§ Order read, for resuming the Adjourned Debate on Question [6th February],"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to convey the thanks of this House for Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech from the Throne," &c., (see p.) 115.
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
said, he was sorry to be obliged to intrude for a very short time upon the attention of the House, and to take a course which perhaps might give an unexpected turn to this debate. While he fully recognized the importance of the question which was discussed for more than seven hours on Tuesday evening-while he deeply deplored the calamities which had been inflicted on England by the disastrous ravages of the cattle plague, and while he would do all in his power to abate and, if possible, to stay them—he thought the question of the state of Ireland was one of at least equal importance, and one which could not and ought not to be postponed. During the life of the last Parliament some of the causes of Irish discontent were more than once pointed out by his hon. Friend the now Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire), and by his hon. and learned Friend Mr. Hennessy, who he was sorry was not there to support him with his great ability. His hon. Friend (Mr. Maguire) was, he recollected, then told by the right hon. Baronet, who was at that time Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir 196 Robert Peel), in tones which were emphatically triumphant, that there were no causes of discontent, and that Ireland had entered on an era of prosperity and contentment. He thought that must now be some evidence to everyone that the information supplied by Her Majesty's Government to the last Parliament was, to say the least, not very accurate; and it was in order to do away with the injurious effects of this erroneous information, that he was anxious, as early as possible, to place the true state of things before the House and the country. It would be in the recollection of hon. Members that the right hon. Gentleman the (Chancellor of the Exchequer) in consenting, as he readily did, to his Motion for adjournment of the debate on Tuesday night, said he did so as he understood that he (The O'Donoghue) was going to introduce to the notice of the House a question of vast interest. He felt that was a just description of the subject of which he was about to treat, and which gave him a claim on the attention of hon. Members to which, personally, he had no pretension. From the paragraph in the Queen's Speech relating to Ireland he totally dissented, and principally for this reason—that throughout the whole of it there was the assumption that the state of Ireland, as far as regarded legislation, left nothing to be desired; from which, no doubt, it was intended they should infer that those who wished to disturb such a state of things must be the victims of unreasoning impulse, or sanguinary revolutionists intent on robbery and murder. All those connected with the administration of the law—local magistrates, Judges of assize, and assistant barristers at quarter sessions—had declared that there was an almost complete absence of crime in Ireland. In point of morality the people of Ireland need not fear comparison with any other on the face of the earth. There was no country in the world in which revolutionary ideas had made so little way, and in which those unmistakable symptoms of a revolutionary tendency—irreligion and want of respect for social status—were so little known. If the contrary of all this were to be found in Ireland, he could understand it being taken for granted that the fault was altogether on the side of the governed, and not on that of the governing. But when they were told that a spirit of disaffection existed among a people whose conduct in every social relation of life 197 might be said to be exemplary, he maintained that it was impossible to believe that the Government of such a people had nothing to answer for, and that the fault was all on the side of the governed; and he further maintained that it was the duty of those who represented such a people to insist upon the Government, while taking every necessary precaution to preserve the public peace, coming forward and declaring their intention of examining into the alleged causes of this disaffection, with a view, if possible, to their removal. Accordingly he totally dissented from the paragraph in the Queen's Speech relating to Ireland; and, with the permission of the House, he would beg to substitute for that paragraph the following:—Humbly to express our deep regret to Her Majesty that great disaffection exists in Ireland, and humbly to represent to Her Majesty that this wide-spread disaffection is the result of grave causes which it is the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to examine into and remove.It appeared to him quite evident, indeed he might say, inevitable, that there should be a difference of opinion in this country as to the actual condition of Ireland at the present time, and as to the causes which produced that condition, how it could be averted, and what steps ought to be taken with reference to the future. But while admitting that various views would, no doubt, be held on these different points, he thought the House would give its unanimous assent to these two propositions—first, that the present condition of Ireland must be unsatisfactory to every man who has her prosperity or the prosperity of the British Empire at heart; and, secondly, that it was the plain duty of the Legislature diligently to investigate the causes which had produced the existing disaffection, and, having discovered them, to deal with them in the way that justice might require. It might appear startling to assert that it was not easy for the House of Commons to obtain a clear notion of the state of Ireland. In the first place, the English—and he spoke of those who were animated with favourable dispositions towards Ireland, and who constituted the majority of the House and the overwhelming majority in this country—were satisfied with a very superficial glance at Irish affairs. For the most part, they derived their notion of the state of things on the other side of the Channel from what was passing in their own country. They there beheld prosperity and 198 contentment as the principal features, and assuming that wherever British institutions existed there must be a like prospect, took it for granted that the stagnation and eternal restlessness of Ireland were attributable to the wavering of the national character or the superabundance of frolic-someness among the people, which they hoped their own more serious character would in time modify. Like mankind in general, they took the most hopeful view of the case. It was sometimes a difficult thing for a man to discharge his duties to his constituents, and at the same time to occupy an agreeable position in the House of Commons. Grievance-mongers were universally disliked, and more especially Irish grievance-mongers, because the British mind had been worked up to the belief that Irish grievances were the mere creations of agitators and politicians, who must find something to exercise their intelligence and delude their countrymen. The result of this belief, as must be obvious to every one who had had any experience of Parliament, or the press, or of the public mind out of doors, was that an Irish Member shrunk from making himself ridiculous, or, at at all events, wearisome, in the eyes of those with whom he associated in daily intercourse by uselessly urging, year after year, the settlement of questions which, though considered grave and dangerous in Ireland, were in this country regarded as visionary and absurd. Accordingly, even those Irish Members who fully realized the necessity which called for the settlement of certain questions, became gradually, though perhaps unconsciously, animated by the all-pervading sentiment, of incredulity as to the reality of Irish grievances, and their statements became more and more diluted until, in the course of time, they acquired that contented flavour which alone was palatable. Then, again, there were some who, notwithstanding the opportunities they possessed, would not Bee Ireland as she really was, and their version of her condition found too ready credence, owing, in great part, to the exigencies of party. Besides, all hon. Members knew that the occupants of the Treasury Bench, who were supposed to have within their reach the fullest and most reliable sources of information, had an insuperable objection—whether they were Whigs or Tories—to admit that Ireland was not in a prosperous condition. It was not difficult to discover that this arose from the fear that 199 such an avowal would be interpreted as an acknowledgment of incapacity, might produce unfavourable notions in the minds of foreigners as to the efficacy of British institutions and the stability of British power, and that, above all, it would necessitate the renunciation of certain political maxims and the adoption of such a policy towards Ireland as, in the presence of the party exigencies to which he had referred, might lead to unpleasant consequences. Indeed, among all British statesmen he knew of none, except the late Sir Robert Peel, who adopted an Irish policy regardless of party exigencies. The reasons he had just stated justified him in asserting that, in the ordinary course of events, it was not easy for the House to obtain a clear perception of the state of Ireland, and consequently to deal fairly with the country. But this Parliament possessed advantages for dealing with this subject which preceding Parliaments had not enjoyed. Within the last few months extraordinary events had occurred which, he thought, must satisfy every reflecting Englishman that the state of Ireland was very different from that of his own happy and flourishing country, that the grievance-mongers had some justification for their grievances, and that those who, possessing full sources of information, told a different tale were in reality the false prophets, and that the sunny pictures of the Treasury Bench were the imaginary creations of men who either deceived themselves or who for some purpose deceived others. Those events had shown Ireland as she really is. They had enabled hon. Gentlemen to judge for themselves and, he would add, had imposed upon them, as the representatives of the English people, the solemn duty of endeavouring by a just and courageous policy to make Ireland a prosperous, contented, and loyal appendage of the British Crown. At the present moment, from one end of Ireland to the other, among the masses of the people, both in town and country—among millions—there was a feeling of disaffection towards English rule which had only been kept from breaking out into open insurrection by the manifest hopelessness of contending with the vastly superior power of England. This hopelessness, however, had by no means taken the shape of despair—it influenced only the action of the hour, and had settled itself into a resolve to wait for the favourable chances which, it was believed, time and the fluc- 200 tuating fortunes of nations would certainly bring forth. This dislike to English rule pervaded the whole island, except a few districts, the inhabitants of which, influenced by sectarian animosity, believed that the slaughter of all who differed from them in creed was the first step towards acquiring religious ascendancy. To what, then, was this disaffection attributable? Was it to be ascribed to the labours of the apostles of Fenianism within the last few years? Most certainly not. They found everything ready to their hands, and all they had to do was to establish in a few localities a kind of military organization. Fenianism must be ascribed to disaffection—not disaffection to Fenianism. By the masses Fenianism was looked upon as a kind of insurrectionary experiment, for which they had been long prepared by what had passed in their minds—by the events which had occurred within their memory, by the history of other countries, and by the national traditions. They had not accepted Fenianism, because the Fenian Society, being secret and oath-bound, was condemned by the Catholic Church, and because they could not persuade themselves that Fenianism was adequate to attain the end it proposed, and because they were keenly alive to the consequences of failure. But that man would grossly deceive the House who, from whatever motives, should assert that the sympathies of the vast majority of the Irish people were not on the Fenian side. The Fenians might be described by some as intending only robbery and murder. They might be denounced at quarter sessions and by Puisne Judges, and anathematized by persons higher in authority. But all in vain. The denunciation and anathema only recoiled upon those who uttered them by impairing their influence, for the people of Ireland felt that their country was not what she ought to be, that she was pressed down by many grievances, and that English rule was a cause of them all. So long as this remained, so long the people would continue to regard those who endeavoured to overthrow that rule as true friends of theirs and true lovers of their country. The true cause of the disaffection in Ireland was the impression upon the minds of the people that all the evils that afflicted them were the consequences of English rule. It was utterly fallacious to imagine that this impression was the work of those who had been denounced as" agitators, "demagogues," and "rebel conspirators." The 201 people themselves saw the result of English rule in the poverty from which they suffered, and the precarious nature of their position. Surely nothing more was necessary than the evidence of their senses to convince them of their thorough and complete dependence on the will of others. Their estimate of the value of English rule was derived from the incidents of their daily lives. They knew that the laws and institutions under which they lived were English, and when they found that those laws and institutions failed to insure them a comfortable existence and secure homes, they reasonably and logically condemned those laws and institutions, and held Englishmen responsible for the failure. If O'Connell were living to-day with undiminished popularity, and were to appeal to his countrymen to accept their position and be content with it, they would turn away from him as a traitor to their interests. The question then naturally suggested itself—Was the disaffection of the Irish people based upon just grounds, or could English rule be fairly held accountable for the grievances of which they complained? He, for one, thought these questions must be answered in the affirmative. He passed by, as unworthy of consideration, the oft-repeated assertions that these evils were beyond the reach of legislation, and that legislation had done all that could be done by legislation for Ireland. He would say to the House, "That you are accountable for the state of Ireland is incontrovertibly determined by this fact, that you have deprived the Irish people of the power of self-government, and have taken upon yourselves the duty of governing them. That is your duty under the Act of Union." No lengthened argument was needed to show that 105 Irish representatives could do nothing which was opposed to the views of the 500 and odd Englishmen with whom they were associated in that House, who, in the natural order of things, would on all occasions, as had been illustrated in the course of that very debate, look first to the requirements of their own country. He would not dwell upon the fact of the Union having been carried by force and fraud, and of its never having, through continued misgovernment, been approved by the Irish nation, but he would refer to the disadvantages to be traced to it. The Irish people knew that the mere arrangements for the carrying out of the Act of Union of necessity impoverished their country; they believed that the transference of the seat 202 of Legislature from Dublin to London had placed the Irish Members beyond the reach of Irish public opinion; that it had increased absenteeism, and that it had disorganized Irish society and had weakened the home sympathies of the higher classes, by making them virtually English, socially and politically, and by imbuing them with the notion that, while they could count upon the support of the strong arm of England, they need pay little attention to the goodwill of their countrymen. The people also were well aware that the expenditure of the surplus funds of the public revenue without any appreciable benefit to them, that the possession of all ecclesiastical revenues by the Church of the minority, and that the exhaustive drain of absentee proprietors all combined to inflict upon them, year by year, heavy pecuniary loss. Some of these effects of English rule must coexist with the Union; but some, and perhaps the more important, were wholly independent of it. They affected, more particularly, the trading, artisan, and labouring classes, and the floating population generally. But there was another and far more influential class whose dislike to the English rule supplied life, hope, and inexhaustible resources to the disaffected of every other class—he meant the agricultural tenants. England having taken upon herself the duty of governing Ireland was responsible before God and the world for the grievances of this class, whose voice had been so often heard in that House, and who by petitions had so often implored those who governed them to pass laws which would save them from the cupidity and still worse passions of their landlords. At this moment there was silence in the homes of the peasantry, as if they were listening for the first sounds of a mighty tempest, foretold by strange signs and threatening clouds. They made no manifestation of political feeling; but to learn what they felt, we must look across the Atlantic at the attitude of their brethren—from whom they might be said to have only just parted, and for whom their hearts were still lonely—marshalling in hundreds of thousands, proclaiming that the day of vengeance was at hand, and calling out to their fathers and brothers in the old home to keep aloof from English party squabbles, and never more appeal for justice to that Parliament which had so often spurned their petitions. The moral of these demonstrations had penetrated to the highest hill and the remotest valley, 203 and had sunk deep into the souls of the peasantry, who were profoundly touched by the constancy and devotion which, far away, amidst the new associations of America, still made common cause with them. No matter how we regarded the thousands of banded Irishmen now parading their numbers as a menace to England in the States of the Western Republic, by the vast majority of the agricultural population of Ireland, by the millions of the Irish people, these banded Irishmen were loved and trusted, and every indication of their growing strength was hailed with delight. All this might afford pleasant and wholesome food for journalists and satirists if, unfortunately, it were not too true that the peasantry had ceased to look to Parliament for the redress of their grievances. If things were as they ought to be, the House could almost afford to laugh at the idea of a foreign force landing on the shores of Ireland, because then the whole population would be prepared to fight for the maintenance of the laws and institutions of their country. What would happen now, if a force came, no matter whence, having the avowed intention to overturn English authority and abolish the hated land-law? Would the landlords be able to appeal to their tenantry in defence of insecurity of tenure and high rents—in defence of a system which allowed one man to sweep away the inhabitants of a whole countryside (as was recently done in Galway by Mr. John George Adair), and even placed the Queen's troops at his disposal to assist him in exterminating the Queen's subjects, in defence of a system which recognized no more right in the tiller of the soil, independently of the will of his landlord, than it did in the beast which draws the plough? It was this system which had made it true, as a right hon. Gentleman had remarked in that House, that "Every man in a certain rank of life who leaves Ireland is an enemy of England." If a hostile force came to Ireland, no matter whence, we should have to contend for the dominion with that force, sustained by the whole agricultural population, to say nothing of the sides which would be taken by the trading, artisan, and labouring classes. No doubt they were indisposed to credit his words; they might think that he exaggerated for a sinister purpose, either to lower their reputation before the world, or to encourage their enemies by giving proof of internal weakness or to gratify an anti-English sentiment. No! 204 he had no anti-English sentiment; the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) might laugh, but he did not mind that. He repeated that he had no anti-English sentiment; he deemed it scarcely possible that a man who had had much intercourse with Englishmen should be anti-English. Yet it did not follow from this that he must approve England's treatment of all nations subject to her rule. Perhaps it would be found, before the Parliament was much older, that Englishmen themselves did not know that. What he had spoken he conceived to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He had spoken with reluctance, because he knew that what he had to say would be disagreeable to those ["No, no!"] with whom it was his ambition to stand well, if he could only do so consistently with truth and without sacrificing the interests of his own country. He could not tell them that Irishmen were loyal and contented, because he knew the contrary to be the fact. He could not tell Irishmen that they ought to be loyal and contented, when he saw they were denied justice. He repeated that it was a ridiculous doctrine that loyalty could exist without a cause, that it could exist notwithstanding continued misgovernment; and it was an equally untenable and ridiculous assertion, that the disaffection of Ireland had any other cause save and except misgovernment. He did not need to come to her Majesty's Government to learn the state of Ireland. He knew there was disaffection—widespread disaffection—in Ireland, the result, as he maintained, of just causes; but he knew, besides, that if Her Majesty's Government declared it was their intention to do all that could be done to remove these causes, and gave proof of honesty of purpose towards Ireland, that spirit of disaffection would subside; that same spirit which now was threatening to break out in an insurrectionary movement, and which possessed, beyond all question, the popular sympathy, and which made the people of Ireland formidable, no matter how they were laughed at or ridiculed. What, then, was to be done? Would the Government persevere in a policy which had produced the deplorable results to which he had borne testimony—a testimony he would not alter if he thought that were the last moment of his life. If that policy was persevered in, it would please the mass of those who contemplated the overthrow of 205 the British Empire, who did not wish to see England conciliate the Irish people, because then the British Empire would be established on a firm and imperishable basis. Or, would the Government diligently and carefully investigate the causes of Irish disaffection, and deal with them impartially and fearlessly? If they did, they would not be required to do anything offensive to English pride—to do anything which in their judgment might tend to the dismemberment of the Empire, or impair the stability of British power; but they would have simply to do certain things which, if England had not dispossessed the Irish people of the right of self-government, would have long since been carried out—things which the Irish people now expected the British Government to do, and by which the Government might acquire an indefeasible title to the confidence and allegiance of the Irish people. The Government would be asked to give Ireland a large surplus revenue to be expended in works of public utility; to impose heavy penalties on absenteeism; to do away with the ascendancy of one Church over another; to assimilate the education system and the Poor Law system to those of England; and particularly to pass an Act of tenant-right, which would give the tenant-farmers a firm hold on the soil; such an Act as would make it impossible for the landlord to render improvements valueless, or worse than valueless, by the action of a notice to quit; such an Act as would give the tenant-farmers of Ireland freedom of thought and action, and relieve them from that mitigated serfdom in which they existed at present. If the Government diligently and carefully investigated the causes of Irish disaffection—if they diligently and carefully investigated what the aspirations and wishes of the Irish people were—they would find he had correctly stated them; and he had done so in no selfish spirit, but he based the claims of the Irish people on those eternal principles of right which should ever guide the policy of statesmen and of nations. If these demands were conceded dissatisfaction would cease; but if they were refused, then dissatisfaction would continue to exist in Ireland until the Irish race had been banished from it. His reliance was upon the native virtue and intelligence of Englishmen; and he was confident that if they brought their love of justice and their intelligence to bear upon the question of his unfortunate countrymen, there would soon, be an end of that 206 state of things which imperilled the safety and the tranquillity of the Empire. In the hour of England's need the support of those to whose selfishness she had too long ministered would be but a poor substitute for the millions of true hearts and stout arms which by her policy she had alienated. He could not think that in these days of enlightenment it was their intention to rely upon brute force; his own reliance, in this hour of the crisis of Ireland, and, perhaps, also of England—his reliance was, as he had said, upon the native virtue of Englishmen; and he implored the Englishmen in that House, for the sake of their own country and of Ireland, to demand before it was too late, before blood had been shed, and passion had taken the place of reason, and before the demon of vengeance had been raised, to do something that would give a new direction to thought, by convincing the people that they might expect justice from this united Parliament. He hoped that the Amendment which he now placed in their hands would meet with the approval of the House and of this country, as he was confident it would of Ireland; and he would only further say, that whatever might be the result, he should press his Amendment to a division.
In paragraph 22, to leave out from the word "our" to the end of the paragraph, in order to add the words "deep regret to Her Majesty that wide-spread disaffection exists in Ireland, and humbly to represent to Her Majesty that this widespread disaffection is the result of grave causes, which it is the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to examine into and remove."—(The O'Donoghue.)
§ MR. BLAKE
said, he had very great pleasure in seconding the Amendment of his hon. Friend, who had in his eloquent speech expressed himself so well on every topic connected with the subject before the House. It was not his (Mr. Blake's) intention to trespass long on the time of the House, for his main object in rising to second the Amendment was to interrogate the right hon. Gentleman, who was the representative of Her Majesty's Government in the House, as to what policy the Government intended to pursue in reference to the present state of Ireland. A considerable amount of surprise had been created by the only allusion made in Her Majesty's Speech to Ireland—an allusion which referred so much to measures of repression and prosecution, measures which had been resorted to a hundred times before, with a view to the pacification of 207 Ireland, and had failed as often as they had been tried. So far as giving greater security to the Crown, he might say that, in common with many others, he was inspired with hope when the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland was made recently at the dinner of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, in which he very encouragingly stated that, although the Government had resolved upon strong measures of repression to put an end to the revolutionary movement in Ireland, at the same time it was the intention of the Government to inquire into the causes which required these repressive measures, and to take prompt remedial measures to prevent a recurrence of the same unsatisfactory state of things. Now, it would be exceedingly satisfactory to know whether these observations of the right hon. Gentleman had the concurrence of the Government, and it could scarcely be denied that the House had a right to expect some sort of statement with respect to the matter. His hon. Friend the Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) had in his clever speech so clearly pointed out what the remedial measures were which the state of Ireland required that it was unnecessary almost for him (Mr. Blake) to offer any observations on that branch of the subject, as whatever he would say had been already much better said by the hon. Member for Tralee. Having to touch on so many topics the latter had not furnished the House with some statistics as to the condition of Ireland, to show its position as compared with twenty years ago, as well as its present state. For these statistics he was indebted mainly to the works published by Mr. Fisher, of Waterford, on subjects relative to Ireland, on which much labour and ability had been expended, and which afforded valuable sources of information; later he would also quote from a work from the same gentleman about being published, which had appeared in the form of letters in a leading London journal, on the supply of meat obtainable from foreign markets, which had much added to his reputation as a statician and able writer. According to a statement in the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the Consolidated Annuities, 1852—The gross value of the crops of 1846, had not this calamity (the famine) occurred, is estimated by Mr. Griffiths as follows:—Potatoes, 1,500,000 acres, value £15,000,000; oats, 4,000,000 acres, value £14,000,000; wheat, flax, and green crops, 2,000,000 acres, value £14,000,000; pasture and 208 meadow, 6,500,000 acres, value £8,125,000; giving a total of 14,000,000 acres, and a total value of £51,125,000.The population of Ireland was 8,250,000 and the value of the produce requiring human labour was £5 per head. Dr. Hancock also estimated the crops of 1862–3 at £27,327,772, of which the return from cattle was £9,751,188, and from crops requiring human labour £17,876,584. The population has been reduced to 5,250,000, and this produce was only equal to £3 per head against £5 per head in 1846. If the value of green crops be added to that of Sir Richard Griffiths' of grass and pasture it would be seen that the annual produce of Ireland was greater in 1846 than in 1861, though the quantity of live stock had increased. There cannot, therefore, have been that great increase in the supply of meat which some persons erroneously supposed. The acreage under each crop in 1862 and 1864 was as follows:—1862, wheat, 356,321; oats, 1,977,528; potatoes, 1,018,212; green crops, 463,772; 1864, wheat, 276,453; oats, 1,814,886; potatoes, 1,039,724; green crops, 401,020; showing a net decrease of 282,640 acres. It appears quite clear that the animal and vegetable produce of Ireland had both diminished in precisely the same ratio as the population. According to Mr. Donelly, the produce from all descriptions of crops in 1865 was about thirty-five millions and a half. Last week Dr. O'Brien, Catholic Dean of Limerick, at the Irish National Association, had truly said in speaking of the decline of Ireland—In 1860, the value of the horses in Ireland was £4,958,488; in 1864, only £4,490,888; in 1860, the value of cattle was £23,441,451; in 1864, £21,172,508; in i860, the value of sheep was £3,896,288; in 1864, it was £3,699,357; in 1860, the value of the pigs was £1,588,840; in 1864, it was £1,320,331. The total decrease in value on those items in 1864, as compared with 1860, was £3,201,965; in 1863, the quantity of land in Ireland going to waste was 4,543,166 acres; in 1864, the quantity was 4,601,234 acres, showing an increase of waste of 58,068 acres. Again, there was a decrease in cereals in 1864, as compared with 1863, of 122,437 acres. Here, then, we have a decrease of three millions and a quarter in the value of stock from 1860 to 1864; an increase of 58,068 acres going to waste in one year; a decrease of 122,437 acres 209 under cereals in one year; and in nineteen years a decrease of tillage to the amount of 1,223,588 acres, and we are asked to be contented and happy. Need I say that we have a fine proof of our contentedness in the fact that one million and a half of our people ran away from misery between May 1851, and May 1864—that is, over 11,100 a year. It might be supposed—indeed, it had been frequently asserted—that since the population of Ireland had diminished from nearly 9,000,000, to about 5,500,000, that the present inhabitants were much better off by having proportionately a greater amount of produce to divide amongst them; such was not, however, the fact, for poor as the people were in the years just before the famine, on a moderate calculation he believed there was £1 per head more for them from the produce of the country, than there was last year, which was considered a good one. Now that fact, he thought, disposed of the boast about Irish prosperity, as compared with the time there was nearly double the population. As his hon. Friend had clearly pointed out, the remedy for the state of things he described was to give the tenant security for a just compensation for whatever improvements he made in the letting value of the land, in the event of his being evicted, or having to surrender possession. No doubt many hon. Members would say why have this exceptional legislation for Ireland as regards land; has not that country just the same, or just as good, laws respecting land as England? All this he admitted was quite true; but as regards agricultural customs, and the dealing of landlords with their tenants, the cases were very different. It should be borne in mind that Ireland was a conquered country; that nearly all her soil had been three times over confiscated to those who had subdued her; and that besides depriving the ancient inheritors of their estates, different customs and mode of tenure was forced on the humbler cultivator of the soil, to those to which he had been accustomed. Within almost a century laws existed, and were often strongly enforced, which forbade Papists, which really meant no farmer in Leinster, Connaught, or Munster, holding land for a term exceeding thirty-one years, on which three-fourths of the full yearly imposed value was not received for rent; while such were the cruel enactments against the great body of 210 the people, the Protestants and Presbyterians of the North were fostered and encouraged by laws which, under the acts of settlement, or articles of plantation, compelled those who got grants of confiscated estates to let their farms out at rents which would enable the Protestant or Presbyterian tenant to prosper, and failing to do this, the landlord was liable to be deprived of his estates. And thus two laws which existed at the same time—the first conceived in fear, in hatred of a plundered race; and the other to encourage those differing with them in race and faith, became the normal arrangement between the owner and occupier of the soil; and, down to the present hour, influenced the transactions between landlord and tenant; whether as in the north, where custom had almost acquired the force of law in making the landlord not only let his land at a fair rent, and recognize the tenant's right to obtain the value of his improvements; or as in the south led the proprietor to generally exact the interest the tenant could pay, consistently with living in the poorest manner, tenantcy-at-will, and a liability very often exercised of being evicted without being compensated for the improvements his industry had created. Exceptional legislation had been the main cause of these evils, so far as the people of the three provinces were concerned; and it was not, he thought, too much to ask that exceptional legislation should be demanded to remedy, to some extent, at least, the evils it had inflicted on Ireland; and he believed if that House, in its wisdom and justice, took the course which he and others suggested, that so far from injuring the landlords, that the value of their rentals would be increased, their property would be rendered more secure, and the people prosperous and contented, would, instead of being a source of apprehension and danger to the Government, become one of the bulwarks of the Empire; her right hand in the hour of danger instead of a sharp thorn in her side. What did Fenianism owe its origin to? To the settled conviction on the part of the people that what they complained of would not be redressed by constitutional means. He had been obliged to tell his constituents, after nearly ten years spent in that House, that he believed their votes and efforts were thrown away in sending him there, and his own life and means wasted in remaining, so far as there was any use in 211 appealing to the justice or policy of Parliament on the one vital question for Ireland. Fenianism was strong, not on account of its enrolled members, but because it relied on the sympathy of the great mass of the people; the small farmers, tenants-at-will, half-paid labourers, poor artizans, impoverished tradespeople. In the United States it counted its numbers in hundreds of thousands of well-drilled soldiers who had fought and won the battles of the Union—in thousands of Irish evicted farmers who had become the owners of the land they tilled in America—but who strongly sympathized with their less fortunate kindred at home; and the number was still further augmented by the emigrants who daily left the shores of Ireland, carrying such settled feelings of vengeance in their hearts against England. He (Mr. Blake) lived almost in the centre of the southern proclaimed districts. The city he represented was proclaimed; the adjoining counties of Waterford, Tipperary, Cork, and Kilkenny, were either in whole or part proclaimed also; and he firmly believed that if the great mass of the people of these counties, and many others besides, only thought there was a good chance of success, that they would join in the revolution; and he was also persuaded, if the militia regiments raised in the south and west saw England in a difficulty, and that they thought by joining the insurgents they would insure success, they would do it. Now, he would ask the House was not that a deplorable picture for England? In his own locality he had done all in his power, when opportunity offered, to dissuade the people from enrolling themselves as Fenians; and represented to them, under existing circumstances, the utter folly and hopelessness of attempting to cope with the power of England. He felt he was, therefore, entitled to ask Government to do what they legitimately could to remove the cause of disaffection. He was interested in the maintenance of order, as if a successful insurrection took place, in the confusion that would ensue, he probably would lose nearly all on which he depended for his maintenance; and there were many well affected towards the Government, who would be great sufferers, and they had a right to expect that Parliament would do what it could to render them more secure. While on the subject of Fenianism, he would remark that the manner in which the political prisoners, lately convicted, had 212 been treated, had caused great disaffection in many parts of Ireland. It was generally understood that prisoners convicted of political offences should not be treated like common felons. It would be in the recollection of the House that no one had more eloquently laid down than the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the treatment of political prisoners ought to be different from the treatment of other prisoners. He was indebted for his authority on that subject to a letter of an hon. Friend of his, the late Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy), whom he sincerely hoped soon to see again in that House. Mr. Hennessy had quoted a passage from a letter addressed by the right hon. Gentleman to Lord Aberdeen, in which he denounced the Neapolitan Government for having obliged their political prisoners to shave their heads and beards. He granted the right of the Government to punish the persons convicted as political prisoners; but the treatment which they had received was quite different from that of Mr. Smith O'Brien and other political prisoners in 1848, who were taken red-handed in revolt, and whom the Government gave orders to treat as gentlemen. The Fenian prisoners were compelled, after their conviction, to shave off their beards, they were put into convict dress and, previous to being sent on board ship they were heavily ironed; this fact he had from an eye-witness. On their arrival at Penton-ville Prison those unfortunate men were subjected to a punishment similar to that inflicted on footpads, burglars, and other criminals of the very lowest grade. The effect of the treatment at Pentonville Prison on the prisoners had been well described by a high authority, Chatham, who stated that when the unhappy men were transferred from Pentonville numbers of them fell into fits, and it was only by allowing them to associate for a fortnight before they left the former prison that this was prevented. The same gentleman stated that for weeks after the prisoners arrived there from Pentonville, it would be absurd to treat them as rational men. Such was the nature of the punishment to which the men recently convicted of treason in Ireland were doomed. The matter was one well worthy of the attention of the House—well worthy of the attention of the right hon. Gentleman who had in such eloquent language denounced the treatment to which the Neapolitan 213 prisoners were subjected. Those Neapolitan prisoners were all, it should not be forgotten, found guilty of as serious an offence against the laws of the country as were the Irish political prisoners—in many cases of a far more serious offence, for some of them had been convicted of plotting the assassination of the King of Naples. He trusted that before the sitting was over he would hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or some other occupant of the Treasury Bench, an assurance that, during the present Session, measures would be brought forward calculated to put a stop to the present deplorable condition of things in Ireland. If that assurance was not given, he would have no alternative save to follow the hon. Member for Tralee into the division lobby.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the paragraph."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (MR. LAWSON)
Sir, I am sure it is unnecessary for me to bespeak the kind indulgence of the House while I rise to make a few observations in answer to the speech of the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), followed by one from the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Blake), and to state the grounds on which it appears to me that this House ought not to accede to the Amendment proposed. I was glad to hear from the hon. Member for Tralee the emphatic statement, which he repeated more than once, that he had no anti-English feeling. I am glad that the hon. Member has made that public declaration, for I think it will be of considerable value to himself. But I can only say that, however valuable it may be to himself, it is at the same time one by no means calculated to advance his popularity with the members of the Fenian Brotherhood. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has made the observation, because—although I confess his speech was characterized—as his speeches always are—by great ability, nevertheless, I think that he has introduced into it some matters of the tone and temper of which, exhibited in the British House of Commons, I might fairly complain. Although, Sir, I am a new Member of the House of Commons, and this is the first occasion on which I have had the honour of speaking here, I have no hesitation in saying that I cannot give any credence to the statement of the hon. Gentleman that Ireland has entirely lost 214 the power of self-government. Nor can I attach any weight to the statement that 105 Irish Members in this House are not able to carry any measure in favour of their country, because they are sure to be outnumbered by the English and Scotch Members. Sir, I do not believe that such is the spirit or temper of the British House of Commons. On the contrary, I am confident that if the 105 Irish Members, or any considerable number of them, were united together in support of any measure which they conscientiously believed to be for the benefit of their country, such measure would receive a full, fair, and impartial consideration, as has always been given under such circumstances by the House of Commons. I therefore think there is no foundation whatever for the statement of the hon. Member for Tralee, that Ireland is deprived of the power of self-government. I, for one, think, as the hon. Member has referred to matters connected with the Act of Union, and has spoken of evils which he attributes to it, that the results have been very different from those alleged. I look upon the question in this light—that it is a much nobler and a higher destiny for a country like Ireland to be able to send representatives into this honourable House to take part in discussions relating to this mighty Empire. Irish Members have been always treated in this House with respect; and I am convinced that when those representatives do present themselves to its notice, acting honestly and suggesting bonâ fide measures for the good of their country, that they never will fail to receive a just and impartial hearing from both English and Scotch Members. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Blake) has introduced a matter which appears to me to be alien to the actual subject under discussion, and therefore I am anxious to dispose of it before proceeding to deal with the arguments used by the hon. Member for Tralee, which are entitled to an answer from me, and to every consideration of this House. The hon. Member for Waterford introduced the topic connected with the treatment of the prisoners convicted in the recent political trials in Ireland. I have made it my business to inquire into the matter, and I have ascertained that the statements so industriously made in respect to such treatment are entirely and utterly destitute of foundation. The most absurd and unfounded statements have been circulated. For instance, a statement has 215 been made that corporal punishment has been inflicted on one of these prisoners in Pentonville Prison. I repeat that such a statement is utterly without foundation. And yet that statement has been repeatedly made, accompanied with such details and particulars as would make one suppose that it could only hare been made by one who was himself present at the occurrence. Now this story is not only untrue, but there is not the slightest shadow of foundation for it. The hon. Member for Waterford has stated—of course on information furnished to him—that the recently-convicted prisoners in Ireland, now in Pentonville, are undergoing a system of separate confinement; that they are subjected to great and unnecessary severity, and are compelled to herd with footpads, robbers, and the vilest felons. Now, that statement is not correct. It is true they are undergoing the separate system of punishment, but they are not made to associate with the persons whom he has described.
§ MR. BLAKE
I wish to say a word in explanation. I did not say that the Irish political prisoners were compelled to herd with robbers, foot-pads, and other felons, because, being subjected to the separate system of punishment, it is of course obvious that such could not be the case. But what I said was, that at Pentonville the political prisoners were subjected to the same mode of treatment dealt out to the ordinary malefactors.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND
That is totally different from what I supposed the hon. Gentleman to state. Those political prisoners must necessarily be subjected to the same system as other persons convicted of equally grave offences. Is British law, I ask, to have respect to persons, and to say, if one man is able to raise himself to the position of a State prisoner by compassing to overthrow the government and the institutions of the country, that, on that account, he is to be treated with more leniency and tenderness than an humbler individual guilty of a heinous crime, into which his ignorance may have led him, or his poverty tempted him to commit? Sir, I think it would be unworthy of any Government to treat such a man with greater severity than any offender of the former class; and, therefore, whilst the most scrupulous care has been taken to prevent any undue severity being practised, instructions were given that those political prisoners should be dealt with precisely in 216 the same way as any other persons in that prison convicted of crime and sentenced to penal servitude. No additional punishment of any kind is inflicted on them, their treatment is exactly similar; and I have heard no argument adduced by the hon. Member for Waterford to show why it should be otherwise. In respect to the letter referred to by the hon. Member for Waterford, written some years ago by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a letter on the subject of the treatment given to the Neapolitan State prisoners, I beg to remind the hon. Gentleman that the observations to which he alluded had reference not, like the men of whose treatment the hon. Gentleman complains, convicted felons, but to untried prisoners, who were kept in custody and subjected to much severity without having been brought to trial. But it never was intended by the writer to say—nor could my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer have ever intended to lay down as a general principle—that political prisoners convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the Government were to be dealt with in a different manner from other prisoners whose crimes after all were not of a more heinous character. I know no such principle in British law as that when a man is convicted of a political offence, if he be one who had occupied a respectable position in society, or a man who had a certain halo around his name, he is to be dealt with more leniently than any other felon convicted of an equal offence and was sentenced to the same punishment. I have, I think, disposed of the observations of the hon. Member for Waterford, in which he referred to the treason-felony prisoners, and I will now venture to approach the immediate subject-matter brought forward by the hon. Member for Tralee. The hon. Gentleman introduced the question regarding Ireland in the shape of an Amendment to the Address moved in this House in reply to the gracious Speech of Her Majesty. The Address does not allege the existence of any general spirit of disaffection in Ireland, but states—what was an undoubted and incontrovertible fact—that a conspiracy against law and order in these countries had been proved to exist in Ireland, a conspiracy condemned, as the hon. Member for Tralee stated, by all classes of the community, by the clergy especially, and by no one more emphatically than by the hon. Member himself.
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman (the Attorney General for Ireland) would not attribute anything to me which I did not say. I beg to state that I did not express any condemnation.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND
I am sorry I should have attributed to the hon. Gentleman anything that he has not said. I think if he did not condemn the Fenian organization he ought to have condemned it, for it is condemned by the unanimous opinion of every right-thinking man in the Empire. I was stating that this conspiracy existed; and then Her Majesty's Speech goes on to state that it has been dealt with by the ordinary legal and constitutional tribunals of the country, and, as I trust, in accordance with the facts. For this temperate expression of an undoubted fact contained in the Speech, the hon. Member for Tralee proposes to substitute the paragraph which he has submitted to the House; and to substitute for an undoubted fact, as to the existence of the conspiracy, another matter which it appears to me is not at all germane to the subject—namely, that wide-spread disaffection exists in Ireland, the result of grave causes which it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to examine into and remove. I do not stand here to deny that it is the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to examine into and remove, if they can, any cause or causes of disaffection, whether existing in Ireland or in any other part of the United Kingdom; and I am certain I express their sentiments when I say that it is their anxious wish and desire favourably to consider and entertain any reasonable proposition that might be put forward for the removal of any real grievance affecting Ireland. The consideration of such grievances, moreover, would not be in the slightest degree prejudiced as far as they were concerned by the existence of this conspiracy, calculated though it might well be to prejudice the minds of the English nation and of the English House of Commons against the country where that conspiracy had taken root. But for the House to accede to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Tralee would, I think, be a most dangerous thing; for its adoption would carry with it this consequence, if ingrafted on the statement in the Address with regard to the Fenian conspiracy, that this conspiracy resulted from those grave causes which it was the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to examine into and remove. 218 Anyone who had read the history of the Fenian conspiracy must be perfectly aware that it has not sprung, as the hon. Member for Tralee supposed, from the mis-government of the country. The avowed aim of the Fenian conspiracy was not to improve, but to destroy the institutions under which we live. Its organ denounced in unmistakable terms all constitutional agitation for the redress of grievances, and ail appeals to the Imperial Parliament. It even represented the granting of Catholic emancipation as injurious to the cause of Ireland, because it tended to render Roman Catholics more loyal to British rule. Those are the sentiments avowed by the organ of the conspiracy; and yet the House is now asked to say by implication that the existence of that conspiracy is to be traced to grave causes which it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to examine into and remove. In like manner it was declared that the only hope for Ireland lay in an entire revolution, which would restore the land to its rightful owners, and "root out robbers from the land." I am quoting now the very words of articles which have been established in proof upon the occasions when these conspirators were convicted. Finding this to be the line taken, can anybody believe, or will this House be induced to give their assent to the proposition now before them, that the conspiracy was caused by the pressure of unjust laws upon Ireland? Surely the hon. Member must have forgotten that the conspiracy is not confined to Ireland, but extends in immense ramifications to those of the Irish race now sharing in the benefits of the Constitution of the United States, and to some even, I regret to say, among the Irish domiciled in this country and now enjoying the benefits of English rule uncontaminated by the administration of the law as it is supposed to exist in Ireland. Its influence has even shown itself among the persons allowed to compete in the labour-market with Englishmen, and to participate in the advantages and achievements growing out of the almost boundless expenditure of capital in the busy hives of industry. Knowing well the true character of this conspiracy, I believe that any attempt to extenuate or palliate its guilt by suggesting grievances, out of which it might possibly have sprung, will be construed into sympathy with the designs of the conspirators, and I feel sure the House of Commons will not commit itself to any declaration that can be supposed to express sympathy or to be capable 219 of being treated as an excuse for men who have banded themselves together in a daring, though hopeless, attempt to overthrow the British rule. With conspirators of this kind the Government can hold no parley; they cannot negotiate with traitors with arms in their hands. They must be dealt with—as I hope they have been dealt with—according to law, administered in a spirit of vigour, but still with moderation. At the same time, I must express my conviction that Her Majesty's Government would be unwise and shortsighted indeed if they made the existence of such a conspiracy a reason or an excuse for turning aside from investigating any real grievance said to exist which might be removed by constitutional means. I should rather say that the proved existence of such a conspiracy renders it a duty incumbent on Her Majesty's Government more seriously and anxiously to inquire whether there is any cause for this disaffection which it is within their power to remove; because it now behoves the Government of this country to endeavour to combine into one body all the loyal and well-affected subjects of the kingdom, by showing them that the ear of the Imperial Parliament is not closed to their remonstrance, and that the Minister who holds the reins of power in Ireland, as in England, is animated with an anxious desire to promote the interests of that country. Anything which will admit of a practical revision, if brought forward, will, I feel sure, receive at the hands of Her Majesty's Government the most careful and most deliberate consideration. I am not aware that there are any other matters in the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Tralee to which I need refer. He has spoken in the strongest terms of the dislike which exists in Ireland to English rule, and he has spoken in terms of condemnation of certain expressions used by the Crown lawyers in the course of the trials, and by the Puisne Judges, condemning the conspiracy. But I know no language strong enough or emphatic enough to condemn it. It stands condemned by its own manifestoes and its own acts. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Tralee might well have spared the observation, for I believe the learned Judges and the Crown lawyers in the discharge of their arduous duties made no observations with respect to the criminals calculated in the slightest degree to prejudice their case, and that everything they did say was war- 220 ranted and sustained by the evidence produced upon the trials. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Tralee says there is a dislike in Ireland to English rule, but that it might be removed; and I, for one, heartily wish it were in the power of the Government or of this House to remove it. Every thoughtful man who has lived in Ireland has his own views as to the measures necessary to put an end to the spread of disaffection in that country; and I leave it to such men to say whether a spirit of disaffection such as has shown itself in this conspiracy is to be got rid of by proposals such as those of the hon. Member. But as it would ill become me to canvass any of them on the present occasion, I shall decline to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Tralee into the statement of what he expects at the hands of Her Majesty's Government, such as diverting all surplus revenue to Ireland, and of imposing a heavy tax upon absentees. I hope, however, some time hence, to see the hon. Gentleman himself rise in his place to propose a specific measure to that effect, and then I shall be able to discuss it on its merits. I do not now consider myself at liberty to enter upon those subjects, and I shall therefore content myself with merely stating that I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to direct their attention to the causes of disaffection in Ireland, and to express my belief that Her Majesty's Government is animated with a sincere desire to do full and complete justice to Ireland. I trust the House will agree with me that the Amendment proposed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Tralee should not be adopted.
§ MR. GEORGE
said, the paragraph in Her Majesty's Speech with reference to Ireland contained three distinct propositions to which no fair and reasonable man could dissent—namely, that a conspiracy dangerous to the prosperity and the welfare of Ireland existed in that country; secondly, that every man possessed of property in that country was hostile to it; and lastly, that (at the eleventh hour) all the ordinary constitutional means were put in force to repress it and put it down. Whilst he admitted that it was a most notorious conspiracy, he could not go so far as to say the Government were justified in postponing their measures until so late a period to put down the threatened rebellion. When they were taken they proved effectual, and he bore testimony to the able 221 manner in which the trials had been conducted and brought to a conclusion by the learned Judges who presided and the able Crown lawyers who had conducted them. The admirable temper, able judgment, and sound knowledge of law, and the spirit in which justice had been administered in Ireland by Mr. Justice Keogh and Mr. Justice Fitzgerald had been a common topic of observation, and the conspirators had acknowledged that they had experienced fair play at the hands of the Law Officers of the Crown. In many instances, those who had been convicted had admitted the justice of the severe sentence which had been passed upon them. A full knowledge of the conspiracy, its nature, and the circumstances attending it, was possessed by Her Majesty's Government long before they acted in December last. The sales of landed property had practically ceased, and English capitalists had been calling in their money for some time past, from the extreme insecurity there was arising from the wide-spread conspiracy. It was known to the Government so long ago as 1848 that a conspiracy of the same description then existed, and the present Head Centre, Mr. Stephens, was well known to have been a coadjutor of Mr. Smith O'Brien. From 1848 to 1859, when Lord Derby came into office, nothing was done; but when he came into power the first step his Government took was to bring the parties engaged in the then conspiracy to justice. The Phoenix conspiracy of 1859 was the Fenian conspiracy of to-day. There was the same connection between them and America then as there was now, the only difference being that at that time the United States were in the enjoyment of peace and tranquillity, and there were no persons to come over and foment and foster rebellion. Now we had a portion of the disbanded American army, composed of Irishmen, come back to feed the flame of rebellion in Ireland. His right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University (Mr. Whiteside), who was in 1859 Attorney General for Ireland, and himself, were sent down to Tralee and Cork to prosecute certain persons under the Treason-Felony Act, the same Act under which the recent prosecutions had taken place. There were the same proofs of overt acts in administering oaths, treasonable letters, nocturnal meetings, drillings, &c, though they lacked the articles of a treasonable character which were written by some of the persons who had lately been 222 tried, and which threw a light on the conspiracy. Lord Derby's Government had not the benefit of such evidence, but notwithstanding that they put a man named Daniel Sullivan upon his trial. He was tried by that able criminal Judge Mr. Baron Greene; the trial occupied several days, and about fifty witnesses were examined for the Crown; the jury could not agree—ten being in favour of a conviction, and two of an acquittal—they were discharged, and the Commission adjourned until after the Commission at Cork was concluded. Sullivan was then again put upon his trial, when he was found guilty and sentenced to ten years' penal servitude. Another man, called Jerry O'Donovan, but known as Rossa, was put on trial and a bill found against him at Cork. He had written a letter, in which he stated that "he was of opinion that nothing but cold steel and cold lead," as he expressed it, "could settle the question at issue." Yet would it be believed that when the present Government came into office these men were set at liberty. The right hon. Gentleman now the Secretary of State for the Colonies was then Secretary for Ireland, and it was for him to tell the House why men of this description were allowed to go at large. During the trial of these men at Tralee and Cork every effort was made by the Government to secure Stephens, but was made in vain. He was known under a number of aliases and many changes of attire. He then went to America, and remained for a considerable time; but he came back years ago, and his first act was to establish, by the hands of the men so justly convicted of late of treason-felony, that nest of pestilent sedition, the office of The People newspaper in Dublin, and the Government were required to give to the peaceable people of Ireland a reason why they allowed this paper to go on so many months unscathed, knowing, as they must have done, that it was read in every pothouse in Ireland, and was spreading its poison among the whole of the population. Although probably not one single owner of property in Ireland sanctioned or countenanced this conspiracy, there were masses of people who did, and who would, if an armed force came into the country, or an armed insurrection broke out in the land, lend their assistance, some few from inclination, many more from intimidation and fear. He, therefore, said that, although the Government were entitled to 223 great credit for the manner in which the prosecutions had lately been conducted, they had a heavy account to settle for the delay that took place in putting law and justice into operation. He had listened attentively to the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Tralee, and he had only one word to say to the Amendment of the hon. Member. His speech contained no efficient suggestion as to the manner of redressing what he was pleased to call the grievances of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman had indeed mentioned that wonderful panacea, tenant-right; but when that question underwent the most careful consideration at the hands of the Committee obtained last year by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire), and every project and nostrum that could be brought forward came to be properly examined, no plain or satisfactory solution of the alleged land difficulty could be discovered; it was found that they must leave the matter to the good feeling of the landlords and the tenants, and that the vague and visionary theories which some had shadowed out could not be carried into practical effect. The Government would, therefore, do well to wait and see what practical measures could be proposed, and not rashly hold out hopes which might lead to the idea that this rebellion was based on grievances of that kind, or that if these nostrums were adopted to-morrow they would be the means of arresting it. With regard to the threatened motion respecting the Irish Church, he would only at present say that, putting the religious aspect of the question out of view, if they polled the peasantry, the farmers, and the labouring men of Ireland, they would find that no class of society was more prized or looked up to in their own districts than the clergy of the Established Church; and it would be an evil day for that country when that most estimable body of resident gentry were interfered with. He believed that that subsoil of disaffection which had been spoken of that night had been to a great extent engendered and increased by the unguarded language of persons in high places, who, having in view temporary political objects on the eve of a general election or the like, let fall words to which an ignorant people naturally attached weight. Thus, although the mischievous language used might be forgotten as soon as it had answered its end by those who employed it, still it remained like bad seed sown in the popular mind, and fruc- 224 tified, perhaps, after many days. He had extracts from the speeches delivered by those who should have carefully abstained from making them, but he would not trouble the House by reading them. He would only say that they had emanated from men who were still Members of the Legislature, some of them filling high positions, and that it was not surprising if they did a vast amount of harm. He would not pursue the subject further, as a full opportunity of doing so would be afforded when the question of the Irish Church came on for discussion. He should conclude by expressing his intention to vote against the Amendment.
§ SIR HENRY BARRON
said, he was unable to see that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Tralee gave the slightest support or countenance to that miserable conspiracy in Ireland called Fenianism. If it did, he would be the first man in the House to vote against it. But, looking carefully at the words of that Amendment, he thought that every Member of the House, on whichever side he sat, ought to support it. If he needed proof of this he found it in the words of the noble Lord who proposed the Address, and, even still stronger, in the words of the hon. Seconder, who represented one of the largest constituencies in Scotland. The noble Lord had said—Had not the prosecutions unmistakably shown the loyalty of the class of men who composed the juries?…He did not think, if it was the first, it was the only duty to put down a conspiracy like this, disapproved as it was by the influential classes of the community. There could be no doubt it resulted from a strong feeling of disaffection among the low classes of Ireland, and if it did there must be some cause for it.In every word of this he (Sir Henry Barron) fully concurred. But in doing so he was far from giving the slightest countenance to the unfortunate men who had been engaged in the conspiracy. He could not condemn the rebellion in terms too strong. He did not know one person of position in Ireland who did not disapprove of these mischievous proceedings. But was this the first conspiracy which had occurred in Ireland during the last half century? On the contrary, had there not been several rebellions or insurrections in Ireland during the last sixty or seventy years? He, therefore, thought it was the duty of the Government to put an end to such a state of things by a searching inquiry into the causes of this disaffection. It was impossible to believe that any 225 country could be permanently in a state of disaffection without a cause. He believed there were many causes of Irish discontent. How else account for the constant emigration of the Irish people to foreign countries? The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address also, in the course of his speech, said—It was surely the duty of the Government to endeavour to ascertain why this disaffection and discontent existed. They should endeavour to discover whether the reason of this feeling was the present condition of the landlord and tenant laws or the laws relating to education, or some grave wrong existing in the present relations of the religious institutions of the country.Now, it was somewhat remarkable that both the noble Lord and the hon. Gentleman—the one representing a large agricultural, and the other a great commercial constituency—should have recommended inquiry into the causes of the discontent prevailing in Ireland almost in the very words of the hon. Member for Tralee. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Graham) said it was the duty of that House to ascertain the cause of the disaffection existing in Ireland. Well, the Amendment only went to that extent. The hon. Member for Glasgow recommended that a searching inquiry should be made into the causes of this misconduct, so as to ascertain whether it arose from the present condition of the laws regulating the relations between landlord and tenant, or the state of education, or some great wrong connected with the religious institutions of the country. Now these were grave causes of discontent lying on the surface of the question. Any one who knew anything of the country and the opinion of the people of Ireland must be aware that such was the case. But were there no other causes? There were other serious causes. He was one of a most influential deputation to the late Prime Minister three years ago, asking, not a grant of money, but the grant of a charter to the Roman Catholic University of Ireland. A charter and a large endowment had been granted to the Protestant University of Dublin, a charter and an endowment had been granted to a University which had no particular religion at all; but the late Prime Minister, in stronger language than he was in the habit of using, plumply refused to grant a charter to any Roman Catholic University in Ireland. This refusal was regarded by the majority of the Roman Catholics of Ireland—the Catholics comprising seven-eighths of the popula- 226 tion—as a great grievance and a great insult, from the bishops and archbishops of the Church down to the humblest of the people. Another cause of disaffection in Ireland was the oath which the Parliament required to be taken at the table by Roman Catholics, and which that Parliament had refused to alter so as to bring it in accordance with their feelings. This was felt to be a great indignity to the people of Ireland; and hon. Gentlemen opposite lost at least fifteen votes at the last election by their conduct on that occasion in Parliament. Again, of the fifteen Members who formed the Cabinet not one was an Irishman. Then look at the Irish appointments. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was an Englishman. The Secretary for Ireland, up to within a few weeks, was also an Englishman. Then, the Under Secretary for Ireland was also an Englishman. Did hon. Members think that the people of Ireland were so stupid and so ignorant as not to see the insult thus passed on them? He could assure the House that they felt it most acutely; and that there was not a reflecting man in Ireland who did not regard this state of things as an insult. Again, almost every public office in Ireland was headed by an Englishman. He was not attacking individuals, but a principle. The head of the Excise was an Englishman; the head of the Customs was an Englishman; the head of the Irish Board of Works was an Englishman; the head of the Poor Law Board was an Englishman; even the head of the Irish Constabulary was an Englishman. There was scarcely a department of patronage, position, or station in Ireland that was not headed by an Englishman. Would the English tolerate such a state of things in England? Well, all these things united formed an abundant source of discontent in Ireland. He would observe, with deference to the illustrious individuals to whom he was about to allude, that it appeared to the Irish people that the Royal Family had ignored the fact that there was such a part of Her Majesty's dominions as Ireland, and yet there was no part of Her Majesty's dominions in which she had been more enthusiastically received when, like angels' visits, few and far between, she visited that country. She might have exclaimed, in the words of a great conqueror of old, "Veni, vidi, vici," for she had conquered the hearts of the people by her virtues and her high character. The reception 227 on both her visits to Ireland was like that given to Maria Theresa, when she visited her Hungarian subjects, and they said, "Our blood and lives are at your disposal." Loyalty always had been a characteristic of the Irish people. They had been devoted to their ancient kings—the O'Briens, the O'Connors, and O'Neills who had reigned in ancient times, and to their chieftains, the O'Donnels, the O'Farrels, the Desmonds, and the Kildares. Loyalty was essentially a part of their character, and if they were placed on a perfect equality with the people of this country they would exceed them in devotion and loyalty in every sense of the word. When the English people thought fit to behead one King, what did the Irish people do? They stood by their lawful Sovereign and supported Charles II. against all the power of England, headed by that ruthless conqueror Cromwell. They stood with equal fidelity to James II., with all his faults, and it required the great military skill of William III., Schomberg, and Marlborough, to subdue them. It was an enormous mistake to appeal to conspiracies, and insurrections, and rebellions in a free country like Ireland. They had their representatives in Parliament, and were able to appeal to that tribunal; he had such faith in the honesty and intelligence of the people of England and Scotland that he believed they could not appeal in vain. He himself had seen the greatest measures of conciliation, reform, and improvement take place in this country against fearful opponents, great talent, and powerful opposition in and out of this House. He did not forget that the House had granted Catholic emancipation, reform in Parliament, free trade, the abolition of slavery, the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and various other important changes; and he would say to the people of Ireland,"Nil desperandum, persevere in a constitutional manner; present your complaints to the House, and no Minister will dare to refuse you so long as you have right and justice on your side. With reference to the Amendment, if he thought it gave any support, directly or indirectly, to the Fenian movement he would not give it his support. He thought it would have been politic on the part of the Government if they had put similar words into Her Majesty's Speech, and followed them up in a spirit of conciliation, showing the people of Ireland that they were in earnest, and capable of grappling with the difficulties which 228 six centuries of misrule had generated in Ireland. The result of that long period of misgovernment had been within the last sixty or seventy years rebellions, insurrections, conspiracies, and various Coercion and Arms Acts. Now, that was not the way to govern any country. It was the duty of the Government to probe the evils of the country, and to apply a remedy to those evils. Half measures would not do. If the Government acted in a proper spirit towards Ireland they would achieve a greater victory than that of Waterloo, for they would conquer the people of Ireland, not by the sword, but by kindness and justice. Before sitting down, he wished to state the opinion of the highest Catholic authority in Ireland (Dr. Cullen) on the subject—Every man who does not shut his eyes against the truth must fully understand that Fenianism is not indeed a dangerous or powerful, but a foolish and a wicked conspiracy against the existing civil authorities, and still more against the divinely constituted authority of the Church of God. Its effects have been most injurious to the country, turning away the minds of the people from their legitimate occupation to wicked, wild, and impracticable projects, disturbing the course of trade, interrupting business, and giving a pretext to the Orange lodges of Ireland to arm all their members, to the great risk of the peace of the country. So far from being a Catholic movement it has been from its first onset conducted by leaders known to be infidels and avowed enemies of the Catholic Church.
§ MR. WESTROPP
said, that reference had been made by several hon. Members who had addressed the House before him to what, whether correctly or not, were grievances in the opinion of the lower classes of the people in Ireland. It had been stated that the Protestant Church in Ireland was one cause of Fenianism; that the circumstance of the relations between landlord and tenant being in an unsatisfactory state had also conduced to Fenianism; and that the result of these two misfortunes to Ireland was the great emigration from the country. He would not now discuss the Irish Church question and the landlord and tenant question, as no doubt other occasions for so doing would present themselves; but with regard to the exodus of the population from Ireland, he maintained that, so far from being the consequence of grievances, it resulted from the natural order of things. He did not know personally the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill), but he knew he stood in the presence of a distinguished political economist, the Mem- 229 ber for Brighton (Mr. Faweett), and he ventured to say before him that the increase of population would always be in proportion to the capital which is destined to support that population. Now, bearing this in mind, and looking back a little to the history of Ireland, it would be seen what had been its effect. And here, in limine, he must protest against the habit that Irish Members had of perpetually raking up the fires of past grievances. He was fully willing to admit that the penal laws in Ireland were wrong and mischievous, and that they produced the usual effects which wrong and mischief entail; but he would ask whether the people of England had never had grievances to complain of? Were not the Test and Corporation Acts pro tanto penal laws? And were they not repealed subsequently to the laws called par excellence penal laws? But did the people of this country ever quarrel over the carcase of these defunct laws? The gentlemen who once opposed or advocated the repeal of these statutes had now ceased to wrangle about them—they had had their fight—the thing was now done with, and they let it rest. But in Ireland, whenever any discontent arose, they instantly went back to the penal statutes which had been repealed for nearly fifty years. To return from this digression, he would remark that when the 40s. freeholders were established in Ireland, towards the close of the last century, both the landlords and the Roman Catholic clergy perceived that it was their interest to increase the population on their lands as much as possible. The Roman Catholic gentry were at that time disqualified from entering Parliament, and therefore the landlords—for the greater part Protestants—allotted their lands and made sham 40s. freeholders, so that they might be able to go to the hustings with a long tail of these men. The greater the number of 40s. freeholders they could bring to the poll, so much the greater was the influence they could bring to bear upon the county Member in order to induce him to procure their sons and dependents places in various situations. The Roman Catholic clergy, who then as now were paid by the contributions of their flocks, of course opposed no obstacle to this increase of population, and so they and the landlords increased in a fictitious way the population of the country. This they were enabled to do by creating a fictitious capital—an unlimited supply of potatoes. Things 230 went on in this way until the year 1829, when the Catholic Relief Bill was passed. Roman Catholics then became eligible as Members of Parliament, and the landlords found that their power over the tenants was gone. The consequence was that they steadfastly set their faces against the subdivision of land, and endeavoured to thrust out as many small tenants as possible; and when the £4 clause was introduced into the Poor Laws, whereby it was enacted that the landlords must pay the rates levied on all farms assessed at £4 and under, they all eagerly strove to thrust out the small occupiers. Hence one cause of the very great emigration from the Irish shores. In 1846, when the failure of the potato crop took place, those persons who had small farms found it impossible to continue on them, and from that time, in consequence of the wages of labour being higher in America, an efflux from Ireland took place. In his judgment that efflux was the natural result of politico-economic causes, and in no way attributable to grievances such as those the hon. Gentleman the Member for Tralee had specified. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had on some occasion remarked that there were a vast number of amateur Chancellors of the Exchequer. Now, the hon. Member for Tralee had elected himself an amateur Home Secretary, and had propounded what he deemed to be a panacea for Ireland. He (Mr. Westropp) would not venture to follow in the hon. Member's footsteps, but this he would say—that if Ireland was to be governed rightly and discreetly, it must be governed without any reference to party. In Ireland there existed two parties, the constitution of which people did not sufficiently understand. In the South there was a large body of Roman Catholics, formidable from their numbers, while in the North were the descendants of the old Scottish Covenanters almost equally strong from their indomitable resolution. The Orangemen of the North were still animated with the old spirit which animated the Covenanters, and which compelled the English Government to allow them to have their own ritual and their own way of going on. That spirit was of such a nature that they would never allow themselves to be worsted in anything they undertook. Thus, there were two parties in the country, one strong in numbers, and the other strong in consequence of the spirit which actuated them. 231 For many years Ireland had been governed by an oscillatory Government. At one time the Government was Conservative, and at another time Liberal. Therefore, each of the two parties had to see what Government would be most likely to favour it; and the consequence was that the Lord Lieutenant—who was a sham which it would be a good thing to get rid of—leaned to one side or the other, and thereby caused the party of which he was for the moment the partisan, to be the party which held its head up. For his own part, he believed that the Irish were a good and a loyal people if left to themselves; but the fact was that sinister forces were brought to bear upon them. There were at the present moment persons who held their power, and he might say their existence, by reason of their opposition to this country, and he believed in his heart that until Ireland was governed like Somersetshire, or Yorkshire, or any other part of the British dominions, without any intermediate power, it would not be possible to establish tranquillity and peace in that part of the British dominions.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, he differed from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Westropp) in describing the Government of Ireland a sham—English and Scotch Members might use such language, but the people of Ireland, at least, did not look upon the Lord Lieutenant as a sham. Nor could he without qualification agree with the Attorney General for Ireland, when he said that Ireland by her union with England was raised in the political scale. He so far agreed with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that if they governed Ireland as an integral portion of the Empire, and as they governed Scotland, it would raise her in the political scale:—but while Ireland was treated partly as a conquered province, and partly as an integral part of the Empire, she would not be elevated, but degraded. He desired to express his thanks to the Mover and the Seconder of the Address for the terms in which they had spoken of Ireland. If the representative of the Government in that House adopted the same tone in his observations as those hon. Members had done in theirs, he was satisfied that the object of the hon. Member for Tralee would be fully effected. Nobody who had studied the history of Ireland would hesitate to admit that causes of discontent existed in that country. He did not imagine that any Member of the Government would deny 232 that there were causes of discontent in Ireland; and that being so, there was no difference of opinion between the hon. Member for Tralee and Her Majesty's Government. He should not now enter into any discussion of those causes, for he had no doubt he would have an opportunity of doing so fully before the Session was over. He, however, believed that there never was a more opportune moment for applying a remedy to those grievances than the present. The great body of the people had stood aloof from Fenianism and had remained faithful to their allegiance, and so far they were entitled to the favour of the Government, and the kind consideration of this House. Now was the time for the Government to pursue a policy of conciliation towards Ireland, undeterred by opposition or the selfishness of a class. A few conciliatory words to Ireland at the present moment would be productive of the greatest benefit. It had been said that the cause of the misery of Ireland was agitation—constitutional agitation. He knew not whether hon. Gentlemen on the other side would echo that assertion, but if they did he would refer them, as he would refer all, to the history of the world in disproof of it. Whatever merit might be due to the Government for the manner in which they had dealt with Fenianism, he ventured to assert that it was the constitutional party in Ireland, and not the Government, that had put down Fenianism, and that unless they had been supported by that party their efforts to put it down would not have been successful. It was on behalf of that constitutional party that he asked the Government whether they were not entitled to the reward of their patriotism? Whether or not the present state of Ireland was the effect of agitation, he hoped they would probe the causes of it to the bottom, otherwise they would only skin and film over the ulcerous part. He had, however, great hope from the sound and liberal political principles of the right hon. Gentleman who represented the Government in that House. He hoped that the opening of a new Parliament might be the dawn of a new era and of a new policy for Ireland—a policy that should bind Ireland to this country, not only by the golden link of the Crown, but by the indissoluble ties of social progress and material prosperity. There was a time when one of the greatest of our modern statesmen had thought it his duty to adopt a policy of conciliation towards Ireland, and he dared 233 to hope that the pupil and successor of that great man, inheriting as he did his principles, his wisdom, and his great administrative capacity, would follow his example, and declare to them that night his resolution to send another message of peace to Ireland.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, that so far as the Amendment related to an inquiry by the Government into the causes of discontent in Ireland he should gladly support it, but he had a few words to say in reference to the assertion that the disaffection would be remedied by what the hon. Member had proposed. They had been informed, for the first time that night, that there was any connection between the Fenian movement and the alleged grievances which it was proposed to remedy; but, notwithstanding the extraordinary demonstration of eloquence to which they had just listened, that connection was as questionable as the grievances were imaginary. No man was more anxious than he was to show respect and affection for the people of Ireland, but it appeared to him that all the propositions which had been put forward in their behalf were mere figures of speech. They were never entertained by the people of Ireland, and would afford not the slightest remedy, if adopted, for the distress in that country. Every one of the alleged grievances of Ireland applied equally to Wales, and a more loyal and peaceable portion of the Empire than Wales was not to be found. With respect to Fenianism, he thought the Government would not be doing its duty unless they inquired into its origin—whether in America or elsewhere—as well as into the progress and extent of it. He could not admit that the language used with respect to it in the Speech from the Throne was what it ought to have been. It spoke of it as a conspiracy against life and property, disapproved by all interested in the maintenance of peace without distinction of creed or class. Was there anyone who could believe that? It was notorious that the Fenian movement was a mere continuation of that of 1848. It would be, in his opinion, an excess of zeal on the part of the Government to attempt to conciliate those fifteen Members who—as the hon. Member (Sir Henry Barron) had said—had been returned by the people of Ireland in consequence of what had been done in another place. Whether the Roman Catholic priests had done that or not, he was not called upon to state. But let them see how matters stood with 234 respect to them. What was meant by all those grants to Roman Catholics? What was meant by the grant for a new university to them? It was clear that this agitation must have originated, as all former agitations in Ireland had done, with the priests, and that it was an essential part of their policy. The true cause of the present state of Ireland was well stated by an hon. Member, and that was the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Dr. Cullen had been quoted, but he (Mr. Whalley) challenged any hon. Member to quote a single instance in which the statements of Roman Catholic prelates or other authorities during the last fifty years had not been falsified, directly or indirectly. He wished to call the attention of the House to language used by a Roman Catholic prelate. Dr. Manning, trained at the Oxford University, but now the head of the Roman Catholics of England, had given utterance to such sentiments as these—that the Government of England was an usurped Government, and all such Governments were our foes—the enemies of society and of God. It was ridiculous to say, with such teaching before their eyes, that the Government could not trace the course of the disaffection, and hon. Members from Ireland must have taken a low measure of the intelligence of English Members, when they put forward these pretended grievances. He trusted that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) would be so far recognized that Her Majesty's Government would cause inquiries to be made into the disaffection, and thereby not fall into the errors they had committed last Session.
§ MR. REARDEN
thought that the Government ought to be under an obligation to the hon. Member for Tralee for affording them an opportunity of amending the Speech from the Throne, because there was not in that Speech a single allusion to Ireland, except that which spoke of repressive measures for the Fenian conspiracy. As every one admitted, the bishops and clergy of the people had endeavoured to suppress the disaffection; but the best way to suppress Fenianism was to get possession of some of the "Head Centres," and this would be done if the British Government would adopt the same course of action as if they were at war with a foreign Power. Let Her Majesty's Government send to Washington, to Mr. Seward, a message that the British Ambassador would 235 be withdrawn from the States unless the great Fenian Head Centre of all, who had his head quarters in the United States, were arrested, and this sham Irish Republic put down. If that course were adopted, he, for one, should have some confidence in the sincerity of the Government, when they expressed their fixed determination to crush this miserable, degrading Fenian movement: and then there would be an end to it, for the Fenian conspiracy was not of Irish growth, but was fostered in the United States. The Attorney General for Ireland asked the Irish Members to suggest a remedy, and he (Mr. Rearden) would do so. There were three million acres of waste land in Ireland. The Government ought to encourage private Members to introduce a Bill for the reclamation of these, and they could be distributed among tenant-farmers. If each farmer had thirty acres there would be remunerative employment for 133,314 tenant-farmers. When the land was reclaimed, debentures could be issued on the security of them, which would be transferred as a bill of exchange, and Government would only have to lend their names instead of advancing money. He would introduce such a Bill if no other Member would do so, and from his experience of English Gentlemen during the last thirty years he thought that they would support it. He believed another remedy would be the introduction of such a system of tenant-right as would be equitable to both the landlords and tenants—a system of tenant lease and compensation. He also thought the development of the fisheries was essential to the prosperity of Ireland, and that an advance should be made by the Loan Commission, in order to aid such extension and improvements. The Gordian knot of education for Ireland was the university question and denominational education, and for any instalment of them his country would prove grateful. He trusted that the necessities of Ireland would receive kindly consideration at the hands of the Government, and he felt certain that his countrymen would hail with thankfulness any instalment of legislation, provided the instalment were not of such a character as practically to amount to nothing at all. He felt that much might be done for Ireland in the extension of railways, the development of the fisheries, and in other directions; and he hoped that the day might not be far distant when the prosperity for which his countrymen had so long been sighing was at last approaching.
§ MR. BAGWELL
said, he must accept the portion of Her Majesty's Speech to which exception was taken. Every one must acknowledge that a conspiracy existed in Ireland, and therefore it would be incorrect to expunge the paragraph in question. But if it were not so, it would be the necessary consequence that an enormous conspiracy existed, at the head of which was Her Majesty and Her Ministers, and over which presided two of the Judges, and to which the grand juries were accessory, as well as the independent juries, who had sent to prison, and to penal servitude worse than death, thirty-six persons. If the hon. Member for Tralee had moved his Amendment as an addendum he could not have found it in his heart, as an independent Member, to have voted against it, because what had been stated was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But there was a way of putting things. As now put, the Amendment would make the conspiracy not the work of the Fenians, but of the Government, in order to create a conspiracy for the purpose of crushing the Irish people. He (Mr. Bagwell) could not endorse such a view. He had always, he believed, found himself in the same lobby with his hon. Friend, and should continue to vote with him on any remedial measures for Ireland relating to the Established Church and education. But if it were the last vote that he had to give he should give it against this Amendment—not on its merits, but on account of the form in which it was introduced.
said, agreeing in what had fallen from the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Bagwell), he could not support the Amendment. The preservation of order was the first and most essential thing, because society could not otherwise exist, and therefore the Government must be expected to maintain it. But though that was the case, the representatives of Irish constituencies would not be doing their duty if they abstained from saying that their country laboured under grievances which required redress at the hands of Her Majesty's Government. If the Amendment of the hon. Member for Tralee could be moved as an addition to the paragraph in the Queen's Speech, Irish Members might very fairly have voted for it. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, at the recent banquet of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, said—It is the duty of the Imperial Parliament to take away from the disaffected in Ireland every 237 excuse, every shadow of excuse that the most distempered and disordered imagination can conceive, and which leads many to believe that there exists physical and violent means for the redress of social and political grievances.In that opinion he entirely coincided, and he rejoiced that a right hon. Gentleman, occupying the responsible position of what he might call Minister for Ireland, had expressed it. They had also heard from the Attorney General for Ireland that night that it was the duty of the Government seriously to consider the grievances of Ireland, and, if possible, remove them. But, after all, it must not be forgotten that neither of these Gentlemen were in the Cabinet, they were not among those who guided the policy of the Government, and therefore Irish Members were entitled to know from the leader of the House, or at all events from a Member of the Cabinet, whether the Government coincided with the views put forward by the Chief Secretary and the Attorney General for Ireland. It was a fact also that there was no Irishman in the Cabinet, there were but few holding any post in the Government, and therefore, until Irish Members obtained an expression of opinion from some Member of the Cabinet, they were left entirely in the dark. It had been said by the Secretary for the Colonies, in a speech to his constituents, that it was very desirable to regard Irish matters from an Irish point of view, but Englishmen found it very difficult to do that. There were several grievances which had been repeatedly brought under the consideration of the House, and yet for which no remedies had been provided. There was first the education question, then there were the laws which related to landlord and tenant, and thirdly, the question of the Established Church. The so-called mixed system of education, which was not a mixed system at all, but under which religion could not be taught, was one which was not at all in accordance with the feelings of the people, and one for the amendment of which they had made repeated applications to the House in vain. With regard to the land question, it had been repeatedly referred to in speeches from the Throne, and had been made the subject of inquiry by Commissions and Committees, and yet the farmer in Ireland remained without those remedial measures which many of those Commissioners had recommended. And then with regard to the Established Church, that certainly was a most anomalous institution. There was no other 238 country in the world in which the religion of the minority, and that a small minority—about a tenth of the population—totally absorbed the whole of the ecclesiastical property. The Irish Church Establishment had been repeatedly condemned by Members of that House, and yet it remained. That Church had been called a monument of folly; the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) had called it a badge of inferiority. It was at the bottom of all the religious differences which existed in Ireland. It was Protestant ascendancy which kept the Irish people disunited and prevented them from joining together for redress of grievances. He must say that the Government had not always shown a disposition to deal with this subject in the proper spirit. It was only last year, on a Motion made by the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), that the Secretary of State for the Home Department made use of expressions which would shut out all hope, and which if taken by themselves would be almost a justification for what had lately occurred in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman, on the 28th of March, 1865, said—We have the Irish Protestant Church established as an existing institution in Ireland.….The firm belief of the Government is that it could not be subverted without revolution."—[3 Hansard, clxxviii. 400.]Now it was only within a few months from the time when these words were spoken that an absurd and mischievous attempt at revolution had been made. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—We must bear in mind that this branch of the Church of England and Ireland is very dear to a large body of Protestants in Ireland, and they would not give it up without a struggle.But what institution ever existed that was not dear to some one or other? He (Colonel Greville) was a member of the Church of England, and he declared that he believed that nothing could be so injurious as an establishment founded on injustice, wrong, and oppression. But he turned with great consolation from that speech to a statesmanlike speech delivered by a man who, he was glad to see, was now the leader of that House The right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), in the course of the same debate, declared it to be unsatisfactory thatIn a nation of between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 people, 600,000 or 700,000 should have the exclusive possession of the ecclesiastical property of the country, intended to be applied to the religious instruction of all."—[3 Hansard, clxxviii. 423.]239 Again, as long back as 1835, Lord John Russell, on a Motion of Mr. O'Connell's for an inquiry as to the means by which the Union was effected, declared that he thought the Irish people had a good cause of complaint in the Irish Church. He hoped the noble Lord at the head of the Government would think fit to introduce a measure for the removal of this grievance, and that this would be done speedily—for many measures, when adopted, by long delay lost their good effect. When an evil was allowed to continue for a long time it caused other evils to arise, which would hot have occurred if a change had been made at the proper time. He contended that it was the duty of the House to consider this question, and to relegate whatever was unjust, and when they had done what was right and just they must leave the rest to Providence. He trusted that on that evening they would have from the Chancellor of the Exchequer; or from some other Gentleman who sat on the Treasury Bench, an assurance that the Government was about to introduce some measure with reference to the Irish Church calculated to satisfy the just claims of the people of that country. A late distinguished leader of the House of Commons—a man who had received nearly as much support from Gentlemen on the opposite as on his own side of the House—used very remarkable words with reference to this subject. In a debate on the Maynooth Grant in 1845 Lord Palmerston said—I conjure the Government not to be deterred by any of the difficulties into which this measure has brought them from going on in the path of which they have announced that this is only the commencement, but I do conjure them not to delay. I conjure them to lose no time in bringing forward those other measures which I am convinced they must have in their minds as a sequel to this Bill about Maynooth."—[3 Hansard, lxxix. 1305.]It was evident from those remarks that it was then believed that Government was about to follow up the Maynooth Bill by a comprehensive measure, which would deprive the Irish Establishment of the entire possession of the funds devoted to religious purposes in Ireland. Unfortunately, that had not been done then; it was not, however, as yet too late to do it; and while, on the one hand, he did not believe that the adoption of such a measure would remove all cause of complaint—would make Ireland like England—he firmly believed that it would go far to remove the dissatisfaction and disaffection which undoubtedly did exist at present in the former country.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
Sir, before addressing myself to the subject under the consideration of the House, I desire, at the request of my hon. Friend the Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), to make an explanation on his behalf, inasmuch as it is not in his power to reply to the observations of the Attorney General. My hon. Friend wishes me to state that he did not express any condemnation of Fenianism, for this reason—that, had he done so, such condemnation might be interpreted to mean, either that no cause for disaffection existed, or that the people of Ireland were bound to submit to an eternity of misrule. The hon. Member for Tralee said that he spoke in no anti-English spirit, and the Attorney General remarked thereon that that statement of the feeling of my hon. Friend would not make him popular among the Fenians. Now, I can inform the right hon. Gentleman and the House that my hon. Friend was not popular among the Fenians, and that he has, in the strongest and most marked manner, been assailed by the leaders and the organ of that movement. More than this I do not think it necessary to say on the part of my hon. Friend. For my own part, I rise in no anti-English spirit, but I do rise in an anti-Fenian spirit, I do not say this with the contemptible object in view of obtaining a momentary applause; for in my own country, in my own city, in the midst of a population deeply discontented and widely disaffected, I have done my utmost to impress upon my fellow-countrymen the folly, madness, and mischief of that insensate movement; not only at the risk of loss of popularity, but at the more serious risk of grave misapprehension. But although I oppose Fenianism, as injurious to the best interests of my country, I am not here to say that there are no real causes of discontent, or even disaffection—at least, for that state of the popular mind which leads to disaffection. Did I say that no cause for discontent existed in Ireland, I should state that which I do not believe. Before referring to some of the causes for discontent which unhappily abound in Ireland, I would offer a suggestion to my hon. Friend the Member for Tralee. I would advise him to add his Amendment to the paragraph in the Address, rather than move it as a substitute for that paragraph. But if my hon. Friend press his Motion to a division, I will certainly vote with him, as I prefer the terms of the Amendment to the paragraph in the Address; for while 241 the paragraph in the Address thanks Her Majesty for informing the House of that with which the House is already thoroughly acquainted, the Amendment opens up a question of the most pressing importance, and which it is absolutely necessary to press upon the earnest consideration of Parliament and the country.
Sir, I believe no man who knows anything of Ireland will deny that the present crisis in Irish affairs is one of a really grave and serious nature. Certainly, the Government will not venture to represent it in any other light. They cannot pretend to say that the Fenian movement is not one of great importance, or that it is not ramified extensively through the country, or that the sympathy felt towards it is not wide-spread and general. If it be not a movement fraught with serious danger to the peace of the country, how comes it that two Judges of the land have been solemnly engaged for nearly three months in trying persons charged with conspiracy against the Crown and authority of the Queen?—why have some thirty-six men been sentenced to various terms of imprisonment and penal servitude—a punishment only less terrible than that of death?—why is it that regiment after regiment is being poured on the shores of Ireland, until the island is crowded with troops?—why is it that proclamations are spreading over county after county, until the whole kingdom threatens to be placed under the ban of the law?—why, in a word, has the Government put forth its utmost strength to crush this conspiracy and punish its leaders? Why all this if the movement is not one alike serious and full of danger? In making these remarks I desire not to be misunderstood. I speak in no tone of menace; and should any English Gentleman so understand me, I can only say nothing is further from my thought or intention. I desire to deal seriously with a subject of great gravity. I also, in order that there can be no misconception of my meaning, desire to express my own views, clearly and distinctly, in reference to this movement; and in doing so, I only repeat what I have expressed elsewhere, and with a far deeper sense of personal responsibility. I believe, then, that no wilder, more absurd, or more desperate notion could be entertained by my countrymen, either at home or abroad, than that of endeavouring to overthrow the mighty power of England by the efforts of an unarmed, an undisciplined, a divided people. I go further, and 242 supposing, for the sake of illustration, that such a thing were possible as that the movement could be successful, I should deplore it as one of the most terrible calamities that could befall my country. I say, suppose an armed insurrection, aided by a foreign Power at war with this country, to be successful, what would be the immediate as well as the ultimate result? I shall not attempt to describe the horrors of the struggle, or the consequences of success; but I can imagine a state of things even more awful still—more terrible and disastrous to my country—when, at the close of the war with the foreign Power that had assisted Ireland to achieve a momentary independence, Ireland would be handed back to the mercy or the vengeance of England. Than such an insurrection, than such a momentary triumph, I can imagine no greater calamity, no more fearful disaster to my country. If, then, I regard Fenianism with apprehension, it is not because I anticipate an armed insurrection, or that I contemplate the possibility of its success, but because it is fraught with the worst possible consequences to Ireland herself. Not only is it calculated to keep Ireland in a state of chronic excitement, fatal to every healthful attempt at improvement; but if it be not suppressed—and the power of the law alone is unequal to do this—it will be a scandal and disgrace to England, and a source of weakness and embarrassment to the entire Empire. It is in this spirit that I desire to speak of Fenianism to this House and to the people of this country—as something grave and serious, and therefore to be inquired into in an enlightened and generous spirit. The Attorney General seems to think that if my hon. Friend's Amendment were adopted, it would be as if Parliament were to parley with traitors, and negotiate with those who had arms in their hands against the authority of their Sovereign. I deny that the terms of the Amendment can be fairly strained to bear any such construction. The noble Lord who moved the Address (Lord Frederick Cavendish), and the hon. Gentleman who seconded it (Mr. Graham), spoke in the very spirit in which the Amendment of my hon. Friend is conceived. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Graham) almost went over the same ground as that taken by the hon. Member for Tralee. He indicated the existence of certain grievances, and he said that the Government and Parliament should inquire into their existence, and that, if 243 proved to exist, they should provide a remedy for them, In the present condition of Ireland Irish Members would have neglected their duty if they had not raised this discussion, and called the attention of Parliament and the country to what they believed to be the causes, or some of the causes, of the state of things which as Irishmen they have every reason to deplore. One of the causes of discontent—of that state of feeling which leads to disaffection—has been the fatal policy adopted by the Government of ignoring the existence of distress and suffering in Ireland. The late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, from his naturally easy and amiable nature, was ever inclined to take the most hopeful view of public affairs, and desired on all occasions to present the pleasant side, and that alone, to the view of the English public. From time to time, during years of great and wide-spread distress in Ireland, I brought the condition of that country before this House. Sometimes I was met by derision, sometimes by incredulity, sometimes with positive denial, and even expressions of anger and condemnation. On those occasions English Members naturally turned to the Government to learn from the responsible Advisers of the Crown what was the truth with respect to the real condition of the Irish people; but, unhappily, the Government rather led astray than enlightened the mind of Parliament as to the state of Ireland. Not only did they distinctly declare that no serious distress existed in that country, but they boasted, on the contrary, that she presented the most marked symptoms of progress and improvement. What is now proved to have been the fact? What is now the property of the historian? That in the years '60, '61, and '62, some £30,000,000 of agricultural property were lost by a people almost wholly dependent on agriculture by successive bad harvests. On Tuesday night there was much lamentation in this House because the cattle plague had, in a rich country, destroyed property to the amount of £1,500,000; but when £30,000,000 of property had been destroyed in a poor country, the statements of that country's distress were either derided or denied. That was not wise statesmanship on the part of the Government; for if they could not have applied a remedial measure, they might, at least, have given some kind and consolatory assurance of their sympathy. There is, or rather was, a cause for discontent and dissatisfaction created by the 244 tone adopted by certain public writers against Ireland and Irishmen; and I am the more free to refer to it now as, happily, the tone of the English press is sensibly and beneficially changed towards both. The slashing leaders of the great journals representing, or affecting to represent, Englishmen, and helping to form English public opinion, and their small imitators throughout this country, have done more to sow the seeds of hostility between the two countries, and exasperate the people of Ireland, than even vicious legislation could have accomplished. It is scarcely possible to over-estimate the effect of this vitriolic rhetoric of the desk upon the minds of a sensitive and suffering people; and I have reason to know that it inflamed the ardent and high-spirited youth of the country with sentiments of the bitterest hatred and hostility. Happily, a better, a wiser, and a more patriotic tone pervades the public press of this country; and instead of galling taunt and irritating sneer, we now see evinced a readiness to deal with Irish interests in a kind and conciliatory spirit.
It has been said to-night, as it has been said before, that Irish Members have proposed no measures of redress; while, on the other hand, my hon. Friend the Member for Tralee has been blamed for having proposd too many. For instance, my hon. Friend has suggested a tax upon absentces. With the justice of such a tax I cordially agree, for I would, were it possible, punish men for their neglect of their duties to their country; but I leave it to the wisdom of Parliament and the nation to say whether they should be so taxed or not. But, coming to a grievance which is not only practical, but capable of legislative redress, I say—and I speak with authority when I do so—that the state of the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland is at the very root of the mischief. I admit that the Catholics of Ireland, who constitute more than two-thirds of the people of Ireland, are insulted by the enforced maintenance of a dominant Church, supported by the State with all its power and influence, for the sake of the one-tenth of the population. And the feeling of bitterness and discontent with which this standing insult is regarded is aggravated by the opinions expressed during last Session from the Treasury Bench. The present distinguished leader of the House then stated, at least in substance, that, viewed in the abstract, the Irish Church Establishment had not, argumentatively speaking, a leg to 245 stand on. It cannot be defended in argument. The continuance of such a wrong naturally exasperated and alienated from the Government, which sustained while it condemned it, a large class of the high-spirited Catholics of Ireland, who felt, it to be an insult to their creed and their consciences. But I repeat my confident assertion that the land question is at the root of the evil. There are hon. Members here who affect to think that this is an imaginary grievance. To show that it is no imaginary grievance, I give for their information one of the latest cases that has occurred. This happened in Tipperary about a month since. A gentleman who had lately become the owner of a certain property in that county evicted—in other words, turned out on the road-side—thirty families, consisting, it may be, of 200 persons. Why were they thus dealt with? Were they disloyal? Were they Fenians? Were they declared enemies to the Crown and authority of their Queen? Were they idle? Were they dissolute? What crime had they committed? None—none whatever. The amount of their guilt may be tested by the fact that they owed no rent, and that they offered to pay to the last farthing whatever rent the new proprietor would wish to impose upon them; but the purchaser under the Court of Incumbered Estates, which was to effect such a happy revolution in Ireland, turned out these innocent and unoffending people simply because he wanted to clear them off the face of the land. These 200 people are, perhaps, already on their way to America; they either are or will become emigrants—and am I to be told that their migration is the natural result of the necessary operation of certain economic laws, as has been intimated this evening by a speaker who did not seem to possess a remarkable knowledge of the state of things in Ireland. I say such migration as theirs is the result, not of the natural and inevitable operation of certain economic laws, but of the continuance of a law which should not exist, and of a power which no law should allow any human being to exercise against his fellow men. If, as I may fairly suppose, these evicted tenants, these guiltless people, are now on their way to America, what must be their sentiments towards the Government and the institutions of a country under which a landlord is permitted to exterminate without mercy or compunction? Do the Irish people demand anything impracticable, unjust, or revolutionary? Cer- 246 tainly no. They simply ask that if a tenant be evicted from his farm, he shall be entitled to receive full and fair compensation for the substantial improvements effected by his industry and capital on or in the land. What can be more rational than such a proposition? Its principle has been admitted over and over in this House and in its legislation. In 1860 it was fully admitted in an Act which, being devised in a timid spirit was so complicated, so restricted, so miserably small in its inducement to improvement, that it fell still-born, and has been disdained by the tenants of Ireland. For more than twenty years different Governments have made solemn promises to the people of Ireland to treat Ireland as an exceptional case, and deal with it by exceptional legislation; and those promises have never up to this hour been fulfilled. Therefore, if there be cause for dissatisfaction, disaffection, or even Fenianism, in connection with this unsettled land question, I must charge my Lord Derby, the late Duke of Newcastle, and every successive Administration for the last twenty years, with being the prime movers of discontent. On the part of the tenant, I advocate no legislation which would deprive the landlord of any right which he ought to exercise; but when landlords expel, or attempt to expel, their tenantry from their native soil, I would compel the landlords by law to give their tenants such substantial compensation for improvements as would either deter them from carrying out their intention, or if they did carry it out, would at least save the evicted tenantry from being driven forth as beggars on the world. That is not a revolutionary but a just and rational proposition. Another thing the Legislature should do is to devise some means by which landlords would be induced to give leases. Leases are, in my mind, essential not merely to the security of the tenant, but to the prosperity of landlords, tenant, and country. From the want of this security, which is felt by the tenant-at will—and tenure-at-will is the tenure of the country—the energy of the tenant is paralyzed, improvement is comparatively at a standstill, and the agriculture of Ireland is what it has been represented as being by Judge Longfield, in his evidence last Session—in a very backward state. Let those who doubt the testimony of that eminent man believe the evidence of their own senses. No one can pass through the country—a country of natural fertility and mild climate—without 247 being impressed with the extreme backwardness of its agriculture, and the general poverty it presents to the eye; and this state of things exists in spite of the fact that Irish farmers are frugal, thrifty, and laborious, whenever they have security for the enjoyment of the fruits of their labour, energy, or capital. The House may not pass a law compelling landlords to give leases—that I do not expect they will do, while I am certain such a law would be beneficial to both; but Parliament might take from the landlord the power of distress unless in case his tenant held by lease. I assert, Sir, that the great grievance of Ireland, the main cause of its discontent, is the existing state of the relations between landlord and tenant. This is what has given the most powerful stimulus to emigration, which is still pouring forth in strong and mighty volume. The noble Lord who moved the Address told the House that these hundreds of thousands of emigrants left the shores of Ireland with a feeling of indomitable hostility to England. The noble Lord was strictly accurate in his statement. It is scarcely necessary to corroborate that which is notorious; but I shall call a witness of unimpeachable veracity, and one who speaks with the fullest knowledge of the feelings of the Irish people. I refer to the Right Rev. Dr. Keane, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cloyne, a distinguished prelate of his Church, one who, while seeking to obtain redress for the real grievances under which the people suffer, stands firmly between them and evil counsels, and who, as a priest and a patriot, uses every influence to dissuade his flock from rash and ruinous courses. When examined last Session before a Committee of this House, Dr. Keane used these words—I may state to the Committee that I never knew a period in which there was more estrangement, more dissatisfaction, more disaffection to the Government under which they live, than there is at the present moment. Amongst those that go away, there are expressions on their lips of burning hatred against what they complain of—the neglect and misrule of the English Government.And his Lordship again remarks—I do not think I could overrate the amount of discontent that is in the very depths of their souls.When such feelings exist, is it to be wondered at that the Fenian conspiracy has been so largely adopted in Ireland? Some 100,000 of the Irish people annually leave the shores of their native country for America, where they join their brethren, the majority of whom have been compelled to 248 leave from the same causes; and carrying away with them such feelings as are described by Dr. Keane. I am right when I say that such an emigration is alike dangerous to the present and future peace of Ireland, and to the strength and stability of this Empire. It behoves Parliament to inquire into the causes of Irish poverty and discontent, and endeavour, by wise legislation, to change the feeling which now exists, from one of hatred to one of amity. I do not mean to say, for I do not believe it to be the case, that anyone has left Ireland because of the existence of the Church Establishment in that country; but I say it is a cause, and a just cause, of bitterness and discontent. There are those who assert that in seeking to abolish the temporalities of the Established Church, the motives of priests and people are not pure—that, in fact, they only want to have their share in the spoil of the Establishment. It is well that there should be no possibility of mistake on this head. I solemnly believe that the Catholics of Ireland, priests and people, would not touch one farthing of the revenues of the Established Church—would not apply one farthing of them to the support of the Catholic clergy, or their church. Any attempt to appropriate any portion of the spoils, as they are so called, would be dishonour and disgrace alike to priests and people. The motives of Irish Catholics are pure with respect to this question, which, though not of the greatest magnitude, is one that affects the state of public feeling materially. Some persons, groping blindly in search of the causes of discontent, are weak enough to imagine that the ills of Ireland could be cured by the payment of the Catholic clergy. Sir, in my opinion, such a proposition is utter madness and folly; but could it be carried out, it would be fatal not only to the dignity of the Catholic Church, and the honour of the Catholic clergy, but to the peace and tranquillity of Ireland. It has been even proposed to restore the 25 per cent taken from the tithes in 1832, and out of the whole to carve two great portions—one for the Catholic Church, and one for the Protestant Church. In answer to this absurd proposition, let me ask one, and in my mind important, question—how is it that the Catholic clergy have had such power to aid the authorities in checking the Fenian movement, and to a certain extent baffling the hopes of the Fenian leaders? Because they are independent of the State, and intimately connected with their flocks by ties 249 of mutual confidence and affection. But once link them to the State by means of annual stipend or provision, and from that moment, in the eyes of the people, the sacred robes of the minister of the sanctuary would seem to be degraded into the livery of the Government. Forty years ago Dr. Doyle, one of the most eminent prelates of the National Church of Ireland, indeed of any church, was examined before Committees of the Lords and Commons, and that illustrious Bishop gave testimony on this very subject. He said he was opposed to the acceptance of any emolument or provision from the State, and that he would prefer to receive the slender stipend which he received from the people whom he served. He warned the Government of the day against the danger of subsidizing the Catholic clergy; for he said that, though it might be possible to attach the clergy to the Government, the certain result of a paid priesthood would be to alienate the people from the priests, and more so from the State, all those over whom they desired to exercise control; and that the very means adopted to increase the influence of the Government over the people would most surely weaken and even destroy the influence which they desired to have exercised in their favour. The opinions expressed by Dr. Doyle, forty years ago, are those of the Catholic bishops, priests, and people of this day. It is true there are men who flout the authority of the Church, and who oppose the wise counsels of its ministers; but they are few in number, and the influence of the clergy is still powerful and salutary in Ireland. Why? Because they are not stipendiaries of the State. For myself, and indeed on the part of Roman Catholics without exception, I may say that, whatever our feelings may be with reference to the temporalities of the Established Church, we have no feeling of hostility to Protestants or their Church, in its spiritual sense. We simply desire to do towards our Protestant brethren as we wish to be done by. Our Church is a voluntary Church, and it flourishes in strength and vigour, notwithstanding that it does not receive support from the State. Why should not Protestants depend for the vitality of their Church on the allegiance and affection of its followers as we Catholics do? If a Church cannot be supported by its own followers, the sooner it falls the better. We say to Protestants, remove what is rotten and treacherous from your Church, and thus allow full play to the spiritual 250 element, which is the living principle of faith in the truth and purity of the religion you profess. There are other panaceas suggested for the ills of Ireland, such as Royal visits to Ireland, the constant residence of a Member of the Royal Family in that country, and the abolition of the so-called sham Royalty in Dublin, No doubt the Irish people would hail with delight the presence of their Sovereign among them. As for the abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy, that is a question into which I do not care to enter. But none of those things will cure the ills of Ireland. Discontent, disaffection, Fenianism if you will, is not to be put down by such palliatives. Neither is it to be put down by the power of Government—it is to be put down and banished by the influence of public opinion based upon a wide spread belief, in good laws and a wise Government. It is said that Fenianism is of foreign origin, but this I deny. Its organization may be in America, but its spirit is in Ireland. The peasant who leaves your shores to-day flings his contribution into the Fenian treasury the moment he lands on the shores of America. Fenianism would have no power, no strength, no success, unless there was discontent, and cause for discontent in Ireland. So the sooner you look to the causes of discontent, and remove them, the sooner do you really grapple with the spirit of Fenianism in Ireland. I have an intimate acquaintance with the state of feeling in the city and county of Cork, and with the neighbouring counties; and, while I am far from saying that the organization is mighty or powerful, or that any vast number are engaged in it, or are sworn members of the body, still, if I am asked whether there is a sympathy with the Fenian movement, I must confidently assert that there is scarcely an artizan, a labourer, or small farmer, or a small struggling shopkeeper who has not a kind of sympathy, more or less strong, in its favour. Those who are largely engaged in trade and commerce, or who are specially injured by the effects or influence of the movement, are naturally at the side of the Government; but the mass of the people feel a strong sympathy with the movement. And this is a just cause for anxiety, and even alarm. It is stated in the Royal Speech that Fenianism is opposed to religion, and is condemned by all who are interested in its maintenance; but it is unhappily true that amongst those who sympathize with the movement are many of the best and purest 251 of the population. ["No no!"] I know positively the truth of what I state. Is morality to be judged of by the cut of a man's coat, or the fineness of his cloth? I speak of men who lead blameless lives, who are good fathers and good christians. You say there is an absence of ordinary crime in Ireland—that the people are good and moral. Then, I say, that good add poor men sympathize with, though they do not join the movement; for it is true beyond all doubt that the mass of the people feel that sympathy. The reason why this is so is obvious. It arises from the idea which too fatally prevails in Ireland—that constitutional agitation and Parliamentary action are useless for the redress of admitted grievances. I neither sympathize with the movement, nor do I believe that constitutional means and Parliamentary action will be without avail; but I admit and deplore the existence of this sympathy and of this belief. Sir, this is a new Parliament, to which the country has sent 200 new Members; and it is necessary that Irish Members should draw the attention of the Government and Parliament to the state of their country. I call on the Government to send a message of peace to Ireland. But let it be no hollow truce, but real and permanent peace. The Government are strong enough to punish and suppress; but what is necessary is to eradicate the causes that lead to these periodical manifestations of deep-lying discontent. I admit that the law has been fairly administered by the Judges, and that, on the part of the Crown, there was an entire absence of that bitterness and malignity which disgraced Crown prosecutions in past times, not only in Ireland, but in this country. The blot on the Commission was the jury panel of the county of Cork; but the fault was owing, not to the Crown, but to the indiscretion or want of wisdom of an official who did not fitly appreciate the importance of the occasion, and the responsibility of his office; but while I object to that panel, I cannot deny that the juries decided fairly, and in accordance with the evidence. The Government are strong enough to meet the conspiracy, and to punish the conspirators; but, Sir, I want the Government to destroy the trade of the conspirators by putting an end to the causes of disaffection. I wish to see the two countries strong and united—strong because of union; but it is the idlest of all mockeries to assert or suppose it possible that there can exist a feeling of cordial union with England on the part of the Irish 252 people, unless both countries are dealt with on one common basis of equal justice. Let the Government and people of this country deal with Ireland with justice and with wisdom; and then it will not be the terrors of the law that will crush Fenianism, but the all-pervading consciousness that the people of Ireland are really about to be taken into the bosom of this great Empire, and to be dealt with upon the same principles of justice.
No one, I am sure, will find fault with the tone and temper of the hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House (Mr. Maguire); and if I differ from some of the conclusions at which he has arrived, I trust he will give me credit for taking as deep an interest as he does in the welfare of our common country. I wish, upon this occasion, to confine my observations—and they shall not be many—to one point, and to one point only. I wish to impress upon the House my firm opinion that those questions which have been referred to by the hon. Member for Tralee, and by many of the speakers this evening, as the foundation of the Fenian movement, are not the real causes of that unfortunate state of things which now prevails in Ireland. A new and disastrous state of things has arisen. I listened to the debate with considerable interest; and on seeing the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Tralee, I thought that he might introduce into the debate something which would go to show that the action of the Legislature and misgovernment on the part of this country had been the cause of this state of affairs. But I will appeal to every Member who has carefully attended to the discussion whether that position which was at first broadly laid down by the hon. Gentleman was maintained in argument. I believe that the causes of the Fenian movement, whatever they may be, do not lie here, but lie principally in a country over which we have no control. My belief is that this conspiracy did not originate in Ireland, and is not maintained by any causes that exist in Ireland. I believe it was created and is maintained by influences that arose in a foreign country, and is supported by money which does not come from the people of Ireland, and by men who are not subjects of Her Majesty. I have no hesitation in saying that the Fenian organization has been devised and carried on in America, and by men who have not the interests of Ireland at heart, but who are, I am sorry 253 to say, citizens of that great Republic which contains within its dominions some of the bitterest enemies of England. What are the Irish grievances mentioned tonight? Are they new? The hon. Member for Tralee referred to subjects which, on many former occasions, were pressed upon the notice of this House. The condition of the Irish Church has been put forward as a cause of the Fenian movement; but how can it be imagined that the position or existence of the Church in Ireland has any interest for men who denounce all religions, and who have issued the most scurrilous and virulent attacks on the ministers of the very faith which they themselves pretend to profess? Or can it be imagined that the laws which regulate the tenure of property in Ireland have any influence on the leaders of a movement, whose leaders emphatically declare that their object is not to obtain compensation for tenants, or to improve the condition of the occupiers of the soil, but to sweep away the present owners of landed property and to distribute the spoil among the fortunate soldiers of the Irish republic? ["Oh!"] Ample evidence has been adduced that this is the object of the chiefs of the conspiracy—I hold ample proofs in my hand—but that evidence has been so often referred to by the learned gentlemen who represented the Crown upon the recent trials, that I need not take up the time of the House by referring to it. It has been laid down over and over again by these men that their object is not to alter or re-construct the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland, but to distribute the land, not among those who now occupied it, but among those who joined their conspiracy. It may be true—and I own that I, for one, participate in those views—that there are matters connected with the administration of the Executive in Ireland which might be improved, as they in some degree prevent Irish interests from receiving their due weight in the Councils of the United Kingdom. I have long held the opinion that Ireland would be benefited if the Chief Minister for that country always had a seat in the Cabinet, and was always either in that or the other House of Parliament, to defend and explain the acts of the Executive. But can it be thought for a moment that a change like that occupied the minds of these men, or that the interests of the Queen's Government was considered by those who aimed 254 at sweeping her authority from the face of the land in order to establish on its ruins a socialistic Republic? I believe that questions, so often discussed and sometimes decided by this House, have nothing whatever to do with Fenianism in Ireland. The questions of tenants' compensation and tenant-right, which have been referred to, have been debated here, and in the most deliberate manner, for the last twenty years. Every successive Government has attempted to deal with it, but without success; because every statesman who has given his attention to the subject found it impossible to reconcile the pretensions of those who professed to represent the interests of the tenant with the rights of property and the legitimate interests of the landlord. That is the reason why the question has remained unsettled; and I believe it will long remain so, at least in the sense so often enunciated in that House. But if, as the hon. Gentleman has stated, that question really lies at the root of the evils of Ireland, and is therefore the cause of the Fenian movement, how comes it that that movement has gained so little ground among the agricultural population of Ireland? There is not one considerable farmer in the country who has been proved to be connected with it. The Fenian movement is supported principally by the inhabitants of towns, who have never cultivated a rood of ground in their lives. I therefore repudiate the statement of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) that the tenant question is at the root of the Fenian movement. I believe that no honest or impartial man who has studied Ireland, no foreigner who might be called upon to express an impartial opinion, if he examined the course of Parliamentary Government adopted during the last forty years, would be able to discover proof of any indifference to Irish interests, or any disregard of the wants of the Irish people. From my own experience—and I have sat in that House now for some considerable time—I must say I have never known an Irish question to be brought forward—as has been the case that night—with great ability, great earnestness, and great courage—without its receiving fair and ample discussion. Argument has been met by argument; and if those who agitated these subjects have not succeeded in persuading the House to adopt their views, it was not because there has been any unwillingness to consider them. On the contrary, the House had always felt Irish questions to 255 be a great difficulty, and has always approached them with an earnest desire to settle them. Had not the representatives of Ireland themselves a voice here? True, they are only 105 compared with 500 English and Scotch Members; but is that the right way to look at the balance of the representation in this House? We know-how equally parties are divided, and how often a few votes determined the fate of a Government. We have seen many crises in which Irish questions were made of the greatest possible importance, and how the votes of a small portion of the Irish representatives could control the action of the Cabinet. We cannot, therefore, draw the conclusion that measures for the good of Ireland will not be passed in this House because the Irish Members are powerless by reason of their minority. I admit that there is much in the past government of Ireland to regret. I believe that for centuries she was the worst governed country in Europe. But, at the same time, I believe that England has now for many years been doing everything in her power to atone for past errors and correct past mistakes. When people talk of English laws standing in the way of Irish progress, I want to know whether there is anything in the nature of Ireland so totally different from the nature of England that the same laws should be so poisonous and destructive in the one country and so salutary and beneficial in the other? The same laws affecting the tenure of landed property exist in Ireland as in England, and we have seen under those laws a greater amount of agricultural prosperity developed than had been witnessed in any other country. We have seen the same laws affecting trade and manufactures in Ireland as in England, and why is not the same effect visible in the former as in the latter? I may briefly recall what had been done by Parliament for Ireland during the last forty years. Within that period, those of the people who professed the Roman Catholic religion have been admitted to a full participation in all the civil rights enjoyed by the rest of their fellow subjects. The other important measures which have followed evinced a desire on the part of Parliament to extend every benefit in its power to that country. A system of education has been established which gives gratuitous instruction to upwards of 200,000 children; and the annual grants amount to no less than £250,000. Other sums are yearly voted for the educa- 256 tion of the Roman Catholic priesthood, and that establishment has been placed on such a footing that its endowment is now made a permanent law fo the country. A Poor Law has been enacted under which the property of the country last year was called upon to pay £750,000, administering relief to 300,000 persons. Again, in the years of famine, when a disaster greater, perhaps, than ever came on any country befell Ireland, was not money given freely, and with a lavish hand, to sustain life out of the Imperial exchequer? and although through maladministration there was considerable waste of these funds, yet at least no indisposition to minister generously to the sore necessity of Ireland can be fairly charged against this House. Indeed, it is, I believe, impossible for any man to get up and prove that any proposal shown by sound argument to be for the real good of Ireland has been rejected in this Assembly. And, therefore, I cannot refrain from taking this opportunity to protest against and repudiate the doctrine that bad laws or misgovernment have produced this treasonable movement. Justice, I maintain, is fairly administered in Ireland, as even these recent trials themselves suffice to show. The representation of that country, also, is on as fair a basis as that of the rest of the United Kingdom. I appeal to the Roman Catholic Members of this House whether there is any legislative body in any first-class European State in which greater freedom of debate is enjoyed? Ought we not, then, to be careful not to give the least sanction or support to this conspiracy by declaring that it has any excuse or origin in the action of Parliament? I will not weary the House by attempting to demonstrate the absurdity and futility of the objects of the Fenian conspiracy; but I may remind them that there exists in Ireland a large party, comprising men of all religious denominations, whose loyalty and determination to maintain the authority of the Queen are second to those of no class in the United Kingdom. I do not exaggerate the character of these classes when I say that they include every man of property and intelligence in the country, and all the ministers of every creed. Nor do I believe it possible to find outside of those classes one man who really, conscientiously, and openly has given his adhesion or sympathy to Fenianism, whose opinion is worth having, or whose character is in any way entitled 257 to weight with his countrymen. Therefore, though this Fenian conspiracy may be inconvenient and most disastrous even for a considerable time to the interests of Ireland, it is manifestly utterly futile and absurd. I by no means underrate the mischief which such movements as Fenianism are calculated to effect. I recollect well that when I first entered the House of Commons, in 1847, a somewhat similar state of things existed in Ireland, and that some Members of the House actually did not hesitate openly to profess their sympathy with the seditious proceedings which were then taking place. There is, however, a considerable difference, I am happy to say, between those proceedings and the present, although the spirit which prompted both is no doubt the same. I cannot help expressing my regret that, at the expiration of eighteen years, similar misfortunes have again fallen upon us, and that while progress and civilization are going on around us, a portion of Her Majesty's dominions should be the theatre of a movement which, if successful even for a moment, would have the effect of throwing Ireland back at least fifty years. From the doctrine that bad government or legislation is the cause of that movement I must express my entire dissent. Indeed, my opinion is that those who have taken upon themselves to propagate that view have incurred a grave responsibility, inasmuch as thereby they give a colour to this movement, while they are totally unable to substantiate the correctness of their assertions. I hope we shall hear no more of such doctrines, and I also trust—nay, I am perfectly sure—the House will not, because of recent occurrences in Ireland, feel indisposed to deal with Irish questions in the same spirit of impartiality and fairness which it has for many years shown on these occasions. The various schemes for the benefit of that country which have this evening been suggested are legitimate subjects for the consideration of Parliament; if good in themselves, they will, I have no doubt, be ultimately carried, while, if bad, they will, as it is desirable they should, be rejected.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, believing that House to be the proper place for expressing his views as a representative of the people, he would not shrink from declaring his opinions upon the question submitted for their just consideration. He should be forgetting his 258 own position if, from any miserable feeling of fear lest he should lose his popularity amongst his constituents, he hesitated to express his opinion of this unhappy and disgraceful Fenian conspiracy. There was not a man of education or position in the country but viewed that movement with horror and reprobation. He represented a county constituency, and it was their opinion, as well as his own, that it was calculated to drive back for years from the country any chances of prosperity which were likely to dawn on it, and in addition to bring ruin upon many innocent people. It was for men like himself, who had always been Liberal, to come forward at such a crisis and express the horror of the whole Liberal party, properly so called, at this ruinous conspiracy. [Cries of "Divide!"] He had reason to know that among the names which had been published in connection with the Fenian conspiracy in New York were some of the men he had seen hanging about the lobbies of that House, servilely soliciting the patronage of this very Government they now wished to trample upon. Being unsuccessful they went as adventurers to America, and there contrived to live in luxury by deceiving those multitudes who, like their countrymen here, who possessed the Celtic temperament, were especially liable to be deceived. [Laughter.] If hon. Gentlemen lived in the south and west of Ireland they would not laugh. With respect to many questions which had been raised, he would on that occasion—["Divide!"] If the hon. Gentlemen who interrupted him had sat in the House during the last Parliament they would be aware that during the whole six years he had rarely troubled the House; but in obedience to those hon. Members who were no doubt overflowing with maiden eloquence, he would conclude by merely adding his request to that of other hon. Gentlemen that the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) would, instead of substituting the paragraph he had moved for another, append it to the Address. In that case, the hon. Member should have his most hearty support.
LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he thought that no one who had read the Amendment offered that night could find anything in its phraseology calculated to excite animosity or opposition. At the moment he heard that an Amendment on Irish subjects was about to be introduced, he went to the hon. Member (The 259 O'Donaghue) and asked him for a copy of it; and on, reading it he must confess that he did not see that there was much in it to which any Irish Member could object. The speech of his hon. Friend, however, was not exactly in keeping with the temperate and moderate words he had proposed; and, therefore, with great respect for the talents, and with high admiration for the eloquence, he had displayed, he could not consent to follow him into the lobby. Every one who had heard the hon. Member must, moreover, regret that one possessing so much ability and kindly feeling should have allowed either his oratory or his imagination to carry him to some of the lengths which he had gone that night. As a county representative of the north of Ireland, and the only one who had as yet spoken in this debate, he entered his protest against the statements made by the hon. Member (The O'Donoghue) with reference to atrocities said to have been committed in the county of Donegal. The hon. Gentleman had adverted to them as if they were admitted facts; but he (Lord Claud Hamilton) undertook to meet him on every point, and show that he had been the victim of the grossest misrepresentation. He did not wish to rest his denial of these statements on his own words, and he would, therefore, read a few lines from the Report of a Committee of the House, which sat on the very subject. Statements had been made of the heartless, cold-blooded conduct of some of the landlords, which it was said had driven the people of Donegal to poverty, desolation, and misery. An impartial Committee, consisting of English, Scotch, and Irish Members, was selected from that House, and they came to the following Resolution upon the evidence placed before them, by the authors of the statements complained of. The Committee found—That this poverty among the people is not attributable to the landlords; that no attempt had been made to drive the tenants from their holdings or to take from them any lands over which they had any real right; and it has been proved to your chairman that the statement in the appealThe very document relied upon by the hon. Member and assumed to be correctWhich said that 'last year brought a sad change upon this warm-hearted peasantry, all the landlords of those districts save one simultaneously deprived them of the mountains, giving them to Scotch and English graziers as sheep walks, and at the same time doubled and trebled, and in many instances quadrupled, the rents on 260 their miserable holdings,' is totally devoid of foundation.Yet these very statements, so "totally devoid of foundation," were alluded to tonight, by his hon. Friend, as established facts. He must make one appeal to his hon. Friend the Member for Tralee, and ask him if any English Member got up in that House and ventured to assail his countrymen with language he had himself used, whether he would not, with that gallantry for which he is so eminently conspicuous, vindicate his countrymen against such unworthy and undeserved calumnies? The hon. Gentleman had unfairly assumed that Irish questions were put down by English and Scotch Members. He (Lord Claud Hamilton) had sat in that House for thirty-one years, and he maintained that such a statement was totally devoid of truth, and an unworthy calumny on the Scotch and English Members of that House. He had never known an Irish question, when fairly brought forward and practically debated, not listened to with attention, however much it might interfere with the general business of the country and the convenience of hon. Members, and he expressed his gratitude for the generosity and liberality of the House with regard to Irish subjects. If the hon. Gentleman would only turn his eloquence and talents to a more practical use than he had to-night, he predicted for him a far greater success than he would be likely to meet with on that occasion. The great fault hon. Gentlemen committed was in bringing forward at one time a number of alleged grievances, instead of confining themselves to one subject, and having it fairly and thoroughly discussed. If they would abstain from that, and bring forward what they considered solutions for the difficulties they complained of in the manner he had suggested, he should be able to recognize in it statesmanlike conduct, and his hon. Friends the Members for Tralee and Cork would thus be doing a far greater service to Ireland than by contenting themselves with making discursive speeches which did not suggest any practical solution of the grievances of which they complained. If he felt as strongly on any supposed grievances as his hon. Friends evidently did, from the frequent occasions on which they dilated on them, he should feel it to be his first and most solemn duty to offer suggestions and to bring forward measures which might form a basis on which remedial legislation might proceed. He protested against what had been said 261 with regard to Donegal, and he could, if necessary, show that it was incorrect, but had been got up to excite the feelings of the people. He should support the Address as proposed by Her Majesty's Government.
§ SIR FREDERICK HEYGATE
said, he gave full credit to the Irish Government for the vigour it had shown in the Fenian prosecutions. Praise was due to the Lord Lieutenant especially; and it was gratifying to find that his Excellency was so well supported by the middle classes. In the county which he had the honour to represent, the law was still respected. It was one into which Fenianism had not penetrated to any great extent; but even there the bad effects of the conspiracy were felt. A stop had been put to the establishment of manufactories—capitalists being deterred from embarking their money in a country in which there did not appear to be ordinary security for commercial enterprize. His opinion was that the present was not the time for inquiry into political grievances. When the Fenian conspiracy was put an end to, and when the law was vindicated, then would be the time for an inquiry such as that suggested in the course of this debate. The landlords had been spoken of as if they were indifferent to the state of the country. Holding the stake they did in it, he was at a loss to see how that could be. In the county with which he was connected they had a large measure of tenant-right, and there were no religious feuds, and yet things were not as they ought to be there; he was sorry to say there did not prevail such a spirit of satisfaction as he should like to see. Within the last few years vast numbers of the population of Ireland had emigrated; and it could scarcely be expected that the lower classes, receiving as they did by every post, from their relatives and friends on the other side of the Atlantic, letters speaking of the prosperous condition of the emigrants and containing substantial proof of that prosperity in the shape of remittances, should fail to draw comparisons between their own position and that of Irishmen who had left their own country. Irishmen who came to England or who went to Scotland earned large wages, and those at home asked why it was that in Ireland wages were so small as compared with those paid to their countrymen elsewhere. That was a question which it was difficult to answer without going into political economy; but he believed that much discontent arose from the circum- 262 stance which suggested the question. It must be remembered that most of the emigrants were young people, whose labour had been lost to their own country; and he could not but think, therefore, that if the money which had been spent on emigration had been spent on the encouragement of trade and manufactures, a very different result would have followed. It was to the extension of trade and manufactures he looked for an improvement in the condition of Ireland; but, to bring that about, security of property must be a first condition. He, therefore, hoped that to secure this all friends of Ireland would at present apply their exertions. It was not enough when you had to deal with ignorance to make a statement of the hopelessness of insurrection. You must use some argument that would be unmistakably demonstrative. He believed that if 10,000 men could be sent over to Ireland, it would put an end to Fenianism at once. When a feeling of security was restored, he would be ready to vote for an inquiry into the cause of the unfortunate circumstances which had been brought under the notice of the House.
§ COLONEL VANDELEUR
said, he regretted that hon. Members should feel so much interest in making it appear that Ireland was disaffected. Some hon. Gentlemen spoke as if disaffection existed all over three of the Irish provinces. The county of Clare, which he represented, was essentially a Roman Catholic county, and it was not disaffected. He had had conversations with the clergy of both denominations, especially with the Roman Catholic clergy—with shopkeepers, farmers—with all classes, in fact, and the feeling they expressed was one of extreme horror of the conspiracy. The conspiracy was one got up in America in 1857 by Mr. O'Mahony and others, who appeared to think that the whole of Ireland was ready to join them. It was sought to be established in Ireland by American agents; but far from there being anything like a universal feeling of sympathy in Ireland with Fenianism, the farmers in that country feared that if the Fenians came over they would be ejected themselves—that the small holdings of the poor would fare no better than the large ones of the rich. In 1832 and 1834 the division of the land was the object sought to be achieved; and in 1843 and 1844, when immense meetings were held, the people did not assemble for nothing. They took part in the agitation 263 with the idea that when the English were expelled the landed proprietors would be expelled with them, and there would be a division of land. When, in 1848, physical succeeded to moral force, the leading idea still was a re-distribution and apportionment of the estates. In 1860, when a meeting presided over by the hon. Member for Tralee was held in Dublin, for the almost avowed purpose of inviting the French to land in Ireland, the late Mr. William Smith O'Brien wrote to the secretary of the meeting protesting, in the strongest language, against such a proceeding. Ireland had been in a state of agitation for the thirty years before the last two years—there was peace until the Fenian movement reached that country. He trusted that the Fenians would find the English Government was too strong for them. The Motion of the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) was in itself harmless, and it might be useful to institute an inquiry into the alleged grievances of Ireland; but if the Motion were carried, the people of Ireland would think the Fenians were right and had really something to complain of. It had been asserted that Fenianism was caused by the Church Establishment, and the opposition to what was called tenant-right. He did not concur in that view of the matter. The Fenians had nothing to say to the Established Church; and, as to tenant-right, he might remark that it was largely exercised in his county, and, indeed, he knew few landlords whe did not allow it. He denied also what the hon. Member for the city of Cork (Mr. Maguire) had stated—namely, that no tenants who had leases had left the country, for he knew several cases of such tenants having gone to America. Neither was it correct to state that the want of work was a reason for their going. He knew of hundreds of men who had been induced to join the Federal army, and who were under engagement to return to Ireland and join the Fenian movement. In his own town twenty young men, apprentices in different establishments, went all together to join the Federal army and several returned to Ireland; but when they heard that the Government were taking strong measures, and that the Commission was issued, they absconded, and no more was seen of them. In Dublin there were hundreds of such fellows lounging about the streets. This state of things was dangerous, but it certainly was not one which would be ameliorated by the Motion 264 brought forward by the hon. Member for Tralee, which he therefore hoped would not receive the sanction of the House.
said, that the discussion had assumed a very wide character, which was not unnatural considering the subject, but he ventured to recall the attention of the House to the proposal immediately before it. A paragraph in the Address treated of the Fenian conspiracy, and the Amendment proposed to be substituted for that paragraph had reference to the alleged causes of the sympathy which we were told, and which he believed, existed to a certain extent in Ireland with that conspiracy. Now, hon. Members who like himself were aware of the existence of those causes, but who, at the same time, were unwilling to give the slightest shadow of a reason for any one to believe that they did not entertain the utmost horror of the conspiracy itself, were placed by the Amendment in a very unpleasant position, for to vote for the omission of the clause would be as distasteful to them as to ignore the causes which led to this sympathy with Fenianism. There was another consideration which also influenced him in this matter, should his hon. Friend press his Motion to a division he would be in a very small minority. Now he feared this might be misunderstood in Ireland, and that the people of that country might, when they saw the body of English Liberals voting in the majority, mistake the significance of the division, and consider, however erroneously, that that party had refused to listen to their claims for redress; and that thus the union, or rather he might say re-union, which he was happy to say was taking place between English and Irish Liberals, might be in some sort endangered, and that good feeling which was growing up between them might run some risk of being impaired. He would, therefore, suggest to his hon. Friend the Member for Tralee, that should he succeed in eliciting from Her Majesty's Government a favourable expression of their views upon the subject of his Amendment, he would have done good service to his country and attained his object; and that he should not, under the circumstances, press it to a division. The Lord Lieutenant and his hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland at the Lord Mayor's dinner in Dublin the other day, gave utterance to certain sentiments as to the policy of the Government regarding Ireland. Should those sentiments be endorsed by the Government here 265 he thought that might fully satisfy his hon. Friend, as it certainly would him, as to their intentions. He took the liberty of addressing himself more particularly to the leader of the House, and saying that some of his speeches during the last Session had raised hopes in Ireland, and exercised large in fluence upon the late elections there; and the result was seen in the increased number of Liberals returned to the present Parliament as compared with the last. He begged very respectfully, then, to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, and to ask him merely to endorse the expressions of two Members of his own Government.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I have been anxious to follow this debate to its close, and to be guided entirely by the convenience of the House, in either confining myself to the single subject which has as yet been introduced into the discussions of this evening, or in addressing myself at once to remarks which any Gentleman might wish to make on any other topic adverted to in the Address. As however, during the whole of the evening, the attention of the House has been confined to a subject well worthy of that attention, I will follow the example of those who have addressed us this evening, and offer a few remarks on the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), reserving liberty to myself, if occasion should arise, and if other subjects should subsequently be introduced in the discussion on the entire question, to offer such explanation as may be required on the part of the Government. With respect to the debate of this evening, I cannot but begin by saying that I think those who have watched it through the many hours during which it has continued will agree with me in the belief that Ireland has no cause to be ashamed of the manner in which her case has been stated by her representatives; whether I look to the ability displayed; to the spirit of seriousness and earnestness which marked their speeches; to the strong and unequivocal language which they have held on the subject of the Fenian conspiracy; or last, and not least important, to the determined disposition they have shown to prefer the methods of constitutional action and discussion to other and less legitimate methods of advancing political ends. But, Sir, while acknowledging the ability, and even the spirit, of the hon. Member for Tralee, I must explain why it is impossible for the Government to accede 266 to the Motion which he has made. I take that Motion in the form in which he has himself laid it before the House, as a Motion to omit from our Address a paragraph corresponding with the paragraph in the Speech which related to Fenianism, and to substitute for it the words he has proposed. We are not prepared to part with the paragraph which relates to Fenianism. It has three objects. In the first place it aims at denouncing the conspiracy, which, as we believe, is subversive of all that a civilized community ought to cherish and maintain. I understand and respect the motives of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire), when he states that persons of pure and virtuous life are unhappily involved in sympathy with this conspiracy. It is an unhappy truth that, amid the infirmities of human nature, purity of intention is no uniform safeguard against the most serious errors. But we are not here to pass moral judgment upon our countrymen. We are here to denounce a great public evil; and this solemn denunciation which Her Majesty has been advised to utter from the Throne will, I trust, be sustained and re-echoed by the general and, I venture to hope, the unanimous judgment of the House. In the second place, the paragraph states a fact as important as it is gratifying. It is gratifying that this unhappy outbreak has developed in Ireland a public opinion which has sustained and strengthened the arm of law and authority, and has enabled the Government to walk firmly forward in the path of repression without fear without harshness, and without favour. The public opinion to which I refer is happily not dependent upon any one class or any one portion of the Irish people, however important or however powerful; but it represents, as has been truly said in the Speech and in the Address, all who are interested in the maintenance of authority, property, and religion without distinction of creed or sect. The hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley), however, in the tranquil period of the evening, uttered a protest against placing upon the same ground the disapprovals which have been emphatically declared by the Roman Catholic clergy, and those which have proceeded from other quarters, and which are entertained in every loyal heart and every enlightened mind. But, Sir, we differ from the hon. Member for Peterborough, as the especial object of this paragraph is to mark the satisfaction with which Her Majesty's 267 Government has announced, and with which this House receives the announcement, that all who feel an interest in the maintenance of property, authority, and religion, the three great pillars of civilized society, are, upon this occasion, at least, happily united, and determined to maintain the law, and to discountenance and condemn all who rise in opposition to the law. Lastly, Sir, as to the third object of this paragraph, I hope, indeed I feel sure from what I have heard in the course of this debate, that our intention is not disapproved when, in the language which describes the methods in which the law has been vindicated, we have invited the House to join with us, at least by implication, in expressing a general approval of those methods, as having been characterized by fairness as well as firmness. And, although hon. Gentlemen have reserved their judgment—as they had a perfect right to do—respecting the time when the necessity for repression began, still the opinions which have proceeded from every quarter of the House have expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the Executive as advised by the Law Officers of the Crown in Ireland. And here I may be permitted to congratulate the Attorney General for Ireland on the manner and results of the first acts of his official life. We cannot, therefore, willingly at least, part with the paragraph proposed. But let me refer to the paragraph suggested by the hon. Member for Tralee; and I will take it either as in substitution of, or as an addition to, that portion of the Address under discussion. He proposes that we should humbly express our very deep regret to Her Majesty that a wide-spread dissatisfaction exists in Ireland, and that we should humbly represent to Her Majesty that this wide-spread dissatisfaction is the result of causes which it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to examine into and remove. Now, Sir, in the first place, I doubt the wisdom or necessity of the formal announcement by this House of the statement that a wide-spread dissatisfaction exists in Ireland, which may be liable to much misrepresentation among persons not so well informed as ourselves of the actual state of the country. I further doubt the wisdom of representing that this dissatisfaction, which must be interpreted in the present instance as synonymous with Fenianism, is the result of certain grave causes which it is our duty to remove. My objections are twofold. In the first place, I am far from saying that 268 it intends to state that dissatisfaction is a justification or palliation of Fenianism; but, certainly, the proposed paragraph partakes too much of that character, or, at least, too easily permits that interpretation to be placed upon it. In the second place, I greatly object to stating that the evils of Ireland are the result of causes which it is our duty, thereby implying that it is in our power, to remove. Why, that very flattering and alluring suggestion? But because it is flattering and alluring, I suspect it, and hesitate to adopt it all the more. The evils of Ireland are inveterate. The hon. and gallant Member for Longford in an able speech to-night has well pointed out that, in a country where misgovernment or where oppression has prevailed, you must not expect that by removing the causes you will immediately get rid of the effect. You may withdraw the weapon which has caused the wound, but it does not follow that the process of healing will be immediate. Therefore, Sir, inveterate and complicated as is the great Irish question in all its branches, I hesitate to adopt any words which seem to pledge Parliament to a promise which it would be unable to fulfil. On these grounds, I respectfully object to the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman. But I confess that I think there is a still wider ground for objection. Her Majesty has had before her in this matter the case of a conspiracy subversive of law, order, property, and religion. It is well that Her Majesty, and that this House, when dealing with those who seek amendment of the law, should enter frankly upon the discussion raised; but these are not persons seeking amendment of the law. They are seeking to dismember the British Empire. Now, Sir, it appears to me that the Executive, in the face of a fact like this, had one duty to perform, not its only duty, but certainly its first duty, and one so distinct and important that nothing should be mixed up with the performance of that duty which can possibly be construed into a condition or a restriction. Therefore, I frankly own I am loth to the last degree in dealing with the subject of Fenianism in the Address in answer to the Speech, that we should place in connection with what we say upon that subject any promises of the nature I have described. Such promises may be well enough in their own place, provided they are limited in their terms, that the time be fitting, and that they be not liable to misunderstanding; but I submit that, either as a substitution for or addition to 269 the paragraph in the Address, they would not, if examined in the spirit of political prudence, be pronounced to be either in the right place, or Bet forth at the right time. I fully understand the anxiety of Irish Members who come to us and say-that in looking at an evil so portentous as Fenianism you must not be content with that view. But, Sir, having said that, and having strongly and clearly, or at least as strongly and clearly as I can, asserted our duty of confining ourselves in the Address we propose to present, to the denunciation of this great and monstrous evil, I fully understand the anxiety of Irish Members who come to us and say, that in looking at a phenomenon so portentous as Fenianism, you must not be content with that view of it which has exclusive reference to the means of repression. It is invariably true that in such cases as that which we are considering the guilt does not all lie on One side and the reason and right on the other; but that mixed motives and mixed considerations are to be found upon both sides. It may be that we should more properly look not so much for the cause; but, as I once heard it expressed with reference to another great case of discontent—to the causes of that cause—to that which is removed from Fenianism by many links perhaps; and it may be that these causes would form a proper and legitimate subject for the consideration of Parliament. Sir, the representatives of Irish constituencies have not shrunk from stating in this debate the subjects to which they, or some of them, think it right that the attention of Parliament should be directed, with a view to improving the state of Ireland. We have heard of the questions of the University, of National Education, of the Established Church, of the reclamation of waste land, of the tax on absentees, of tenant-right, of loans, of railways, and of general measures for promoting the material prosperity of Ireland. The noble Lord the Member for Cockermouth (Lord Naas) has given a fair description of these subjects. Taken in the mass, be says they are fair questions for the consideration of Parliament. I suppose he does not mean to pledge himself by any means to the practicable character of each and all of those subjects. It would be impossible for Parliament to venture upon making promises with regard to them. Vague promises, general comprehensive and sweeping promises, would result in infinite difficulty, especially when addressed to people whose 270 minds are yet sore and sensitive with the recollection of former wrongs. They would, moreover, create little confidence, convey little comfort, and only tend to bring into difficulty and to hamper the body by which they were made. Now, Sir, what I submit is this. There are some of these questions already in motion; there are others of them which it is the intention, or may be the intention, of Members representing various constituencies to bring under the consideration of the House. Let the Government be judged upon each of these questions as it arises, in the spirit in which it attempts to deal with them. I have been asked whether we approve the language which has been used by the representatives of the Government in Ireland in respect to their general views and principles as to the way in which the administration in that country should be carried on. Not being cognizant of the precise terms of that language, it is impossible to give a categorical reply; but I may say that my noble Friend and my right hon. Friend, who represent the Government in Ireland, have been chosen by Her Majesty to represent it on the ground that the principles on which we know they are prepared to act, and therefore the language in which we should expect them to speak, are the principles and are the language by which we wish ourselves to be represented to the people of Ireland. Sir, our first duty is to condemn the folly, the madness, and the deep guilt of this conspiracy. I respect the sentiment, for I see it to be a sentiment of high honour, which has prevented the hon. Member for Tralee from saying he joins in the emphatic condemnation of Fenianism. I am certain it is not because he does not condemn it; but, at the same time, I feel that the more clear, distinct, and unequivocal our language on the subject is, not only the better do we discharge our duty to the Throne, to the law, and to our constituents, but the greater mercy we show to the deluded persons who are at once the agents and the victims of this conspiracy. But, Sir, having said this, I concur with those who say that the existence, and the emerging from a conspiracy like this, so far from taking away any duty, any obligation of the Legislature and the Government to examine into Irish evils, with a sincere desire to improve the condition of the country, on the contrary, raises that obligation to its highest point. Nor is that merely in deference to the 271 dictates of political expediency, and the obvious necessity of avoiding the mischief consequent upon the existence of such a conspiracy. It is due from us also, in acknowledgment and in gratitude for the strong and genuine Irish sentiment which has been developed upon this painful and critical—but yet, perhaps, in some respects beneficial—occasion, which has given to the law, and to the representatives of the law, a strength such as in that country they never before enjoyed. The noble Lord the Member for Cockermouth (Lord Naas), and other hon. Members, have enumerated the great results which have been attained to Ireland, by Irish Members making their appeal on the subject of the welfare of their country to the Imperial Parliament. If those great works of improvement which have been already performed have now re-acted beneficially upon Ireland in such a way as to marshal on our side more than ever before was known all the best sentiment, conviction, and intelligence of the country, that I say is at once the greatest of all encouragements, and the highest of all obligations, to lead us to persevere in the carrying forward of such works. Sir, for my own part, I can only beg to say that which I have often presumed to say in this House. We are an united people, with a common Government, and a complete political incorporation. But we are also an united kingdom made up of three nations, of three countries welded politically into one, but necessarily and in fact with many distinctions of law, of usage, of character, of history, and of religion. In circumstances such as these there are common questions which must be administered upon principles common to the whole Empire—all those questions in which the interests of the whole overbear and swallow up the interests of the part. The composition of the Government must be determined, not by domicile or birthplace, but by the competence of those who are chosen to fill offices of State. The levying of taxes and the administration of the public revenue must, it is obvious, be governed by principles applicable to the three kingdoms alike—alike as a general rule, subject, possibly, in certain cases, to exception. But, if there be exceptions, they should be well defined as exceptions, they should be thoroughly understood by the three kingdoms as exceptions; and, above all, if there are exceptions made in behalf of one particular country, they should not 272 be made in favour of class, party, or place in that country, but to the whole of that country alike. But, Sir, there are many other questions in regard to which, in England, in Scotland, in Ireland, that interest which is English, Scotch, or Irish respectively predominates over that which is common. Those are the questions which, when they relate to Ireland, I apprehend we ought commonly to call Irish questions. With respect to all the questions that fall into that category, we ought of course to apply to Ireland the same principles on which we act in the other countries, not making the opinion of the one country overrule the opinions and settle the questions belonging to the others, but dealing with the subjects and the interests of each as nearly as we can in accordance with the views and sentiments of the natives of that country. Sir, I hope, therefore, that while this House will avoid 'giving forth to the world vague promises capable of misapprehension, I also hope that as each subject connected with the condition of Ireland comes before us, we shall be able to treat it, if it be specifically Irish, with a special view to Irish objects and interests. I say this whether the questions may lie in the sphere especially of the mind and the feelings of men, as do those connected with education and religion, or whether they may refer to political arrangements or social arrangements; or whether they may refer to that other class of subjects well worthy, indeed, of the attention of Parliament which are connected with the material prosperity of Ireland.' And I frankly own I cling to the hope, though quite unable to define the precise extent or even the precise manner in which Parliament may be able to realize that hope, that it may be possible for England to do hereafter that which she has often done before, to assist with a liberal hand, perhaps, under improved circumstances, and with views matured by experience, to promote the development of that material prosperity. It is in that way we can best hope to attain the object well described by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) to-night, when he said that it is our duty to destroy the trade of the conspirator. It is our duty to restrain and to repress his acts, strongly to denounce them in their character and their tendency; but it is our duty above all, if we can, to destroy his trade, pursuing that system of practical legislation by which, as has been observed, so much progress has already been made rallying on 273 the side of the law and the Government all the best sentiments and feelings of the country, by which we hope to contribute alike to its welfare, and to the credit, and the honour, and the dignity of the British Empire.
said, he had been urged by many of his hon. Friends to withdraw the Amendment, and to add the words to, instead of substituting them for, the paragraph in the Address. He wished, therefore, to withdraw the Amendment.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the Amendment was in possession of the House, and that it was for the House to decide whether they would grant permission to the hon. Gentleman to make the change he proposed.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
To add, at the end of the same paragraph, the words "Humbly to express our deep regret to Her Majesty that wide-spread disaffection exists in Ireland, and humbly to represent to Her Majesty that this wide-spread disaffection is the result of grave causes, which it is the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to examine into and remove."—(The O'Donoghue.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 25; Noes 346: Majority 321.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
rose to move the adjournment of the debate Although it had occupied the unusual period of two nights, the House bad only touched upon two subjects; but there was a question more important than either of them which had not yet been referred to—namely, the subject of Parliamentary Reform, concerning which they had had no information from Her Majesty's Government. He therefore thought it desirable they should adjourn the debate until tomorrow night.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the Government had no desire to avoid discussion upon all the points of the Speech; but they stood in a peculiar position. His right hon. Friend (Sir George Grey) had given notice of a Bill upon the subject of the cattle plague for Monday, and another hon. Member (Mr. Hunt) had likewise expressed his intention of raising 274 the same question. It was exceedingly desirable that the House should not run any risk of the postponement of that subject; but as the Report of the Address must be brought up the day after the debate was concluded, there would be no security against the cattle plague question being thrown over if the present debate were adjourned. Upon that ground he would suggest that the Address should be allowed to pass, and then a full opportunity would be afforded to raise discussion upon it on the Report to-morrow (this day).
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee appointed, to draw up an Address to be presented to Her Majesty upon the said Resolution;—Lord FREDERICK CAVENDISH, Mr. GRAHAM, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, Sir GEORGE GREY, Mr. SECRETARY CARDWELL, Sir CHARLES WOOD, Mr. MILNER GIBSON, Mr. VILLIERS, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, The LORD ADVOCATE, and Mr. CHILDERS, or any Three of them:—To withdraw immediately:—Queen's Speech referred.