§ (Lord Naas, Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ [BILL 165.] SECOND READING.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Lord Naas.)
§ MR. MAGUIRE
Sir, it is quite impossible that the grave proposition now before the House can be allowed to pass without some remark on the part of Irish Members. The subject is of as much importance as any which has claimed the attention of Parliament this Session, and I desire to refer to it on an occasion which challenges observation—the second reading of a Bill for extending the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, or, in other words, suspending the constitutional liberties of an entire nation. But, Sir, there is a matter connected with the Bill now before the House which not only calls for its attention, but requires from the Government a distinct and satisfactory explanation of what, without such explanation, would seem to involve their honour as the responsible Advisers of the Crown. 943 To render the matter intelligible, I must go back somewhat, but not further than the commencement of the present Session. Parliament was opened on the 5th of February with the usual Speech from the Throne, and in that Speech Her Majesty was made to state that the measures taken by the Government had "rendered hopeless any attempt to disturb the general tranquillity." Then follow these words:—I trust that you may consequently be enabled to dispense with the Continuance of any exceptional Legislation for that Part of My Dominions.Here is a formal announcement from the Throne that the continuance of the Suspension Act is no longer necessary, and that the time had come when the constitutional liberties of the country could be safely restored. Was this an honest bonâ fide announcement, or was it a flourish of trumpets with which to open a Session with éclat? But not only was this announcement made to Parliament in the Queen's Speech, but there was a special proclamation of the intentions of Government made to the people of Ireland from the hustings in Galway. It was on the occasion of the promotion of Mr. Morris to the office of Attorney General. Addressing the electors of Galway, the right hon. Gentleman used these words, as reported in The Freeman—He came before them as Her Majesty's Attorney General in this kingdom, and he was proud to announce that upon his advice and responsibility the Executive of this country had come to the conclusion it was safe—that it was more than sate—that the people of Ireland should live under a free constitution; and that measures which he supposed were necessary for the public welfare, although personally he might have had doubts even of that—were no longer needed—that the time had come when it could go forth that the loyalty and conduct of the preponderating majority of the people of Ireland were such that they were not to be kept at the mercy of a suspended constitution.But, Sir, what happened in a fortnight after the solemn utterance from the Throne, and the joyful proclamation from the hustings at Galway? The Government came to both Houses of Parliament, and demanded a continuance of the Suspension Act. What was the meaning of this contradiction? What is the explanation which the Irish Secretary can offer for the Irish Executive? When moving the second reading of the Bill, Lord Derby said he ought rather apologize to the House for having held out a delusive hope in the Speech from the Throne; and when he came to clear up the mystery of the speech 944 of his Irish Attorney General, he was as unlike Lord Derby as possible; for the explanation was about as satisfactory as that which Joseph Surface gives to Sir Peter when the screen falls and reveals the French Milliner in the person of Lady Teazle. Parliament was opened on the 5th of February with the assurance that exceptional legislation was no longer necessary; but in a fortnight after that legislation was unanimously passed by both Houses. On the 6th of March an armed insurrection took place, and ended happily without the effusion of blood—a result at which I rejoice with every right-minded man, not alone in this House, but in the country. But the armed insurrection did take place on the 6th of March. We now come to a step further — to the trial of Burke and Doran for high treason. Who was the chief witness for the Crown? Whose evidence was it that tightened the rope round the neck of Burke, assuming that the Government are reckless and desperate enough to put the sentence in force? The witness who was next in importance to Massey was Corydon, and upon his evidence the Crown chiefly relied. Now let the House see what Corydon asserted. Why the very last question asked by the Crown, in his direct examination, was this—Have you not been in communication with the authorities since last September?On his cross-examination he swears he began to give information in September. He is asked—Did you tell the authorities the rising was contemplated?—I did.Did you give the names of the places where the American officers could be arrested?—I did.Did you know of your own knowledge that those places were watched by the police?—I did.And that continued during the months of September, October, November, December, January?—It did.Here is still more important evidence. He is asked—Did you give information to the police authorities in Ireland?—I did.Was it verbally, or in writing?—Writing.How often were you in the habit of giving them information?—Very often.He is asked was it as often as two or three times a week? Here is his answer—Yes; whenever I had anything of importance to communicate.According to the sworn statement of this Corydon — this Government spy and informer—this instrument in their pay—he was in constant, almost daily, communica- 945 tion with them from the 16th of September to the opening of Parliament; and yet the announcement of the 5th of February was made in the Royal Speech, notwithstanding that the spy of the Government had been keeping them fully acquainted with every particular of the movement then going on. How is this to be explained? And surely it requires explanation at the hands of the Government. If the Government were in the daily receipt of information from their chief informer, why did they announce that there was no prospect of the peace of the country being disturbed, and no further necessity for the continuance of exceptional legislation? I ask the Government is Corydon a perjurer as well as a spy, or is he worthy of confidence? If he is a perjurer, why was his evidence relied on against accused men? If his evidence was reliable, how came it that the Government stated in the Queen's Speech that there was no further necessity for exceptional legislation? Furthermore—and this is a matter of much graver importance—why had the Government allowed the attempt at armed insurrection to take place on the 6th of March? Here, Sir, is a problem which I admit is bewildering to my mind — either Corydon was a perjurer, and therefore one who ought not to be pitted against the lives and liberties of men, or the Government had full information of every step of the conspiracy, and yet allowed it to mature into insurrection before they interfered to crush it. We have heard of such things being justified by the dark policy of a Castlereagh; but any attempt to carry out such a policy at the present day, is not only opposed to the manly spirit of the English people, but must be characterized as mean, dastardly, and wicked. Lord Derby, on the 25th of February, used these words in "another place"—Lord Naas, on returning to town before Christmas, did express a strong opinion that we should be able to do what we all unanimously regarded as desirable—namely, to allow the Suspension Act to expire, and to rely upon the ordinary law for preserving the peace in Ireland"—
§ MR. MAGUIRE
Then after Christmas makes the case stronger, as it was nearer to the time when Parliament was opened with the Speech from the Throne. But the noble Earl added—Whether, owing to the expectations created by the announcement of the speedy expiring of the Act, or to a belief that the Act had actually 946 expired, certain it is that immediately after that declaration there was a renewal of excitement."—[3 Hansard, clxxxv. 912.]Therefore Lord Derby held his own Government responsible for the renewal of the excitement. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen say "No, no!" but at any rate the excitement, as Lord Derby said, followed on the declaration made in the Royal Speech. I shall leave this part of the subject with one remark — that, in my judgment, what has been stated requires a distinct and clear explanation on the part of Her Majesty's Government. I myself do not venture to pronounce an opinion on it, really not knowing what to think of it, or how to reconcile its seeming contradiction. It has, as the noble Lord must be aware, excited the profoundest feeling in Ireland, and been made the subject of comment, not only in the Irish press, but in the press of England. If the Government answer, so as to satisfy the House and the country, then, Sir, they may thank me for having afforded them the opportunity of a formal reply. But, Sir, there is something of far greater importance to occupy our attention than the continued suspension of the Habeas Corpus for a few months longer—that is, the circumstance in which Ireland is found at the present moment. It is now sixty-seven years since those who went before you deprived Ireland of the power of legislating for herself. It is sixty-seven years since England assumed the responsibility of managing the affairs of that country, and you, the Parliament of this day, are the inheritors of that responsibility. And what have you done—what are you doing—in discharge of that responsibility? You seem determined to push one measure to completion, and that measure one for suspending the liberties of the Irish people. What is the condition in which you find that country after your sixty-seven years of management? In a state of chronic insurrection. Can that be denied? I appeal to English Gentlemen earnestly in a matter which affects their honour as the inheritors of a great trust, and I ask them, who in all their private relations are men of kindness and justice, and who would willingly do no wrong — I appeal to them whether the condition of things in Ireland is creditable to them as legislators, or creditable to the Government of England. The condition of things in Ireland is not, I admit, owing to the desire to do wrong, but owing to 947 the neglect or indifference of this House. I beg of hon. Gentlemen not to deceive themselves by regarding the Fenian movement as one purely American. There could not be a more foolish or a more dangerous delusion. Had there been peace and contentment in Ireland, we never should have heard of Fenianism—it is the discontent which exists in Ireland that supplies fuel to the flame. If there were prosperity and content in Ireland under English rule, the idea of an insurrection promoted from the other side of the Atlantic would be simply pooh-poohed. The fuel which feeds the flame is the permanent discontent of the Irish people, arising from the neglect of its duties and responsibilities by Parliament. Do you require proof of this? If so, I have it at hand. Some twenty years ago the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer drew a vivid and masterly picture of Ireland, which in all its broad features is as true now as it was then. He said—That dense population in extreme distress inhabited an island where there was an Established Church, which was not their Church, and a territorial aristocracy, the richest of whom lived in distant capitals. Thus they had a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien Church; and, in addition, the weakest Executive in the world. That was the Irish question.The right hon. Gentleman also used an expression which I dare not, at least at this moment, venture to make my own, lest I should be charged with complicity with Fenianism. The right hon. Gentleman said—What would hon. Gentlemen say if they were reading of a country in that position? They would say at once, 'The remedy is revolution.'Let the Conservatives of England remember that these words have been uttered by their Leader, a man of whom they are justly proud. The right hon. Gentleman wound up his speech with these significant words, which I fully endorse. And I ask him simply to legislate on that policy—The moment they had a strong Executive, a just administration, and ecclesiastical equality, they would have order in Ireland, and the improvement of the physical condition of the people would follow."—[3 Hansard, lxxii. 1016.]Yet, Sir, notwithstanding these utterances, it was declared a few nights ago by the Colleagues of that right hon. Gentleman, that the ecclesiastical inequality which still exists in Ireland was a dream of the imagination — that the "alien Church" was not a real grievance, but a sentimental grievance—that it could not be felt 948 by the Roman Catholic population of 4,500,000, unless it could be proved that they suffered in pounds, shillings, and pence. Sir, a greater outrage on the honour and pride of the Catholics of Ireland could not be uttered than in the assertion that the existence of the Established Church was a mere sentimental grievance. At any rate, the "alien Church" still exists in that country. Then as to the fundamental question of the land, how do we stand at this moment? You are toying and trifling with this question, while you are passing a measure to suspend the liberties of the people. It is true, the Order is still on the Paper, but there are two Notices with respect to it—one by an English Member, who knows nothing whatever about it, that it be got rid of by discharge—the other by a Northern Irish Member, that it be read this day six months. There is one feature wanted to complete the picture of the "Irish question" drawn by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. "What do we behold this day? The people are leaving the country at the rate of 100,000, or 120,000 a year—and these not the old, the decrepid, the broken-down, but the young, the vigorous, the active, and the intelligent—the very class who are welcomed with open arms in other countries. The right hon. Gentleman lately described this gigantic emigration—this rush—as a national hæmorrhage, for which it was the duty of Parliament to provide a styptic. But, Sir, Parliament has provided no styptic, and the exodus still continues unchecked. There are many Gentlemen in this House, and many more out of doors, who regard this hæmorrhage—this wasting away of the national life blood—as the solution of the difficulty. Never was there a greater mistake. This Irish migration is full of danger. But it is also discreditable to Parliament. One of your ablest men, the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill), well said, that when a people were rushing from the shores of their country their rules were ipso facto condemned. A writer in The Times lately took a cheerful view of this emigration—this hæmorrhage; he asserted it had a cheerful aspect, which a few years would disclose. I can see nothing cheerful in it—nothing for Ireland—nothing for England. I admit it may be good for the individual, and that if he selects the right place for his special industry, and combine sobriety with patient energy, he has every 949 chance of becoming an independent member of a free community. The Times remarked some time ago that the Irish were "going with a vengeance," and the writer was not then conscious of the force and meaning of those words. Sir, they have been going, and are going, and will still go, "with a vengeance." That feeling of vengeance crosses the ocean with them, follows them on the prairie, into the forest, down into the mine, into the busy haunts of men — it is with them in their daily toil, it returns with them to their dwelling—it is transmitted by them to their children and their children's children. I tell hon. Gentlemen that they deceive themselves if they imagine there is no danger in the future. A Catholic Bishop, the right rev. Dr. Keane, who resides at Queenstown, whence the people are flying at the rate of 2,000 a week, warned a Committee of this House of this danger, when he declared that no language which he could employ could represent the intense feeling of hatred of England with which the emigrants quitted this country. Therefore, so far from this emigration, or hæmorrhage, being a solution of the difficulty, it is only an aggravation of danger. There is no doubt of this — that every 100,000 who leave Ireland with such feelings as are rather indicated than described, only add to the danger, because they are multiplying the number of the enemies of England. You cannot extirpate a whole nation, for it would take twenty years to get rid of 2,000,000 more; but every year tends to swell the strength of your undying enemies, and to increase a source of permanent and abiding danger. In the interests of peace, which I desire to preserve, and of this Empire, which I would wish to strengthen through just legislation, I warn the House and the country of the danger which exists—which I believe and know to exist. But let hon. Gentlemen rely rather on the authority of an Englishman than upon mine. A few weeks ago my attention was called to a remarkable letter in The Daily News, from its New York Correspondent. The writer betrayed in that letter the bitterest hostility to Irishmen in America, and employed every word of scorn and contumely for its expression; but on two occasions in his letter he warned English statesmen of the imperative necessity of dealing promptly and vigorously with the Irish difficulty, by the removal of every Irish grievance, for he said that the Irish were 950 "multiplying enormously," and that they were certain to drag America into war with England on the first opportunity; and he showed, by reference to frequent elections, how the institutions of America afford to parties the inducement to play into the hands, and pander to the prejudices or to the passions of so powerful and active an element as the Irish. The writer again and again warned England, that unless Irish grievances were removed, and the people at home rendered prosperous and happy, the terrible result which he dreaded would occur. I can personally endorse the statement, and I earnestly enforce that warning. Now, Sir, let me be distinctly understood as to my own opinion and feeling on this grave subject, which I deal with in all solemnity. Such an event as a war between England and America I should regard as one of the greatest calamities that could befall the sister country, inasmuch as Ireland would be made the battle-field of the contending parties, and, whoever triumphed, Ireland would be sure to have the worst of it. Englishmen are proverbially a brave and stiff-necked race, and are not to be daunted by threat or menace. That I know, and I mean nothing of the kind; but let them not imagine that they would not suffer from a war with America. A twelve months', or even a six months' war with America would be fatal to England. This is, no doubt, a great country; but great in what? She is great for her manufactures, and commerce, and industry. Let war be declared; let a fleet of Alabamas sweep the seas; let the commerce of England become unsafe; let the rate of insurance go up; and where would she find a vent for her manufactures? "What would become of her multitudinous population in her hives of industry—in her mills, her factories, and her mines? Why, she could not support them for three months with her own corn or her own produce. On the other hand, America would be safe. Her seaboard might be ravaged, and her towns bombarded, but no blow could be aimed at the heart of the vast and gigantic Continent, for America could do what England could not — she could feed her myriad people. In her isolation, so advantageous in the time of peace, with the ocean an uninterrupted highway, would England find her greatest danger in time of war. I venture to say that your late and present Ambassadors — Lord Lyons and Sir Frederick Bruce—could they speak with 951 freedom, would corroborate me as to the feeling which exists in America on the part of the Irish portion of the population, and as to the wisdom of removing every just cause for Irish discontent at home. The fact is, there is a larger Irish population at the other side of the Atlantic than there is at this side of the Atlantic, and the only means which there is in your power of propitiating the Irish in America is by doing justice to the Irish in Ireland. The people of Ireland should be made so contented that every man would say to their brethren in America, in event of hostilities being threatened by the United States, "For God's sake, don't disturb us; we are happy and prosperous as we are; any war between the two countries would be the greatest calamity that could happen to us, and in the name of our common race, don't provoke it." Neither let it be supposed that the danger is confined to those who are Fenians so-called. I have met hundreds, nay thousands of Irishmen in America who had no sympathy with Fenianism, who even denounced it as an imposture, but who said that if they saw any real opportunity of helping Ireland against this country, they would be content to sacrifice half what they were worth in the world to do so. Still there were many among men of this class who detested the idea of war, and who only desired to know that their brethren in the old country were happy and contented. Give to Irishmen at home something like the same land tenure and the same religious equality which you have given to the people of Canada and the other British colonics, and you will then lay the foundation for future contentment and tranquillity. What I have said has been in an earnest and an honest spirit—with the sole view of drawing the attention of Parliament to a state of things, at home and abroad, which I know to be full of misery and danger. If my motives are misunderstood, I cannot help that; but I do implore a thoughtful consideration of the facts which I have mentioned. For my part, I have no hesitation in stating what I desire to see. I wish to see the state of things in Ireland such that if an appeal were made to the valour of the Irish in defence of the Empire, there should be but one response from all parts of the country. To do that, as the right hon. Gentleman himself has said in former Parliaments, you must make the people contented by improving their physical con- 952 dition, by a wise administration, and by impartial laws. Then, and not till then, will you be able to rely on the loyalty and the attachment of the Irish people. In conclusion, I will only ask of this House to act in the spirit of the great principles laid down by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer; and, no matter what momentary irritation there may be still lingering in the mind and heart of the people, you will turn over a new leaf in the history of Ireland.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
Having heard the speech of the hon. Gentleman, I ask myself for what purpose was that speech made, and I find it very difficult to answer the question. The hon. Gentleman began by assailing the Government concerning the late Fenian outbreak, and said it behoved the Government to answer the question he put. What was the question? That being in communication with one of the Irishmen who betrayed their friends, which always happens, the Government in spite of his asseverations said they believed that Ireland would be peaceful, and the Queen in Her Speech said so, whereas it turned out that Ireland was not peaceful. Was the Government to blame for that? No; but they were to blame for this—that men were tried and convicted upon the information and evidence of informers. I want to know when it has ever happened that in a conspiracy you can convict anybody except by the evidence of conspirators. These persons were convicted upon the evidence of an informer. But did that informer speak the truth? After their conviction the prisoners admitted it. They said they would do again what they had done. What had they done? They had conspired against England, and were properly convicted. Is there any answer to that? Can anybody say that the trials were unjust? Never were there fairer, more merciful, more considerate, more thoroughly just trials. Yet the hon. Gentleman accuses the Government of doing something wrong. There has been nothing wrong. Then the hon. Gentleman rushes into the whole subject of Irish grievances. In the first place, I will make an admission. Up to 1829 nothing could have been worse than the Government of Ireland. I allow that. But from that time to this the House has been doing all it could to alleviate the physical, the constitutional, and the moral injuries of Ireland. There have, however, been ob- 953 stacles, and among the chief of those is the language used by hon. Gentlemen. Can hon. Members believe that their poor, uneducated, miserable countrymen in Ireland can see the truth and the right when they themselves, gentlemen in their position, in this House, and before the people of England, dare to say we are unjust to Ireland? I say that a more foul calumny, a more gigantic falsehood, was never uttered. ["Oh!"]
§ MR. MAGUIRE
I rise to order. I wish to ask you, Sir, as the highest authority in this House, is that language consistent with the usages of Parliament?
§ MR. SPEAKER
Certainly not, if it was addressed to any particular Member of this House, or pointed at any particular allegation.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
I did not intend to point at any particular Member. But I say if anybody asserts that in its Constitutional efforts to assist the people of Ireland this House has forgotten the miseries of Ireland—that this House in its legislation has set up its own individual benefit in contradistinction to that of the Empire at large—it is a glaring falsehood.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I think the terms used by the hon. and learned Gentleman are hardly such as should be used in this House.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
I always bow, Sir, to your commands, and if you think that I have said anything but the truth I withdraw the expression? But I ask what is this House to do. "Oh!" says the hon. Member, "relieve the miseries of the Irish people." How is that to be done? "By legislation," says the hon. Member. By what legislation? Then he points to the Irish Church. Now, can any man in his senses believe that the poor people of Ireland are made wretched by the existence of the National Church? Nobody dislikes hierarchical ambition or the predominance of priests more than I do, and I do not like one priest more than another. But I cannot understand how persons in this House can say that the House of Commons is not well disposed, conciliatory, and in every way anxious to do justice to the Irish people. Then you talk about the relations between landlord and tenant. Sir, Englishmen are very much accustomed to apply the habits of their own country to other countries. What is the habit of 954 England in this matter? To leave the landlord and the tenant to settle their own private affairs. I want to know why Irishmen cannot do the same? Then we are told that Irishmen are rushing from the country in millions. I think that a very happy thing. I will tell you why. They benefit themselves by going. A man goes from Ireland to America. He becomes wealthy. He is happy in his circumstances. He is relieved from the misery he endured in his own country. He therefore benefits himself. But besides that he benefits those he leaves behind. He relieves the labour market. But what happens? I know full well, without the aid of the hon. Member to tell me. He carries out of his country a burning hatred of England. But is that just? Is it the feeling of a wise man? No. It is the feeling of an ignorant peasant. But it ought not to be the feeling of the hon. Member. But the peasant is in misery. Why? Not because England is there. Was ever the Irish peasant out of misery whether England was there or not? He is not in misery because of England, he is in misery because of the state of things in his own country. Not the political state of things, but a state of things over which no Government can have control. The man is in misery. He leaves his country. In his heart he feels an enmity towards somebody, and his enmity is directed by hon. Gentlemen who say that it is all owing to the Government of England. In 1798 or 1803, when men went abroad, it was through the misconduct, cruelty, and injustice of Government. That those men should have had in their hearts a burning hatred of England I can understand. But how a man can go out of Ireland in 1867, if he were taught to think fairly and justly of the state of Ireland, and believe that he was a victim of Government wrong, I cannot understand. Government has nothing to do with it. Let us consider the state of Ireland as compared with England. First, as to the law. Is not justice as well administered? Can any one say that injustice is done to any individual because the English Government is there? In criminal law, in civil law, in every relation of life, is not perfect justice rendered to every man in Ireland. Sir, I assert that it is, and I dare anybody—not to contradict it, because I know the hardihood of contradiction — but to prove the contrary. Are not their ports open as 955 ours to perfect freedom of trade? Is there any coercion in that quarter. Can you put your finger on any point of the law of Ireland in which the Irish people are worse treated than the people of England? You talk of the state of the Irish peasant. Is his position different from that of the English peasant? But there is a dominant Church in Ireland. You say, and it is true, that the Roman Catholics are a large majority of the people of Ireland, But the Dissenters of England are a large proportion of the people of England. ["No!"] You may say what you like; but the Dissenters of England form a large portion of the population. I do not say they are the majority. Take that large portion of the people of England, and compare their position with that of the Irish Roman Catholic. Is there any difference? There is a dominant Church in England. You call it a dominant Church; but was there ever a church more gentle, more humane? [A laugh.] I want to know what sort of a mind has the man who laughs at that? It must be a distempered, a disordered, a perverted mind. To say that the Church of England is a domineering Church is utterly false. It is a milder and less ascetic Church than any Church in the world. Its leaders are scholars, gentlemen, and Christians. Would I could say that of every Church. Well, I have taken the criminal law of the two countries, their civil law, their commercial institutions, their ecclesiastical relations. I ask boldly, what is there in the state of the people of Ireland—"the trampled-down people of Ireland," to adopt the language generally used—to distinguish them from our countrymen on this side of the Channel? Sir, there is no difference. It is by discourses like that we have just heard addressed to people suffering from calamity, poured into the ear of the nation, telling them that their misery arises not from excesses beyond control, but from the Government to which they are subject, that the feeling of hatred to this country is nursed and perpetuated. I say there is nothing more mischievous. The hon. Gentleman may talk of his good intentions; but there is a place I shall not mention, which is said to be paved with good intentions. I believe nothing can be more mischievous, nothing could do more injury to the country of the hon. Gentleman, than a speech like that we have just heard.
I wish to make an observation or two on the speech of the hon. 956 and learned Gentleman, which is very much like that which he has delivered before on two or three occasions when Irish questions were before the House. I think in this speech he did my hon. Friend (Mr. Maguire) great injustice. With regard to the point before the House—the further suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act—I understood my hon. Friend to ask a question of the noble Lord (Lord Naas) with regard to the conduct of the Government in reference to the evidence of one of the informers. My hon. Friend's charge against the Government—I will not say charge, but will say question—my hon. Friend's question is a very fair one. I think that every Member of the House will admit it is a necessary question, and one that should be put and answered. As I understood him, his statement is this:—At the beginning of the Session the Government proposed to restore the Constitution to Ireland and discontinue the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. They stated in this and in the other House of Parliament, in the Queen's Speech, and by the mouth of the late Attorney General for Ireland at his re-election, that from the state of Ireland they were sure that this could then be safely done. The late Attorney General for Ireland used an expression peculiar, I suppose, to his country—he said it was even more than safe. At that time—and from the end of last Session to the beginning of the present Session, and to a later period, every month and week, nay, twice a week, this informer, on whose evidence, two men were condemned to death, was communicating constantly with the Government, giving them the most minute information of the various meetings of the conspirators, of the plans in contemplation, and of the time of the projected rising. I presume that the noble Lord and the Irish Government in Dublin knew as much of the progress of the conspiracy as the conspirators themselves. My hon. Friend says, if that were true, why did the Government when Parliament met propose to discontinue the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act? Another and more important question put by my hon. Friend to the Government is this—"Why did not you, knowing that this unfortunate combination was gathering strength and coming to a head, arrest, under the powers that Parliament gave you, the leading men of the conspiracy, on every one of whom you could place 957 your finger—whose names are in your office — and whose weekly transactions were reported to you by this informer?" If you had done so you might have prevented the rising of the 6th of March. You might have also prevented the necessity for trying the men for high treason in the Courts in Dublin who are now lying under sentence of death. That is a fair question to put to the Government, and the House of Commons has a right to have that question answered. I did not understand my hon. Friend to say that the Chief Secretary could be a person that would wish to encourage a conspiracy until it broke out in open insurrection, to have the satisfaction of a bloody vengeance. Every man who knows the noble Lord as I know him, from having seen him in this House for many years, must feel convinced that he is actuated by the kindest and most just feelings towards Ireland in the execution of the office he holds. But this is a case in which my hon. Friend is justified in asking this question and demanding an explanation That was the object of my hon. Friend, and the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) contradicted him. I said the other day that the hon. and learned Gentleman was always ready to contradict everybody. He gets up now and not only contradicts my hon. Friend, but makes him make a speech he never made—and then he contradicts that. He reminds me of a case I saw the other day in the newspapers, in which a man objected to serve on a jury. The Judge said he was wrong in making the objection, because every man should be willing to serve as a juror, and therefore he could not excuse him. The man then said, "I am not fit to be a juryman, for never in my whole life was I able to agree with any one." But the Judge encouraged him to act, and told him he should serve as a juryman. He then said that was not his only infirmity, for he had discovered that he was not able to agree with himself. That is the case with the hon. and learned Gentleman. On every occasion on which the hon. and learned Gentleman has addressed the House during the two or three last Sessions he has in the most distinct manner contradicted almost everything he said during the former years of his life. He insists upon it now that the people of Ireland have no grievance. This is his unsupported assertion against the evidence 958 of an entire people. No one denies that it is the universal opinion of the Roman Catholic population of Ireland that in that country there are grievances to which this House does not pay attention. I am able to say—what every Member who comes from Ireland can also say—that this opinion is not confined to the Roman Catholic population, but that there is found to prevail amongst a vast number of the Protestant population as strong a feeling of condemnation respecting the usual course of conducting Irish affairs as exists amongst the Roman Catholics themselves. I would prefer the evidence of a whole nation as to their grievances to the dogmatic assertion of the hon. and learned Gentleman to the House. But he has ventured to particularize. He asks the House what difference there is between the Roman Catholics in Ireland and the Dissenters in England. I am a Dissenter in England—a Dissenter of Dissenters. I disapprove not only of the Church of England, but of all Established Churches. But I do not feel the Established Church in England to be a grievance to me in the sense I should feel the Established Church in Ireland to be a grievance to me if I were an Irishman and a member of the Roman Catholic Church. The difference is enormous.
I am glad to hear the hon. Gentleman's explanation. I shall proceed to tell him how. In England the Established Church is at least as old as Dissent. At the time when Dissent became an existence and a power in England, and previously to that, the Established Church was the Church of all the people. It did not confiscate the property of Dissenters, or any of the ecclesiastical funds which they, as Dissenters, had ever possessed. The Established Church remained, as it had ever, a great Institution of the State. Men who held different opinions—the Nonconformists of that day—gradually withdrew from it, because they found in their own Nonconformist organizations what was a greater solace in the performance of worship. They—I speak of the bulk—did not feel that the clergymen and the people about the Church had turned them out, confiscated their revenues, or supplanted them. They withdrew voluntarily from the Established Church. Al- 959 though they might not believe that an Established Church was a good thing, yet, as long as it remained the great Institution of a nation and supported by the great majority of the nation, they felt that it was not in any degree a special grievance which might justify them in disloyalty, discontent, or insurrection. But in Ireland the case is wholly different. In Ireland it is not, as in England, that there is no essential difference between the Established Church and those who are Nonconformists. There is the greatest difference in Ireland between the professors of the Established Church and the professors of the Roman Catholic faith. There are great and essential points of distinction between the two Churches. Then the Protestant Church in Ireland came in there with the English soldier and the English power. It came in there with the power which confiscated the land, put an alien proprietary there, and dislodged, with a cruelty of which history has scarcely a parallel, the population who had been the possessors of the soil. Hot only that. It confiscated the ecclesiastical revenues of the people. It placed them at the disposal of a small garrisoned minority, holding a faith the great body of the people repudiated in connection with a political supremacy hateful to the population. If the hon. and learned Gentleman has studied politics for—I am afraid to say how many years, but I have known him as a politician for thirty years—if he has studied politics all that while, and has not yet been able to discover that there is an essential difference between the position of the Roman Catholic in Ireland and that of the Protestant Dissenter in England with regard to the Established Church maintained in both countries by Parliament, then I say that I should have no hope whatsoever by anything that I could say to bring him to a different mind. But I venture to say this—that such speeches as he has made to-night—and such as he has made heretofore in this House—are a thousand times more calculated to stir up hostility against the English Government and the Imperial power in Ireland, than any speeches that I have ever heard from any Irish Member on this side of the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of my hon. Friend and those who think with him as if he and they were the instigators of the discontent which exists in Ireland. My hon. Friend has recently paid a visit of some months to the 960 United States. He has been there for the purpose of examining the condition and studying the sentiments of his own countrymen in the American Republic. He stands up here to-night on this sad occasion, when, for I know not how many times during our political lives, there has been some measure of coercion or repression proposed for Ireland—he stands up here to-night to lift what he calls so justly a warning voice in the ears of the Parliament of England, and to ask them to meditate upon what they are doing or not doing with regard to his country. He probably does not believe—not one of us believes—that there is that discontent in Ireland which, alone and unaided from any other country, can make a serious contest with the power of England. But the discontent is not the less discreditable to us, and it is scarcely less hurtful to the Empire than if it were more powerful and more able to contend with England. What my hon. Friend says is this:—In the United States at this moment there are more Irishmen, or descendants of Irishmen, than there are in Ireland itself. Almost every man there of the Irish race is filled with a bitter hostility to England. In the case of some of them, from what they felt, and in the case of the rest, from what they have heard, known, or believed, in regard to the condition of their countrymen in Ireland. He says the time will come—he fears it will—he knows it possibly may come, when three, four, five, or six millions of Irishmen in the United States, by their action upon political parties and political leaders, may force that country into conflict with England. You know what political leaders can do. You have seen here—and not in this Session only, but in many Sessions — what can be done by means of a great agitation. You know how political leaders will bow down, bow themselves in the very dust before an agitating power which they are constantly pretending to despise. So it is in America, where every man votes, where everything is done in the streets, and where in every action of the Government there is the manifestation of the popular will. In that country, four, or five, or six millions of Irishmen, acting at the poll, influencing political leaders, influencing the press everywhere more or less, can, if there arise some question of difficulty between the United States and England, just throw themselves sufficiently into the scale to make peace impossible. If peace should 961 become impossible and war certain, I ask, what would be the condition of this country with the sentiment in Ireland, disloyal and angry as it is, and with another and a greater Ireland within ten days of steam, to hold out its hand of sympathy to your discontented people? I say, Sir, that this is a great question, and that Irish Members ought to be banished to their own side of the Channel if they could sit in this House and see proposals of this kind brought in Session after Session and not raise their voice. My hon. Friend, one of the most eminent of the representatives of his country, one of the most popular and trusted representatives of the Irish people, who knows accurately the sentiments of his race and people upon the American continent, instead of being assailed as he has been by the hon. and learned Gentleman, is entitled to the cordial and hearty thanks of every friend of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for the speech which he has addressed to the House to-night.
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down commenced his speech by repeating a question which was put to me by the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire), with regard to a course of proceeding alleged to have been taken by the Government in dealing with the Fenian conspiracy. I do not impute to the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire) any intention to make a charge against the Government. But I have observed that in Ireland, during the late trials, by the Fenian newspapers and also by a portion of the English press, a charge has been brought against the Government to this effect:—That they being fully aware of the nature and object of this odious conspiracy, and also of the persons who were engaged in it, did not take steps at the earliest moment to make these persons amenable to justice, and that they played with the conspiracy for the purpose of putting it down by force. Such a charge made anywhere is as serious a one as can be brought against a Government. As far as the present Government are concerned, it is as calumnious an accusation as was ever made. I am sorry that I had not some previous notice of this question. I should have been in a better position to answer it circumstantially than I now am. When I came down to the House I had no idea that this question would be raised. But having observed in the public prints that these charges were 962 made, I did last night, with the limited means at my disposal, look over some documents, which will enable me to show the House, very soon, how utterly and entirely baseless they are. Sir, the whole policy of the Government was the reverse of that indicated. From the first moment that I took office, by all our efforts and communications, we impressed upon our Colleagues here that no exertion should be spared to nip every appearance of conspiracy in the bud, and to prevent anything like an armed outbreak occurring. I looked last night at a letter which I wrote as far back as the month of October to my right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole), and I there found that I distinctly stated what I conceived to be the imperative duty of the Government, that they should not allow a single man who they were convinced was taking a leading part in this treasonable movement to remain at large. The Government have followed that rule throughout. Every particle of information that was available was acted upon as it was received at the earliest moment. To revert to the 20th of September last. We received information that there was a depôt of arms existing at Liverpool. In connection with that depôt there was a considerable quantity of that chymical compound called liquid fire, which I am sorry to say has been manufactured to a large extent by these men for the purposes of incendiarism. The instant we obtained that intimation, directions were given for the institution of a search on the spot. That search was successful. A considerable number of arms were found, and also a quantity of the diabolical agent of destruction which I have mentioned. For some time after that the communications made to us were of so general a character that it was impossible for the Government to act upon them. The information we received, during the early part of the autumn, generally affected individuals who were then either in England or on the Continent, but not in Ireland. Therefore, no action could be taken in the month of October. But in consequence of the communications which were made to us from various quarters in the early days of November, orders were given to the constabulary generally throughout Ireland to furnish us with confidential reports as to the existence and the condition of the Fenian conspiracy. The result showed that great activity had commenced to prevail. There 963 were all those symptoms—with which we are too familiar—that it was the intention of the leaders of the Fenian movement to revive their operations. In consequence of these orders given, a long list of names was sent up to us by the constabulary officers. Those names having been carefully scrutinized and inquired into, forty warrants were issued for the arrest of various persons, about the 27th of November. Those warrants were issued against men whom we knew to be the local leaders of the Fenians in various parts of Ireland. No inferior persons were noticed. The policy of the Government was to arrest the leaders and prominent members of this conspiracy wherever we could. I believe that nobody was arrested who was not either what is called an A, a B, or a C in the movement—that is, a colonel, a captain, or a sergeant. To show how promptly the Government acted on the intelligence they obtained, I may state one circumstance. On the 28th of November we received information that a man named Power had taken premises of considerable magnitude in Dublin for Fenian purposes. A depôt of arms had been established there, and we found that this person, together with others, was engaged in distributing arms through the city at night. It turned out afterwards that it was his practice, with one or two others, to go about from place to place in the night in a cab and distribute arms to those who were willing to receive them. On the 4th of December, Power was arrested with several of his comrades. His premises were searched, and he was found to be what is called a "centre." He, with others, was tried by the Commission which sat early this year, was convicted, and sentenced to fifteen years' penal servitude. That shows how promptly we acted upon sufficient information. Again, late on the 11th of December, we received an intimation that a meeting of considerable importance was to be held in Dublin next evening. The police accordingly went to the place indicated on the evening of the 12th December, and surprised, sitting in council, a body of conspirators, no fewer than seventy in number, all of whom turned out to be local "centres," who had come to Dublin to attend that meeting. Some of these persons were afterwards tried, and several of them convicted. Searches for arms were also continually going on, and arrests being made. On the 17th of December, a manufactory was dis- 964 covered in the precincts of Dublin for making that liquid fire, intended to be used in case of an outbreak. A man who had been of some importance in the Fenian conspiracy in America, whose name was Meaney, was discovered in England. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was brought to Ireland, tried and convicted. The steamers between Belfast and Liverpool were carefully watched. Suspicious characters were constantly arrested. Many strangers, against whom suspicion was excited from their having come to Ireland with arms, were not allowed to land, and were sent back by the next steamer. By the end of December, as far as we could tell—and I believe that the information in our possession was accurate—the Fenian movement in Ireland was crushed. The local leaders were in custody. We knew that there were men engaged in the conspiracy in England, in France, and in America. But we had certain information that they were not in Ireland. Though it was clearly proved that it was the intention of the leaders of this movement to attempt a rising in Ireland in the month of December, the precautions taken by the Government were so successful that the leaders were placed in restraint, and the movement, as far as Ireland was concerned, was crushed for the time. Between the 1st and the 15th of December, no fewer than eighty - seven warrants were issued for the arrest of important persons connected with the conspiracy. It appeared to us therefore, at the beginning of January, that, as far as we could judge, all the efforts of the conspirators were frustrated. That being our conviction, I had no other course to pursue but to inform my Colleagues that, in my opinion, there was no further necessity for renewing the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Sir, I could have taken no other course. I should have acted in a way wholly wrong and contrary to my duty if I had informed my Colleagues that it would be incumbent on them to propose the further suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act when I knew that, as far as Ireland was concerned, the Fenian leaders were almost all in custody, and the movement was showing every symptom of decay. But at that time a most important change took place in regard to this matter. It has been disclosed by Massey, one of the informers, that he and Stephens towards the end of the year had visited Washington for pur- 965 poses connected with the Fenian movement. Having made some arrangements there they returned to New York, where an important meeting of the leaders was about to be hold. On the 18th of December, immediately on their return to New York, this meeting was held. Stephens opposed all warlike movement, and the military department of the organization was given into other hands. What was the effect of that? On the 22nd of December the military leaders began to leave America for France and England. They left in considerable numbers by every steamer up to the end of January, but many did not arrive in Ireland until the middle or end of February. The decision come to in New York wholly and entirely changed the state of affairs, for it was determined at all hazards to effect a rising in Ireland. It was quite impossible for any one in the United Kingdom, who was not in the confidence of these men, to know that any such thing was contemplated by the leaders in America. So secret, in fact, were their intentions kept that they were not known to any one until a considerable number had arrived in England. These men had but little connection with the persons who had been engaged in the movement at the end of the year. It is quite true that there had been that sort of communication between them which had been going on for a great number of years; but I do not believe any of the Fenian leaders in Ireland knew until the middle of January of the determination which had been come to in New York. As soon as the information reached us that this change had taken place in the aspect of the conspiracy, we acted at once. We were bound to state that the anticipations we had formed as to the probable state of the movement in the United Kingdom had unfortunately not been fulfilled. A new state of things had arisen, and it was necessary to resort to those measures of precaution which we had found so effectual before. I have always said, both in public and private, that any Government that should play or tamper with this dangerous conspiracy, or dally or parley with treason, would be guilty of a very grievous error. I believe that there could be nothing more wicked on the part of a Government than to allow a conspiracy to be carried on within the country and to permit it to come to a certain head for the purpose of putting it down by force. I believe that no Government in this 966 country would so act, and that any Government which should take such a course would justly merit the condemnation of this House, and of the country. What was the action of the Government? Every movement of the traitors was anticipated. Within twelve, or at the most within twenty-four hours of our receiving information that Massey was in the country he was arrested in a most singular way, and by a combination of most fortunate circumstances. Moriarty, who was to have headed the insurrection in Killarney, was arrested on his way to that town. M'Cafferty and Flood, both of whom have since been convicted, were arrested on board a collier at the entrance to the Liffey, in consequence of information received by a telegram from Whitehaven. Many who have since turned out to be most important persons in this matter were arrested by the constabulary in various parts of Ireland on mere suspicion. Indeed, I believe it is impossible for any hon. Gentleman, looking at the evidence given upon the trials, to say that in a single case we allowed a person to be at large for a moment whom we had reason to think was deeply engaged in the movement. Our policy has always been that prevention was better than cure, and that it was the duty of the Government to avert by every means in their power the unfortunate occurrences which afterwards took place. The effect of our action was that when this wretched attempt at insurrection broke out half the leaders were in custody, and the other half were in concealment. Many of them left the country immediately alter Massey's arrest. It was clear to them that the Government were in possession of accurate and important information, and many who were as guilty as those who had been apprehended left Ireland within two or three days. Among those who came to Ireland for the purpose of leading the movement were some who were not Fenians or Americans at all. They were men who had been engaged all their lives in revolutionary movements on the Continent. They were men who had made war their trade, and who had spent their lives in connection with revolutionary movements of the Continent and in America. General Farriola only escaped arrest by leaving his lodgings in Cork six hours after the arrest of Massey. Another general, a Belgian, who was known to be in Ireland, a few days before the police went in 967 pursuit of him, was so terrified at the precautions and activity of the Government that he left the country without making the slightest attempt. I call the attention of the House particularly to the presence of these men, because it clearly shows that a connection does exist between this present movement and the revolutionary societies of the Continent. I believe that these men were connected with the revolution on the Continent, and came to take advantage of the state of things in Ireland to create a rebellion, which, if successful, could only end in the uprooting of society, the destruction of property, and the overthrow of religion. When these unfortunate occurrences took place we endeavoured by the greatest activity to prevent numbers of persons from assembling in any one place. The movement in Kerry took place one night after dark, when there were few troops in the neighbourhood. The next day Sir Alfred Horsford was at Killarney with a large force prepared for any emergency. There was no disposition shown by the Government to take any other course than to disperse at the earliest moment any assembly for purposes of insurrection. On the night of Shrove Tuesday 1,500 men—the very scum of the metropolis—marched to Tallaght, expecting to find large depôts of arms and skilled leaders to head them. Lord Strathnairn and the troops were at the same time marching on the same place, and they got to the rendezvous before many of the rioters. The same thing happened when the attack was made on the police barrack in the county of Cork. As soon as it was known that an attack was intended, a company was despatched from Mallow, and arrived very shortly after the rioters. The whole action of the Government, both with regard to the arrest of the leaders and active military movements, show that our whole object was to prevent bloodshed and hinder the conspiracy from coming to a head. If I had known that this question was about to be brought forward, I could have produced many more facts than I have done, not only to show the nature of the conspiracy, but the action of the Government every day since they have taken office. I think, however, I have said enough to show that this charge against us is wholly and entirely baseless. It is because the Government took a directly opposite course to that imputed to them that these measures have been so 968 successful, and that this organization, which has been going on, I am sorry to say, for a great number of years, culminated on the 5th of March in an attempt at insurrection so miserable and so abortive. I do not think it my duty to enter on this occasion upon a general discussion on the state of Ireland. I deplore most deeply with my hon. Friend the state of feeling which exists with regard to this country among the Irish in America. That state of feeling is not just. It has arisen more from ignorance as to the real state of facts in Ireland than from anything else. I cannot be surprised that my ignorant countrymen in the Far West entertain feelings of hostility to this country when every newspaper teems with exaggeration, and when a large portion of their press informs them that a state of things exists in Ireland similar to that in Poland, and among the Christian subjects of the Turks, and that their brethren in Ireland, who are in reality citizens of the freest country in the world, are in the condition of slaves and serfs. I do not wonder that when these falsehoods are being continually poured into their ears, and when they never hear the other side of the question, they should entertain these feelings. Sir, it is to the men who, in disregard of truth, of history, and of the knowledge which they must possess, are making a trade of pouring poison into the minds of their countrymen, it is to them, and not to the Irish people, that the blame ought to be attached for the unfortunate results that have occurred. I feel great sorrow for this state of things; but I do not believe that the threats of war from America which the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire) has held out form the mode of argument which is likely to appeal to the sympathies and feelings of this House. I believe that the general feeling of the House of Commons and of the people of this country is to do justice to the people of Ireland. But I do not believe they will be urged to justice or to proper legislation, or to take greater interest in Ireland because of these threats, and because they are told that unless they do something not indicated there will be a rupture between the United States and Great Britain. I believe that there is sufficient knowledge among those in America who can judge for themselves to enable them to know that a great deal of what is spoken and the stories I have referred to are utterly and entirely false. I believe there is 969 sufficient good sense among the majority of the people of Ireland to convince them that nothing could be more prejudicial to her interests or to those of the Irish people in America than that we should be involved in a war with that country. I do not therefore attach much importance to the threat which has been hinted at to-night, although it may have been partially countenanced by a man possessed of the political knowledge of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright). I will not pursue this matter further. If the House thinks fit to intrust to the Government the powers for which we ask, we shall exercise them in the same manner as we have done for the last nine months, with care, with moderation, but still with firmness whenever occasion may arise. We do not seek that this weapon should be placed in our hands for any other object than the safety of the State, and to enable us to subject to restraint men whom we know to be conspiring against her welfare. I should be sorry to lead the House to suppose that, in my opinion, any advantage could be gained by unnecessarily continuing the suspension of the Constitution or by the unnecessary abridgment of those liberties which are the birthright of every British subject. I look upon it as a disgrace to my country that the necessity for such a measure should arise. Still, I must contend that the powers which this Bill will give us are indispensable to the safety of the State, and can be so exercised that the freedom of action of every loyal subject of Her Majesty in Ireland will not, in the slightest degree, be impaired thereby.
§ MR. OSBORNE
I am far from gainsaying the statement that the further suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act is a measure, not only necessary, but merciful to Ireland. I go further; I do not hesitate to say that if any hon. Member connected with that country tells you that that suspension will be required only for a limited period, he is unwittingly deceiving the House. My opinion, the result of some acquaintance with the state of Ireland, is that the Act will have to be suspended for some time. In expressing that fear, however, in acknowledging the difficulties which have arisen because of the ignorance and the carelessness of the Legislature, I must not be regarded as debarring myself from the consideration of those measures by means of which such a pro- 970 posal as that which we are discussing tonight may ultimately be rendered unnecessary. I do not for one moment accuse the noble Lord with having tampered in any way with the conspiracy we are now asked to suppress. I know too well his sagacity and the humanity of his disposition to give credit to any charge of the kind. There has been neither on his part, nor on that of the Marquess of Abercorn, any abuse of the power with which they have been intrusted. It has, on the contrary, been exercised with great judgment and humanity. I must, however, say that, in putting into the Queen's Speech on the 5th of February a paragraph congratulating this House on the fact that the state of Ireland was so pacific that the further suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act would not be necessary after the 26th of that month, the Government displayed great irresolution and great weakness. I thought at the time that they were in adopting that course throwing a sop to the Cerberus of popularity, and not taking a step approving itself to the judgment of those who had the best means of knowing the real position of affairs in that country. Nor can I admit that the noble Lord has this evening made out a good case for the course taken. At the moment the Speech, from the Throne was being concocted, six men were arrested at Belfast, and General Farriola made his escape about that very time. More than that, we have by the evidence recently given in Dublin by the informers Corydon and Massey been let into the secret that early in November, through December and January, and up to the last hour before the assembling of Parliament, the Irish Executive were in possession of information which, if they had done their duty not only to Ireland but to this country, ought to have prevented them from publicly declaring that the suspension of the Habeas Corpus was no longer required for the preservation of the peace. Although therefore I acquit the noble Lord of all tampering with the conspiracy, I must say that he has furnished another proof of the justice of what was long ago asserted by the Earl of Derby in this House, when he stated that Ireland was in the position of having the weakest Executive in the world. I believe no person connected with Ireland thinks the Government acted right in the course they took on the occasion to which I am referring. I should like to know what use they made of the information 971 which they received from the lords-lieutenant of counties. The noble Earl at the head of the Ministry laid it down in "another place" as his policy on undertaking the government that the Government of Ireland should, for the future, consult, not the police, but the magistrates and country gentlemen. They, if I am not mistaken, were unanimous in the opinion that the paragraph relating to the Habeas Corpus Act ought not have been introduced into the Queen's Speech. As to the police, whom Lord Derby thought it right rather to ignore when he came into office, I would merely ask where, but for them, would Ireland be at this moment? There can be no doubt the Government, being fresh in office, and wishing, through their Attorney General, to conciliate the town of Galway, exposed the whole of Ireland to the danger of insurrection. I was afraid that the proposal for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act—so accustomed are we to such proposals—would be treated with some indifference. I, however, have been agreeably disappointed. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) has taken good care that that should not be the case. My hon. and learned Friend—if he will still allow me to call him so—says that Irishmen always betray their friends. Let me ask him if he has never known Englishmen who have betrayed their friends or forsaken them in this House? [Mr. ROEBUCK: When they are wrong.] Wrong, yes. But I should also like to learn from him, when he comes forward in this way like a dove and perches with his olive branch on Ireland, whether he has always entertained the opinions of which he has this evening given us the benefit? He made a speech in 1829 in favour of emancipation. But, if I do not greatly err, I have heard him make speeches in this House since 1852 in a different strain. The phrase that Ireland was "occupied but not governed," was, I think, coined at his mint. Yet he now, forsooth, presents himself to us as the defender of the "mild Church." Roebuck on the Church! Sir, I never looked upon the Church as in danger until I listened to the eulogium which the hon. and learned Gentleman has thought fit to pronounce upon her. He has spoken, too, of what he calls "hardihood of contradiction;" but I should like to know whether there is not such a thing as hardihood of assertion? The light now beaming on him with regard 972 to this question of the Irish Church seems to me, I confess, perfectly novel. It was at his feet I learnt the cry of "the Irish Church." From him it was that I received instruction in the matter. I have even sometimes quoted from his speeches with respect to it. Now he seems to have completely turned his back on the principles of his youth. The old actor who was once content to elicit applause from the gallery, averts his face from it, and plays to the pit of the Treasury Bench. Aware of his distinguished character and ability, they will, I am afraid, be too apt to think in Ireland that he really represents the views of the great constituency of Sheffield on this subject, and to confound the confirmed dyspepsia of the hon. and learned Gentleman with the general opinion of the House of Commons. I hope, however, that the friends of that country will not fall into so grave an error. They know a little of him there in connection with the Galway contract, and that little will, I have no doubt, enable them to set upon his speech to-night its true value. Passing from the hon. and learned Gentleman, I would remark that when men enter upon these discussions about the state of Ireland, we can always pretty well predict what will take place. The subject is always dealt with in the same spirit and with the same narrowness of view. One party lauds the Irish Church, the other assails it. As to the course of legislation for that country, we all know pretty well beforehand what it is to be, whatever set of politicians happens to be in power. We know that whatever be the position of the Irish Secretary, whatever may be his connection with party, whether he comes from this side of the House or whether he comes from that, we know exactly what policy he will pursue. It makes little difference in Ireland, except to the leading lawyers, what party holds the reins of office. Those leading lawyers will make flaming speeches in defence of the Church—as a late leading lawyer in this House was wont to do—while sitting on the Opposition Benches, and then they obtain promotion, and make excellent Judges. A new Chief Secretary is installed in office, and he finds in some pigeon-hole a policy on which his predecessor meant to act and which he follows out. There are three measures which each successive Chief Secretary—be it my right hon. Friend (Mr. Chichester Fortescue), or the noble Lord (Lord Naas)— 973 invariably introduces for the amelioration of the condition of Ireland. First of all there is the Bill to encourage the breeding of salmon in her rivers. A score of Bills on that subject have been brought in, and I am sorry to say that the only things which appear to be flourishing in Ireland are salmon. The next measure, usually proposed with a great flourish of trumpets, is one for the amendment of the law of landlord and tenant. There have been thirty-three Bills brought forward with that object, and the present, which is the thirty-fourth, will, I apprehend, share the fate of those by which it has been preceded. This is tickling the country. Then comes a peace preservation Bill. Of these there have been twenty-six. Finally, when a great experiment is to be tried, recourse is had to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Since 1801 the suspension of that Act has been moved ten times. We are told that we are so just to Ireland that she has nothing to complain of. Yet here we are in the year 1867—after sixty-seven years of similar legislation constantly recurring—about to proceed in the same course at the invitation of the Government of the day, though it is said for a limited period. I do not believe that in the way we are going on any of these suspending Acts can be passed for a limited period only. Is it not patent to the world that in 1867, just the same as in 1844, when the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) told the House that Ireland was "occupied and not governed," is it not, I say, patent that at the present moment Ireland is garrisoned but not governed, according to the true acceptation of the word? I am not one who says that you are willingly unjust to Ireland. I believe that you are well inclined—even the hon. and learned Gentleman—to do justice to Ireland. But I say that you are for the most part grossly ignorant, and some of you bigoted, in your legislation with respect to Ireland. If there were an Irish Legislature in College Green, its first act would be to undo one-half of your legislation. I was sorry to hear the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire) calling out for identity of institutions, for one of the most mischievous proceedings has been the forcing on Ireland that identity of institutions. [Mr. MAGUIRE: Identity of interests.] Still, there are people who say, "give to Ireland the same institutions as exists in England." It is in vain to think of giving ease to a country where no identity of 974 feeling, of circumstances, and above all of religion exists, by calling for identity of institutions. It would be a vain chimera as a remedy for the evils of Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) referred to the law of landlord and tenant. He says that the same law of landlord and tenant which prevails in Ireland prevails also in England and in Scotland. I am aware that great mistakes are made upon this subject in Ireland. But you have not tenants-at-will in England and in Scotland. ["Yes!"] I say while you have in Ireland a system of tenants-at-will—which does not prevail in Scotland or in England ["Oh!"]—no, not to the same extent—you must have discontent. Will hon. Gentlemen opposite deny that these tenants-at-will in Ireland are kept so merely for the sake of enabling the land lords to get their votes? ["Oh!"] There is a hardihood of contradiction involved in that "Oh!" which I do not think could be equalled by the hon. and learned Gentleman. I am not of those who put an exaggerated consequence on the question of the Established Church in Ireland, or say that you can entirely abolish it. But I think it unjust and disgraceful in English legislation not to endeavour to deal with the Church so as to make it more consonant and agreeable to the feelings of the Roman Catholics of Ireland. We are supposed to have made an enormous advance in our Irish legislation, because the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Frederick Heygate), during the recent debate on the Irish Church, moved the "Previous Question." But what do the Irish people know about the "Previous Question?" Ireland has—to use an Irish bull—been always made a "Previous Question" by having her legislation postponed for the purpose of enabling Parliament to pass English measures. How long is this state of things to go on? It is all very well for people to make clap-trap speeches in this House. ["Hear!"] The hon. Member for Wenlock cries "Hear," as if I were making a clap-trap speech, but I have no Irish constituency to flatter, and have suffered by the Fenian movement by having to pay 5 per cent on mortgages instead of 4 per cent. Therefore I naturally feel rather sore with the noble Lord (Lord Naas) for the insertion in the Queen's Speech of that ill-advised language which has in some measure tended to the development of that movement. I know many Members, too, who are in the same position with myself. The 975 matter now under consideration is, I say, no subject for clap-trap speeches. There can be no doubt that upon the first cannon being fired on the Continent of Europe or in America you will be obliged to retrace your steps, and to legislate in a larger and a broader spirit for Ireland. But you ought not to wait for that. You on the other side of the House (the Ministerial side) have made an enormous concession to the people of this country. Believe me when, as an Englishman and as knowing the Irish people, I say that you will be making an enormous mistake if you do not take up this Irish question in a larger, broader, and wider spirit than you have yet done. I believe that half of the House is disposed to take up the question in that sense, and all that is wanted is a leader. There is no question on which I should be more ready to throw aside all the trammels of party, and to support the man, sit on which side of the House he might, who would deal with this matter in the spirit I have mentioned. It is not until you find that man that you will be able to find an Irish Secretary who will feel that he has no longer any occasion to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act even for a limited period, because he has initiated a period of peace and contentment in Ireland.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
I rise for the purpose of stating that I and those who sit with me on this Bench feel it to be our painful duty to support the Government in the demand they make that exceptional powers be continued to them. We believe that the possession of those exceptional powers, which I am bound to say the Government have not hitherto abused, is necessary for the preservation of the peace of Ireland and for the prevention of any repetition of insane and lamentable attempts for subverting the Queen's Government in that country. We think that the Government are right on this occasion in asking for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, not for a very short period, but until after the commencement of the next Session of Parliament. Believing that the moderate exercise of these powers, under the control of public opinion and responsibility to Parliament, will constitute the safest, most lenient, and least mischievous means by which the conspirators can be foiled and repressed, I think that the Government are quite right in not putting it in the power of those conspirators to calculate on an early suspension of the powers, as it is well 976 known they did on a recent occasion. There is ample evidence showing that, in consequence of the announcement unfortunately made in the Queen's Speech, the conspirators calculated in the month of February on the cessation of these important powers. While I acquit my noble Friend (Lord Naas) and the Queen's Government of the slightest intention to dally with the conspiracy, and to allow it to ripen for the purpose—a purpose I have heard advocated in private by those who ought to have known better, but one which, with the humane spirit which has always actuated him, has been totally repudiated by my noble Friend—the purpose of striking a final and effective blow, I am bound to say that my noble Friend's statement to-night has not diminished, but has increased, my astonishment at the course pursued by the Government in announcing in the Queen's Speech that they felt no further necessity for arming themselves with exceptional powers. My noble Friend told us on a former occasion that when by great leniency, perhaps I might say thoughtlessness, the persons detained in prison had been reduced from 330 to something like 70, serious alarm had again arisen in the course of the months of December and January, and that, before the meeting of Parliament and the framing of the Queen's Speech, the Government had been obliged to issue more than 100 additional warrants. The noble Lord has gone more into detail this evening, and, confirming what we had learnt from the evidence of informers at the recent trials, said that many circumstances came to the knowledge of the Government immediately preceding the commencement of Parliament. I should have thought that that fact would have rendered it impossible for the Government to make the announcement which they did to the public and to the Fenians themselves in the Queen's Speech. That announcement was especially inconvenient, as it allowed misguided and mischievous men to calculate upon the termination of powers eminently adapted to keep them in order. My noble Friend took credit to the Government for its vigilance and success during last winter—and properly so; but he strangely does not appear to see that the Government were on the point of abandoning the very means and instrument of that success. Such a course was not calculated to allay anxiety in the minds of the people, or to increase their safety; nor was it merciful to those implicated. Above all, I object that the 977 Government should have acted upon the advice of the late Attorney General, who, with the circumstances connected with Fenianism in his possession, and with special information peculiar to his office, had addressed his constituents at Galway and assured them as responsible Adviser of the Crown that he had doubts whether the granting of exceptional powers by Parliament to the Lord Lieutenant as given by the Bill under discussion had ever been necessary, and that in his opinion it was safe, and more than safe, that those powers should be put au end to. But having said so much in support of this Bill, I must add a few words upon our policy towards Ireland. I think we shall be doing very wrong if we fix our eyes merely upon the Fenians, and do not consider the non-Fenian portion of the population; if we deal with the few and not with the many; with the supporters of insurrection and not with the great body of the Irish people. In spite of what has been said by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck), I feel that we shall cut a very poor figure in the eyes of the world, and shall be laying up in store future trouble of more serious quality than has ever come from Ireland yet, if we are content to take measures of repression only. When we have no longer the question of Reform to occupy our time our first duty will be to consider whether by any means within the power of Parliament we can dry up the sources of dissatisfaction in Ireland, efface from the minds of the Irish people the bitter and dangerous memories of the past, and by degrees reconcile them to the laws under which they live and to the Imperial Government of the country. When I set this before Parliament as its first duty, I do so in the full confidence that Parliament will come to a sound conclusion upon any question on which it determinedly sets to work. As to the conclusions of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck), I would say that if he means that these misguided Irish conspirators have had no justification for seeking to overturn the Government of the country by force of arms, and that there are no evils in Ireland which do not admit of cure by constitutional action, I entirely agree with him. But if he means that there is no institution in Ireland which does not rest upon a basis of public justice, if he means that Parliament has done its best for Ireland as far as legislation is concerned, and if he should be trusting in the mere assertion that the 978 laws are the same in England and Ireland, while perhaps the circumstances dealt with by those laws are totally different in the two countries, then I can hardly express the extent of my disagreement from him. I am therefore ready to join with those who say that while we adopt this measure of repression, we are bound to keep steadily before our eyes the duty of earnestly studying what practical measures should be adopted for the purpose of reconciling the people of Ireland to us and our Government.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he regretted that the hon. Member (Mr. Bright) had used his eloquence for the purpose to which he had applied it that evening. The hon. Gentleman, after having proclaimed himself a Dissenter of Dissenters, asked for the abolition of the Irish Church. But he (Mr. Newdegate) believed that upon that subject the hon. Member was a Dissenter from the great mass of the Dissenters of England, and that day by day the Dissenters were becoming more and more convinced that it was not for the interest of the cause which they advocated that they should join in the cry raised against the Irish Church by the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland. The House, or at least one section of the House, had constantly fallen into the mistake of accepting the dicta of that hierarchy for the expression of the feeling of the people of Ireland. But there was another point—referred to by the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire)—in which he (Mr. Newdegate) felt the deepest interest. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the emigration from Ireland. He described it as a hæmorrhage. He lamented, as he (Mr. Newdegate) and as every Englishman worthy of the name lamented, that the Irish people should be driven from their homes. But what was the period at which that emigration commenced? He found on reference to the Library, and if necessary he would move for Returns to prove it, that it commenced in the year 1847, the year succeeding the repeal of the Corn Laws, after the Imperial Parliament had repealed the penal laws, and had passed a variety of other measures in deference to the wishes of the mass of the Irish people. The power of the Roman Catholic hierarchy had become the great element in Irish political agitation. What did Mr. Scully—once a Member and an ornament of that House—tell them upon that point? He stated that the political action of the episcopal party in Ireland was so tyrannical, that it had driven 979 him from the House. The fact was that Ireland was torn by a struggle between the Ultramontanist principle find the principle of resistance which had become necessary on the part of the Irish proprietors, because the Roman Catholic hierarchy were directly attacking the rights of property under the guise of urging an extreme and impossible measure. The Gentleman to whom he referred had been excluded from the House by the direct action of the Roman Catholic episcopal body, and he considered his absence was a loss. How, then, could the assertions of the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire) and his friends be reconciled with these facts? He rejoiced that they had in the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) a man who, after investigating the question, was not ashamed to avow that he had changed his opinions, and he hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would long continue to be an ornament to the House. He wished to refer to some expressions that had been used by the hon. Member (Mr. Bright) with respect to the United States. The hon. Gentleman admitted that the Government of that country had acted a most friendly part towards this country in preventing the Fenian agitation in the United States culminating in an attack upon Canada, and that the American Government had been influenced by a spirit of honest co-operation with the British Government with respect to that unfortunate conspiracy. But while admitting this the hon. Member had remarked that statesmen in England had had to bend in base humiliation before agitation, and that an agitation might arise in the United States which might make the United States Government bend also, and which might produce a collision between this country and the United States. He (Mr. Newdegate) had imagined that the hon. Member respected the American Government because it was the exponent of the will of the people, and because its basis and principle were democratic. And yet the hon. Gentleman spoke as though he would make the House believe he was speaking on the part of the English Dissenters, and proclaimed that the Protestant Church in Ireland should be dis-established, in order to establish the Roman Catholic Church. ["No!"] Hon. Gentlemen might cry "No!" but he could prove from the Roman Catholic papers that the dis-establishment of the Protestant Church, and the consequent establishment of the Roman Catholic 980 Church, were advocated and strenuously supported with the view of getting Roman Catholic Bishops into the House of Lords. If that did not mean establishing the Roman Catholic Church, what did it mean? The hon. Member, misrepresenting the Dissenters of this country, had not scrupled to declare that unless the demand for the dis-establishment of the Protestant Church were granted he expected an agitation would arise, both in this country and the United States, which would quickly change the friendly disposition of the American Government towards England. He (Mr. Newdegate) could not sit in the House without expressing the indignation he felt when he heard an hon. Gentleman encouraging the hope of agitation for the purpose of establishing the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and threatening, in the event of the Protestant Church not being dis-established by Parliament, a probable collision between England and the United States. He trusted such mischievous and dangerous opinions were limited to the hon. Member and a very narrow section of extreme persons in the United Kingdom. It was impossible for him to express the language that almost rose to his lips when he listened to such dangerous and mischievous sentiments.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he agreed with the hon. Member (Mr. Osborne) that the disaffection and feeling against British rule in Ireland were greater than had been represented within the House. The hon. Member (Mr. Newdegate) was apparently of opinion that the Irish Members were actuated by sectarian motives, and were attempting to attain some ecclesiastical aggrandisement. He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) emphatically disclaimed any such intention. Nothing was further from his thoughts than to meddle with the revenues of the Irish Church, or say anything in the least derogatory of his Protestant fellow-countrymen or Protestant clergymen, whom he respected for their learning, attainments, and character. The evil of Ireland for centuries had been of a sectarian character, arising from religious distinctions being kept up, which led one part of the community to indulge in feelings and practices of ascendancy over another, and prevented men from feeling themselves citizens of a common country. All that he sought was, if possible, to do away with those religious distinctions and differences which formed the real bane of Ireland and were the root of the evils from which she was suffering. 981 That was the only sense in which he opposed the Irish Church Establishment, and not because he objected to its discipline or ministers. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) had, with something more than dogmatism, spoken of the Irish Members as agitators, who were united merely for personal objects. The hon. and learned Gentleman, while denouncing others so freely, ought to have remembered that there was such a country as Canada. It was still borne in mind who was the advocate of the rebels there in 1837. He ought to have remembered that the very legislation which had allayed discontent in that colony was all that was now advocated by Gentlemen who knew as much of Ireland, and were quite as honest as the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. If the hon. and learned Gentleman looked now to Canada, he would see the causes of popular tumult removed. There was now religious equality, an educational system which met with universal approval, and a land system which secured to the cultivator a fair return for his capital and labour. All this should have been remembered by the hon. and learned Gentleman before he used the cold steel from Sheffield. He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) would not oppose the second reading of the Bill, and he believed that the powers which it would confer upon the Government would be humanely exercised. He trusted something would soon be done to remove the just grievances of the Irish people.
§ MR. STOCK
said, that the necessity for such measures as this must be regarded as a scandal. The discontent which sometimes broke out into open rebellion might be accounted for by the policy we had pursued towards Ireland. He observed with pain the apathy which existed on the part of English Members when Irish questions were under consideration in the House. The unfortunate condition of affairs in Ireland was not the fault of the people themselves, but was the fault of the legislation to which they were subjected. Proper remedies were at hand, and only needed to be applied in order to render coercive measures, such as the one now proposed, quite unnecessary. He denied that the Irish people were idle, turbulent, and lawless. The Irish people, if they were only blessed with good government, were as amenable to the principles of law and order as any other of Her Majesty's subjects. On the part of the Roman Catholic population of Ireland, 982 there was a spirit of religious toleration which did not exist either in England or in Scotland. Taking the year 1861, the year of the last census, he found that in Scotland the convictions for criminal offences were in the proportion of 1 in 1,266 of the population. In England they were in that of 1 in 1,446. In Ireland they were only as 1 for 1,773 of the population. Then analysing these figures he found that the convictions for offences against property in the same year were in England 1 in 1,612. In Scotland 1 in 1,630. In Ireland only 1 in 2,623 of the population. As to religious toleration, it was a fact that in all Protestant Scotland not a single Roman Catholic was returned to Parliament. In England, out of the 500 Members there were only two Roman Catholics. In Ireland, out of 105 Members no fewer than seventy-six were Protestants, of whom thirty-eight were returned by purely Roman Catholic constituencies. Those Protestant Gentlemen were returned on the principles of civil and religious liberty. In Ireland the religion of the candidate was no bar to him in the eyes of the Roman Catholic clergy and laity. But what chance would an Irish Roman Catholic have if he came forward as a candidate to represent an English constituency? The House were aware of the difficulties which an English Roman Catholic had had to contend with in the Isle of Wight. He thought that such circumstances ought to induce the House to pass remedial measures for the benefit of the Irish people. If they lived under a system which afforded them the means of obtaining their living in their own country, the Irish would be as good and loyal subjects as could be desired. He trusted that the two great evils of Ireland, the land and the Church questions, would be removed during the present Session.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, he wished to offer a suggestion to the noble Lord (Lord Naas) as to the means of practically disposing of this question. A Committee of the House had been appointed to inquire into the operation of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act, and it had been stated in the newspapers that Dr. Manning and Dr. Cullen were to be examined as witnesses. The suggestion he wished to make to the noble Lord was that—
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, he would call attention to a letter sent to a London morning paper by the Rev. Dr. Magee, who stated the real cause of Fenianism, and suggested a practical remedy for the evil. It would be as well if that gentleman were examined before the Committee. He (Mr. Whalley) had watched the progress of this insurrection with great anxiety, and had on several occasions expressed in the House his conviction that it was entirely the result of the teaching of the doctrines and discipline of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Therefore to clear up the matter he would suggest that Dr. Magee should be examined before the Committee on the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill as to the origin and nature of the Fenian conspiracy. He asked the noble Lord to consider the position in which the Government stood, and also to clear up the question referred to by Dr. Magee, as to the nature and origin of this conspiracy. As to the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Bright), he charged that hon. Gentleman with vilifying and traducing the character of his countrymen by his assertion that the conduct of the Reformation and the introduction of the present system had been attended with cruelty until then unheard of. There was no shadow of a pretence to justify so foul a slander. It was enough to see frittered away, under ridiculous and false pretences, the Protestant Constitution of the country, without seeing the character of Englishmen blasted and held up to foreign countries and to America as deserving the visitation of this rebellion. No language could be too strong to reprobate such expressions on the part of the hon. Member. Why did not that hon. Member tell them what remedies he proposed to put an end to this conspiracy? What remedial measures would the hon. Member suggest to settle the land question? The letter to which he had referred quoted statements made by Dr. Moriarty, a Roman Catholic prelate, that "this is not the time," and that "this rebellion must be held in leash." More than once he had been called to order when referring to this subject, but he had been so treated, he believed, under a misapprehension. He had never intended at any time to say that Dr. Manning or Dr. Moriarty had been in immediate connection with Stephens or any of the Fenian ringleaders. All that he had intended to state was that the doctrines 984 which Dr. Manning or Dr. Moriarty taught from Sunday to Sunday were in the greatest possible degree contagonistic to the rule of this country, and that nothing would satisfy the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the three kingdoms but such absolute supremacy as the Roman Catholic Church enjoyed in Spain. The primary doctrine of that Church was that all persons opposed to its doctrines should be persecuted and destroyed. A sufficient reason for Irish emigration might be found in the fact that these unfortunate people had let loose upon them the blood hounds of their religion, by whom they were terrified and worried. They were but too glad to escape from a country where the Government permitted such tyranny to be exercised upon them with impunity. It was not for the Protestant population that he contended against these Roman Catholic teachings and doctrines, but for the Roman Catholics themselves.
§ MR. SYNAN
The hon. Member for Peterborough has addressed the House with his usual brevity, perspicuity and wisdom, and offered to Her Majesty's Government the valuable suggestions which I am sure they will receive in the manner they deserve. I regret the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) is not in his place to accept the compliment of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley), as from what he has previously expressed in the House there is no doubt he would attach to them that value which he seems to put upon them at all times. Indeed, I may say to both hon. Members arcades ambo, and as they are united in this House and country in support of the great cause of Protestantism, I only hope that that cause may never want their advocacy, and that the Catholic cause may never be deprived of their hostility. The hon. Member for Peterborough has told us that he is the only person who understands the secret of Fenianism, and he offers his secret to Her Majesty's Government. I hope Her Majesty's Government will put the price on the secret which it is worth. Indeed, it is fortunate that in the state of mystery and ignorance in which we are all placed there is one person to whom such a clear perception of our position has been vouchsafed, and who can enlighten not only the House but Her Majesty's Government by the disclosure of a secret of invaluable price, which is to unlock the chamber of Fenianism. But I beg to tell the hon. Member that he is not the only 985 person who has been able to give us the secret of Fenianism; a greater authority in this House, the Leader of the House, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has anticipated the hon. Member. He informed us that the secret of Fenianism can be accounted for only upon the epileptic principle. The Government do not therefore want the secret of the hon. Member. It is humiliating and painful for an Irish Member, no matter at what side of the House he sits, to address the House on this subject; either to be a party to or a spectator of the suspension of the constitution of this country; and I hope this may be the last time he may be placed in that position. I cannot concur in the censure expressed against the noble Lord or Her Majesty's Government for the paragraph in the Queen's Speech last February. If the noble Lord had reason to believe at the time that this Act ought not to be renewed, he had a right to give that advice to Her Majesty's Government. I only wish he could give the same advice at the present moment. Blame had been expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) for mixing up the question of the grievances of Ireland with the present discussion. The reason is obvious; they cannot be separated, for as long as they exist the present state of things in Ireland will continue, and the suspension of the Act and constitution will become perpetual. It is therefore absolutely imperative that we should call the attention of the House to the condition of Ireland. At this hour, I may say the tranquil hour of the evening, when the majority of the Members have retired to more agreeable duties, I will not go into the question of Irish grievances so fully discussed by the Members who have preceded me. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield says there are no grievances; but he is contradicted by Her Majesty's Government, who have brought in a Bill to remedy one of them. To be sure that Bill—the Land Bill—has been put aside, and is likely soon to receive the fate of previous Irish measures, by a Massacre of the Innocents. This is not the place to discuss that measure; I have done so on a former occasion: but the Bill is an admission that the state of the law in Ireland requires a remedy, and the refusal of a proper remedy is only calculated to increase discontent in Ireland. To be sure it has been said that Fenianism is not connected with the land 986 question, and that assertion has come from the Treasury Bench. Their Friends behind them call their Bill confiscation, and they themselves say that the land question is not connected with Fenianism—for both cannot be true, and I pronounce both to be false. I therefore ask the House to deal with the land question, thereby remove one cause of Fenianism, and render such unconstitutional legislation as this unneeessary. Again, it is said that the Church question is not connected with Fenianism, and therefore that it is no grievance. Unless you maintain that the actual Fenian conspirators comprise the whole Irish Catholic and Liberal Protestant people of Ireland, I do not see the force of that argument. You deny to the constitutional party in Ireland the remedy of this grievance, on the ground that it is not wished for by the revolutionists. That appears to me to be the argument of folly and insanity, and calculated to make the constitutional party become revolutionary, in order to have their grievances attended to and redressed. In my opinion the most sensible way to put an end to Fenianism is to redress the wrongs and injustice of which the Irish constitutional party complain. I feel that English Members in this House do not like discussions of this kind. [Cheers.] I understand that cheer. Well, then, how do you propose to deal with Ireland? Are her grievances to be discussed and remedied by the Parliament or not? I would request of hon. Members to consider the position of Irish Members in this House. We bring forward the well-grounded complaints of the Irish people, and we ask for redress. If you refuse to entertain our complaints you practically annul the Union. Sixty-seven years ago the promises held out to the Irish nation for a Union were—that they should become partakers in the wealth, the prosperity, the glory of the Empire. English capital was to be introduced into Ireland—her manufactures were to be established — her trade and commerce extended—her taxation reduced and her population increased. How have these promises been realized? There are no manufactures—no trade—no commerce—taxation has been increased £3,000,000 a year, the population is less than it was in 1800, and the people are emigrating from a country in which they can get no employment. We complain, and ask for remedial legislation; you only answer by suspending the consti- 987 tution, and you are impatient of our complaint. In my opinion the persons who resist the demands of the Irish people are the greatest enemies of the Union, the most mischievous agitators, and the most dangerous advocates of the repeal of that Union. Of course, you are likely to remain deaf to the remonstrances of the Irish Members and the demands of the Irish people. Nevertheless, we must continue to do our duty. And in the discharge of that duty I now tell the House and the Government that they may bury the "Enceladus" of Irish grievances, of Irish discontent, of Irish insurrection, beneath the pile of their coercion and suspension Acts, which from 1800 to the present moment would overtop Etna; but they will not thereby extinguish the volcano. As long as the fuel exists—as long as the grievances are suffered to remain—so long will the volcano burst forth anew, and threaten the Empire with dismay, confusion, and perhaps ruin. If you are wise, therefore, you will apply that remedy in time, which you may wish to do when it will be too late. I have only one word to say to the noble Lord. I cannot complain of the mode in which in some cases the Act has been executed. But whether the Government is to blame or not, there are cases in which it ought to be executed more leniently. A clause to that effect was introduced into the last Act, and of course it will be continued in the present if it receives a second reading. I appeal to the noble Lord to carry out the Act in a spirit of mercy, of leniency, and of clemency.
§ MR. BRADY
said, that he was satisfied with the manner in which the Government had carried out the Act suspending the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland. The discontent in that country arose from the law relating to the tenure of land. He could not agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) that the law of England in regard to landlord and tenant should be applied to Ireland, because the circumstances of the two countries were totally different. Without exception the farmers in Ireland were tenants-at-will. ["No!"] They were tenants from year to year, liable to be turned out of their farms at six months' notice. Such a state of things did not exist in England, The usages of the country came in to protect the tenant in England. ["No!"] When a tenant in England gave up possession of his farm a valuation was made of the unexhausted labour. 988 He received compensation for that, for seed in the ground, and for straw and manure left on the farm. That was not the case in Ireland. At the end of the year the landlord in Ireland could turn his tenants out of possession without giving them any compensation for the large sums of money they might have expended in the improvement of the property. He hoped that the Government would see the propriety of introducing some remedy for the evils under which Ireland had suffered for upwards of sixty-seven years without one measure—except the inadequate one of 1829—being passed for the relief of the great masses of the people.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, that having twice opposed the introduction of Bills similar to that now before the House, he wished to explain the reasons that induced him to adopt a contrary course upon the present occasion. He admitted, with pain and regret, that the ground on which he had stood on previous occasions had been cut from under his feet. He did not look upon Fenianism as a disease, but as a symptom produced by mis-government during many centuries. Ireland had been treated as a conquered country by the Norman Kings of England, by Elizabeth, by James I., and cruelly oppressed by the tyrant Cromwell. The rule of Protestant ascendancy had aggravated the evils of Ireland. He had no wish to see either Protestant ascendancy or Roman Catholic ascendancy in Ireland. Ireland, unfortunately, seemed to be a stalking-horse for clap-trap party speeches in that House. The party out of office always abused the policy of the party in office. When the party in office introduced a Bill, the party out of office opposed it in a party manner, and did all they could to obstruct it, because they wanted the credit of carrying it themselves. Persons acquainted with the subject of Irish land tenure, assured him that there was much that was good in the Bills of the Government, and that, if they were discussed in an impartial spirit, they might be made beneficial to the country. But he had heard nothing but party speeches upon them. He desired to see the House dealing with the question without reference to party politics. No country in Europe had greater grievances than Ireland — [An hon. MEMBER: Spain] — except Italy and Poland. ["Oh!"] He wished to see hon. Members dealing with Ireland in a practical manner, free from 989 party spirit, and, instead of declaiming about its condition, pointing out remedies for what was wrong. They had heard many eloquent and violent speeches about the wrongs of Ireland. He wished the speakers had propounded remedies for them. The present condition of the Established Church in Ireland was a grievance it was most difficult to deal with. He should be sorry to see it dealt with in a manner unjust to his Protestant fellow-countrymen. Ireland would not be benefited by the assimilation of its land laws to those of England, because the circumstances of the two countries were different. Landlords in England dealt with their tenants and land on principles different from those adopted by Irish landlords, which, as an English landlord, he had never been able to understand. The objection to the legislation asked for Ireland, that it was exceptional, was answered by the fact that the circumstances of the country were exceptional. He wished—he was afraid he could not say hoped—to see Irish grievances, instead of being made matters of declamation, treated as matters of business. He wished to see hon. Members, instead of dwelling upon, and perhaps exaggerating the evils which afflicted the country, and so promoting discontent, applying themselves to the discovery of remedies, and discussing measures of Government, by either side, free from party considerations. A good deal of the opposition to the Land Bills of the noble Lord, in that House and out of doors in England, had reference to the Reform Bill, to the contests of parties, and to the absorbing question whether the Leaders of one party or those of the other should occupy the Treasury Bench.
§ MR. CONOLLY
said, he thought that many of the questions raised in that discussion had nothing to do with the subject before the House. He believed that if all the so-called grievances of Ireland were abolished that country would not be a whit more prosperous than she was at present. If the Established Church in Ireland were abolished, and if tenant right were granted to its fullest extent, as advocated by the late Mr. Sharman Crawford, no one could suppose that by the operation of these two measures the condition of the masses of the people of Ireland would be sensibly ameliorated, or that the immense amount of pauperism and misery that existed in the country would be lessened. The abolition of the Established 990 Church in Ireland would revive dormant animosities, increase the misery of Ireland, and the passing of a measure on the land question embodying the principles advocated by the late Mr. Crawford would tend to insecurity and be productive of the worst possible consequences to the country. If once they allowed the tenant to exercise proprietary rights the labouring classes would begin to put in their claims against the tenants—a state of things which would end in the complete disruption of all the social ties in Ireland. The reasons which led to the late insurrection were matters of history and of contention between the English and Irish races from time immemorial. With reference to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, he must do the noble Lord at the head of the Government in Ireland (the Marquess of Abercorn) the justice of admitting the great ability and discretion which he had displayed in the dangerous and difficult circumstances in which the country had been placed. If he had committed a slight mistake in expressing a hope that the Fenian conspiracy had been put an end to sooner than there were grounds for believing that it had been, it was to be attributed to the noble Lord's own moderation and amiability of character. He must protest against the menacing language of the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire.) From the intimacy he had with the leading men at the other side of the water, he felt himself entitled to say that nothing was farther from the genius of the American people than the course of conduct which the hon. Member had described. The influence of the Fenian element in the United States was greatly overrated when it was thought likely to succeed in producing a formidable antagonism to this country. The people of Ireland were intelligent enough to see the folly of the late attempt, and the groundlessness of any hope of a successful rising against the power and authority of England. This being so he trusted they would turn their minds to questions involving the practical improvement of the land, and to other matters upon which the prosperity of the country depended. He believed that by so doing they would be facilitating the solution of the Irish question far more than by listening to the suggestions of false friends.
§ MR. PIM
said, he could not conceal from himself that dissatisfaction existed in Ireland—a dissatisfaction alike discredit, 991 able to that country and to the nation at large. There was also too much truth in the remarks made by the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire) of the danger, in case of war, to England, whatever the ultimate result might be. There were circumstances of gravity which rendered the Irish question an Imperial one. He thought it of great importance that the land question should not be long left unsettled. If we were to have a really United Kingdom it was indispensable that Irish questions should be settled. The present Parliament would gain great renown if it were the means of effecting such a settlement. He trusted, therefore, that as soon as the great question of Reform Was settled the House would give its earnest and practical attention to the Irish question, which was fully as important to Ireland as the Reform Bill was to England.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, that on behalf of his noble Friend (Lord Naas) he would fix the Committee for to-morrow (Friday); and under the peculiar circumstances of the case, his noble Friend hoped that the House would then also pass the third reading.
§ Bill committed for To-morrow.