§ SIR A. ARMSTRONG
said: I shall occupy the time of the House for a very short period; but as an Irish representative I cannot reconcile it to myself to give a silent vote upon the present occasion. I have to congratulate Her Majesty's Ministers upon the improved feeling, temper, and tone in which measures affecting Ireland have lately been submitted to this House; more particularly when I recollect that a noble Lord—a late Secretary for Ireland—claimed credit for himself and the Government for that, after having been upwards of two years Secretary for Ireland, he had coifed three Irish barristers. Certainly the same noble Lord gave us a commission of inquiry into the tenure of land in Ireland. Now, Sir, no doubt there is room for essential improvement in the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland; but the right hon. Baronet must be aware—every hon. Member in this House, who is in the least acquainted with the state of Ireland, must be aware—that three-fourths of the outrages which disgrace that country, which are a disgrace to human nature itself, are perpetrated for the possession of land; and does any hon. Member in this House suppose that making that possession more eligible, and therefore more to be coveted, will cure the malady? I fear not. Sir, the right hon. Baronet on a former occasion appealed to the Irish Members at this side of the House if it would not be more for their advantage, more for the honour, glory, and happiness of their country, that the fate and fortunes of Ireland should be bound up with the great English nation, than to think of separation. Sir, I, for one, reciprocate most cordially those sentiments of the right hon. Baronet; but I never can be satisfied with that binding up, except upon terms of perfect civil and religious equality. I never can be satisfied 638 that my country should be bound in calfskin, whilst that of the right hon. Baronet is bound in gold and morocco. We have it upon unimpeachable and unimpeached authority, that nearly two millions and a half of the Irish people are in a state of destitution unparalleled in the civilized world. Now, is it not the duty of men deserving the character of statesmen to place employment within the reach of such a mass of destitute human beings, but more particularly as you have prevented them by law from exercising some branches of industry which they had struck out for themselves? It is not very many years since we had several thousands acres of land under the cultivation of tobacco, affording remunerative employment to men, women, and children. There was also a manufacture of sugar from beet in the north of Ireland, and others were about being established. Both were suppressed by law—the manufacture of sugar and the cultivation of tobacco. Sir, it was the saying of a great warrior—fortunately, I think, for these countries now no more—that in order to make France a match for England she must have ships, commerce, and colonies: now we require for Ireland trade and manufactures. I would suggest to Her Majesty's Government the justice and expediency of establishing royal dockyards in Ireland. We have thousands of able-bodied men who would gladly work for one-half what you can get the same description of work done for in this country. Now, would it not be just and reasonable that some of the money so hardly earned in Ireland, and often so lavishly spent in England, should return to that country in the shape of affording useful employment to some of her destitute people? Ships of war you must build, even in time of peace, were it only to send your troops to Ireland, and to guard the Irish coast. By the way, sending troops to Ireland appears to have been always rather a pastime with you English. Your own immortal poet puts into the mouth of one of your kings, Henry II., I think, who, after having settled some disputes amongst his generals and courtiers, turns to them and exclaims, "And now to Ireland;" without doubt, in those days, for the sake of plunder, and to flesh the swords of your young warriors, as it has been in modern times to suppress disturbances which your own flagitious government of that country had fomented. At all events, ships of war you must build. I feel grate- 639 ful to Her Majesty's Government for the facilities it has afforded us for railroads and other public works; but those are but temporary sources of employment; they may dam the stream of poverty and its sure companion, crime, for a time, but it will overflow with aggravated force: permanent employment we must have. With the permission of the House I shall read a statement of the prices paid by manufacturers to the labourers, or operatives, I believe they call them, at Ashton-under-Lyne, and what men and women are paid for agricultural labour in my own immediate neighbourhood, in the county which I have the honour to represent, and I believe it is not much more in any part of Ireland. At Ashton-under-Lyne, wages per week: Little piecers, 13 years old, 6s. 6d. to 7s. 6d.; big piecers, 9s. 6d. to 10s. 6d.; young women as winders, weavers, or tenters, 9s. 6d. to 12s.; spinners (men), 25s. to 35s. In Ireland, wages per week: Men in summer, 4s.; in winter, 3s.; women and grown up girls, in summer, 2s.; in winter, 1s. 6d.; and they are often unable to procure labour even at that price. Now, Sir, is there not some ground for the turbulence and the discontent which rankles in the minds of my poor countrymen, and will a Coercion Bill cure that? What is it, then, that we require for Ireland? First, that you should deal with the anomaly of the two churches in that country; make a provision for the Catholic clergy—if the Protestant Church is too highly paid subtract from it, but at all events provide for them. But you tell me they will not take it. I differ with you. I have had conversation with several Catholic clergymen, men exemplary in the discharge of all their religious and social duties, affording an example to clergymen of other churches, and I never found one who said he would refuse a house and some land attached to it, were it offered to him. Now, in this case, I really do not perceive the difference between taking money and money's worth. Give us a full and fair franchise, and a juster proportion of representatives in this House. Encourage manufactures in the country—plant them there. The poor peasant will then get a fair price for his labour between the rival trades of manufactures and agriculture—he will not then cling with a death grasp to the miserable patch of land which he has neither capital nor skill to cultivate to advantage. This is what we require, and not a Coercion Bill, which will only make matters worse. 640 Depend upon it, the name of that statesman who shall thus lay the foundation-stone of the temple of concord between the two countries will descend to posterity with fairer renown than ever hallowed the name of any British statesman.
§ MR. BENETT
would not have intruded on the House but that he was anxious to say a few words on the subject before it. If he had been in the House when the Bill was brought in, he might have put confidence enough in Government to have voted for that Bill without much inquiry. It was not, however, then in his power to be present. He had not then sufficient physical power to attend in his place, or he might have fallen into the error of taking it for granted that the Government were quite right in bringing in this measure, and have voted for it. He had since taken a great deal of pains, according to his own judgment, to consider what the effect of that Bill might be. He had first of all looked upon that Bill as an unconstitutional measure, and he felt that he should exercise a great deal of caution before he gave his sanction to a measure that was unconstitutional. He had felt strongly with respect to the condition of Ireland for a long time past. He felt that it was incumbent on the Government to adopt measures for the preservation of life and property in that country, and he would go a very great length to attain that object. But he should consider whether there was any necessity for an unconstitutional measure; and the delay that had taken place had destroyed, in his (Mr. Benett's) opinion, the immediate necessity for such a measure as this. A man, under the proposed law, would be liable to transportation for seven years on being out at night; and he should, before voting for it, be satisfied that such a law was justified by the circumstances of the country. He (Mr. Benett) had on consideration made up his mind that he could not support this Bill. He had made up his mind that conscientiously he had no right to support it. What, then, had he a right to do as an independent Member of Parliament having no regard to parties? Either to absent himself from his duties, or to vote against a measure which he thought was uncalled for? That was the position he was in. He would ask, why did they not attack the monster grievance of Ireland—the system of misleading the people by means of agitation? There appeared to be a difference among lawyers as to the illegality 641 of attempting to dismember the Empire. He considered such an attempt clearly illegal; but if it were not, why did they not bring in a Bill to render it so? It was treason to attempt to alter the Constitution, and, in his opinion, it was equally treason to dismember the Empire. As to the Bill before the House, he did not object to that part of it which gave power to the Lord Lieutenant to impose a greater expense on the landowners of a disturbed district; but he did object to the people generally being punished, by not being permitted to leave their houses from sunset to sunrise, while the system of agitation by which they had been misled was suffered to go on undiminished. He would wish to see the law of Ireland assimilated as much as possible to that of England. He would wish to see a proper poor law, for instance, introduced—he did not mean the poor law as it now existed in this country, but the principle of the poor law of Elizabeth. He would wish to see the landowners compelled to find the people in work for the purpose of maintenance. But, until the system of agitation existing in that country were put down, he thought it would be impossible to expect that peace and order could be restored. He remembered being present at a trial of the late Mr. Cobbett, when he brought forward one of his Registers to show that he had not attempted to excite the people to perpetrate the acts of incendiarism then so common. The substance of the article read for his defence was as follows:—My beloved friends, these fires are very mischievous, and you are wrong in carrying them on. They do but little harm, though you think they do a great deal. These diabolical Whigs are watching me, and therefore I must be cautious in advising you. There are in Wiltshire and Dorsetshire immense fields of wheat, many of them of 500 acres each. Now these fields, just as they are turning yellow, are very inflammable; and they have, besides, generally public paths in them. You should be, therefore, cautious not to light your pipes on going into them, because you might accidentally set fire to them, and thus burn 500 acres at a time; for remember that these diabolical Whigs would hang you as they would hang me.Now, he considered that advice similar to the language held out to the people of Ireland. Men were told that they would be traitors to the cause if they did not keep the peace; but they were at the same time reminded that their strength was that of seven millions. The Government were afraid to stop this agitation on account of its strength. He asked a friend of his, 642 who was also a friend to Her Majesty's Government, the other day, why they did not take the bull by the horns in Ireland? and his friend's reply was, "Because the bull has got horns." The Government were ready to attack the poor man and to subject him to enormous punishment because he was found out of his house at night, but the bull with the horns was let alone. For this reason, though he was anxious that every possible means should be taken to put down the dreadful system of assassination which prevailed in Ireland, he could not conscientiously vote for the second reading of this Bill, and it would be cowardice, therefore, not to vote against it.
§ CAPTAIN LAYARD
quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman who just sat down, in giving a cordial opposition to the second reading of this Bill; but he could not agree in the arguments which the hon. Gentleman had addressed to the House. He did not think the hon. Gentleman was quite wise in introducing his quotation from Cobbett, showing the easy manner in which any rascal or scoundrel could do great damage to the country. The hon. Gentleman did not think that the Government had done enough to put down the agitation in Ireland; but if he recollected the trial that had been instituted against the leaders of that agitation—the jury that had been selected on the occasion—the judge who had been selected on the occasion—and many other circumstances which led to a strong suspicion that there had not been fair justice done to the parties tried, the hon. Gentleman could be scarcely justified in accusing the Government of not having used at least great energy in endeavouring to put down the agitation. Though an Englishman, he could say from his knowledge of Ireland that the people of that country, from their great patience and endurance under suffering, were not likely to be agitated unless great cause of discontent existed among them. When he had last the honour of addressing the House on this question, he said—speaking to his noble Friend the Member for Lynn—that he would be delighted if the noble Lord and his party would aid them in throwing out this Bill. He was happy to have that opportunity of expressing his thanks to the noble Lord and his Friends for the promise they had given. As that party might eventually take the reins of government, he would remind them that they must do justice to the people of Ireland if they wished to maintain the Union between the 643 two countries. Some hon. Members who usually supported the noble Lord did not, he understood, intend doing so on this occasion. Now these hon. Gentlemen had been loud in their cheers whenever the sentiment was expressed of the want of faith in Her Majesty's Government; and if such were the case, how dared they, he would ask them, come down to the House and say that they would trust the Government to legislate for Ireland when they would not trust it to legislate for themselves. He thought they might gather from the speech of the right hon. Baronet himself that this coercive measure was not necessary, for he said, that of the five counties that were disturbed, namely, Limerick, Clare, Roscommon, Tipperary, and Leitrim, a great part of the crimes which existed in the latter county had been suppressed by a large military force having been thrown in, and by the activity of the magistrates in that locality. Now, he would ask, why had not the same means been resorted to in the other four counties? It was also remarkable that the representatives of every one of these counties, with a single exception, that of the noble Lord the Member for Leitrim (Lord Clements), were strongly opposed to this measure. There were only three or four Irish Members who spoke in favour of the Bill, and even they were not satisfied with it as it stood. They were told that great changes might be introduced in Committee; but it had been already considerably altered in its progress through the House of Lords, and he believed that not one clause now stood as originally drawn up. He was convinced the right hon. Baronet had not read the Bill before it was brought forward in the House of Lords, or he would never have sanctioned such a measure. He heard that some hon. Gentleman on that (the Opposition) side of the House meant to vote in favour of this Bill. He could not conceive how, if they believed that the Bill was wrong, they could reconcile it to themselves to support it, because they wished to pass some other Bill that they thought to be right. They should recollect that, though free trade in corn was not by any means a popular measure in Ireland, the Irish Members supported it because they believed that it was an honest and a good measure. Some of these hon. Members had to a certain extent lost the confidence of their constituents by the course which they had taken in support of the Corn Bill; but yet they were 644 not deterred, even by that, from acting as they felt to be right. And he would ask, what sort of return would it be among men having a sense of right or wrong, or of gratitude within them, if, notwithstanding all this, other hon. Members who talked of liberality were yet to vote in favour of the Coercion Bill, and that merely because the Corn Bill was not safe. But he would say the Corn Bill was safe, and there was no reasonable man, either in or out of that House, who did not believe that it was safe. Lord Bacon said truly that there were three things which made a nation great and prosperous—a fertile soil, a busy workshop, and an easy communication for men and merchandise. These, with education and freedom, would make any nation prosperous and happy. Now Ireland had admittedly a fertile soil, but she had not the busy workshop; and that, he thought, they should exert themselves to provide for her. The great want of Ireland was employment for the people. Government had the power of providing the means of work; and he knew of no mode of employing the resources of the country to a greater advantage than in the prosecution of public works. The extension of railways was of great advantage. Money had been lent by Government to the Dublin and Kingstown Railway, which had been repaid; they had also lent money to the Drogheda Railway, which was now in process of being paid back. These things having answered so well, there was every reason to hope that Government would give further consideration to this mode of prosecuting public works. He gave the noble Lord (the Earl of Lincoln) credit for the Bills which he had recently brought in; but he feared they would fall short of the object. Interference between landlord and tenant was a subject of great delicacy; and he rather thought that the Bill on that subject, as it stood, would give more cause for discontent than satisfaction to the people for whose benefit it was intended. The introduction of Indian corn had, however, been of great benefit, for he understood that since its introduction fever was much less prevalent than it had been for many years. There wss much reason to apprehend that too many hon. Members were not so well acquainted with Ireland as it was desirable they should be. For his own part, he could bear testimony, from personal observation, to the distress and misery prevailing in many parts, and to the efforts made by the priesthood for its alleviation. The 645 poor, indeed, had none to apply to but to their priests, and it was this which gave that body so much power and influence; and he was proud to say that the assistance which they were able to give to the people in their distress had always been rendered with the utmost readiness and cordiality. Many Gentlemen thought the Union between this country and Ireland could not be maintained. He held a different opinion; but, at the same time, there must be equal laws and equal justice. A happy and contented people would thus he created, on whose part there would never arise a wish to dissolve the connexion of Ireland with this country.
§ MR. HENLEY
observed that the Bill which was now before the House for a second reading had come down to that House so long back as the 16th March, and was then ordered to be printed. It was a Bill proposed to the Legislature, because in the Speech of Her Majesty it was said that deliberate assassinations were committed in Ireland; and the Speech was delivered on the 22nd January. He was one of those who thought that when any measure came down from the House, in consequence of a message from the Crown, that in common decency towards the Crown, and courtesy to the other House, that Bill ought to be read a first time, in order that they might give to it their full consideration. This was the consideration that induced him to vote for the first reading of the Bill, even though at the same moment the usual criminal returns made annually to Parliament did not tend to show the necessity for it. Having paid some attention to the statistics of this subject, he was surprised to find that such a Bill was asked for, when the criminal returns tended to show that there was a diminution of crime in Ireland, as there had been in England for the last three or four years. In 1842, the number of committals for various crimes in Ireland was 21,186, and in 1845 16,696 were committed for trial. Committals might not give an exact idea of the true state of crime; but still it showed that a certain number of persons were arrested, and were to be brought to trial. He took these as a test which was adopted in this country. It was satisfactory to know that in four years there had been a diminution from 21,000 to 16,000. That was, he thought, a desirable state of things; and notwithstanding that he had thought it to be his duty to vote for the first reading of the Bill. Before any such 646 stringent and unconstitutional measure as this was granted by Parliament, it ought to be convinced that there was a strong case made out for it; that this particular measure was calculated to meet that case; and that the parties bringing it forward had the confidence of Parliament, and had given evidence of their belief in the necessity for, and the adequacy of, the measure they proposed. He thought also that measures of an unconstitutional and a coercive nature were not safe to pass unless there was a pretty general concurrence with reference to the necessity for them; indeed, very few measures of a strongly coercive nature had ever been passed with any good results, unless both the great parties in the House agreed that that necessity existed. And, in the present instance, seeing the very uncertain state in which the Government of the country was placed, he confessed that some doubt was thrown upon the subject when the noble Lord, who, in the course of a short period, was quite as likely as the right hon. Baronet to have the responsibility of the government of Ireland resting upon him, had distinctly stated that in his opinion the public necessity required no such measure as that under consideration. He had looked into the question with the best attention that he could give to it; and he was bound to say, after doing so, that he could not, upon the evidence submitted to him, arrive at the conclusion that a case had been made out, or that if it had, the present measure was adequate to meet it. The effect that must inevitably attend the introduction of the measure, therefore, would be greatly to irritate the public mind and to do much evil. The Members of the Government who had spoken upon the subject had uniformly declared that the Bill was not necessary as regarded the whole of Ireland, and that it was called for only by the disturbed state of five counties. Now this was a point which the House should carefully bear in mind; and as the case was one so entirely dependent upon evidence, he trusted hon. Gentlemen would excuse him whilst he referred to a few figures. By the police returns in the Parliamentary Paper, No. 217, he found that the number of homicides in all Ireland in the year 1842 amounted to 106; in 1843, to 122; in 1844, to 146; and in 1845, to 139; showing a considerable increase in 1844 as compared with 1842; some diminution in 1845, but still an increase when compared with 1842. He 647 would now take the five counties for which the Bill was more particularly intended; and he found by the returns that in those counties the homicides were 38 in 1842, 45 in 1843, 47 in 1844, and 42 in 1845. Thus it appeared that in the five counties upon which the Government rested their case, the increase of homicides was less in proportion than in all Ireland. Yet in this state of things, as regarded all Ireland, they were told that there was no case made out for the Bill except for the five counties. The next class of offences to which he would refer was "attempts to murder attended with injury to persons;" and the numbers of these were in all Ireland—
|In all Ireland||40||27||56||45|
|In the five counties||13||12||29||43|
§ This showed that there had been a slight proportionate increase, in the five counties, in "attempts to murder attended with injury to the person." The "attempts to murder unattended with personal injury," exhibited a similar result:—
|In all Ireland||54||48||68||114|
|In the five counties||22||18||32||68|
§ The "assaults endangering life," were—
|In all Ireland||249||210||249||237|
|In the five counties||0||0||0||63|
§ Of these sixty-three "assaults endangering life," nine only partook of an agrarian character. Of "aggravated assaults," the numbers were—
|In all Ireland||420||444||501||540|
|In the five counties||0||0||0||141|
§ Thirty-nine of the offences in the five counties were agrarian. He would now direct the attention of the House to another most important point in the consideration of this Bill; he alluded to the question of committals for homicides. He found by the criminal returns, that in 1844 there were in all Ireland 146 homicides, and 135 infanticides, together 281; that there were committed for trial on charges of homicide, 292 persons; but that only 70 of that number were found guilty—a very small proportion indeed of those committed. In 1845, the homicides were 139, and infanticides 107, together 246; the number of persons committed for trial was 338, and 125 only were found guilty—still a small number, but exhibiting a somewhat more effective administration of justice. He then came to the five counties, for which there was no 648 return of infanticides; but he had assumed that they bore a relative proportion to all Ireland; the result was, that in 1844, the number of homicides was 47, and of infanticides 37, together 84; and that there were committed for trial 82 persons, of whom no less than 37 were found guilty—a much larger number of convictions in proportion than in all Ireland. In 1845, the homicides in the five counties amounted to 42, and the infanticides to 32, together 74; 135 persons were committed for trial, and 50 were found guilty. In the Return laid upon the Table on the 8th of June, and entitled, Abstract of Police Reports from Five Counties, &c., he observed this little note—" Threatening notices not followed by any overt act are omitted;" and how many threatening notices, accompanied by overt acts, did the House think the Return contained? Why, not above three or four; he believed only two. But when he came to the Return for all Ireland, for the year 1846, which was laid on the Table on the 12th of this month, and contained a list of 2,098 offences, he observed that all the threatening notices were included, whether accompanied by overt acts or not; and they amounted to the large number of 813. Under the head of "Assaults endangering Life," the same Return showed that there were 53 in the five counties in 1846; but that 24 of them had been already brought to justice. Having gone through these returns, and given the question his best attention, he could arrive at no other conclusion than that the case for the Bill before the House had not been made out. But, if the case were made out, the next matter for consideration was, if the present measure were adequate to the purpose for which it was intended? He thought not, for, after giving his best attention to the returns of crime in Ireland, and which were laid on the Table of that House, he thought the law as it stood was quite sufficient, without the adoption of such a coercive measure. He had conversed with several Irish gentlemen on the subject, not one of whom spoke in favour of it; their opinion being that it would effect no possible good; that it would do no good at all; and surely if the measure could do no good, where was the use of voting for it? As for his part, believing it was neither necessary nor adequate, he would not vote for the second reading. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government appeared himself to fight shy of the Bill; he tried to put the House into this position—that the question 649 which they had to decide was not whether they were to go into Committee on the Bill which the Government had proposed, for the purpose to remove or to mitigate what might be thought by the House to be objectionable; but the question was, whether the House would object altogether to the proposal, and refuse the consideration of the Bill, or would they say that the present condition of Ireland could be dealt with by the existing law, and that no additional protection was necessary? The right hon. Baronet also stated, that he hardly thought that any man acquainted with the state of Ireland could deny the allegations of the Government, that measures of some kind or other were immediately necessary for the security of life and property. When he heard that guarded and very safe statement of the right hon. Baronet, he thought in his own mind that the right hon. Baronet should not have appeared so very independent towards the noble Lord the Member for Lynn for the expression of his opinion as to the possibility that the Bill might not, after all, be passed by Her Majesty's Government; the right hon. Baronet, even from his own language, not eliciting those very stringent feelings which would be indicative of his determination to carry the Bill in its present shape. He talked of its improvement in Committee—of the removal of something objectionable—of its mitigation. But if it were the opinion of some hon, Members that, in its present shape, it was inadequate and useless, what would be its strength or effect if it were farther weakened or mitigated? When he heard the declaration of the right hon. Baronet he thought it just amounted to this—"Will you not do something?" and that was quite an Irish mode of doing business. It appeared from the return of crime that the house of a man of the name of Middleton was attacked by some night assassins. A shot was fired which penetrated the door. Middleton rushed out; but seeing no one, he fired a shot of defiance; and very similar was the conduct of the Government as regarded the Bill—it was quite a random shot. It might take effect, or it might not. But, he would ask, was there that in the conduct of the Government which would justify the House to go into a wild and useless inquiry in Committee—a proceeding which would be as wild and as uncertain as Middleton's shot at defiance. Would any good result from such a Committee? None whatever. As soon as the Bill went into Committee, 650 various hon. Members would at once begin to move "instructions." One hon. Member would no doubt move instructions for the removal of the monster grievances of Ireland; another, probably the hon. Member for Stroud, would move "instructions" to stop the commission of crime by feeding the people—and there was nothing more likely to do it—and, as many of the outrages were of an agrarian character, suppose the hon. and learned Member for Cork would move an "instruction" for the tenure of land; while the noble Lord the Member for London, when he looked at the state of Ireland in 1842, when matters went on very well under the due administration of the common law, that noble Lord might move an "instruction" that it he enforced to put down crime and agitation. Under such proceedings, and which might be anticipated, would it not be a wild inquiry? He thought it was a great pity that the Government were not satisfied to rely upon the common law, as he believed it to be sufficient to meet the evil. He had looked through the entire returns of 1845 without being able to find any distinct reason for crime. The reasons that had been assigned by the police he considered to be most absurd. He thought, in looking at the social condition of Ireland, that there were some parts of that country in which civilization had not so far advanced as in other parts, which should not be lost sight of in judging of the commission of crime. He believed that the remedy for those evils did not rest with coercion—that to effect that they should give them greater comforts, and extend the means of affording education to the people. He believed they required an additional tribunal for the trial of offences in Ireland, as they had sufficient powers by means of the police to detect crime; and looking at the entire state of that country, he had to express his opinion that a case had not been made out for the introduction of the measure, and, therefore, he would vote against it. The evidence that had been produced as regarded the existence of crime in Ireland, if produced in reference to England, in order to pass a similar measure for this country, would not have obtained a single vote in its favour; and, therefore, he could not, as an honest man, agree to the passing of a Bill for Ireland, which he should reject if proposed for England.
§ SIR H. WINSTON BARRON
congratulated Ireland upon the excellent speech of the hon. Gentleman opposite, who had dis- 651 played so much industry in devoting his attention to the question. It was a speech which afforded him (Sir W. Barron) the greatest gratification to have heard, and which he hoped would be indelibly impressed upon the minds of his countrymen. He rejoiced to hear such sound principles laid down with reference to the manner in which Ireland ought to be governed; and he regretted that some who were immediately connected with the government of Ireland were not present to hear the admirable maxims which it contained. He regretted particularly the absence of the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, who thought it his duty a few nights ago to taunt the Irish Members with their absence from a debate, as it would be of great advantage to the noble Lord to hear the unanswerable arguments which that speech contained. He also wished that the Solicitor General for Ireland could hear what an honest Englishman considered the real manner of governing Ireland, and that he might hear the unanswerable arguments with which he supported his view of the case. This Bill was opposed to common sense, to justice, and reason; and it was a Bill, as the hon. Member who spoke last had justly observed, which, if it were intended to be applied to England, not one Member of that House would be found to vote for it. He (Sir W. Barron) concurred in that view; and he thought, at all events, that with the exception of Members who were under the complete dominion or influence of the Government, no other Members would dare to vote for such a Bill if it were intended to apply to England. He was opposed to this Bill; for he believed that if it were carried it might be made the means of annoyance to the sober and well-conducted people in Ireland, whilst it would utterly fail in suppressing that species of crime against which it was directed. Many similar Acts had been brought into operation at various times during the last forty years, and every one of them had signally failed in accomplishing its purpose, as all Acts of that nature would fail until Government struck at the root of the evil and provided employment for the people. The existing laws had always been found successful in suppressing crime in Ireland; and he was convinced that if they increased the police force where it was required, and appointed stipendiary magistrates if necessary, the existing law was quite capable of meeting the existing circumstances of that country, and that this 652 Bill was therefore altogether unnecessary. The offences against which this Bill was directed had no connexion whatever with party or with politics. They were confined to a small portion of the lowest and most ignorant class of the people, and for that reason could be suppressed by the increase of the police and stipendiary magistracy where necessary, without requiring such a Bill as this. There had been a greater degree of disturbance in Ireland in former years, and it had been altogether suppressed by the existing law. For example, the county of Clare was much more disturbed a few years ago than any part of Ireland at present was. Largo bodies of the people roamed about the country in the open day, and turned up the land by force, in addition to other acts of violence; and all that state of things had been put down by the operation of the ordinary law. There was a party who believed that nothing ought to be done for Ireland unless by means of coercion, and who wished to see Ireland governed in a different manner from that which was adopted towards other countries, and therefore would prefer coercion to governing Ireland according to justice and humanity, and the principles of the British Constitution; but that system could not now be applied to Ireland successfully, for they should learn to govern that country by the ordinary law of the land. Believing this, he thought it a serious error for the Government to introduce such a measure as this for a sop to the party to which he alluded. This was not the way in which Ireland ought to be dealt with. The Government ought to commence the improvement of Ireland by giving employment to the people, and instructing them in agriculture. That was a most important consideration, for it was well known eleven-twelfths of the people of Ireland were employed in agriculture. He thought that it was a most important object to establish agricultural schools. Government also ought to make advances for public; works; and he could not help remarking, that great penuriousness had been exhibited in this respect, considering the poverty of the country. The advances which had been already made had been repaid; and he thought that Ireland had been unjustly treated, in being charged with a higher rate of interest than England, whose public works had in several instances been carried on with the public money at 3½ per cent interest. It was absolutely incumbent on the Government 653 to advance a large sum of money for public works, such as railroads, which were now being carried on in Ireland. Government would run no risk on the subject, because the companies would give ample security for the money. With regard to this Bill, he was sure that coercion would do no good, and would only exasperate the people, and therefore he must vote against the second reading. He should also vote against the Bill on account of the manner in which it had been introduced into the House. At the time it was brought forward it was represented that crime was rife in Ireland, and that it was necessary to pass the Bill with the greatest possible expedition. He found, however, that the Bill had now been in that and the other House of Parliament something like five months; a fact which showed that the Government did not think that there was any urgent necessity for the measure.
§ CAPTAIN FITZMAURICE
would support the measure, which he thought necessary for the preservation of life and property in Ireland. He had voted for the first reading for the same reason. He regretted that he should differ from the noble Lord the Member for Lynn; but such had been the change in parties, that an hon. Member on his side of the House could hardly say to which or to what party he belonged. It was an old saying, that it was a clover child who would know its own father; but he thought he would be an uncommonly clever man that would know his own party. One night he found himself in the same lobby with the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, another with the Government, and perhaps on another with the noble Lord opposite. However, he was of opinion that they could not permit the measure to stand still. Ireland would be greatly excited if it were rejected, indeed, he had no doubt but in that event there would be bonfires blazing from Connemara to the Hill of Howth. A great deal had been said about the inconvenience the Bill would cause to the industrious and well disposed; but he could not see how it would; and even if it did, it was an inconvenience every good subject and lover of peace and order ought to submit to for the purpose of repressing the frightful state of things which prevailed in many districts. The noble Lord the Member for the city of London had spoken of the expediency of sending a larger military force to Ireland for the purpose of patrolling and garrisoning the turbulent locali- 654 ties; but he (Captain Fitzmaurice), as a military man, must declare, that he could not see how any military patriot, however vigilant, could guard against the acts of marauding vagabonds, who travelled from a distant county, committed the outrage, and then fled. Factions were the curse of Ireland, It was in consequence of these factions that two men were lately shot at Birdhill; and to this tyrannical influence most of the shocking murders and other dreadful outrages might be attributed. It was extraordinary that a peasantry so remarkably brave when fighting the battles of this country should at home submit to be dictated to by an ignorant, low-minded, evil-disposed society. The fact was, if a tenant or labourer gave just offence to the landlord or to the farmer, and that the offender was dispossessed to supply his place with a better man, the incoming person stood a great chance of being murdered, or, perhaps, the landlord himself. These factions treated the good landlords as they treated the bad ones. His brother did all he could for his tenantry. They asked him to build a mill for them. He did so; but it was no sooner erected than it was burned down. What encouragement then had a landlord for acting with a kindly disposition when he was so barbarously requited? Passion might sometimes blind a man, and, acting under its influence, allowance might perhaps be made for those offences which had been committed during the temporary insanity produced by violent passion; but what could be said in defence of those cruel murders perpetrated on women and children, helpless beings, whose condition should rather excite commiseration than revenge. Four or five miles from the town of Clare, a house had been set on fire, and the incendiaries guarded the doors and windows, in order to prevent the escape of the inmates. When the flames rose the mother put her child out at one of the windows, that it might be saved; but the miscreants pushed it back into the flames. In Galway a peasant gave evidence against a man, and that evidence procured his conviction. The witness, believing he would be murdered if he remained, went out of the country, but left his child in charge of a girl ten years of age at his cottage. The faction visited the House, and not finding the victim they sought, cut off the girl's head and nailed it to the door. [An hon. MEMBER: Where was that?] He could not exactly name the place. [Mr. SHEIL: 655 When was it?] It was some years ago. [Mr. SHEIL: Not since 1819?] He could not tell exactly when. He could not do so then, but he mentioned the matter as an illustration of the atrocities perpetrated by these factions. He thought the right hon. Baronet had spoken truly when he said that the Irish people ought to place more reliance on their own industry. A writer in the time of Mr. Pitt used language applicable to the present. He said—Though these concessions are acknowledged as a great benefit by the Parliament of Ireland, they are not followed by great improvements. The exertions of the Irish people themselves are wanted to give that good effect to them which the originators of them proposed.The peasantry of that country had been led to expect too much from a single act of Government, and exaggerated the benefits which it was possible for the Legislature to confer on them—they wished to jump at once into that prosperity which a long course of patient unwearied industry could alone procure. He thought he saw the dawn of better days for Ireland, and he hoped the period was not far distant when she would be regarded not as a thorn in the side of England, but her rival in manufacturing productions and in agricultural skill.
§ MR. HAWES
reminded the House that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had, in order to justify this measure, been obliged to go back to a case which occurred more than twenty years ago. He wished to know on what grounds this Bill was defended? Was it on account of the crime and outrages prevailing in particular parts of Ireland, or on the general state of crime in that country? The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), in proposing the Bill, had urged the first ground, while the noble Earl had more insisted on the second; and the papers the Government had produced lately on the subject of crime in Ireland seemed still further to favour the opinion that they were desirous of shifting the ground on which they asked the House to support the Bill. The statements of crime in Ireland were much exaggerated, and the returns inaccurate. The circular letter of the Clerk of the Crown to the magistrates of Ireland, desiring that witnesses should be examined in the presence of the prisoner, showed the carelessness and indifference which had prevailed in taking depositions; and there was an obvious distinction between an increase of crime and an increase of committals. Was there such an increase of crime in Ireland as to justify extraordi- 656 nary means of repression? What were the proofs? In the first place, the official tables were produced; and in the second place, certain special returns, and subsequently some supplementary returns, were made. The latter related chiefly to reports of outrages to the police; but these reports were certainly the least authentic kind of evidence upon which Parliament could act. On looking at the official tables of criminal statistics, he was satisfied that the proof altogether failed. There was no pretence, indeed, for saying that such an increase had taken place of crime in Ireland as to justify the introduction of such a Bill as that before the House. Since 1842 there had been a regular, steady, progressive decrease in the gross amount of committals; the numbers being in 1842, 21,100; in 1843, 20,100; in 1844, 19,400; in 1845, 16,600. There was thus a decrease of 14 per cent in 1845 as compared with 1844; and upon murders there was a decrease of 28 per cent. As to the special returns, one of the offences to which they related was the sending of threatening notices; but that was clearly an offence, as already remarked, to which the Bill was not applicable. Then, under the head "Homicides" was included every case where life was lost; and no distinction was made between instances in which death resulted from mere accident, and those in which a malicious intent could be traced. So far with regard to crimes in all Ireland. He would now come to the case of the five disturbed counties, and show, from the returns, that they were not justified in asking for the present Bill on the assumption that there had been a great increase of crime. He admitted that an increase had taken place; but it was not in that class of crime which was attended with the most grievous results, but in that which was accompanied by the least loss of life. In the crime of murder there had been a decrease of 28 per cent. He contended that the Bill would not be efficacious for the purpose intended. For 150 years they had always governed Ireland either by military force, or party jobbing and Insurrection Acts; and this system of government had been uniformly accompanied by a miserable condition of the people. The state of the great body of the people of Ireland had been all along overlooked; and they now proposed to continue the old policy which had hitherto completely failed in giving happiness to Ireland. It could not be denied that there was great social 657 disorganization in Ireland, and an unnatural amount of crime; but other means than those of coercion must be adopted to put a stop to this state of things. It was said that this Bill would have a good moral effect; but if they depended upon the moral effect of coercion for producing tranquillity, they would be miserably disappointed. He denied that there was the great difficulty to get juries to convict, and witnesses to give evidence, which had been so often stated. Juries did convict, witnesses did give evidence, and justice was administered, and was much more likely to be administered if left to its natural course, than by governing the country by unconstitutional means. He was prepared to show that the state of Ireland was improving. So far as crime was concerned, he had already shown that it was improving; and he could state with satisfaction, that the value of land was increasing in Ireland. The years' purchase for freehold property was beyond what it was in England, being thirty-six years and a half. The value of property generally was also increasing: and the general trade of the country, and consumption of excisable articles. The Bill, in short, was wholly unnecessary. Not that steps should not be taken to improve the social condition of the people; the three Bills lately laid on the Table showed that the Government was disposed to do that; and one of the advantages of these debates was, that that condition was more exposed to view. There had been inquiries by Government Commissioners, and by "The Times Commissioner;" that gentleman had prosecuted a most laborious and comprehensive inquiry, and presented to the public in that newspaper an invaluable mass of matter: though the views of the writer differed entirely from his as to the remedies to be resorted to, there was such a mass of important information in those "Letters," showing the state of the country and the causes of its disorganized condition, that he hoped and trusted they had been extensively read. But England must make up its mind to govern Ireland in a far more dispassionate spirit than hitherto, and by Irish instrumentality, and with reference to Irish feelings and interests; the Government must be more national. Lot the statements he had made be answered, and not as the right hon. Gentleman answered him before, by taking particular short periods of time to sot against his (Mr. Hawes's) accounts, embracing long periods. The Bill was reprobated by the Irish Members 658 on his side of the House, and on the other side but one Member connected with Ireland had spoken that night in favour of it; and that gallant Member (Captain Fitzmaurice) was the only Member who had attempted to show that the Bill would be effectual to suppress crime. He hoped and trusted that the House would not only throw out this Bill, but that its decision would have the moral effect of putting an end at once to the unjust and odious system of governing Ireland, which had ended in demoralizing and pauperizing the people, while it had increased the value of the property of the landlords. Ireland was in no better state than she was a century ago. In looking the other day at the Bedford Correspondence, he found the Lord Primate writing thus to the Lord Lieutenant in 1758:—The bulk of the people are not regularly either lodged, or clothed, or fed, and those things which in England are called necessaries of life are to us only accidents, and we do in many places without them. The estates have risen within these twenty years to near double value; but the condition of the occupiers of land is not better than it was before that increase.Similar language was used by Dr. Madden, in 1837; and the Devon Commission used nearly the same words last year—"badly housed, badly clothed, badly fed." The testimony of Inglis, and Kohl, and The Times Commissioner, was all to the same effect. Could the people, then, be expected to remain tranquil? Who could wonder at the Repeal movement? He believed that if he had been an Irishman, he should have been a Repealer. So strong was his impression of the intolerable injustice inflicted upon that country, that he wondered at no struggle on their part. He hailed the three measures lately introduced by the Government, though they fell far short even of what the Land Commission recommended above a year ago; he saw marks of a better tone and spirit on the part of the Government; and if practical measures were adopted, directed to the amendment of the social condition of the people, the course would be taken which alone would continue to unite Ireland with England.
§ LORD F. EGERTON
had been told that by some combination of parties this Bill was to be rejected on the second reading. He did not suppose that he had any influence or authority in the House, which would entitle him to bring into question the justice or expediency of such a course of proceeding on the part of those who formerly considered some such measure 659 as this to be necessary, or who at least, at a former period, considered some such measure as this, when amended in Committee, to be conducive, if not essential, to the promotion of those great objects, the security of life and property in Ireland. His object rather was to explain his own views, at the same time paying that deference he owed to those hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House who, from the first, giving their reasons for the course they pursued, had disapproved of the measure; and apologizing as he best might to the Irish Members for the course which he, an English gentleman, took differently from them. He should have been inclined, at one period of the discussion perhaps, to take the advice which he understood had been given in another place, and to follow the rule of begging the question as to the necessity for this Bill; at least he should have been unwilling to load this discussion with any remarks of his on that part of the subject; but the observations which had fallen from the noble Lord the Member for London, and the hon. Member for Lambeth, made it necessary perhaps for him to show some reasons why he thought, and still continued to think, up to that moment that some such Bill as the present was necessary. It would rather be for some Members of Her Majesty's Government, who had pursued the subject closely through all its details, to answer the remote statistics which had been brought forward with much ability and skill by the hon. Member for Lambeth. But there were certain broad facts, which upon the face of the record it was impossible to deny. It certainly appeared from the statements laid before the House by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, that there was the undoubted and acceptable fact of a diminution of crime through the whole of Ireland. He did not represent Her Majesty's Government on this occasion; he could not say on what they rested their case for this Bill; but as far as he had heard or read the discussion—for he had not been able to attend on every occasion—he did not understand the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, or any other Member of the Government, to rest the necessity for this Bill upon the whole state of Ireland. But it did appear to him, from the statistics laid before them by the Government, that though there were minute variations in the monthly returns of crime; yet, in the five counties 660 where the Bill was intended to operate, there was only one where there was any material variation; and that during the whole of the last five months, from December to June, in these five counties, containing within their area one-sixth of the whole population of Ireland, the crimes which were here described, and which they sought rather to prevent than to punish—for that was the object of the Bill—amounted to sixty per cent of the whole crime of Ireland. It was really difficult to follow the classification of crime in Ireland. He must say, that when the hon. Member described attempts to murder which were not carried into effect as not in the grossest class of crimes, that appeared to him to be a classification of crime which he could not understand. But the question which was really at issue appeared to him to be that which the hon. Member for Waterford had put in a portion of his speech. The question really appeared to him to come to this, whether the ordinary powers of law were sufficient to attain the purpose of repressing crime, or whether this Bill might be expected in any reasonable degree, or according to ordinary calculations, to effect that purpose. There might be objections brought to the details of the Bill, such as were brought by the noble Lord and by the hon. Member for Lambeth; but he believed that there were few of those observations which would not apply to the Bill that was introduced by the Whig Administration in 1835. He mentioned this fact only to show his grounds for the difficulty he felt in excogitating any Bill which would not be open to the same objections, and that directly in proportion to its aptitude for the purpose it was intended to effect. He did not like to prophesy in the House; but he would almost venture to predict that should those events happen which were anticipated, and should the noble Lord opposite find himself in power—should the benevolent intentions towards Ireland, which he was sure he entertained, fail of an early and immediate attainment of their purpose—should those projects, which are somewhat vaguely called plans, for the amelioration, and improvement, and regeneration of the people, lag behind the progress of those great social evils which they all lamented, then he thought they would find the noble Lord come down to this House and propose either a measure somewhat analogous to the present, or differing from the present only in being a some- 661 what wider departure from the principles of the Constitution. He fairly said to the noble Lord, that if it should be his fortune to be in the House at that period, and the noble Lord were to come down with a case as satisfactory, or rather as unsatisfactory and lamentable as the present case, for a measure involving even a more large departure from the principles of the Constitution, the noble Lord would find in him a strong bias in its favour. If the noble Lord were to propose now, as a substitute for the present measure, a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, he should be disposed to enter upon a consideration of it with somewhat of a bias in its favour; and he should not hesitate briefly to explain his reasons for it. He believed that the crimes which they were now seeking to prevent, were mainly committed in carrying out the edicts of secret associations in Ireland; and he believed that the objects of those associations were neither very numerous, nor altogether impossible to be detected; and he believed, though he would name no names, that there were individuals who, if they were entrusted by Parliament and by the Lord Lieutenant with moderately restricted powers, would sweep the district, within a very few hours, of those who were the cause of these disturbances, and would thus remove the incubus, the main root of the evil, which strangled every measure of improvement, and set at defiance the ordinary powers of law. That was his reason for saying that if the noble Lord—he was sure he would do it with great reluctance — but if he should find it necessary, as a matter of duty, to come down to that House and demand the powers which were now asked by his right hon. Friend; and if he were to show as good reasons for it, he would support the noble Lord as he supported the present measure, which was only an imitation of Bills passed by former Governments, and which ought not to be rejected, therefore, on this occasion by the House. But the noble Lord had brought forward another charge, and one of a more serious nature, against Her Majesty's Ministers, and which, they would give him leave to say, involved a considerable fallacy. He argued from England to Ireland—an old method of argument; and perhaps some hon. Members might not think him very complimentary to Ireland if he were to say that it was a fallacy. But when the noble Lord argued from the events of 1842 in Lancashire to the case of Ireland, he thought that was a fallacy. He trusted 662 the Irish Members would not think he meant anything injurious to that country in saying so, but he must contend that the circumstances were totally different. As the noble Lord the Member for Lincolnshire said, how would you in England like such a restrictive Bill? He said—whether as an Englishman or an Irishman, a Japanese or a New Zealander—he would dislike it exceedingly. But before he would argue thus, he must suppose that there were circumstances in Lincolnshire which he hoped never would exist there. But the noble Lord the Member for London had not only argued from Lancashire to Leitrim; he had argued from Leitrim to Roscommon; and in doing so, said he was in favour of that military policy which had been so much disapproved of by the hon. Member for Lambeth. He said to the Government, by your own confession you have covered Leitrim with soldiers, and by so doing you have put down, at least you have diminished, the amount of outrage in that country. Now, in the first place, the noble Lord, before he brought forward that argument, should have considered what they were doing in pursuing this system over an area of such an extent, and with such a population as the other four counties. The population of the whole five counties is more than one-sixth of the whole population of Ireland, while Leitrim is less than one-ninth of the population of the five counties. Therefore, he thought it was a fallacy unworthy the attention of the House, to suppose that they could in those five districts, large mountain districts, do what they had been able to do in the flat and comparatively open district of Leitrim. He had received information how the effectual acting of the soldiery had been accomplished. An armament had been sent to that part of the country, commanded by one of the very best officers. Some two-thirds of the force was in a district surrounded by the river Shannon. They could not have been equally efficient in other parts. The probability would have been, that in other parts the forces would have been diverted, and that at least 10,000 men would have been required to do what a much smaller body had performed. There therefore could be no tenable comparison drawn between the state of, and the manner of dealing with, these several counties in Ireland, and the disturbed districts alluded to in England. Equally unfounded was the statement that the means now proposed to be applied 663 by the Government were inapplicable. To the noble Lord opposite he would say this, that, supposing the evils found at the present period in Ireland continued, even with the spirit and good will of the noble Lord and his party to remove them, he would tell that noble Lord that they were not connected either with politics or religion, but with social evils not easily removed. It was in no way uncomplimentary to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), and to those with whom the noble Lord acted, to say that even if, in the event of a change of Government, they were to occupy their former position, they might find it a matter of no little difficulty, despite their abilities and good intentions, to eradicate these social and deep-rooted evils. These evils, it had been truly stated, were connected neither with the political nor religious condition of the people. They seemed to be part and parcel of the existing social system; and it was, therefore, of slight consequence, in this instance, whether the Government appeared, through its measures, popular or unpopular. They could never avoid the necessity of having recourse to such a Bill as that which had been brought before the House, and having recourse to such a power as that Bill gave. He would now allude to a matter which perhaps took somewhat of a personal character. He had listened to the speeches of some hon. Gentlemen, in the course of this debate, with considerable concern; but the recent portions of it had been conducted in so temperate a tone that he would consider himself unjustified in introducing, at that moment, anything like acrimony into the discussion. He certainly did regret, as, no doubt, did many others, that in commenting upon this Bill expressions had been used somewhat passing the ordinary usages of debate; and his regret was founded in a belief that the opinions held in opposition to his own, could not, by possibility, be enforced by a recourse to such tactics as those which seemed to have been adopted. He must be permitted to mention his extreme and unaffected sorrow, that, in this ago, any difference in political sentiments should have had a tendency to interrupt the dignity of discussion or the warmth of personal regard. Individual sacrifices were, assuredly, to be made for public considerations; but he could not for his own part see that in such a sacrifice there was involved any necessity of departing from customary courtesy. The views of the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck), who 664 had not been enabled to speak a second time, had been ably and energetically enforced by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Disraeli); and although neither the noble Lord nor the hon. Gentleman were now in the House, he (Lord F. Egerton) was about to say nothing which he would not have desired to say in their presence. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury had defended one of the expressions used by the noble Lord on the score of precedent; but they were not in a Court of Chancery, where the argument of precedent was valuable; and even that precedent which had been brought forward would in itself hardly justify the violence and intemperance of the language defended. Mr. Fox applied the expression of "paid Janisaries" to the Lords of the Bedchamber—to rivals who were in every respect open to the charge of baseness. Precedents might be found for any nonsense or any violence, but the precedent would not alter the case. The political provocation might be great; but it was a question whether it justified the retaliation. The citation made from the speeches of Mr. Fox reminded him of a citation once similarly made from a speech of Mr. Pitt, during a debate in that House on the silk trade; on which occasion Mr. Canning observed, that the hon. Gentleman who quoted Mr. Pitt resembled those blind nations of antiquity who paid neither reverence nor homage to the sun when pursuing his path of beneficence and glory, and in the zenith of his splendour, but waited with their homage till his career was run, or his obscuration complete in an eclipse: then they knelt down, and displayed symbols of fear and worship. The hon. Member (Mr. Disraeli) had not culled the choicest flowers from the eloquence of Mr. Fox—that able, but not very temperate statesman. He was once reported to have said, speaking of Lord North, that he would not trust himself in the same room with him; and yet they afterwards got on very well together side by side in the same Cabinet. And, in the same way, fierce as were now the denunciations, the same might happen in this case, and things might right themselves in the same way. He thought it would not be very good policy in high authorities to encourage the use of such language. With respect to the term "Janisaries," it was a word appplicable to subordinate servants of the Crown, who were paid for their services. Persons supported Governments with profit certainly, but 665 with honesty, and purity of intention, though their sentiments might change. It was not known how soon the noble Lord might rally his Friends round the camp kettle of a Whig Administration; and it was best not now to abuse a class of men with whom the noble Lord might soon he united. Whoever stood in such a position would not rightly be regarded as "Janisaries," nor would the head of any Government, like the Sultan Mahmoud, attempt to get rid of them. But other words had been used, and perhaps applied to himself. He did not mean to say that he felt any imputation on his character by what had been said. No man could, perhaps, assume a position that was unimpeachable; and, in a certain sense, he thought the word "renegade," though he had uttered his opinion, did not apply to him. But he was not aware what meaning the noble Lord had attributed to the term. He hoped, however, the noble Lord would recollect that individuals might be led to a right, though different, conclusion, rapidly and steadily. If he had earned the name of "renegade" at all, he had done so in consequence of a speech made by him at the last election, in which he had said he could no longer support the old provisions with respect to the importation of grain. He did not, however, pledge himself to do this or that, either to the noble Lord or any other man. He had purchased no votes by what he had said; indeed, on the contrary, he believed he had lost votes by the course he had taken. He had thought at the time the corn question was a "thorny" question, and he had purposely said but little on the subject. He was of opinion that before the noble Lord used expressions of this character, he should recollect that Gentlemen were returned to that House surrounded by various circumstances. It might be well in periods of tranquillity to avoid any particular statement; but allusions to the course of events could not be avoided in times of excitement, when surrounded by a struggling and expanding population, and the question happened to be, how that population should be provided with food. A man with these considerations pressing heavily upon him, might arrive at a different conclusion than the noble Lord under the position in which he found himself placed for judgment. Now, in what he had offered to the House on this matter, he did not wish to exempt himself from the onus felt by other Gentlemen with whom he acted. He was not aware that 666 at that late hour of the night he should trouble the House further upon any subject, but he could not avoid alluding to the topic on which he had troubled the House. Before he sat down, he would just say, in reference to the measure on which they were called to give judgment, that it was not intended, or brought forward, as a cure for the evils of Ireland, but as a means of relieving a district from a temporary state of things with which it was afflicted. The circumstances of the country had been fully and ably examined, without favour or affection; and he, for one, as an English Member of that House, should vote against the Amendment, and so forward the Bill into Committee.
§ Debate again adjourned.
§ House adjourned.