities he and his party had had, not the shadow of a shade of any measure of redress for any of the existing evils of that country had they suggested. He was as anxious as any man to consider and redress any real evil that might exist; but he could not bring himself to think that the noble Lord or his party could fairly rejoice in the possession of that large amount of Irish popularity which they claimed, and which, according to them, nobody had any right to enjoy but themselves. With regard to the number of troops in Ireland, 1036 that circumstance had been brought forward as a proof of the determination to govern the country by military rule: the hon. Gentleman opposite must be aware that the troops had been sent to Ireland as a precautionary measure, and to avert the consequences which might have resulted from the crisis which had arrived. What was the proposition which noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen opposite, in their love of justice and impartiality, suggested? It was neither more nor less than the annihilation of the Church Establishment. The Protestant Establishment of Ireland was to be swept away from the face of the earth. That was the project of the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland last night. The Established Clergy and the Protestant population of Ireland were to be divested of their religion and everything else. The party opposite, in their determination to carry out their peculiar notions of just and equal principles, would deprive the Protestants of all justice. He was sure the Irish people were too sensible of the benefits they derived from the Protestant Established Church to desire any such change as that suggested. It had surprised him to hear the noble Lord say, that the large body of the Protestant and Presbyterian party in Ireland, amounting as the noble Lord said to about a million, but as he believed, to nearer two millions, must submit to injustice and spoliation, such as had hardly characterized the thirty years' European war. He was certainly astonished at the noble Lord's effrontery who had held the reins of Government for so many years, and now proposed an alienation of Ireland from England. Why were not the wrongs of which they now heard so much redressed while the noble Lord was in office? The noble Lord remained in power long enough to have redressed those grievances, and much longer than a great many persons thought he ought. The official career of the noble Lord, marked as it was by an insatiable love of change, had gone far to shake the security of life and property in Ireland. It was to the late Cabinet they owed the unnatural warfare of the lower against the higher classes; the landlords were always held up by the party opposite as objects for the hostility of the lower classes, and this it was that had produced much of the discontent and much of the suffering existing in Ireland. The large landed proprietors were not obnoxious to the asper- 1037 sions cast upon them. The Poor-law had been referred to, and without doubt that law was very unpopular in many parts of Ireland. His opinion was, that in that law was to be found the germ of much that was good, and in the end it would confer a real and substantial benefit to the independent poor. He admitted the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell) was the author of that Bill, and he gave the noble Lord credit for it; but as the noble Lord had not enumerated that in his list of Irish grievances, and as it was in a great degree unpopular, he thought the noble Lord ought not to throw off his share of the unpopularity. What he wished to see in Ireland was a Government upholding the law, and with nothing else would he be satisfied: and he should fail in his duty if he neglected to express the great satisfaction he felt at the conviction which had recently taken place, as showing the re-establishment of law over violence, and the authority of the Executive maintained in putting down a mischievous and dangerous system of agitation. This he knew was the prevailing opinion in the county of Tyrone. The noble Lord's administration had been under the dictation of the same agitation which the present Government had had the honesty and the boldness to repress in a legal manner. If he (Colonel Conolly) remembered aright, the noble Lord's name was, to a certain extent, coupled with a certain Coercion Act, and though he had voted for that Act he did not pretend to possess that confidence of the people of Ireland which the noble Lord claimed. He did not wish to say anything disrespectful of the noble Lord, but was anxious to disabuse his mind as to the amount of popularity the noble Lord supposed he possessed. Among the many classes in Ireland who execrated the late Government, none did so more heartily than the host of disappointed expectants of office—for though the noble Lord had given away a very large dose of official patronage, still there were many hungry applicants who had not been let into the pantry at all. Some had taken damned good care of themselves by getting into lucrative offices for life, quâmdiu se bene gesserint; but the noble Lord's Government was not so popular with the multitude of expectants who remained hungry and unsatisfied when the noble Lord left office. The noble Lord, in making up his budget of grievances, told old and hack- 1038 neyed stories to exasperate the Irish people. The noble Lord had raked up old stories, which had been denied and refuted. ["No, no.] Why, it had been disclaimed in that House by Mr. Bradshaw, against whom it was charged, that there was not any truth in the report to which the noble Lord had referred, for the purpose of showing that the present Government had not the confidence of the people of Ireland, and therefore could not govern thorn. Did the noble Lord suppose he would obtain the confidence of that people, or allay the irritation, by raking up old stogies? He did not in every respect defend the present Government, but he must say that he would balance their popularity, and the amount of confidence reposed in them by the people of Ireland, with respect to the steps which they had lately so successfully, so constitutionally, so legitimately undertaken to put down agitation, against the amount or confidence won by the noble Lord opposite by means of his Coercion Bill.
§ Mr. Sergeant Murphy
thought that the observations of the hon. and gallant Colonel, as far as they related to the noble Lord near him, would be productive of no injury to the noble Lord. For his own part, he thanked the noble Lord for the manly expression of feeling which he had lately given utterance to, as respected Ireland. He might safely contrast that statement with the imputations of the hon. and gallant Colonel, and leave the country to draw its own conclusions for or against the noble Lord. In addressing himself to the question of the late State Trials in Ireland, he must be allowed to express what he most sincerely felt—his regret at the absence of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-general for Ireland. He regretted it, because it had been his duty, on a former occasion, to animadvert on some portions of the conduct of the right hon. and learned Gentleman; and because he felt that, having done so, and it being now his intention to make allusion to certain other portions of that conduct, he should have been glad that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had been present in his place, to explain and defend if possible that which he was about to attack. With regard to these late trials in Ireland, he thought that something like a review of those trials, conceived in a spirit of calmness and impartiality, would show that—as far as regarded the manner of conducting them on the part of the Irish Attorney- 1039 general—that manner was not characterised by a tone and temper which a great and important occasion demanded, and which the question to be then decided fairly and reasonably required. He could not but recollect that there was about the right hon. and learned Gentleman's demeanour, from the time of the commencement of the trials, a degree of captiousness in refusing the most just and obvious facility to the traversers. This feeling was displayed, not only when Mr. O'Connell had absented himself for a short time from the Court for the purpose, as it was stated, of attending a meeting of the Repeal Association, but every morning when any little causes of delay had prevented one or other of the traversers from being present. On these occasions the Attorney-general had stopped the proceedings, and called on the Court to animadvert upon these casual absences, no matter what the reason might have been. Such conduct he considered by no means suitable to the great and important question then submitted to the consideration of the Court. He had animadverted upon this conduct, and he repeated that animadversion; but he begged to say, that as it appeared by a report of what he had stated on the occasion alluded to, that he had extended his strictures to the opening speech of the right hon. and learned person in question, that in this respect he had been misunderstood. He took the earliest opportunity of correcting the mistake, and of stating that, considering the magnitude of the interests involved, the speech had been one of a comprehensive character, and marked by a fair and impartial tone. With respect to the main question—it was not because he felt that he could throw any novelty into it, but because he represented a great constituency, who took the deepest interest in the trials, that he did feel it to be his duty to represent to the House what he believed to be the misconduct of her Majesty's Government as to the delay which they had allowed in instituting prosecutions if a breach of the law actually took place. He thought that if the House would recollect the historical facts connected with this agitation that they would see that that delay was one which, upon the showing of Government itself, had risked the peace of Ireland. It would be in the recollection of the House that, upon the 9th of May last, a question was asked in this House by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn Regis, in which he called the attention of the right hon. Baronet at the 1040 head of the Government to the then existing state of disaffection in Ireland. A simultaneous question, to the same effect, was also put to a noble Duke in the other House. It was stated then, by both noble Lords who had put the question, representing as they did that deep Protestant feeling which the noble Colonel opposite also represented—that her Majesty's Government seemed to be folding their arms in supine indifference to what was going on in Ireland—that the Queen's power and authority had been defied in speeches made there—that sedition was spreading throughout the length and breadth of the land, and that Government had not seen fit to interpose. The right hon. Baronet opposite had then made a most authoritative declaration. He made a declaration of his determination to maintain the Union, of his intention to suppress the meetings then taking place, and that they were calculated to do much mischief. But the Lord Chancellor went still further, for he, not content with stating his feelings of reprobation in respect to these meetings, actually went the length of saying that at that time they had assumed the character of illegality, and had risen to that magnitude, as demonstrations of physical force, which would render them liable to an indictment. Taking those statements as his foundation, he would ask, what had been the cause of the delay which had taken place? He asked if it was the intention of Government—inasmuch as the doctrine laid down by the Lord Chancellor of England had been in some measure controverted by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland—he asked whether it was the wish of Government that the persons who had embarked in these proceedings should be lured into a still further violation of the law? Was it that the right hon. Baronet opposite intended to entrap one individual—one of the chiefest difficulties of his government in Ireland? That was a charge which had been made against the Government. It could not be said that there had been any difficulty about the illegality of these meetings, although it had been said by the Irish law officers that it was difficult to discover the motives with which the parties acted. It was strange if that was the difficulty in the way, when we recollect the statements of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department on the first night of this debate. He then said, addressing this side of the House—Do not hug yourselves with the notion that it is owing to our coming into power that 1041 these meetings had arisen? Do you not recollect the great meetings for the same object which took place in 1840 and 1841?Could it be said, with his statement as to the nature of the meetings in 1841, that there was the least doubt of the character of later meetings? Could it be said that any circumstances which happened between the 9th of May and October, 1843, had altered the character of these assemblages—that there was anything different in their nature? The fact was, that if the right hon. Baronet had looked to the charge which had been delivered by the Chief Justice, it was quite out of the question that he could doubt that he had acted as if his object had not been to secure the peace and tranquillity of Ireland, but, by crowding together the unguarded expressions of a man, through a space extending over nine months—to point the proceedings directly against that man. The Chief Justice had stated most distinctly, that when these meetings were so assembled, when Mr. O'Connell made the declaration that the Queen, accompanied by any one man, had a right to summon a Parliament, that at that moment he was guilty of sedition. If this was so, then Government was in this position. Their attention was called to the state of Ireland—exhibiting, as it was stated by their own law officers it did, circumstances amounting to sedition. Yet they looked on, with folded arms, from May to October, and they allowed that sedition to go on which the Chief Justice had stated ought to have been put an end to. Perhaps if they had at once interfered with any one of these meetings, the subsequent proceedings would have exposed the difference of opinion between the two Chancellors. It might have been said—How can you lay an indictment for a peaceable meeting? No; it appeared as if the Government were anxious to bring seven or eight men into connection in order that they might make use of the most hateful form of indictment which the law recognised, under which they might include the unguarded acts and words of men extending over a considerable period, upon which to found a charge of conspiracy. What was the evidence adduced? It extended over a period of many months. Here, then, was a conspiracy in which there was no secrecy—one which was perfectly public, perfectly peaceable, and one of which no one feared any evil results. If it be true that the parties proceeded against were conspirators, when that decla- 1042 ration was made, and the Government must have conceived that they were by including in the indictment acts extending back to that period—then the Government themselves might equally be called conspirators, for they did nothing to prevent the progress of the alleged conspiracy. But what occurred when the Government did move? What had arisen then to give the proceedings another character? The noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, and the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department had stated that there had been some proclamation issued at the time in question, which seemed to savour of military organization. It appeared that some person of the name of Morgan had issued the proclamation in question. But the document was disclaimed by those from whom it professed to emanate. It was shown that it had been put forward by a person not having the least semblance of authority to take any such step; and when brought under the notice of the Repeal Association, it was pointedly disclaimed. But what occurred besides? The meeting was to take place on a Sunday, and, to show the mighty dread which the citizens of Dublin entertained of the result of the proceeding, an intimation was made to Mr. O'Connell, to the effect that if it took place at a certain hour, it would disturb the observance of divine worship; and the time of the meeting was, in consequence of this intimation, postponed. Now, he asked, what were the circumstances of the meeting? He asked any one who heard him, to say whether, if the same principle which had actuated Government during the proceedings—whether if the same theory of reasoning up from acts to motives was to be made use of with reference to the issuers of the Clontarf proclamation—a very grave charge might not be made against the Government? It would be in the recollection of the House, that the Attorney-general, when he stated the case against the traversers, had said that peace was the great feature of the meetings. He stated that if the meetings had not been peaceable, the fact would have been incompatible with the attainment of the object in view. He had stated that if peace and order did not prevail, the agitation would fail in intimidating Government; and yet with this staring Government in the face—with this admission staring them in the face, a proclamation went forth on the afternoon of Saturday, and troops were poured towards 1043 the place of the intended meeting. Now, what was the object of congregating these troops, except it was that the people, going to attend the peaceable meeting, finding themselves interfered with by the troops, might have been irritated to something like collision with the military, and that bloodshed might have ensued. He repeated it, that if conduct was to be judged of by ascending from overt acts to innate intentions, could there be any doubt, that when the Attorney-general stated it was inconsistent with the object of the meeting that it should be anything but peaceable, that a construction, similar to that which he had alluded to, would be put upon the conduct of Government by the Irish people. He now came to circumstances which happened in the course of the trials themselves. He should not go over the ground of the exclusion of Roman Catholics from the jury list. He would only say, and he thought that the House would agree with him, that the circumstance had a double aspect as regarded Ireland. It had an aspect this way—it demonstrated to the country that no Roman Catholic in Ireland could be indicted for any offence, tending, in the slightest degree, towards a political nature, and, at the same time, have a jury perfectly fair and impartial in its construction. The second aspect was, that having indicted certain men who were found guilty, and were now waiting for judgment, the question arose as to what would be the moral effect of that conviction? Would it be said, that it carried with it the same moral weight which it would bear, supposing that the tried parties had been submitted to the arbitement of a different jury? The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department had made use, in the way of illustration, of a supposed case of trespass in fox-hunting, and had asked if the parties so prosecuted should be tried by a jury of fox-hunters? But that, he contended, was not a parallel case to the one to which it had been intended to apply. Look to Mr. O'Connell; was not he a person who, for forty years, had in every way struggled to restore his fellow-countrymen to that equality with Englishmen which he believed to be their right? He knew that he was hated by many for the part which he had thus played. He was quite aware of that, and he stood before them on that occasion to be tried upon an indictment for conspiracy. He did not stand in the same condition as a foreigner being tried in this country, who could have at least one half 1044 of the jury composed of foreigners. But he was placed before a jury composed of twelve Protestants; and let it be recollected what were the observations of the leading Dublin papers, after the selection of the jury. Why, it was stated in the Dublin Evening Packet, that they had now a fair flock of twenty-four, with only one black sheep amongst them, but that his presence would not mar the result. There was also one of the jury of the name of Thompson, who had stated that at all hazards the Union must be preserved, and the Repeal agitation put down, and who had evidently prejudged the case. He asked whether the verdict agreed to by such a man was likely to produce a great moral weight in Ireland. He told the right hon. Baronet opposite that when he used the illustration of an action for trespass against fox-hunters, that he ought rather to have likened the late trials to the case of a man, a reputed poacher, being tried before a jury selected from a bench of justices. As soon as the constitution of the jury was known in Dublin, it was pronounced in certain circles that it was a good Protestant jury. What was likely to be the result of a verdict pronounced by such a jury? What weight would it carry? He answered, in his opinion none. Even in this country, remote as it was from the scene of action, when people came to speak of the late proceedings, they generally said that the trial was alien from those fair principles which regulated trial by jury; that, in fact, it was an abrogation of that right of the British subject. But to what classes of society had the late proceedings introduced the consideration of the question of Repeal? Before they took place, it was generally conceived as entertained only by people called by some of the Tory newspapers "untutored savages" by people who were incapable of forming rational opinions upon the subject. The aristocracy derided it—the country laughed at it—people saw in it nothing but an interested agitation, carried on for the benefit of one individual. It was said that it was addressed to a brute multitude, incapable of reasoning upon its merits. What, then, supposing such was the case, was the act of the Government? Did they leave the discussion to these classes of society—did they leave it to the discussion of people incapable of understanding it? On the contrary, they brought it into the courts of justice. The question was no longer addressed to savage multitudes. It was propounded under circumstances the most peculiar, in 1045 the solemn arena of a court of justice, by men of high and transcendant talent; men not confined to one political party, by men who had raised on that occasion a great degree of admiration for their talents and their eloquence in this country. It was propounded in such a manner, and with such an effect, that a member of the Irish bar had actually stated, that although he came into court with a firm adhesion to the propriety of the maintenance of the Union, though he still remained of the same opinion, and meant to remain of the same opinion, yet that he should find, after what he had heard in favour of the Repeal of the Union, much more difficulty than before in getting arguments against it. Such was the statement made by a counsel, and were such exhibitions calculated to allay the effects of the agitation—thus bringing the subject into such a narrow focus, and concentrating upon it such talent, calculated to allay the effects of the agitation? He would now come to another circumstance relating to the manner in which the trial had been conducted. The question, after many days' discussion, came to be summed up by the Chief-Justice. Now he did say this, that living as he did in this country—practising as he did in the courts of this country—much as he respected this country, its institutions, its industry, and all that had raised it to its present condition—he believed that there was nothing which elevated it so high in the scale of its own self-respect, or in that of other nations, than the fairness of the way in which justice was here administered. Now what were the circumstances of the summing up in question. He had read it, and he believed conscientiously, that great as was the merit of the Irish Solicitor-general, admirable as had been his reply, comprehensive in its nature and precise in its details, yet that still the Chief Justice's charge was a better speech against the traversers. And why was it so? because it was the necessity of the Solicitor-general in presenting the facts of the case to array in antagonism one set of facts against another. But the Chief Justice had vaulted out of that sort of antagonism, taking only one class of facts—confining himself only to a one-sided view of the question—summing, up, in fact, any circumstance which could bear against the traversers—adding even his petty sneer about the pet meeting of the Rev. Mr. Tierney, ridiculing the notion of Mr. O'Connell and her Majesty walking along to open an Irish Parliament—but never 1046 once noticing a fact in favour of the traversers, never once alluding to facts upon which they relied for their defence. He had even tried to throw ridicule upon the system of arbitration, recommended by Mr. O'Connell, by the way in which he compared it to the system adopted by the Quakers. Now, in one of the counts of the indictment, the traversers were charged with endeavouring to bring the regular courts of justice into contempt; but he did say that the undignified partiality and partizanship of the Chief Justice more tended to accomplish that end than anything which the traversers had ever done. Neither was he singular in that opinion. Even the Tory press, in its endeavours to bring the traversers within the scope of the arm of law, admitted the fact—the Tory press, which seemed to direct the efforts of its party, after it had been roused from its quiescent state, confessed that they wished that the Chief Justice's charge had been delivered less in the spirit of a partizan. Could it be believed that on such an occasion, when a man was placed at the bar, who, whether for right or for wrong, was to have arrayed against him the acts of his whole political life—for his acts had been discussed from the time of the rebellion in 1798, down to a recent explosion—or rather to the explosion prevented by him—would it be believed, that although he had arrested that explosion—that although he had stood, as it were, betwixt life and death, the fact had never been brought forward—had never been alluded to by the Chief Justice? Was it likely that trials conducted in the way these had been would produce a moral effect; beginning, as they had, with the captiousness of the Attorney-general, proceeding with the peculiar mode adopted in selecting the jury, and ending with the summing up of the Chief Justice? Could such a trial, he repeated, have a moral effect in England? could it allay irritation in Ireland? Would it have the effect of putting down the Repeal agitation? He answered decidedly in the negative. He believed that the mere fact of Mr. O'Connell to whom his countrymen were so devoted, being under the ban of the law, would have the effect of continuing the excitement; but when he was brought under the ban of the law in a way not consistent with the principles of justice, he did say, that so far from allaying the agitation, that such a proceeding was more likely to raise a species of sour discontent, which only waited an opportunity to break forth. But the Go- 1047 vernment promised the people a boon—the cravings of the national appetite were to be satisfied with a commission! Of the results of the Commission they had as yet heard nothing, though it was high time that it presented some report. [A Laugh.] They might laugh, but for a great disease the remedy must be speedy, and he should like to know what was to become of Ireland, if they were to wait till August for the Commission to report? The franchise, too, was to be altered. Why, he could scarcely preserve his countenance when he talked of this intended alteration of the franchise, and at the same time observed the noble lord (Lord Stanley) sitting in the place of a minister of the Crown; but, speaking of the ministers, the most happy man of them all was clearly the English Attorney-general. Where is the Attorney-general for England, continued the hon. and learned gentleman? He is not wont to slumber on his post. Universal England is at peace under his paternal administration of the law. He has repressed Chartism without acrimony—he has repressed Welsh riots without ill temper. Still he slumbers on his post. Let him awake—Irish justice, for once, has taken the lead of her English sister. Look around you, Attorney-general of England. Conspiracy is stalking abroad through the length and breadth of the land. It has invaded the temple of the drama; the Corn-law League has superseded Shakspeare. All its features are fully developed. Multitudinous meetings—impassioned addresses to the assembled crowds to invite them to coerce the Government, and supersede the law and the calm deliberation of the cabinet. Moneys are collected—not the paltry sixpences that swell the Repeal rent—but one hundred thousand pounds in two months, and one hundred thousand more if it is required. Pause not there—this is no constructive conspiracy—it requires not the finesse of the law to give it existence. The conspirators themselves have spoken out. They have drawn a graphic picture of their secret deliberations. Already the country recognises in their boastings the humble room at Manchester, where the seven arch conspirators concerted their scheme. No newspaper proprietor who takes the venture of trade upon coincidence of opinions, which he publishes as a mercantile speculation, need be dragged by implication into the net. The task is easier still—they have a newspaper of their own. But pause, the conspiracy is incomplete without a song. 1048 Search the columns of contemporary journals. Here are the graphic and spiritstiring lines—Oh, God, that bread should be so dear, And flesh and blood so cheap.See if Mr. Cobden quotes these lines. He does. Then the conspiracy is complete, and the editor of Punch stands revealed as a conspirator. But pause—you have not got your jury. Go into the agricultural districts—pack a jury of stanch Anti-Anti Corn-Law Leaguers. Employ the hon. Member for Knaresborough as your jury summoner; he knows the true anti-free-trade leaven. Do not forget the man who proposed to duck Mr. Cobden at Lincoln. Challenge your jury, and then challenge the counsel. But wait—you are not yet secure of your conviction—you know that one of the favorite schemes for the amelioration of Ireland is an interchange of Judges with this country. Exchange Chief Justices. The conviction is certain. But no, the declaration against the Repeal of the Union is for all time—the declaration against free-trade is but for one session. Is this an exaggerated picture—as a professional man I am jealous of the honest administration of the law. I am jealous of it when the humblest man stands at the bar. I am deeply jealous of it, when the foremost man of his day—the impersonation of a whole people—stands at your bar. True it is that he is now-convicted; true it is that the splendour of his achievements may dazzle the ignoble minds incapable of estimating the magnitude of his views. Posterity will do his motives justice—"extinctus amabitur idem." But he is not to look alone to the tardy recognition of posterity: seven millions of people—universal Europe and America—recognise his present glory, and inscribe on the pedestal where-ever he stands—Præsenti tibi maturos largimur honores.
§ Mr. B. Escott
said, it had been stated by a right hon. Gentleman in the course of this debate that this was the crisis in the affairs of Ireland. Often in his own comparatively brief experience had he heard the same thing stated, till the term had lost something of its terrors, but from what had passed in this debate he considered that a sort of crisis had now really arrived. The noble Lord the Member for London had stated plainly and distinctly that if his motion were carried the effect of it would be the dismissal of the present 1049 Government and the substitution of another. He could not disguise from himself or the House any more than others who had spoken that evening that he was a party man, but if he thought that the carrying of this motion at the present crisis would tend to the improvement of Ireland, to the healing of its unhappy divisions, and thereby to the prosperity of the people and the strengthening of the British Empire, he would throw aside such considerations of party and vote for the motion of the noble Lord; and, notwithstanding the remarks in which the noble Lord indulged on the majority in that House, it was his sincere conviction that if the noble Lord had proved to the satisfaction of independent and reasoning men that carrying his motion would have that effect, he would have commanded a majority, and would soon be in office to carry into effect the principles he advocated. But to show that the motion would not have that effect he intreated the House to indulge him for a few moments whilst he endeavoured to state the case which the noble Lord had made for a Committee, and the plan he proposed for remedying the grievances of Ireland. He heard the speech of the noble Lord with feelings almost of dismay, when he recollected the position which the noble Lord had occupied in the country. If the motion could by possibility be carried, and the noble Lord should return to power, the principles he had announced in that speech would scatter dismay and confusion throughout every part of the United Kingdom. The noble Lord, a former Secretary of State for the Home Department, consumed nearly an hour in that House, in doing every thing that in him lay, and that was not a little to bring into contempt and to villify the legal tribunals of the country. He commenced by an attack, not on the legal tribunals of Ireland, but upon the First Judge of England. Let not the House suppose he was going to be guilty of the bad taste of setting himself up to defend such a man as the Lord Chancellor of England; he wanted no defender, but it occurred to him, that if that learned Judge was to be attacked for some casual expression which the noble Lord quoted, and which had been going the round of every Radical newspaper and meeting ever since it was uttered, the noble Lord might have recollected that there was once a Secretary of State for the Home Department 1050 who, in the energy of his zeal for the party then in power, thought it not unbecoming his dignity to call the voice of a majority of the House of Lords, "the whisper of a faction." But the noble Lord went on, and the next Judge he thought fit to villify was one who had just been presiding on the trials lately concluded. He did not contest with the noble Lord or with any other hon. Member the perfect right that any Member of that House had in fairness to find fault with any unconstitutional proceeding of a learned Judge, but he wanted to know what the corrupt charge was which the noble Lord had to bring against the Chief Justice of Ireland! He had heard none. He had heard a right hon. Gentleman on the previous night declare what it was he found fault with in that learned Judge, and he said it was not so much the learned Judge's words as his manner; but he denied that the House of Commons could be profitably occupied in debating on the manner of a Chief Justice in Ireland. Then, the great leader of the Whigs attacked the Jury, and, in doing so, he attacked trial by jury. He supposed that the jury meant a jury legally convened to try—if not legally convened, the verdict against Mr. O'Connell would be set aside. The question whether that Jury was a legal Jury or not was now before the tribunals of the country; and he thought that for the noble Lord, before that question was decided—having abstained from comment on the trials whilst they were pending to endeavour to run down the effect of the verdict, whilst it was the subject of litigation before the proper tribunals of the country, exhibited a feeling of party and a disregard to his own principles, not very likely to contribute to the due administration of justice. He remembered having read in a work of that great man, Mr. Erskine, a passage in which he said, that the chief bulwark of our liberties was trial by jury, and that a jury would never be safe or able to do their duty with effect, and to the benefit of the country, unless there were occasions on which they stepped in between those who maligned their verdicts, and said even to Parliaments themselves, "thus far shalt thou go and no farther." The policy of the recent prosecutions was a fair subject of debate in that House—the legal effect of the decision was a subject of consideration elsewhere. With respect to the policy he was astonished at the course the 1051 noble Lord took. It was not a sufficient accusation against that policy to say that other persons were guilty of misdemeanour and yet they had not been indicted. But that was the argument of the noble Lord and of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken. It must be a subject of discretion whether persons guilty of such conduct were to be indicted or not; and if he was asked his opinion, he could not help thinking that not only was it not unconstitutional to prefer an indictment against those who were agitating Ireland, but that, so far from its affording any ground of despair to the Irish people, the first step in order to give them a chance of better legislation and that peace and contentment amongst themselves, which was the first remedy for their grievances, was to put down by law those who were agitating the country, and by agitation preventing the improvement of its laws and the bettering the condition of the people. He was also very much struck with the manner in which the noble Lord dwelt upon the fact of the delay which had taken place in those prosecutions. The noble Lord did not seem so much to argue that the prosecutions themselves were improper, as that they were not undertaken at the right moment; and over and over again he said, "You did not bring them for nine months after the meetings had been going on." It was not the prosecutions, but the time of gestation that offended him.Illi longa decem tulerint fastidia menses.The strength of the noble Lord's argument was the charge of injustice to Ireland. If he had heard a single instance of injustice substantiated, if he had heard it brought home to the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, or the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, in any shape, the noble Lord should have had his vote; but two instances of injustice only had the noble Lord mentioned, and what were they? The appointment of two judges. But was it unjust to appoint those Judges because they expressed strong political opinions in their capacity of politicians, not as judges? And so the noble Lord, with extreme liberality, would make out a case of injustice to Ireland, because the Government had not prevented two gen- 1052 tlemen from attaining that rank in their profession which every one admitted they were entitled to, and why?—because, forsooth, they had been opposed in politics to the noble Lord. Then, upon the Church-question, the noble Lord said, "You have a Church in Ireland, established for 1,000,000 of persons, whereas the other 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 are of a totally different opinion, and that in itself is an injustice to Ireland." But one would have expected that the noble Lord's plan would have embraced a remedy for the evil. He had listened with the utmost attention to the noble Lord's statement, and the only new law, as far as he could discern, which the noble Lord proposed for this great grievance of Ireland, was, that the grant to Maynooth College should be doubled. That grant was now about 8,000l. or 10,000l. a-year, so that by a little payment of 8,000l. or 10,000l. more justice was to be done to her—Ireland, and all her clamours quieted. But, before going into this committee, would it not be well to recollect what the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, proposed as his plan for remedying the grievances of Ireland? There were three distinct parties in that House upon this Church-question—the party of the noble Lord, the Member for London—which he thought a very small one; the party of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Roebuck), strengthened last night by a great accession; and the party of the Government. The party of the noble Lord proposes to grant 8,000l. to 10,000l. more to Maynooth. The hon. and learned Gentleman, and the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, propose, what indeed a great number of Irishmen—and Englishmen too—would consider a great boon to Ireland. He was happy, however, to think, that at that moment neither the hon. and learned Gentleman, nor his noble ally, had the slightest chance of carrying their intention into effect. But they represented a great and powerful party, and might in time do much more than even they now anticipated; and he would recommend the hon. and learned Gentleman, encouraged by the accession he had gained in the course of the previous night's debate, to turn his attention to the speech of the noble Lord, the Member for London, and see whether, before another debate took place on the 1053 affairs of Ireland, he could not bring over the noble Lord as he had already won another. But he had not mentioned one proposition which was made by the noble Lord, and which was as important as any he had seen. The noble Lord had not spoken ten minntes before he said he took it for granted that they all meant to maintain the Union. He would tell the hon. Member for Bath, and the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, that they could not maintain the national compact of the Union, and at the same time destroy the Established Church. He supposed they would agree with him that the inhabitants of the United Kingdom ought to be represented in that House, but he could tell them that the people were not attached to those wild and revolutionary doctrines which they had embodied in a proposition for curing the grievances of Ireland. They wished for the improvement of Ireland, but he did not think, considering the unhappy condition of that country at present, that its amelioration was likely to be promoted by the clumsy proposal of destroying the Church Establishment. He had stated that there was a third party in the House, and that was the party of her Majesty's Ministers. He believed the course which that party were determined to pursue was to maintain the interests of the people by maintaining the laws and institutions by which they were governed to maintain the Church; not by arguing in support of its abuses and imperfections, but to render it still more valuable by additional improvements; and in that determination they would, he was convinced, be supported by the great majority of the English people. Until he had heard some measure proposed, not having reference, like those which they had heard from hon. Gentlemen opposite, to bygone years of some two or three centuries past, but realy applicable to the present age and present necessities of the people, he thought the House would best consult the interests of those who had sent them there, by giving a decided negative to the motion of the noble Lord—a motion having for its object nothing that was intelligible, nothing that was practicable, and nothing that was even respectable enough to be called revolutionary.
§ Mr. C. Buller
It was not his intention, in the remarks which he was about to address to the House, to dwell on the exciting part of the subject, which he was 1054 perfectly content to leave as it now stood before the House. He was ready to leave the discussion of the trials, and the recent acts of the Government, to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for London, and the excellent speech delivered by the Member for Cork, a speech, which he thought, in the opinion of the country, would do full justice to the legal policy of the Government. Before he entered on the consideration of the general question, he must advert to two imputations thrown out in support of that novel application of the doctrine of conspiracy, which was to be brought to bear on Members on that side of the House, where, by putting together the half of one Member's sentence, and coupling it with the half of another's, a very formidable charge was made out, of meaning something of which neither the individuals said or intended. The first charge broached to-night was, that on the credit of the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, they (the Members on the Opposition side) were all to be charged with the intention to repeal the Act of Settlement. The noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had implied the imputation by a very significant cheer, but had not yet spoken on this subject; the House had only had the views of Government explained to them by the gallant Member for the county of Donegal (Colonel Conolly) who, he must take leave to say, had used very great pains to relieve himself from the weight of odium under which he supposed himself to labour on that side of the House. On the contrary, every man who came from Ireland said that he was a very worthy gentleman. He wished to relieve the gallant Officer of the alarm he seemed to feel on one point, and if in doing so he should startle the House by adopting one of the gallant Colonel's expletive phrases which he supposed he must regard as of a peculiarly Protestant complexion, it must be recollected the phrase was not his:—Non meus hic sermo est, sed quæ præcepit Ofellus Rusticus, abnormis.The gallant Colonel stated that they (the Opposition) wished to divest him of his religion. Why, he would not think of such a thing for the world; it was announced in the strongest language he had ever heard a religious man use, and he would not wish to deprive the gallant 1055 Colonel of it for the world. But he supposed, to quote the peculiarly high church phraseology of the gallant Colonel, softening it for the ears of the House, he "would take d—d good care of that." But the gallant Colonel appeared to him to be needlessly timorous when he imagined that it was intended to do away with the Act passed to guard against the pretensions of the House of Stuart. All the Members of that house were dead, and he did not see what earthly object any human being could have in repealing it. Another charge which he must treat with more seriousness, because he well recollected the efficacy of it in former times, was that of an alliance with Mr. O'Connell. He would not flinch from that charge; he had generally, nay, almost invariably, voted with the hon. and learned Member on almost all Irish questions, excepting Repeal. He was not ashamed of having done so; he had voted with him in majorities when his aid was a powerful aid to the Liberal party, and he would not shrink from him now when the hon. and learned Member was under the weight of a Government prosecution. He would state here what he had stated on other occasions that he believed there was no man living who had done so much for his country as that hon. and learned Gentleman; and having him on one side, and the policy of his opponents on the other, he was not inclined to carp at every fault or indiscretion with which the hon. Member might be chargeable, but he would stand by him now that he was on the point of being consigned by Government to prison. He had always held the Irish question to be one, which it was treachery to the true interests of our country to discuss in public without a full statement of all the facts which force themselves on our earnest consideration as grounds for our opinions and actions. If there exist in Ireland such mischief as was not to be apprehended in this part of the Empire, the worst injury to our country is to conceal its extent or its nature. And, moreover, it was supremely ridiculous for us to be making a secret of that which all the world is talking of; to think that, by solemn grimaces and mysterious mutterings, we can keep mankind from knowing what no human being doubts but some of ourselves. He should speak, therefore, with perfect plainness; and he was sure that, as he had a right to take credit for 1056 the sincerity and earnest conviction that induced him to do so, he should get indulgence, even from those who might be startled by his touching on topics, which he admitted that, on ordinary occasions, was not prudent to make the subjects of public discussion. Besides which, they knew well that the tone in which he should speak was one far more in unison with public feeling than it used to be. They knew that the state of opinion with respect to Ireland was very much altered; that the people of England—that they themselves were beginning to feel that there was something serious in the state of that country; some real, deep-seated, organic mischief, which was not to be counteracted by temporary applications, or the old method of treatment; but which must be counteracted forthwith, if we hoped to maintain the peace and integrity of the Empire. They knew this; and they knew that before this increased sense of danger, many an ancient prejudice, that use to veil the truth and obscure our love of justice, is fading fast away; that our countrymen, instead of being startled with plain statements of the whole truth, are in a humour to be thankful to those who tell it, and still more thankful to those who will hold out to them the hope of any practical remedy, even though of a kind of which hitherto they have scrupled to entertain the suggestion. The real question is, how we are to deal with what is called the disaffection of the Irish people. He was sorry to use language at all in accordance with that of the Gentlemen opposite who represented the Orange party of Ireland; but he need hardly say that where he agreed with their statements of fact, he utterly repudiated the spirit in which they were made; but he found it impossible to doubt that the entire body of the Catholics of Ireland may be represented as, in a certain sense of the word, disaffected—not to the Crown, most assuredly, but to the governing class, and to the institutions of the Empire of which they form a part. He owned he had no great difficulty in yielding belief to this most lamentable fact. We have always governed Ireland as if our object was to alienate the affections of the Irish Catholics, and he was prepared to find that we have succeeded. There was every evidence of such being the result. If he looked to the language of those whose speeches find favour with the 1057 people, to the sentiments of those newspapers which have the greatest influence in Ireland, particularly the Nation, which was started only a twelvemonth ago, and which, as appears by Returns laid on the Table, had within six months from its origin a far larger circulation than any other Irish newspaper, and to every indication of the temper of large masses of the people congregated together; if he compared these accounts with such private information as he got from other sources, he was irresistibly brought to the conclusion, that from one end of the Catholic population of Ireland to the other, there exists a deep and settled alienation from the Empire of which they form a part. He was not speaking without consideration, or with any intentional exaggeration: but his firm opinion—an opinion from which, in private conversation with many persons of all parties, he had hardly met a dissentient—was, that that feeling of alienation is so strong, that nothing but simple fear keeps the great mass of the Irish people from breaking out into open violence. It is a frightful thing to believe that this terrible state of feeling exists among such a mass of our own people, to be constrained to believe that not less than one-fourth of the entire population of these two islands is as disaffected to our common government, as Lombardy to that of Austria, or as Poland to that of Russia. But it was impossible to doubt it when, in addition to all these direct proofs of the feelings of the people, it was seen that our Government retains its possession of Ireland solely by the means by which the Austrians and Russians hold Lombardy and Poland, namely, by the presence of an overwhelming military force. The impression which he avowed was one which the Ministry, by their own acts have forced on the public of this country. If they wished to remove this fearful impression from the public mind, it must be by producing such proofs of the real good disposition of the mass of the people of Ireland as shall show his own inferences from their public demonstrations to be unfounded. In the mean time, he must found his opinion on the evidence which was before the world; and he must, therefore, believe that the alienation of the Irish Catholics was not only strong and extensive, but very durable in its character. It is the alienation of religion and race. It is, in fact, a national aliena- 1058 tion—that of Catholic Ireland from Protestant Britain. Its tendency obviously is to the end in which the hostility of natives living under the same government must eventually result. We, in fact, say that the real object of the Irish is entire separation, and the Irish themselves avow that they wish a partial separation from us. He must confess, that when he looked at the force of this hostile population, he was startled by the aspect of numbers and zeal concentrated under the direction of a single will, of a most perfect organization, and of great intelligence. The mere inert inorganic disaffection of a nation of six millions is in itself a terrible antagonist for any government. But the fact is, that in Ireland there exists, apart from, and hostile to, the regular government, a machinery of government wielding a more commanding influence over the people than is possessed by any regular government in the world. He knew of no rules on earth who possesses so strong a hold on the confidence of a people, who guides them with such perfect ease, as Mr. O'Connell. But his power does not rest solely on his personal influence and exertions. He governs his people by the agency of the most powerful priesthood in the world, By their aid, and by that of a most thorough organization of local leaders, he wields six millions as if they had but one body and one soul. He tells them when and whither to move; he tells them when to be still; and whether for action or inaction, he is alike obeyed. To any thinking man this uniform obedience, and the perfect quiet consequent on it, are the most formidable signs of the feeling and purpose of the Irish people. They break out into no partial riots; they evince no disposition to resort to arms; under the greatest provocation they are most tranquil; they seem, in fact, thoroughly to know the exact measure of their strength, and to be determined not to waste it, but to reserve it until they can strike with effect. This is the plain state of things in Ireland. There is a revolted people, calmly and resolutely waiting the time when to show its hostility to most purposes. In such a state of things, is it wisdom to keep the evil out of the sight of our countrymen, or to throw a veil over the certain results, instead of discussing the means of averting them? The policy of the Government is that of simple coercion. It has redressed no one of the 1059 grievances of the people; but it has entrusted the whole Executive authority of the country to that minority which is execrated by the people. It removed from power those in whom the people confide; it covers the country with troops. Availing itself of the force at its disposal, it has seized the leaders of the people, who have thereupon been made liable to the penalties of a very questionable law, by a conviction procured by very questionable means. This is a policy calculated to repress any immediate movement—meant, but he felt assured not at all calculated, to produce the further effect of awing the people into abandoning all projects of future resistance. But it can have no effect in attaching them to you; it will certainly exasperate them more bitterly. Probably it will simply and greatly aggravate the existing evil. He trusted that Mr. O'Connell would be able to prevent any outbreak. As for the notion that coercive measures will in the slightest degree induce the Irish people to abandon the hope and project of ultimate success, that appeared to him a chimera. Depend upon it that they will go on, waiting for their opportunity with just as confident an assurance of success, and just as settled a conception of their plan as ever, ay, with tenfold rage in their hearts. He asked them as men with some power of calm consideration, amid the rage of their party warfare, he asked them seriously to consider in what must this end? The most favourable chance for the Government—he did not, indeed he did not mean, to charge them with desiring to bring it about—but undoubtedly the most favourable circumstance for their views would be a premature, unassisted insurrection, which the army would in all human probability crush with sanguinary severity, to be followed up by the rigours of the law, and the yet more terrible penalty of famine consummating the ravages of civil war. He believed that such an event, instead of establishing the security of your present system, would precipitate its downfall. For he felt convinced, that at the sight of such horrors the generous feelings of our countrymen would be called forth;—as in the case of Canada, the insurrection would be forgotten when they contemplated the severity of the punishment; they would at once recognise the enormity of the system which provoked such a result, and was upheld by such severity; 1060 and tardy compassion would sweep away the abuses which considerate justice might better remove without the intervention of calamity. But if such were not the result—if reconquered Ireland were to be kept by the sword, did they think they would have extinguished resentment, destroyed the bond of national hostility, or one whit improved their security in the contingency of foreign war? As long as Mr. O'Connell lives, and can keep the Irish people in hand, there is no chance either of armed insurrection, or of such general passive resistance to the law, as he fancied it would be very difficult for any force to repress. But we must look a little further for the real danger which may ultimately result from the continuance of a state of disaffection, committing itself by no outward acts, but not the less keeping immutable its stern resolve of vengeance. The contingency of a foreign war, was, he hoped, remote; but it is one which no wise man can safely omit from his consideration. Now, he asked, whether any rational man would venture to assert a confident belief, that even a foreign army landing in Ireland, in the present humour of the people, would not find the population friendly? He hoped he might be mistaken. Everybody knows that if the enemy had reason to court an opportunity of striking so deadly a blow, he would, whenever he judged it expedient, find it easy to land in Ireland any amount of force at his disposal, in spite of any obstacle that our navy could put in its way. But if we even entertain a doubt on such a subject, we are in fact secure of Ireland only as long as we can keep out of war? He rejoiced to know that we are at present on terms of cordial understanding, with Foreign Powers, and so far he thoroughly approved of the policy of the present Government; though, he confessed it seemed that their disposition to concede much to Foreign Powers was too much connected with their determination to concede nothing to Ireland. But after all, the surest foundation of a good understanding between two countries is their mutual understanding of the imprudence of attacking each other; and he believed, that the present state of Ireland was more likely to bring us into collision with Foreign Powers than any other conceivable cause. Nothing could be more foolish than to rely on never going to war again, or to carry on a policy which must be produc- 1061 tive of ruin and ignominy in the event of war breaking out. The risk is so horrible that no odds justify us in exposing ourselves to it; and common prudence tells us that we may much more easily and surely escape this danger by securing the good-will of Ireland than by relying on that of any Foreign Power. There can be no harm in speaking plainly about these matters; for he suggested to no one who could injure us, anything that is not perfectly well known. The state of Ireland is thoroughly appreciated by every foreign Minister in Europe: it is the theme of public discussion throughout America. He dared say Louis Philippe, simple as he is, has some inkling of it. As for the Irish themselves, he had but alluded to the tenth part of the contingencies and the plans of resistance which have been the topics of the Repeal newspapers—which have for twelve months been circulated all over Ireland, and which Her Majesty's Government have been so wise as to republish during the recent trials at Dublin. He did not see why those who cause, and who will have to provide against the danger, should be the only persons who are never, to take it into account. He had spoken of the fearful risks to which the general disaffection of the Irish exposes us. Now look to the mischief which it actually does. It entails on us enormous expense. It imposes on us the necessity of constant deviations from the regular course of constitutional Government. But worse than all these things, it is the great obstacle to any improvement of the condition of the Irish people. The physical condition and turbulence of the Irish peasantry are the worst eye-sore of Europe. Intelligent travellers, who are conversant with the rest of Europe, assert without any dissentient voice, that the Irish are the most miserable people in all Europe. The existence of such a state of things is a scandal to our country. But nothing effectual really can be done by a Government for a disaffected people; we must attach them to us before they will allow us to improve their condition; and the great evil of the present state of feeling in Ireland is, that as long as it lasts nothing can be done for the material wants of its population. In endeavouring to impress on the House the existence and character of this general disaffection, he had said nothing to justify or palliate: or, on the other hand, to reprobate it: his purpose being simply to pre- 1062 vent that disaffection in the one practical point of view—as a great fact, not to be declaimed or doubted away, not to be unheeded, but which must be recognized as the basis of our Irish policy. It will not do now-a-days to lay the guilt of national disaffection on the culpable acts of agitators and demagogues. The world has pretty well made up its mind with Mr. Burke, that a people may be provoked, but never is instigated to revolt. If we wish to put an end to disaffection, it is not the agitator we must remove, but the grievance which supplies him with the discontent on which he works. And if this be our object, let us not be misled into confounding the real cause with the immediate object of the agitation. The Irish people demand Repeal of the Union as a remedy; but it would be absurd to say the Union is the grievance that has produced their present state of feeling. We are bound to listen to their complaints as guiding us to the grievance which makes them cry out. We must find it out, and must remove it; but we are by no means bound to remove it by applying a remedy which we deem inefficient or dangerous, or any remedy save that which deliberate thought teaches us to regard as the best. Now it seemed to him that no man could look in earnest for the cause—not of the misery of the Irish people, but of their disaffection to the Government—without seeeing that it is a religious grievance. That it must, be so is clear from the fact that disaffection in Ireland is almost exactly co-extensive with the Catholic religion, that the Catholic priesthood, as a body, are the leaders of the disaffected; that the period of the present outbreak of disaffection is that of the triumph of the anti-Catholic party in the Impetial Government. And if he looked about him to see what there is in Ireland which the Irish Catholics must, and which they do in fact, regard as a grievance, he saw that which not only they, but all the world, declared to be the most intolerable outrage ever anywhere offered to the national and religious feelings of a nation—the ascendancy of the English Church. There is a notion among a certain school of politicians, that this is far too refined a point of honour to enter into the heads of the common people; and they who believe that the great mass of people are to be regarded as beasts, that must be happy while their bellies are filled, and who shut their eyes to the fact, 1063 that in almost all cases, national revolts have had their immediate cause in some offence to the feelings, and not to the interests of the people—they are persons with whom he would not attempt to reason. Assuming the Irish people to have the common feelings of human nature, it seems incontestable that the ascendancy of the English Church has every feature of outrage to national feeling that can render insult most irritating and injurious. In the first place, it is a most glaring, palpable wrong. The existence of a Protestant Establishment in Ireland is so irreconcileable with every principle on which the connection of Church and State is ever defended by reasonable men, that it is clear as noon-day that we only impose it on the Irish, because we scorn their weakness and their feelings to that extent, that we think we may dispense with observing towards them the commonest rules of fair-dealing. On every rational principle on which we have heard a Church Establishment defended, if there be any Established Church in Ireland, it ought to be the Catholic Church. The business for which the Church Establishment of a country ought to exist, is that of providing for the religious wants of the majority of the people, and above all, of providing for those of the poor. Now, what have we done in Ireland, sacrilegious robbers as we are? We have plundered, we still plunder the many of that provision which was made for their religious wants, in order to create a sinecure Church for the few: we have deprived the poor man of his Church, in order to gorge the rapacity of the rich. Again, the dominant Church of Ireland is associated with the most horrible recollections that are attached to any existing institution in any one country in the world. Take not only the intensity of the persecution, but the numbers subjected to it the secondary evils that have resulted from it, and the period during which it has gone on, and he sincerely believed, that the policy pursued since the time of Elizabeth, of attempting to force the Protestant Church on the people of Ireland, has been the cause of a greater amount of human misery than any other that ever operated to the detriment of a nation. It is idle to think that the horror of these too true traditions has no influence even in the peasant's mind, and that to his mental vision the Anglican Church ever presents itself, except clouded with dark 1064 recollections of conquest, of confiscation, of massacre, of laws that made the exercise of his own religion penal, that set son against father, and that denounced un-nameable barbarity against the honoured teachers of his own faith; exactions under which he himself has suffered, of bloodshed which he himself, perhaps, has witnessed. He spoke now solely of evils past: but is there a people in the world, possessing the gifts of speech and memory, that can ever look without abhorrence on the institution which has just ceased to be the direct agent of such mischief to him and his? But the truth is, that with every evil that the Irishman now suffers the existence of the present Church Establishment is directly connected either as cause or concomitant. You can, more or less, trace almost every evil of Ireland to the religious question. It is the original cause, undoubtedly, of the horrible state of the relations between rich and poor; it is the cause of the Catholic peasant having been left so entirely at the mercy of the Protestant landlord, without either law, custom, or feeling to protect him. It is the cause of the alienation of classes, of the perverted state of public opinion, of the political abuse of the powers of the Magistracy, and of the utter want of confidence felt in the entire administration of justice. In every relation of life the Catholic peasant feels that he is ill-used under the designation of Papist. Can you wonder that he hates the Church, for and in the name of which all this oppression is perpetrated? If these are the feelings which the ascendancy of the English Church must produce in the minds of peasants, what tenfold bitterness must it inspire into the Catholic gentleman, but yet more into the Catholic priest! He is cognizant of the glaring injustice to which his creed is subjected: he knows that that injustice is one to which there is no fellow in the world: he knows the lofty position which his Church occupies in the rest of the Christian world, and feels its humiliation at home—he is conversant with the horrors of the past—he estimates the whole connection between it and the existing evils of his country; and he feels the precariousness of his income, and the mortifying severity with which it has to be wrung from the needy. Has this man the common feelings of a man, and can you think he will ever acquiesce in this position of inferiority of 1065 his own Church to that which he believes to be heretical, and he knows to be intrusive? He never will. The existence of this great wrong is the barrier which lies in the way of tranquillity and improvement in Ireland. While we continue to perpetrate this bold and wanton outrage on the first principles of justice and good sense, the people of Ireland never will—nay, never ought, to believe in our justice or good-will. While we keep the ascendancy of the English Church, we are heaping up difficulties. Remove this grievance, and give redress on the one or two minor points, such as the franchise, which are in effect Catholic grievances, and the way will be clear to govern Ireland quietly, and to take steps for improving the condition of the people. But the removal of religious inequality is the one essential preliminary to every project of good: and if we cannot get over the prejudices or party interests which forbid our doing that, we must make up our minds at once to abandon every hope of serving the people of Ireland. He could not, in justice to the Irish people, help asserting his belief, that however strong and general their resentment against us may now be, their deep sense of that equal justice which they have so rarely had—their known susceptibility of their gratitude would make such a concession decisive in attaching them fervently and enduringly to us. He had adopted from their adversaries a word, which they may think too harsh a designation for their state of feeling, even in the limited sense in which he had applied the term disaffection to them. He owed it to them, as well as to his argument, to show how very easily a small measure of justice may attach to a Government a people, who have shown most unequivocally a temporary disaffection; and he would take an instance of what had passed within a few years, in our own Empire. Every one recollected the Canadian insurrection of 1838, in which the whole French population of that colony took part. When he was in Canada, he found no one who pretended to doubt, that if a foreign army had made its appearance, it would have been hailed with joy, as an auxiliary in the cause of revolt. What, then, was done to conciliate the people of Canada, and bring them back to their allegiance? Lord Durham, in his report, made two recommendations. 1066 In consequence, the Union of the two provinces was carried, and responsible government was promised them. Lord Sydenham's administration, however, was not able to remove the discontent which prevailed, until the right hon. Baronet sent out Sir C. Bagot to conduct the government of the colony. Sir C. Bagot adopted the second recommendation of responsible government; that was, he admitted the heads of the French population to a share of power, and within six months that loyal population were offering up prayers in the churches for the health of the Governor who had granted this boon, and the prosperity of the mother country which ratified it. This was an instance of successful conciliation produced by the wise policy of the right hon. Baronet. Having seen the effect of conciliation on Canada, he recommended the Government to try the same course with respect to Ireland, and he was convinced it would succeed. He thought he ought now, to state how, in his opinion, the grievances might be dealt with. It was only by establishing a perfect religious equality in Ireland. There were two ways of doing that. He believed it would have been best for this country had Mr. Pitt been able to carry into effect the enlarged plan he conceived for the Union. Mr. Pitt desired first to emancipate the Catholics; secondly, to pay the Roman Catholic clergy, and thirdly, to effect the Union; but, unfortunately, the order of doing these things was reversed, and the Union was effected without the concomitants. He held, that had Mr. Pitt been able to carry out his whole scheme, Ireland would have been as well governed as any country in the world. The time for paying the Catholic Clesgy, was, however, now past. It was one of the Sybiline books irrevocably missing. The Irish Catholics now distrusted the spirit in which the offer was made; they believed, that the object was—as, indeed, it had been openly avowed—by buying the priesthood, to bribe off the leaders of the people. The proposal would now be rejected from one end of Ireland to the other; and he believed, if the Government were to carry it into effect without caring for the consent of the Irish Clergy, they would pay a costly price for an instrument which would not be of the slightest service; for were the Catholic Clergy now to take the pay of the State they would lose all hold upon the people, 1067 and the Government would thus lose an instrument upon which we now must rely for the maintenance of any thing like order in Ireland. He feared, then, that that plan must be given up, and equality produced in another way. He believed it was not the actual amount of money paid to the Protestant Church that was objected to, but the position of dominancy and ascendancy that was maintained by that Church. If the Protestant Clergy were paid as the Presbyterians were, he believed, that the angry feeling would be appeased, because he did not think a change was desired for the purpose of getting at any part of the money, and he believed, too, that a perfect regard would be had by Catholics to all existing life interests. Take the whole property of the Church into the hands of the Government; pay the Clergy of that Church on the congregational principle, providing, not a clergyman for each parish, but just enough clergymen for the scattered Protestants of Ireland; apply the remainder of the revenues of the Church to the common purposes of the whole population, and he believed all would be done that was necessary to remove the present disaffection in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman, the Recorder of Dublin, had objected to substituting the congregational for the territorial principle, because he said that it would divest the English Church in Ireland of the character of an Established Church, and reduce it to the position of a sect having no recognised superiority over others. It was because he himself thought it would do so that he considered it so desirable. It would at once divest the English Church of the character of a State Church; and as we could not, in Ireland, make the real Church of the people, the Church of the State, we must have no State Church. This is the first step to be taken. The physical condition of the people would, doubtless, not thereby be bettered, but their minds would then be inclined to give confidence and support to after-measures. The right hon. Baronet had begun at the wrong end, in supposing that by some alteration of the Law of Landlord and Tenant, he would effect a pacification, without also relieving spiritual grievances. Were religious grievances effaced, the welfare might be easily and speedily promoted of a country which only required justice to develope its resources. The Government relied on the majority at their back, 1068 and on those religious prejudices of the English people which have been so successfully appealed to. Still, even in that respect, the people of England had not been fairly dealt with. Put fairly before them, the monstrous iniquity that had been perpetrated upon the people of Ireland, and the progress of truth and justice must ultimately be successful. But certain he felt, that without establishing religious equality all their efforts to conciliate Ireland would be wholly useless, and would only form another disastrous chapter in the history of that injured country.
Sir, it is impossible to deny, and I feel no desire to deny to the noble Lord the Member for London, the credit of having made on this important subject, an able and very clever Opposition motion, and an able and clever Opposition speech; an able Opposition motion, because under the captivating form of a Committee for the purpose merely of inquiry, which the noble Lord well knows will most certainly be rejected—and, without that certainty, the noble Lord would never have ventured to bring it forward; but in the certainty of the rejection of his motion by the House, the noble Lord has created for himself a convenient opportunity for saying, "Look at the gross injustice of refusing the inquiry—behold the insults which this Government heap on the people of Ireland—a mere motion is made for an inquiry into the grievances of Ireland, and that motion is repelled by a contemptuous majority." Now, such is the language the noble Lord will hold, and such is the language that will be held, very probably already is held, and dinned into the people by his friends in Ireland. ["No, no."] The noble Lord knows too well to whom that language will be held in Ireland; and he knows that the form in which that motion is introduced, gives the greatest facility for the use of that language. The motion is a direct, a manifest, a palpable censure on Her Majesty's Government. It is so in intention, though it is not so in terms; and on this point I cannot help thinking, that it would have been more straightforward in the noble Lord, although perhaps not so politic, if he had not put his motion in that convenient form in which he casts blame on his political opponents for the grievances existing in Ireland, and at the same time avoids the necessity of suggesting any remedy for those grievances, or stating even an outline of the policy the noble Lord would himself adopt. Now I 1069 do not go the length of the hon. Member who has just sat down in the view he takes of the case of Ireland; I do look at that country with a serious, an anxious, and with an earnest, and I will not be afraid to add with an apprehensive care. I do not, however, agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman—I do not believe the hon. and learned Gentleman really thinks that it cannot be doubted by any one, that if a foreign army were to land upon the soil of Ireland, they would find from a great part of the population a friendly reception. But if the hon. and learned Gentleman does think so, I, Sir, have a higher opinion of the loyalty and the good feeling of the people of Ireland than would appear to be entertained by the hon. and learned Gentleman. But if it be true, indeed, as the hon. and learned Gentleman says, that upon the first threat of war a great portion of the population of Ireland are ready to welcome the invasion of a force hostile to Great Britain—if, indeed, it be true, as the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, that Ireland is filled with not a disaffected but a revolted people—a revolted people calmly awaiting the moment when they may avow their hostility, banded together as one man under a leader, who rules them with absolute sway, whether for action or inaction, who, if it suit his ulterior purposes to tell them to be peaceable, are peaceable; but who, if he but raises his finger, are ready to break out into rebellion—if that be true, then I can conceive, at this moment when a most important prosecution has just terminated, and a conviction gained—then, I say, I can conceive, that for party objects the motion may be useful; but for great and national objects, I can conceive no course involving a more tremendous responsibility than that of men who have served the Crown, and who may hope again to serve the Crown, to come forward at this moment, when every popular prejudice is in a ferment in Ireland, when the popular feeling there is excited, as some hon. Gentlemen have told us, to almost madness, and assail by every species of misrepresentation, and thwart by every hostility, the course which, under such tremendous circumstances, has been taken by those who are charged with the safety of this great country. And what, Sir, has been that course? Has it been, as the hon. and learned Gentleman states must be the inevitable result of such a state of things as he has in such forcible terms described, a violation, a continual violation of constitutional principles? 1070 What principle have we violated? What law have we strained? What new powers have we asked for? What rights and privileges have we taken away? To what do we appeal? You tell me you think Ireland to be in a most dangerous state. You tell me you consider that Mr. O'Connell is the leader of that danger. You tell me that he is at the head of that hostile population, acting upon it by his agents and associates. The noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) tells us that Mr. O'Connell possesses the affections and the confidence of the Irish people; and the noble Lord insisted that we must be guided in our policy towards Ireland, by the opinion of Mr. O'Connell. A more forgiving man than the noble Lord I never knew. Without violence, without extraordinary powers,—nay, under some reproaches on the part of many, and reproaches now on the part of the hon. Gentleman opposite, that we did not interfere earlier—we have—as I ventured to say last year we should—pursued a steady and a legal course; and without violation of the law, without increased power, trusting to the law, and to the law alone, we have brought to judgment and to conviction the leader of this dangerous agitation. You tell me that the danger is not over; you tell me that we have not succeeded in our object, that this very conviction has driven the people to madness; ay, and before you received the very record of that conviction, ay, and before the Law-officer of the Crown could appear to face your calumnies and charges against him—you think it right, you think it patriotic, you think it safe, you think it decent, here, in the House of Commons, to excite an already maddened people, and to arraign here in this Assembly, and from such reports as you receive, the conduct, the words, the voice, the gestures, of the highest functionaries of the law. [Mr. Sheil: "No, no."] I am sorry that I excite the right hon. and learned Gentleman so much, but that is the truth. A noble Lord, I think, at an early period of this debate, accused Her Majesty's Government of occupying and not governing Ireland; and it has been made, for a very considerable time, a matter of charge against the Government, that it was their determination and their principle to rule Ireland by military force, and not by adherence to the law. Now, what are the facts of the case? The noble Lord commented, on what he called a false return produced by the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department; and an hon. Gen- 1071 tleman called for a return of the rank and file in Ireland in every year during the last ten years. That return was produced; and what is the result? Why, that this military despotism, this Government that rules by force—this Government which is bent upon superseding by brute force, and by the army, the ordinary course of law—have, during the two years they have been in office, up to the commencement of 1843, maintained in Ireland a force of just 2,000 men lower, on the average, than the average number of men maintained in that country by hon. Gentlemen opposite during a period of seven years when they were in power. I will not go through the figures. ["Yes, yes!"] Well, then, I must state, that in the year 1832, the military force in Ireland numbered 19,301 men; in 1833 it was 23,988 men; in 1834, 23,035; and in the next seven years, from 1835 down to 1841, the average force was 16,810 men. The lowest force in Ireland in any single year was 14,687 men; and the present despotic arbitrary Government, on the average of the two years, 1842 and 1843, have had in Ireland a force of 14,833 men. In the month of May, 1842, they had in Ireland a force somewhat below 13,000 men, the least military force that has ever been maintained in Ireland since the Union. A noble Lord moved for the production of a letter from the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, which has been produced, offering, on a temporary exigency, to give up four or five regiments on account of disturbances in England in 1839. In that year the force in Ireland was 16,260 men, and if the whole four regiments, calculating them at the ordinary strength of regiments in garrison in Ireland, had been sent out of Ireland, they would not have reduced the force, except by a very few men, below the average amount of force kept up in Ireland by the present Government. But in 1843 commenced a system in that country which I think I may venture to describe as a system of most pernicious agitation. Multitudinous meetings were held in every part of the country, which, if not in themselves strictly illegal, I think no man can deny were such as to cause reasonable and serious alarm,—although they did not commit violence, because that was contrary to the immediate object of those leaders at whose beck the people rise or are still; but will any man tell me that a succession of these meetings of 200,000 and 300,000 persons, collected under the plea of petitioning Parliament, but not petitioning Parlia- 1072 ment—meetings at which the most exciting language was used,—the scenes selected for which were calculated to revive the most rancorous hostility towards England, meetings at which expressions were used, the tendency of which was to create ill-will and animosity between the two countries; will any man tell me, that if these meetings were not in themselves illegal, their tendency was not such as to create reasonable apprehension, if not of immediate disturbance of the public peace, at least of the overthrow of the functions of settled government? Will any man tell me that the Minister of the Crown, who is responsible for the peace of this Empire, would be justified in seeing, day by day, and week by week, multitudinous meetings of 200,000 and 300,000 men arrayed, disciplined, and taught their own strength,—and, after the declaration of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, that it needed but the holding-up of the finger of one man to raise that strength into rebellion, will any one say that the conduct of the Government was not justified?—nay, will any one deny that the Government would have been deserving of impeachment if they had not met this display of physical force by an accession of physical force sufficient, thank God! not only to check any outrage, but to overawe the multitude, and prevent the possibility of such outrage being committed? I admit, that in 1843, we largely increased our military force in Ireland; yet, even now, we have not increased it to the same amount to which it had been raised, and at which it stood in 1833. Nor have we raised the whole force in Ireland very materially above what it was in 1834 and 1835; for, although in the earlier period of the administration of hon. Gentlemen opposite, they did somewhat reduce the military force, they will recollect, at the same time, that they largely increased the police and constabulary forces; and those hon. Gentlemen who thought of governing Ireland by their own influence with the people will remember that, if they had not so large a military force, the physical force they employed was as large, if not larger, than that which was maintained by the Government which they succeeded. If the House will allow me, I will now take the liberty of dealing with some of the topics to which the noble Lord called attention in his opening speech, and to which many hon. Gentlemen have alluded who followed the noble Lord, And I may venture to say, 1073 that the whole course of this debate has singularly illustrated the prudence of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London in bringing forward a motion for a Committee instead of making any substantive proposal; for, though there has been great unanimity in condemning the Government—and some discrepancy, nevertheless, as to the causes for which they are condemned—and great difference of opinion as to the course which ought to have been pursued by Her Majesty's Ministers, and as to the nature of the measures which the Government succeeding the present Administration ought to propose—great blame has been attached to the Government, because they did not interfere soon enough; then an objection was taken that they interfered too soon; and then they were blamed for issuing a proclamation too late, when my right hon. Friend proved, by a fair statement of dates that it was impossible, by any physical power, to have issued the Government proclamation relative to the Clontarf meeting one day earlier. ["Oh! oh!" and laughter, from the Opposition Benches.] I really thought this question had been settled. ["Oh! oh!"] I will not weary the House by a repetition of the statement of my right hon. Friend. I will allow the matter to rest upon the statement of my right hon. Friend, which I think the House and the country must consider satisfactory. Some hon. Gentlemen on the other side gave me an ironical cheer when I said that we had not strained the law. Now I ask any hon. Gentleman to rise in his place, and to tell me, and to tell the House, and to tell the country, what law we have strained, what course we have pursued which was not justified by the circumstances and which it was not imperative upon us to adopt. I will not deal with the question with regard to the accidental omission of some of the names on the jury list; that was a matter with which the Government had nothing whatever to do. I mention this as an instance of the breathless haste with which hon. Gentlemen have come forward to make these accusations. We have heard it said over and over again, repeated usque ad nauseam, that sixty-five Catholics were omitted from the list, at least sixty-five persons, the greater proportion being Catholics. ["Oh!"] That was the statement originally made. The charge was this—that the traversers, or the majority of them, being Catholics, they were prejudiced on their trial, in consequence of the exclusion 1074 of a number of Catholics from the jury list. That was the charge. What turns out to be the fact? Sixty names were not omitted—no, nor thirty. ["Oh! oh!"] Only twenty-four names were omitted. [An hon. Member, twenty-seven.] Fifteen of these names were those of persons residing in one parish. I am stating what I have heard from the Recorder of Dublin. The Recorder does not know of these fifteen persons, who were Catholics, or who Protestants; but this he knows, that the Gentleman from whose negligence, or in consequence of whose omission, these names were not placed on the list, is himself a Roman Catholic. Yet we are charged with omitting the names of these persons because they were Catholics. We, the Government, who had nothing whatever to do with the matter, are charged with omitting the names of Catholics from the jury list, to the prejudice of Catholics who were placed on their trial. It turns out, however, that the number of names omitted is only one-fourth the number of those charged; and these names were omitted, not by the Government, not by an enemy, but by a person who is himself a Catholic. Then a charge was brought against us for striking the jury. [An hon. Member, "Challenging.") That is a term which has been used, but it is an inaccurate expression. What was the fact? The noble Lord has very ingeniously contrived altogether to omit noticing the distinction between Common and Special Juries. He has omitted to tell the House that if the Government had had a Common Jury, which they might have had, the Crown had the power, without limit, of causing persons to stand by, and the Crown might, under such circumstances have been charged, though unjustly, with packing the Jury. We resorted to no such advantage; we appealed to a Special Jury; and we took it as the jury list then stood. The traversers complained that the special jury list was not an accurate list, and they applied for time. This request was acceded to, and the trial did not take place until the new jury list was formed. How was it framed? Not by a law which we introduced; not according to any new-fangled system; no, but according to a law, framed, I presume, to facilitate the due administration of justice,—introduced, I believe, by Sir Colman O'Loghlin, at that time Attorney-general. What were the conditions of that law? Out of the whole number of 700 persons, forty-eight names were to be taken 1075 by chance. After this was done, did the Government exercise their right of challenge? Did they cause persons to stand by? Did they exercise any discretion whether they would or would not strike any names out? No, but of the forty-eight names, the Government on the one hand, and the traversers on the other, were each compelled to strike off twelve names. Some hon. Gentlemen have said—"But the Government officers struck off all the Roman Catholics." My noble Friend has stated—and I am convinced that those who know him will not have the slightest hesitation, even under the influence of any party-feeling, in giving implicit confidence to any statement he may make on this or any subject—my noble Friend has stated, that it was the positive direction of the Irish Government—which direction had the cordial approval of the Government here, that no man should be struck off that panel on account of the religions opinions he might entertain. "But," it is said, "it happens, that ten Catholics were struck off." The answer made to this statement, is, that to the best of our belief, those Catholics were all Repealers, and not Repealers only. [Mr. Sheil "No! no!"] The right hon. Gentleman has an advantage over me, but he must recollect, that he has a little professional bias in this case. I have none. An affidavit was put in, stating, that to the best of the belief of the officers who struck the list, these persons were Repealers. [Mr. Sheil, "No!"] Then, if an affidavit was not put in, a statement was made on the part of the Government officers, that these persons were believed to be Members of the Repeal Association. [Mr. Sheil, "Yes,"]—On the other hand, after some delay had taken place, an affidavit was put in on the part of the traversers, to the effect that the persons making that affidavit believed that the parties whose names were struck off were not Repealers, nor were in any way connected with the Repeal Association. Mark: an affidavit to this effect was originally offered. After a very considerable time had elapsed, it happened to be mentioned that this affidavit was not forthcoming, and then at last came out an affidavit, not saying that these ten persons whose names were struck off were not members of the Repeal Association, but that, to the best belief of the parties making the affidavit, two out of the ten were not members of the Association. The right hon. Member opposite (Sir G. Grey) has confessed that with regard to members of 1076 the Repeal Association we were perfectly justified in striking their names off the list; nay, that the Government would have been guilty of a great dereliction of duty if they had not struck them off. And now with respect to those two persons whom the attorneys for the traversers believe were not members of the Repeal Association; as to one of them, he was fully believed at the time of striking the list, and is even at this moment believed to be, if not a member of the Repeal Association, a person who had signed a petition in favour of Repeal; while the other of the two names certainly turned out to be a Roman Catholic; but at the period he was struck off the jury list he was firmly believed, not only to be a Protestant in religion, but also to be a strong Conservative in politics. As a confirmation of this belief, it appears that at the last registration that person was registered as a Protestant and a Conservative, on the Conservative interest. It is not necessary to say why that person was struck off; but I think I have shown that he was not struck off on account of his supposed religion, or for the purpose of prejudicing the traversers. Hon. Gentlemen talk of striking off Roman Catholics, and seem to think it very strange and extraordinary, and as being tantamount to a declaration against the Roman Catholics as not being worthy of being believed on their oaths, and God knows how much more of that sort of thing. I agree with much of that, for I wish to throw no disparagement on the honour of the Catholics. I have just received the affidavit which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sheil) said had not been made. [Mr. Sheil: I never denied the existence of such a document.] It is dated the 12th of July, 1844, and is made by William Kemmis, Crown solicitor, was sworn before the Court of Queen's Bench, and is signed by William Bourne, Clerk of the course—[Laughter]—clerk of the Crown, I mean; and is a complete answer to the right hon. Gentleman who denied the existence of this affidavit. [Mr. Sheil: I did not.] The affidavit states that the deponent did not believe that eleven persons professing the Catholic religion were struck off the list of forty-eight inasmuch as he believed there were only ten names on the list of persons who professed that religion. That previous to reducing the forty-eight names to twenty-four, he had received information, which he at the time believed and still believes, that all of the ten Catholics whose names 1077 were struck off were members of the Repeal Association, and contributors to the Repeal Fund. Really I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for having made these objections to the affidavit, because it does show the kind of spirit which is imported into this House by hon. Gentlemen, even on the discussion of so important a case as this undoubtedly is. I cannot help regretting that the right hon. Gentleman should have brought into a discussion of so great a question, those quibbles and quirks by which in a court of law it is sometimes sought to impede the course of substantial justice. The right hon. Gentleman says that there is not a word about Repealers in the affidavit. But the words of the affidavit, are, that the deponent believes that the parties were either Repealers, or had subscribed to the funds of the Association called the Loyal National Repeal Association. But let us consider the matter a little further. I was going to say when the affidavit was handed to me that the Crown is charged with striking off the names of ten Roman Catholics; and the Crown, in exercising this its undoubted right of striking off twelve names on the list, is charged with having offered an insult to the Catholics of Ireland. But, meanwhile, it is not considered for a single moment a matter deserving of the slightest notice that on the part of the traversers it so happened that no one but Protestants were struck off. I don't blame them. What is the object of the striking off the twenty-four names? Not to impugn the credibility of the persons; not to charge with perjury any of those gentlemen, but to secure an equal trial to each party—the Crown on the one side, and the traversers on the other. It is for this purpose that the parties have the opportunity of striking off those whom they think most likely to have a bias against them. It is not certain who are the parties they will strike off: but if I, as a professional man, believe that A has a bias against my client I should be neglecting my duty to that client if I retained A on the list in preference to B, whom I did not suspect of having any bias. I hope I have disposed of that question as to the striking of the jury. The hon. Gentleman who talks so much about an insult being offered to the Catholics, by striking off Catholics from the list, never reflects or considers that the traversers offer any insult to the Protestants, whom they either struck off the list, or who are left on it. They do not for a moment think that the Protestants can 1078 be in the slightest degree offended at its being implied by these complaints, that it is not possible for a Catholic to have a fair trial before them. But more than this; some hon. Gentlemen sneered when I said I had strained no law. There were many points raised at the trial, but they were all decided in favour of the Crown. Was any doubt entertained by the Bench as to the perfect legality of the whole proceedings. If there were, the right hon. and learned Gentleman will have an opportunity of telling me so. Some hon. Gentlemen have commented upon the terms in which the learned Chief Justice charged the Jury. I do not think it was very decent on the part of a Member of the legal profession to avail himself of the privileges which he enjoys as a Member of this House, for the purpose of attacking one of the highest functionaries of the law in his country, not for any mistake in point of law, for no man imputed that to the learned Judge, not for any indiscretion to the Jury, but for some expression—some words used by him, because he seemed to be summing up too much against the traversers. That learned Judge gave the unanimous opinion of the Judges associated with him as to the strict letter of the law. They all concurred on that point, and the Chief Justice having given the unanimous judgment of the Bench on the law, he left the facts to the Jury. And I must say, that I never in my life remember a jury who appeared to have a more conscientious sense of the value of their oaths, or who took more pains in passing, not a verdict of condemnation, but in passing in a most complicated case a most discriminating verdict with regard to the separate guilt of the different parties. Will any man tell me that there appeared the least bias on the minds of the Jury, or that they did not apply themselves during the whole of this most protracted trial in the most praiseworthy manner? By that Jury the unanimous verdict was given upon the facts, and by the Bench there was an unanimous agreement on the law, that the course pursued by the traversers in their several degrees was an offence against the law, and that the crime of conspiracy was brought home to them. And all this we have effected without any outbreak—without the violation of the law—and, having effected it, is this the time for a political party to come forward and make a motion for a Committee to inquire into the state of Ireland? The noble Lord expressed, in very general terms, the measures he in- 1079 tended to propose, and that which he thought it would be necessary to be done for the future welfare of Ireland. The pure administration of justice was the first; and I meet the noble Lord by saying, that I cordially and unreservedly concur with him. But if he brings a charge against the Government, that they have encouraged, sanctioned, or connived at any impure, partial, or unequitable administration of justice, I, on the part of the Government, deny it, in terms as strong as I can use, and I defy the noble Lord to bring forward a single instance to justify the charge. Has the noble Lord established his case—has he adduced a single case against the Government? No; but he went back to what had been the practice in the year 1823, as to the setting aside of jurors, and he told us that since that time a great improvement had been introduced by the rules established by Baron Brady, but the noble Lord forgot to say, that these are the very rules under which we are now acting, and which have been confirmed and sanctioned by the unanimous opinion of Her Majesty's Justices. Then the noble Lord goes to the franchise—but I am really afraid of wearying the House by following him through all his arguments. [Go on.] The noble Lord tells us, that the franchise is wretchedly confined, and he taunts me a good deal, and like another hon. and learned Gentleman (the Member for Cork) is extremely surprised that any proposition for an extension of the franchise should proceed from a Government of which I am a Member. The noble Lord thought it worth his while to recur back to the Registration Bill, which, as he stated, increased the difficulties of the claimants by sending them to great distances. That was one charge that he made against the Registration Bill. I shall not now enter into the merits of that Bill; but I will remind the noble Lord that so far from compelling the claimant to go a great distance, one of the objects of that bill was to multiply the places where his vote might be decided upon, and by that means to diminish the distance. [Lord J. Russell: But it established an appeal to the Judges of Assize.] Yes; so there was, a one-sided appeal, provided for by the Bill of the noble Lord, and Lord Morpeth, who brought forward his bill, introduced, if I recollect right, a system of double appeal. But the noble Lord said, I commented upon that Bill of Lord Morpeth's, and said it came 1080 forward under false colours and false pretences, because it was impossible to have a correct system of registration unless you extended the franchise. But I said nothing of the sort. I said the Bill came forward under false colours and false pretences, not because it was impossible to have a more stringent system of registration without extending the franchise, but because it professed to explain the doubts and difficulties that existed under the present system of registration, and then introduced a wholly new franchise. That was the ground on which I said it was introduced, "on false colours and false pretences." The noble Lord tells us with regard to what the franchise must be for the future, that we must conform to the wishes of the people of Ireland. Now, with every wish to meet the reasonable desires of the people of Ireland, if I am to take the wishes of the people of Ireland as interpreted by Mr. O'Connell, I must say I cannot take his views as my guide for introducing or supporting any alteration in the franchise. But the noble Lord talked of equality of rights. I tell the noble Lord that if he did adopt in Ireland the English franchise with the English interpretation of the law, he would very materially raise the existing franchise, and the qualification required by the existing Irish law very materially diminished the number of electors who either are or ought to be on the register of voters for Ireland. I pass from these questions, because they are not the main points of attack which covertly, in the first instance, and with some caution, had been brought forward, because there might appear to be great difference of opinion upon it on the other side of the House. The real subject—the pre-eminent grievance according to hon. Gentlemen opposite—is not the superiority, the wealth, the abuse—not the unnecessary extent—none of these, but it is the existence of a Protestant Established Church; and we are distinctly told, and if I thought so, I should say the prospect was gloomy indeed, that there is no chance of peace in Ireland—that there is no chance of contentment in Ireland, so long as exists the Protestant Established Church. Does the noble Lord make that declaration? No; but these are dangerous questions to raise. The noble Lord joins with those who differ widely from him; and I cannot acquit the noble Lord of having introduced this question, knowing all the danger, foreseeing all the embarrassment, and yet bringing it in at the most exciting time and on the most 1081 exciting subject, to abuse, and to raise the discontent of the Irish people—to tell them that it is justifiable in the existing state of things; and this, with the knowledge in his own mind—the conviction in his own conscience, that if to-morrow the responsibility were cast upon his own shoulders, he dare not, that he could not and would not, attempt to carry into effect that which is admitted to be the sine qua non of those Gentlemen who will vote with him, and by that man who, the noble Lord tells us, is the idol, the object of affection, the guide, and the counsellor of the Irish people, and without satisfying whom, it is hopeless to think of satisfying the Irish people. Now, really, Sir, when I pass over that important question (though the noble Lord has dealt with large subjects), when I come to deal with his proposals, is it possible to deal with anything so miserable and wretched as the abortion which he has proposed? He attacks the Commission of Landlord and Tenant, and makes use of all the expressions calculated to excite discontent with the existing state of the law. I agree that this is a difficult state of things; but he did not say that an Act of Parliament would remedy this. After exciting the passions of the people to ask for a remedy, he tells you, "The only thing (says the noble Lord) which I can suggest, and which I do think practicable, is to increase the number of Stipendiary Magistrates." And this is the lame and impotent conclusion of the other leader of the House—of one who did lead the Councils of Her Majesty's Government, and who, no doubt, aspires to lead them again. This is the wonderful measure which is to bring peace to Ireland. With regard to the Church, the noble Lord says, he does not wish, far from it, to destroy the Protestant Church—he does not wish to impair its resources—to take from it the superfluous wealth of some 250l. a-year, paid to different clergymen—to bring down (to use the words of an hon. Gentleman last night) "a pompous State Church gorged with the fruits of taxation." The noble Lord thinks in the abstract that this would be a good thing. "My principle (says the noble Lord) is equality—perfect equality between all religious sects and all denominations of Christians;" and his statement of his principle is received with great cheering; but when lie begins to act up to his principle, hon. Gentlemen find very different modes of estimation of what is equality. You may endow the Roman Catholic Church, 1082 or take away the endowment of the Protestant Church, or divide the endowment of the Protestant Church among them. How does the noble Lord mean to divide them when he comes to his abstract proposition? I don't say that he means to do it; but in his abstract proposition, does he mean that the 500,000l., the property of the Church, shall be divided into three equal portions, amongst the Roman Catholics, the Protestants, and the Presbyterians? Does he mean that? Why, you tell me, that the Roman Catholics are as six and a half to one. Then, according to the principle of numerical equality, he means to take from the Church seven-eighths of the 500,000l., and leave the remainder for the endowment of the Establishment in Ireland, as an evidence of his regard and affection for the Church. The noble Lord the Member for Sunderland was quite right in saying that all these vexatious questions of proportion of classes, of giving a little more here and a little more there, never would effect any object or give any content to the people. I agree with the noble Lord, that the time for such compromises is gone by. The question for the Empire is this, will you or will you not destroy the Protestant Church? Now, I do not rely with absolute confidence, or look on it as an absolute and unanswerable impediment to any course of legislation which may be desired by this House applicable to this subject; but this I say, that if there was one provision in the Act of Union to which greater importance was attached, or on which greater stress was laid at the time, or one in which the Irish party thought there was greater security than in another, it was that which declares, that the Protestant Established Church shall continue to be the Church of the United Kingdom. The noble Lord referred in the commencement of his speech to the importance of maintaining the Act of Union—of adhering not only to the letter, but to the expectations, and promises, and hopes held out at the time of the passing of that act; and he particularly referred to the Address to the Throne from the two Houses. That Address referred to certain resolutions passed by the Parliament of Ireland, and the House will, perhaps, allow me to read one of those resolutions referred to in that Address, as holding out expectations which the noble Lord says we ought to be cautious how we break:—That the continuance and preservation for ever of the said united church as the Esta- 1083 blished Church of that part of the United Kingdom called Ireland shall be deemed and taken to be a fundamental condition of the Act of Union.That resolution was identified with the address presented by the two Houses of Parliament to the Crown. The Act of Union contained an article in conformity with this. Now, I am unwilling to weary the House by following up the history of this question from the period of the Union, to show the assurances, the declarations, and the promises which from year to year were made by Roman Catholic authorities, and by those who supported, and anxiously supported their views, and which were put forward in regard to the maintenance of the Established Church in the event of their obtaining the object of their desires—a complete emancipation from religious disabilities, I am unwilling to do that, but I think at this period, when we are called on to destroy the Protestant Establishment, to destroy it as an act of justice to Catholics, without which the Catholics will not be satisfied, and ought not to be satisfied, which the Catholics do demand and will demand, it is right to ask the House of Commons of this country to look at the engagements held out on the part of the Roman Catholics before they obtained equality of civil rights. Mr. Grattan, in the year 1813, introduced a Bill for the removal of Roman Catholic disabilities, of which this was the preamble,—And whereas the Protestant Episcopal Church of England and Ireland, and the doctrine, discipline, and government thereof, and likewise the Protestant Church of Scotland, and the doctrine, discipline, and government thereof, are established permanently and inviolably; and whereas it would tend to promote the interest of the same, and strengthen our free constitution, of which they are an essential part, if the civil disabilities were removed.That was the preamble of Mr. Grattan's Bill. Will the House excuse me if I recall their attention for a moment to the state of Roman Catholic feelings as far back as the year 1757? In that year the Irish Roman Catholics made a solemn declaration, in which they affirmed, as they said, in the face of their country, of Europe, and of the world, that, in seeking to be relieved from disabilities under which they laboured, they had no wish whatever to subvert the Church Establishment. They said,—Now we, the Catholics of Ireland, for the 1084 removal of all such imputations, and in deference to the opinion of many respectable bodies of men and individuals among our Protestant brethren, do hereby, and in the face of our country, of all Europe, and before God, make this our deliberate and solemn declaration:" "It has been objected to us, that we wish to subvert the present Church Establishment, for the purpose of substituting a Catholic Establishment in its stead. Now we do, hereby, disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any such intention; and further, if we shall be admitted into any share of the Constitution, by our being restored to the right of Elective Franchise, we are ready, in the most solemn manner, to declare, that we will not exercise that privilege to disturb and weaken the Establishment of the Protestant religion, or Protestant Government in this country.The assurance then given was as full and as perfect as it could be. Again, in the year 1792, we find the Roman Catholics as petitioners to Parliament, "solemnly and conscientiously declaring," that, as regarded the Protestant Established Church, they were satisfied with their then condition; that they acquiesced in the existence of that Church as then established; that they did not want to possess themselves of any property belonging to the Established Church; and that they were ready to give the fullest assurances of these being their sincere and earnest intentions.—With regard," said they, "to the constitution of the Church, we are, indeed, inviolably attached to our own—first, because we believe it to be true; and next, because, beyond belief, we know that its principles are calculated to make us, and have made us, good men and good citizens. But as we find it answers to us, individually, all the useful ends of religion, we solemnly and conscientiously declare, that we are satisfied with the present condition of our ecclesiastical policy. With satisfaction we acquiesce in the establishment of the National Church; we neither repine at its possessions nor envy its dignities; we are ready, upon this point, to give every assurance that is binding upon man.In the year 1808, the well-known petition of the Roman Catholic clergy and population was presented to Parliament; and it contained this passage,—And your petitioners most solemnly declare, that they do not seek or wish in any way to injure or encroach upon the rights, privileges, possessions, or revenues, appertaining to the Bishops and Clergy of the Protestant religion, as by law established, or to the churches committed to their charge, or to any of them; the extent of their humble 1085 supplication being, that they be governed by the same laws, and rendered capable of the same civil and military offices, franchises, rewards, and honours, as their fellow subjects of every other religious denomination.Again, Dr. Collins in his evidence before the House of Lords, in 1824, solemnly disclaimed any disposition on his part, or that of his fellow Catholic countrymen, to disturb the Clergy of the Established Church in the possession of their property or privileges, adding,—I am satisfied," he said, "to acquiesce in the manner in which the property and privileges of the Church of England are by law established and secured.In 1826, a declaration was made by the Roman Catholic Bishops and Clergy themselves, in which they say that,—They recognise the right of the Clergy of the Church of England, as by law established, to the property and temporalities of the Clergy of the Established Church, and regarded the property and temporalities of the Church to be in those upon whom they had been settled by the laws of the land.But now the case is altered altogether. We are told by hon. Gentlemen upon the opposite side of the House broadly, that this property and those temporalities have been plundered from the Catholic Clergy, and they assert broadly and openly, that they will never be satisfied until they are restored to the Clergy of the Church of Rome. [No, no!] It is very well for the hon. Gentlemen to say no. I know that many Gentlemen would say "No, no," who agree to a proposition for the destruction of the Protestant Church in Ireland, while there are many of them who now apparently assent to it for a party object, who would not consent to it if they thought that there was any prospect of the proposition being made. The noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, and the hon. Member for Sheffield, at once recommended that the Irish Protestant Church should be destroyed. [Mr. Ward: "No, no."] Oh, I had forgotten the distinction the hon. Member made, but I will recur to the point presently. I will, however, now proceed to cite the declarations that were made to the Protestants of England and Ireland immediately before the passing of the Emancipation Bill. I will first call the attention of the House to a passage in the speech delivered by the Commissioners of His late Majesty, King George IV., on the assembling of Parliament in the year 1829. The responsible advisers of 1086 the Crown at that period had made up their minds to the introduction of a measure for the relief of the Roman Catholics from the disabilities under which they then laboured; and, with a view to that, the following words were introduced into the King's Speech at the opening of the Session:—You will consider whether the removal of their liabilities can be effected with the full and permanent security of our establishments in Church and State, with the maintenance of the Reformed religion established by law, and of the rights and privileges of the Bishops and Clergy of this realm, and of the churches committed to their care. These are institutions which must ever be held sacred in this Protestant Kingdom, and which it is the duty and determination of his Majesty to preserve inviolate.The House of Commons in its reply to His Majesty's proposition in his gracious Speech, was as follows:—That feeling, with his Majesty, convinced that these are institutions which must ever be held sacred in this Protestant Kingdom, we cordially thank his Majesty for the declaration that he deems it his duty; and that it is his determination to preserve them inviolate.The same language, reserving sacred the right of the Established Church to its property, privileges, and temporalities, formed a part of all the declarations made at the time by his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects, and they expressed themselves ready to bind themselves to the performance of those engagements by their faith pledged, and the solemn obligation of an oath; and the supporters of the claims of the Catholics in Parliament reiterated those solemn declarations made by the Catholics, vouching for their good faith and sincerity, and that the Catholics, one and all, had no desire to subvert the Established Church, or possess themselves of the property or temporalities of its Clergy. This, I say, was the language used, and this the nature of the security offered to the Legislature for the great boon of Catholic Emancipation before the passing of the Bill for the removal of the Catholic disabilities. Hence it was, that, trusting to these solemn assurances, my right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel) rejected the suggestion of my esteemed deceased friend, Mr. Wilmot Horton, to introduce clauses barring all and every Catholic from interfering in any way, or intermeddling in any legislative discussion by means of his vote on questions arising in the House of Parliament.I will not," said my right hon. Friend,1087obstruct the Catholics. I have framed by the Relief Bill, an oath according to the suggestion of themselves, as a form of oath that would be most binding upon their consciences, and to their consciences I will leave them.And now, Sir, I approach another branch of the subject, but I do so, I can assure the House with an earnest desire to offend no man—to charge no man with any wilful violation or evasion of the obligations undertaken by or imposed upon him. I am ready to admit, that a Roman Catholic has as good a right as a Protestant to legislate upon matters connected with the Church, provided only that he adheres to that conscientious belief which he entertains respecting the obligations imposed upon him by the oath which he has taken. In saying this, I appeal not to the passions of the Protestant, but to the conscientious feelings of the Roman Catholic. I may, therefore, without offence, read the oath imposed by the Emancipation Act, and be permitted at the same time to connect it with the previous declaration. This oath, be it remembered, was enacted as a security for the Protestant Church; and these are the terms of it:—I do swear that I will defend, to the utmost of my power, the settlement and arrangement of property in this country as established by the laws now in being. I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment, for the purpose of substituting a Catholic Establishment in its stead; and I do solemnly swear, that I will not exercise any privilege to which I am or may become entitled to disturb and weaken the Protestant religion and Protestant Government in this kingdom. And I solemnly here declare, that I take this oath in plain terms, and according to the common acceptation of the words, without any evasion or mental reservation whatsoever,Those are the terms of the oath and this is the spirit in which the Parliament of this country legislated for the relief of the Roman Catholics. I do not charge any Roman Catholic with being capable of violating any such obligation. I can readily imagine that there are those who think that a reduction of the temporalities of the Established Church might increase the efficacy of that Church; but this I will say, that it behoves the Roman Catholic with that oath in his hand, and influenced by the reverence which he entertains for such an obligation, I say it behoves him well to examine his own conscience, and to look most carefully at the nature of any 1088 enactment affecting the Church before he gives his vote. But then I am told, that the mere existence of the Established Church is an insult to the Roman Catholics; and I am told by an hon. Member opposite, that the Act of Settlement is also regarded with the uttermost discontent by the Roman Catholics.
§ Mr. Ward
rose to order: he was quite sure that the noble Lord did not wish to misrepresent him, and the noble Lord was not in the House when he had become aware of the interpretation put on his words respecting the Act of Settlement; and had explained them. He never meant to impute, or did impute, to the present generation of Catholics the slightest disposition to find fault with the Act of Settlement. The Catholics, who had fought at the Boyne, and defended Limerick, no doubt felt it as a hardship. It confirmed the confiscation of their property, and the proscription of their religion. But from 1745, to the present time, not the slightest imputation could be cast upon the loyalty of the Catholics as a body. They had acquired property themselves under this very Act of Settlement, and the Queen had no more devoted subjects.
I can assure the hon. Gentleman, that if he had only waited a few minutes I would have explained. I was going to say, that the hon. Gentleman had withdrawn the expression that he then used. The hon. Gentleman said, in the first instance, that it was an insult to the Roman Catholic, and more, that he thought it quite right there should be no misunderstanding on this point; that that was his opinion. I was going to say, when the hon. Gentleman interrupted me, that the hon. Gentleman had withdrawn that opinion, which fell from him in the heat of debate. But, Sir, I cannot see, if the Act of Settlement is not an insult to the Roman Catholics, how there should be that inequality of which the noble Lord and the hon. Gentleman complain. The hon. and learned Member for Liskeard (Mr. C. Buller) did not much improve the case, for he says, that that oath is unnecessary, because the object of it was to exclude from the Throne the Roman Catholic descendants of James I., and that those descendants being all extinct, it is now useless. [Mr. C. Buller: I did not say so.] The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that the object of the Act of Settlement was to exclude the Stuarts, and as the family of the Stuarts was extinct, the Act of Settlement 1089 is a dead letter; therefore, if that were the only object of the oath, it was worse than an insult upon the Roman Catholics, because it was a gratuitous insult—because it goes only to provide against a Roman Catholic family which does not exist. But the case is not so. No; but this country did think, that it would not be safe—that it would not be consistent with civil liberty, that there should be a full and entire equality between the Roman Catholics and Protestants. Sir, with regard to civil rights we are prepared—Her Majesty's Government are prepared—to give to our Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen everything which can be given them without trespassing on this important branch of the Constitution. But I do not think it at all inconsistent, acting on this principle, to do the fullest justice to the Roman Catholics, and to remove any grievances, if any still remain, in point of feeling, or which may be injurious to the Roman Catholics—I say there is no inconsistency between removing those grievances, and, at the same time, firmly maintaining the Established Protestant Church. What is it that the Roman Catholics ask with regard to the Protestant Church? Do they ask to be endowed with the property of the Protestant Church? No, they repudiate it; they refuse it; they will not take it if you offer it; they will not have a division or the whole of the property; they do not wish that the "plunder" which has been taken from them should be given back to them; they do not ask for a violation of the prescriptive rights of property extending over a period of 300 years! But they refuse to enter into any alliance with the State; they say, that if you are willing to take them in alliance with you they will not come. Then they insist that in reference to the clergy of the Church which is in alliance with you; that Church which does ally itself to the State; that Church which does submit to your laws; those ministers who are provided for by the State, that they shall not be provided for, not because their ministers would not be equally provided for, but because they will not have them provided for by the State. In either case they insist there shall not be any provision. Is this a demand which is reasonable, or one which establishes equality? The hon. Gentleman talks of equality—are the two Churches on an equality? Will the Roman Catholics allow you to regulate their ecclesiastical functions? Will they allow you to appoint their Bishops 1090 —to control their proceedings—to regulate the fees which they are to take—to name the hours of worship? Will they allow you to interfere with any view to equality? No; but they say, give us all the advantages of endowments by the State, and make us independent of the State, give us with that independence all the advantages the Protestant Church enjoys in consequence of its connection and alliance with the State. The noble Lord seeks, I presume, to put the Roman Catholic Bishops on an equality with the Protestant Bishops, Does he mean to admit them into the House of Lords? I should like to know whether he have such an intention? [Lord J. Russell: "No, I do not." A Voice on the Opposition side "we do."] You do, happy united party! So, then, on the first question being asked of the noble Lord on a great question of policy the noble Lord denies the intention which has been imputed to him by hon. Gentlemen who sit by his side, and by the hon. Gentleman who interrupted him prematurely. If it were intended that the Bishops should be allowed to sit in the House of Lords, does the hon. Gentleman mean that they should be appointed by the Crown? But the Catholic Bishops are appointed and consecrated by a foreign Potentate; and they are to take their seats as Peers of the realm, and are to vote in the House of Lords, and to do that for all the purposes of legislation? Well, then, take the other alternative. They are not to be admitted into the House of Lords—then what becomes of your equality? Do you mean to remove the Protestant bishops from the House of Lords? That is a favourite doctrine I know with some hon. Gentlemen opposite? Why don't you try your hand at that, and bring forward a motion in this House to that effect? Let hon. Gentlemen do this; and see what would be the sense of the House of Commons and of the people of England upon a motion for the exclusion of the Bishops from the House of Lords, and the exclusion of Protestant bishops because the Roman Catholic bishops refuse to take their seats on the conditions upon which the Protestant bishops sit there. And are these the conditions of equality which are to satisfy all parties—to allay disquietude, and to allay murmurs in the north and in the south? Is this the correct course to adopt on the part of a Protestant Government? Sir, I hope the noble Lord does not represent the Roman Catholic people in Ireland; but I can assure him that whenever 1091 he shall try this sweeping proposition, he will soon be convinced that he does not represent the views of the Protestant people of England. The hon. Gentleman said, that without the destruction of the Established Church in Ireland, all other means of conciliation or concession would be of no avail, and need not be tried; that conciliation or concession would be a mere waste of our time. I, for one, am not of that opinion. I do not propose anything in the way of compromise, but I say, while maintaining the Protestant Church, I will never consent to abandon the just claims of the Roman Catholics. I say, there is no expense or extent of civil immunity which I am not willing to grant in equity, and justice, and in law, to my Roman Catholic brethren; and if in the law as it now stands, there are grievances which can be substantially pointed out, no man will be more ready to meet the case, and, as far as legislation will allow, remove those grievances. I was sorry to hear the hon. Member for Kildare (Mr. M. O'Ferrall) repeat a statement which fell from the noble Lord the Member for London. The noble Lord made an assertion which I am sure he would on cool reflection regret—namely, that the present Lord Chancellor of England had been raised to his high position on account of his political sentiments in respect to the Roman Catholics and to Ireland. Sir, I deeply regretted to hear the statement of the noble Lord, but I give him credit for having uttered it in the height of excited feelings, and an excited speech—and I am certain it was not the real feeling or opinion of the noble Lord. I regretted it the more deeply, therefore, that the hon. Member for Kildare said, after cool reflection, that he agreed with the noble Lord the Member for London. If I were to believe the hon. and learned Gentleman's (Mr. Murphy's) statement, Ireland certainly is in an excited state—a frightful state; for he says, that no jury can be impartial, and the conclusion to be drawn from his remarks was, that there was no longer to be obtained a fair trial by jury. Now, Sir, I do not believe it to be impossible to get an impartial jury in Ireland; and I think, on this point also, that when the hon. Gentleman made the statement, he allowed himself to be carried away by his feelings. But the hon. Gentleman said, his objection to the Protestant Establishment was not based on any religious objection; and so an hon. Gentleman on the other side said be had not any religious feeling in the matter. 1092 No; he objected not to the Clergy receiving their income, but to the unauthorised interference of the clergy in secular matters in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman says, that if a power of attorney is wanted the party requiring it is obliged to go to the Protestant clergyman of the parish. I do not know of any such law; but sure I am, if any law or practice requires the signature of the clergyman of the parish to certain documents, as a person perfectly well known, and, therefore, the individual selected to give validity and effect to such papers—if, I say, there be any law which imposes such duty on the Protestant clergyman, and that practice is to be considered a grievance, or a degradation, or an insult, I shall not only have no objection to relieve the Roman Catholics from the grievance, but the Protestant clergyman will be extremely indebted to you for taking from him this onerous duty. But the hon. Gentleman says, in regard to certificates of baptism, when they are granted by Catholic priests in Ireland, they are illegal; whereas in England they are equally admissible. I mention this to show that if you bring forward grievances we are ready to redress them. The hon. Gentleman says a Roman Catholic clergyman cannot give a certificate of marriage. In England, prior to the year 1836, there was a very real and a very substantial grievance on this account, for, I believe, before the passing of the Registration Act, a Roman Catholic clergyman in England could not celebrate a marriage even between parties of his own communion except according to the forms and in the presence of a minister of the Established Church. Why that was a real, substantial, tangible, grievance, pressing heavily upon the Dissenters and upon the Roman Catholics. There is no such grievance in Ireland. A Roman Catholic clergyman may marry, provided he marries two persons of his own persuasion, without any interference by any party. Nay more, the marriage is recognised and valid, and proof of it may be offered at any time, and the Roman Catholic clergyman, who shall appear in any court of law, and declare, that he had married two persons, being Roman Catholics, his declaration would be good evidence of the marriage, and of the validity of the marriage. But what is it the Roman Catholic requires according to the hon. Gentleman? Why that his certificate should be a certificate of the marriage, the same as the certificate of a minister of the Established Church, and the minister of 1093 any other Church in England at this moment. But the minister of the Established Church in England is bound by many restrictions and regulations by which the Legislature controul the exercise of his functions. They compel him to keep a register. Is the hon. Gentleman quite sure that the Roman Catholics would submit to the same restriction—is he quite sure again, that if an offer were made in this respect to place the Roman Catholic clergyman on the subject of marriage, upon the footing of entire and perfect equality with the Protestant clergyman in England, that he would not say, "No, I would rather remain as I am; I would rather not obtain the boon if it is to be encumbered with this difficulty!" This is a most complicated and difficult question. Hon. Gentlemen opposite well know, that there is no question more difficult than the law of marriage, particularly with regard to Ireland. That question was last year under the consideration of the House of Lords, and upon this very question of Registration by Roman Catholic clergymen very abundant evidence was taken before the Committee, which at present has not been given to the public, inasmuch as the inquiry has not yet terminated. Now, Sir, there is another point which is touched upon by my right hon. Friend, and to which I will only very briefly advert. It is stated, that the Roman Catholic Clergy are determined to accept no endowment on the part of the State; and it is said, on the other hand, that there is a great disinclination on the part of a large body of the people to grant it if it would be accepted. The hon. Gentleman treats rather lightly a proposition which, I confess, appears to me to carry with it a considerable recommendation as affording to the Roman Catholic clergy a more secure state of independence than they now possess—I mean the proposal which relaxes the law at present in force in such a manner as to enable the Roman Catholic Clergy of Ireland, or rather to enable persons holding trusts for the Roman Catholic Clergy in Ireland, to acquire property in the same manner as, by a recent statute, that privilege has been conferred upon Roman Catholics in this country. By the 2nd and 3rd William IV, some relaxations were made in the law, which, in some respects, differed in the two countries. In some respects the restrictions were more stringent in England; but a restriction is now left upon the Roman Catholic in Ireland, which does not apply to the 1094 Roman Catholic or Dissenter in England, that he cannot at present, as a Roman Catholic Priest, hold any real property, and that no valid deed of gift can be executed to him, or any other person for his advantage, in that capacity as a Roman Catholic. I hope, if this is not considered as a large concession—if it is not considered as meeting the views of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, which I now, on the part of the Government, say we cannot meet, I trust the proposal to extend this right to the Roman Catholic Clergy of Ireland—to enable the Roman Catholic landlord, to enable the Protestant landlord, to enable the Roman Catholic population by their united efforts to obtain for their Clergy a fixed status, and a property in land to a limited extent—I hope it will not be taken as an indication on the part of the Government of any hostile feeling towards the Roman Catholic priesthood. I say, again, that if there are practical grievances which are still endured by the Roman Catholics, not the fanciful grievance of having a provision made for persons of a different religious persuasion, which, if offered, they would not accept—if there are any substantial grievances under which the Catholics labour—if there be any assistance which, consistently with principle, we can give to improve the condition of the Roman Catholics, they will not find upon the part of Her Majesty's Government—bigots, as they may choose to represent us—they will not find any disinclination to view those claims with the consideration which I admit is due to the priesthood, who are connected with a very large portion of the Irish people. If the proposition of the noble Lord be in the first instance to pass a vote of censure, which in my conscience I believe to be unmerited on the part of Her Majesty's Government, against that vote of censure should heartily, respectfully, but firmly protest as unmerited. Against the confiscation of Church property I will raise my voice, as long as I have a voice to raise within the walls of Parliament. I wish before I sit down just to call the attention of the House to an authority upon this subject, to which I think hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House will pay some degree of attention. At the period of the introduction of the Catholic Relief Bill, when some hon. Gentlemen had stated in strong terms their apprehension of the admission of Roman Catholics to Parliament, in consequence of die probability that they would subvert and overthrow the Established Church, this 1095 was the mode in which a noble Lord, now a Member of this House, met that argument. That noble Lord said—By what magical power a minority is to lead captive an overwhelming majority, and compel them to sacrifice their principles and degrade their faith, has not been very distinctly stated. But it is said, that in times of nicely-balanced political discussion, when parties run high, a small but compact body in this House, acting upon one common principle, proceeding steadily towards one common object, and throwing their weight into the scale as opportunity and occasion may arrive, might accomplish purposes and objects which are seemingly unattainable. So far as relates to honours and emoluments, or anything which the leader of an Opposition may propose, or the head of a Government can give, this argument may have some weight. But the changes which the Catholics are said to aim at can only be effected by the concurrence of the whole of the Legislature. But see what various improbabilities, not to say impossibilities must combine before that period can arrive.This is the language of the noble Lord, the Member for Tiverton, as to what might possibly happen in a state of nicely balanced parties where it was convenient to obtain the aid of the Roman Catholic party.The noble Lord further said, "I will suppose a government hard pressed to carry some measure of their own, or to resist some measure of their opponents, were to purchase the support of the Catholics by proposing to introduce changes injurious to or subversive of the Protestant religion. In the first place, the consent of the Sovereign on the Throne, who by law is a Protestant, must be obtained. But I will suppose, for the sake of argument, that which I hold to be impossible," (it is certainly very hard for hon. Members to say what is impossible.) "I will suppose, for the sake of argument, that which I hold to be impossible, that an English Cabinet should agree to advise, and a Protestant King should be found to sanction such a measure, yet the very foundation of the supposed case is a weak Administration tottering in their seats, and certain of support neither in the Parliament nor in the country. What, then, would be the effect upon such a Government of such a proposition.Now, with respect to a proposition to weaken and injure the Protestant Establishment by an alliance with a small but compact Roman Catholic party, this is the opinion of the noble Lord, the Member for Tiverton, and it is my opinion and belief too:—That the effect would be to give instantly to their opponents ten times the strength 1096 which their profligate bargain would have purchased from the Roman Catholics. Every honest and independent Protestant would unfurl his standard, and their adversaries would raise around their heads a storm of public indignation which would sweep them from their places with ignominy and disgrace.This was, in the year 1829, in the opinion of the noble Lord, the Member for Tiverton, the fate, and the well-merited fate, which would fall upon any Administration which should be, as the noble Lord said, profligate enough to entertain a proposition for the injury or subversion of the Established Church. I will not use terms so strong as those which the noble Lord used, but this I will say, that while I believe the bulk of the people of England is firmly determined to do full and substantial justice in respect to the civil rights of their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, in common, I believe, with the vast majority of the people of England, I entertain a fixed and unaltered determination to maintain and uphold the Protestant Establishment of this country.
§ Debate again adjourned.