Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [10th March],
That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee, with the view of taking into consideration the condition and circumstances of Ireland,"—(Mr. Maguire,)
And which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "before the consideration by this House of constitutional changes in the laws and institutions of Ireland, it is both just and expedient to inquire into the causes of alleged discontent, and the best mode of remedying the same,"—(Sir Frederick Heygate,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said: Sir, it is, no doubt, a relief and satisfaction to the House to have been at last made acquainted with the Irish policy of the Government; but I am sorry I cannot congratulate the House on the brilliancy of the prospect set before it. The noble Lord (the Earl of Mayo) had to explain to us the principles and policy of the Cabinet on the three great questions of the day—the Church, the land, and education; and he did explain them most clearly and most candidly. On the Church, their policy is a policy of inaction; on the land, it is still to be the subject of a solemn inquiry—that is, it is a 1460 policy of procrastination; on education, it is a policy of retrogression. But, in case the House should be disappointed with the meagre diet set before us, the noble Lord has some comfort for us. Although the Government are doing very little, they are inquiring a great deal. They began by issuing a Royal Commission of Inquiry on Irish Railways; they follow that by a Commission of Inquiry into the Church; that, again, by a Commission of Inquiry into Education; and now, again, the noble Lord tells us that he has another agreeable surprise in store for us, which is a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Land. In fact, the whole of Ireland is put under Commission: and—as a friend of the Government remarked to me the other night on leaving the House—if the Government were to go one step further and put themselves in Commission, and adjourn Parliament until the whole of these Commissions had reported, the prospects of legislation would not be much worse than they are at present, and the time of hon. Members would be more agreeably and not less profitably employed. Such is the policy of the Government. Four Commissions of Inquiry, and legislation to follow on their Report. There is, to be sure, a Reform Bill, as to which the Government have shown very great reluctance to let the House see it. There is to be a re-introduction of the Landlord and Tenant Bill of last year. But that exhausts all the remedial measures of the Government. Such are the measures by which they are to meet the religious, the political, and the social difficulties of Ireland. Do they constitute a policy? You may, if you please, by a figure of speech and a stretch of courtesy, dignify them with the title of a policy; but can the most microscopic eye detect the smallest semblance of principle? There are three questions—and three only—on which all men's minds have been intent, to which the speech of the hon. Member for Cork was devoted, and as to which we wished or cared for any explanation from the Government. Upon the first of these—the Church—they do nothing; on the second—the land—they do next to nothing; and on the third question—education—I wish I could say they did nothing—I wish I could say they did little—they undo what the wisdom of Parliament has been doing for the last thirty years. This part of the noble Lord's speech is pregnant with very serious matter. No one will have gathered from the speech of the noble 1461 Lord either the character or the extent of the change involved in the grant of a charter to the Catholic University. It is a proceeding eminently characteristic of a Government with a policy based on no principle. I can imagine a discussion of the Cabinet, or of a Committee of the Cabinet, on this point. I can imagine their saying, "We must do something this Session to conciliate the Irish Members. We must have something positive and immediate. They won't be altogether put off with prophecies. We must give them an instalment of something real. But how to begin? We cannot begin with the Church; our party won't stand that. They will stand a great deal, but they won't stand that—at least, not yet. We cannot deal with the land question, our Irish supporters are too strong and too impracticable; we cannot openly subvert the system of national education—Parliament is too well-informed and too vigilant; but the grant of a charter to a Roman Catholic University: no one knows much about that; the subject has not been debated in Parliament; it has not been discussed by the press; and only Roman Catholic Members and their Bishops know what it really means; and therefore, by granting such a charter, we may at the minimum of risk secure the maximum of support from the Irish Members." But why has not this question of granting a charter to a Roman Catholic University been discussed in Parliament? It is because every previous Minister has set his face so promptly and resolutely against it that it never took the form of a practical proposal. Every Government for the last fifteen years has been sounded upon the point, and not one has dared to entertain it. Even the last Cabinet, which was prepared to go as far as any Cabinet in making concessions upon this point, and which did carry concession to what some of us thought an imprudent length, could not face this proposal of granting a charter to the Roman Catholic University. When the question of Irish education was under consideration twelve years ago, this proposal did not admit of an hour's consideration as a practical one; it was felt to be an impossibility—because every person was aware that the Catholic University was founded, by command of the Pope, avowedly and ostentatiously for the destruction of the Queen's Colleges. It was a declaration of war against that liberal and national system by which the wisest Ministers and 1462 most popular Parliaments had endeavoured to identify the material improvement of Ireland, with its mental and moral growth; and it was in direct and avowed hostility to that system, that this Catholic University was founded for the propagation of Ultramontane doctrines in politics and religion. It had escaped notice, because it had never come before Parliament in its official capacity; but I should like to know what would be the result if it were proposed to the taxpayers of England—to the Protestant Church and the Nonconforming bodies—to endow another Catholic institution, and one called into existence expressly to unfurl the banner of intolerance against religious freedom and the national system. Many of us must have a painful and vivid recollection of the Maynooth cry. We recollect the spirit aroused in 1851, at the time of what was called the Papal aggression. I repeat, that no Minister has ever been bold enough to ally himself by endowment with an aggression on the liberties of religious education that was so calculated to arouse the dormant furies of fanaticism. Lord Palmerston was not bold enough to attempt to conciliate Irish support by such a proposition, nor was Lord Russell, nor the Earl of Eglinton, nor the Earl of Derby; but the present occupants of the Treasury Bench, bolder than all their predecessors, undeterred by their fears, unrestrained by their scruples, reckless of all consequences, signalize the commencement of their Administration by proposing this concession—a concession which tends to subvert the policy which every patriotic Minister has had at heart, and to overthrow that system of education which was England's best gift to Ireland, made by that very statesman upon whom the right hon. Gentleman pronounced so glowing a eulogium the other night. It was the Earl of Derby who, when Lord Stanley, accomplished that, the brightest act associated with his name, and it is upon that system of National education established by Lord Derby in 1831 that, by a singular destiny, as the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) would phrase it, his political heir and successor inflicts such a foul stab in 1868. The speech of the noble Lord (the Earl of Mayo) has given to the House very little idea of the extent of the change which the proposed plan would effect. Indeed, the noble Lord, in his endeavour to reconcile the gift of this charter with fidelity to the national system, had so difficult a task to 1463 perform that he appeared to me to withhold rather than to impart information to the House upon the question. I will, however, show the House what is exactly the state of things now in Ireland, and what would be the consequences if this proposal were carried into effect. In the early part of the century education in the schools of Ireland was of a wretched character; it was, indeed, worse than none—for while the mind of the pupil was not instructed, it was inflamed with religious animosity and with sedition. In 1831, however, the Government of Lord Grey, in which Mr. Stanley was Chief Secretary for Ireland, established the present national system, upon the principle of united secular and separate religious instruction. The system was met by hostility both from the Protestant clergy and the Roman Catholic priests, who did all they could to destroy it. It was, however, accepted by the laity in Ireland in a very different spirit. They welcomed it with gratitude. The more the clergy and the priests declared against the schools the more did the children of the laity swarm to them; and the result of this remarkable insurrection of the laity of both religions against their spiritual teachers was the complete overthrow of the sacerdotal power, and the signal triumph of the national system. The results now presented to us are such as may appear incredible to the House. There are now no less than three-fourths of the Irish children of all denominations receiving their education in these National schools. I have here the Report of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland for the year 1866, which gives the number of children who have attended these schools since their establishment in 1831. The number of the children who attended in 1833, was 107,000; in 1838, 169,000; in 1843, 355,000; in 1848, 507,000; in 1853, 550,000; in 1858, 803,000; in 1863, 840,000; in 1866, 910,000, and the number is still increasing. These numbers show that there is a steady average increase of 27,000 per annum, and that no less than 3,500,000 of the children of Irish poor have been educated in these schools since 1833. If all this was done in spite of ecclesiastical opposition, what would have been the result had the clergy of both denominations been friendly to the schools? I appeal to the House whether it is not a better proof of the feeling of the laity with regard to these schools that 75 per cent of the Irish children should have 1464 attended them in spite of the denunciations of the sacerdotal opposition which they met with, than if the whole 100 per cent of the children had attended with the approbation of the clergy. But these figures, although remarkable, give us a very imperfect view of the good that the system is working. The analysed Returns show that the system is equally popular with all denominations. In Ulster, for example, where according to the Census Return the Protestants and Catholics are equal in number, it appears that half the children attending the schools are Roman Catholic and half Protestant; and in the same manner in all the other Provinces we find that the relative number of Catholic and Protestant children attending the schools are in the same proportion as the Census population. But it is an important fact that all this is mixed education—that is, as much so as the relative proportions of the population and their distribution admits. There are districts where there are no Roman Catholics, and others where there are no Protestants; and in those, of course, there cannot be mixed scholars; and as in Ireland, as a whole, the Protestants are in a small minority, schools can only be mixed until the smaller population of Protestants is exhausted; but that the attempt to make it a mixed system has been as successful as, in the circumstances, was possible, is proved by the fact, that of the 171,000 Protestant children at these schools no less than 89 per cent are receiving education in mixed schools, and as there are parts of Ulster where there are no Roman Catholics, it is evident that a percentage of Protestant children—and eleven is not a large percentage—must be attending schools where mixed education cannot be given. These, then, are the facts; three-fourths of the poor of Ireland are being educated in mixed schools, and the relative numbers of Protestants and Roman Catholics are in the same proportion as the whole population. But then comes the crowning fact—that in these schools the children of the two creeds mingle together—they read off the same book—they play at the same games—they are companions at an age when the affections are lively and hearts are warm—they form early friendships that imbue their whole after life—and, strangest of all, the parents of these children—themselves brought up to hate and shun those of another creed, and to war on them from the cradle to the grave, encourage their children to form these ties, as if to save 1465 them from the curse with which they were themselves afflicted. Now, these results show that we ought to hold fast by the non-sectarian system of education in Ireland, and to resist to the utmost any attempt whatever to subvert or destroy its character. The laity of Ireland have stood by it well, and it is our duty to stand by them; but if we allow the opponents of the system to get in the thin end of the wedge, or to effect in the smallest degree a breach in the present University system, depend upon it they will improve their advantage, they will break up the colleges, denationalize the schools, and undo the work of years—the best work that has ever been done by us in Ireland. The establishment of these schools in 1831 was followed up in 1844 by the establishment of the Queen's Colleges, and in 1845 by the establishment of the Queen's University—all as an extension of the same system and principle. Now, this brings me to the change proposed by the Government. The noble Lord said the other evening that there were a large number of persons to whom the system adopted in the Universities was not acceptable, and that therefore they declined to avail themselves of the advantages which it afforded. Did the noble Lord mean to say—as has been asserted elsewhere as a plea for the establishment of a Catholic University—that this arises from any conscientious objection entertained by the Roman Catholic laity? I did not understand the noble Lord to say that, and I am glad that he does not endorse the statement—because what is the fact? I have told you that the Roman Catholic laity, in spite of ecclesiastical opposition, maintain this system in the schools. [Cries of "No, no!"] Now, Sir, it is a fact of which I think the House is generally aware, although the noble Lord did not allude to it the other evening, that these Colleges were founded at the request of the laity. The movement in favour of these Colleges originated entirely with the Roman Catholic laity in Ireland. The first proposal made in this House was made by a Roman Catholic Member (Mr. Wyse). A Committee was appointed, and upon the Report of that Committee Sir Robert Peel introduced his measure in 1844, and its introduction was preceded by meetings in the great towns and cities in Ireland—in Cork, Limerick, and Galway—and by memorials to the Lord Lieutenant and to the Crown for the establishment of a system of united edu- 1466 cation in those towns. It was a movement on the part of the Roman Catholic laity, although the Roman Catholic hierarchy participated in it. When it was introduced by Sir Robert Peel in this House it was supported by the Roman Catholic Members, and by none more warmly than Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Sheil. There were discussions in this House, and in the division I believe every Roman Catholic Member voted in favour of the Government.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
was understood to say that this was not the case, inasmuch as Mr. Wyse had voted against the Government.
§ MR. HORSMAN
Mr. Wyse, to whom Sir James Graham paid a tribute for his services to Education similar to that paid by Sir Robert Peel to Mr. Cobden upon the Corn Laws, moved, it is true, the Amendment to which the noble Lord alludes, which had reference to certain rules with reference to the imparting of religious instruction. There was a contention between the Roman Catholic Bishops and the Government as to the admission of these rules; but the Government would not give way, and on this occasion Mr. Wyse and Mr. O'Connell voted together. When the Bill, however, was passed, these rules underwent a modification, and not only were those Gentlemen satisfied, but Dr. Murray, the Archbishop of Dublin, and Dr. Crolly, the Roman Catholic Primate, both attended a meeting at Dublin, and said that these rules were now right, and must be accepted, and Dr. Murray allowed his name to be placed in the Senate, and became an active member of that body. I think the noble Lord will admit that my explanation of the division is correct.
§ MR. HORSMAN
This, then, is the fact with regard to these Colleges. They were originally demanded by the Catholic laity; they were launched with the assistance, the countenance, and the active co-operation of the Catholic hierarchy; they had been asked for by public meetings, some of which were presided over by Catholic mayors; and they were received by the Catholic laity and hierarchy, most gratefully, and in the sanguine hope that they were to prove successful. I do not want to dwell upon the causes which led to a complete change when Dr. Cullen was sent over from Rome; but it is a known fact that he came over with 1467 the avowed intention of destroying these Colleges. They were disapproved by the Pope, and Dr. Cullen was appointed in an irregular manner. [Sir GEORGE BOWYER: No, no!] The hon. Baronet must be aware that Dr. Cullen was specially appointed by the Pope; that he was not dignissimus of those whose names were submitted for election; and that this was in entire violation of the customary practice by which the election of Roman Catholic Bishops is regulated. [Sir GEORGE BOWYER: It was not irregular.] It might not be altogether unprecedented; but it was contrary to custom. Well, Sir, the instant Dr. Cullen came over to Ireland he convoked the Synod of Thurles. He submitted a resolution condemning those Colleges; but so popular were they that the resolution was only carried in a conclave of Roman Catholic Bishops by a majority of one vote. On that their condemnation was immediately proclaimed and this rival Catholic University was established, and such were the desperate measures resorted to by Dr. Cullen to destroy the one institution and promote the other that his bishops actually refused the sacrament of the Church to those of the laity who countenanced these Colleges. It has been said that these Colleges are a failure. I am glad that the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland has refused to endorse that statement. It would, indeed, have been no great wonder if they had been a failure, considering not only that the Roman Catholic hierarchy denounced them, but resorted also to the refusal of the sacrament to their supporters. So far, however, from their being a failure it would be easy to show that they have not only held their ground, but have gained ground in spite of all the fulminations of the Roman Catholic hierarchy; and this is sufficient proof that they would have been overflowing if they had been let alone. And it is a remarkable fact that, although the whole influence of the Irish priesthood has been brought to drive the young men out of the Colleges into the Catholic University, there are more Catholic students in the University that is under excommunication than in its rival that is blessed. That is the history of the Colleges and of this University. There is on the part of the Catholic laity no conscientious objection to the teaching in these Colleges. Their conscientious objection is to resorting to them in the teeth of the injunctions of their priests; but if the Catholic hierarchy would but withdraw 1468 their ban the whole Catholic laity would rush to these Colleges willingly, gratefully, and joyfully. They feel that it is a great grievance that their children cannot receive the education of the Colleges, and, though they will not go to the Colleges under the present state of things, they will not go to the rival University. They regard it as a grievance to them; but is it not a grievance to us to have this interference with the policy by which the State has endeavoured to conciliate a large portion of the Catholic people? It is very hard to have to bear this interference from abroad with our domestic policy; but I must say I think there is one thing still harder to bear, and that is that an English Ministry should be found so wanting in their self-respect and so ignorant or forgetful of the true feeling of the country as to come forward and ask us to confer the favour of the Crown upon this interference—this attack on our institutions—and to dignify it with a charter and enrich it by an endowment. Well, Sir, when I pass from the subject of education to the other parts of the speech of the noble Lord, I cannot help saying that during the whole of my Parliamentary experience I never heard a speech from a Minister of the Crown that gave such universal disappointment—a disappointment arising from no fault of the noble Lord, for he had a cruel task imposed upon him. His Colleagues had been vaunting for weeks past their Irish policy—they were burning to bring it out, and to surprise the world with it; but when the noble Lord got up to explain that policy it had vanished, it was not to be seen, he could not find it. He was very busy with his box; but it was not there. He fumbled among his papers; it was not there. He turned and looked inquiringly into the face of the Prime Minister; it was not there. And so, with admirable presence of mind and ingenuity, for which I give him the highest credit, as the Government were going to do nothing, the noble Lord regaled us with three hours of statistics to show us that Ireland was so prosperous that there was nothing to be done. But the noble Lord forgets one fact which blows all his statistics to the winds, and that is that the Constitution at the present moment is suspended in Ireland. It has been suspended by the present Parliament five times in two years; it has been suspended upwards of thirty times in the course of this century; and although the continuance of that 1469 Act is only asked for twelve months, we have not heard a single word from any Minister which can give us the shadow of a security that the extension of the Act will not be again demanded of us at the end of twelve months, and with as little option to us about renewing it as we have had now. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) asks the Government this plain and practical question—"What do you propose to do to terminate this rule, which has its foundation on fear and force, and substitute for it a government founded on the willing obedience of the people?" and the noble Lord, answers "Nothing." Sir, I am sorry for that answer. I believe no Government ever had a better opportunity of dealing with the whole Irish question; never was Parliament more impressed with the sense of responsibility which the position entails upon it; never were parties more united in an anxious desire cordially to co-operate with the Government in passing healing measures and inaugurating a new and generous policy; and never, I must say, did a Government show itself more blind to the realities of a great question, or more unconscious of the responsibilities and duties of its office. The question which the hon. Member for Cork addressed to the Government as to the substitution of a policy of conciliation for coercion, is one which has baffled the wisdom of generations of English statesmen, and if a Ministry of our time were to succeed where those who have gone before have failed, it would be only by getting out of the old ruts—by turning back to the point where others have gone astray, and, reviewing the past policy of England with all its effects, gaining more accurate knowledge of the present condition of Ireland—ascertaining the causes of that condition, and then applying the proper remedy. What, then, surprises me is that the Government, as it appears to me, have never set themselves to ascertain what is the real condition of Ireland. Everyone who is not on the Treasury Bench knows that poverty and disaffection are the pervading characteristics of a greater part of Ireland, and that to England such a state of things is very discreditable. It is no satisfaction to me to be told by the noble Lord that things are not as bad as they seem; that the material condition of the country is improving, wages are rising, and the sale of beer and spirits is increasing. Everyone who will turn to the record of our Parlia- 1470 mentary debates will see that these have been the stereotyped phrases of the day, which Ministers have used to reconcile us to a suspension of the law. They have told us that "the disaffection is not as widespread as it appears; there are signs of great improvement; all that is wanted is time and patience, and if agitators and quacks will but let well alone, Ireland is slowly but surely passing into a new state of existence." And this new state of existence is so beatific that it all turns out to be a vision, and in twelve months there is a further suspension of the law. The present suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act is the longest that any of us remember. It was the first act of the late Government; it has survived the Government which introduced it, and will probably survive the Parliament which authorized it. Those politicians who take such a cheerful view of the case always base it upon the presumption that Irish disaffection is the result of material and physical causes. But we ought by this time to know that such is not the case. The hon. Member for Cork told us truly, however unpalatably, that the disease of Ireland was not on the surface, but in the heart. He told us that it lay in the sense of wrong, in the sense of injustice which rankled in their breasts, bred and fostered by the traditions of cruelty which have been handed down from father to son, from family to family, and disseminated through the land from province to province, wide-extending and ever increasing, until the memory of it is instilled into the very life-blood of the peasantry. Now the noble Lord congratulated us the other night on the presumption that Fenianism was of foreign origin, and he told us that of the 1,100 men who had been arrested as Fenians only twenty-four were cultivators of the soil. Did he mean to imply that in the southern districts of Ireland—the agricultural districts—the well-affected and loyal are to the disaffected and disloyal in the proportion of forty to one? If he means that, we ask at once why have you no special constables there and no Volunteers; how is it that when a crime is committed the criminal is spirited away and the police are baffled? But the noble Lord contradicted his own statement, for having told us that all the upper and richer classes were against the Fenian movement; that "no landed proprietor, no rich merchant, none of the clergy, none of the people of the highest education were to be found in its ranks," he went on— 1471There are certain conductors of a portion of the Irish Press who may be said to represent the feelings of the Fenians, but they are very interior to the writers who supported former movements of a rebellious nature. When you descend in the social scale and come to the small occupiers of the land, you find a considerable number of that class who may be said to sympathize with the movement, though they have taken no active part in it. Descending still lower, to the uneducated labourers, to what in Ireland are called 'farmers' boys,' and to the mechanics in towns, you find this organization widely spread. I am sorry to say that in some of the large towns in the South of Ireland you find the mass of the people of that class deeply tainted with Fenianism, and perfectly ready to sympathize with it to any extent.Here you have a portion of the Press, the farmers having small holdings, the "farmers' boys," the mechanics, and the masses in large towns in the South of Ireland, and what is the conclusion to which the Government have come? The noble Lord says—That being the case, I think the House will agree with me, looking broadly at the matter, that there does not exist any real material in Ireland itself for maintaining in active operation this Fenian movement.But it appears to me that, even according to the noble Lord, nearly all classes in the South of Ireland are deeply tainted with Fenianism. Then the noble Lord gives us his proposed remedy. The real strength of the movement, he tells us, is on the other side of the Atlantic, and he adds—I believe that could the communication between this kingdom and America be cut off for a short time, Fenianism would rapidly disappear and become extinct for ever.Well, Sir, that is rather a great idea. I do not know whether the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary has communicated with Mr. Seward with reference to it. It does seem to me to be a new and a very peculiar policy to suggest. Then the noble Lord draws a distinction between Fenians and Fenian sympathisers; but what is the difference? It is this. Fenians are those of whom you hear in the records of the police; Fenian sympathizers are those whom you see in the funeral processions; Fenian sympathizers are those who lay by when the enterprize is desperate, and who swell the numbers of the disaffected immediately success attends disloyalty—when they have the opportunity, they are ready to burst forth, and show that their name is legion. We were told, Sir, of the patriotism of the higher classes. No one doubts it; but what of the patriotism of the class immediately below? What of the class to meet whose case the 1472 Habeas Corpus Act has been suspended? No, Sir, do not let us deceive ourselves. The patriotism of the Irish is not the patriotism of the same classes in England and Scotland. Here patriotism means attachment to the soil, and loyalty to the Government and the Crown; in Ireland patriotism means love of Ireland and not love of England; it means too often love of Ireland and hatred of England and of its Government; and therefore Ireland, instead of being a source of strength, a security to us in the time of danger, it is often pointed at as a source of weakness, and gloated over by our enemies as a vulnerable point. The condition of Ireland, then, even from the noble Lord's statistics, is not only bad, but dangerous; and so the hon. Member for Cork asks us to inquire into the causes. "No," said an hon. Member last night, "let us have nothing to do with causes—we have had enough of them—let us stick to present facts and leave history alone." But the hon. Member for Cork has a right to insist that it is only by agreeing as to causes that we can agree on remedies; and this very Fenianism is the result of our helplessness and blindness, because we have always shut our eyes to causes. And it is absolutely necessary that we should inquire into causes in order that by seeing and acknowledging our errors in the past—feeling the responsibilities we have incurred—and the reparation we are bound to make, we may not merely emancipate ourselves from the trammels of a hateful and baneful policy, but may go further and brace ourselves to the remedies which to be just must be bold, and to be effective must be to some degree exceptional. And there is unfortunately no denying, and there is no wisdom in attempting to conceal the fact that the evils of Ireland are caused by England's misgovernment—and all in one way—because from the first England's rule of policy has been to ignore differences of race, of religion, of circumstances and character between the two countries, and to rule Ireland—as I fear some of our statesmen are still bent on ruling her, in conformity with English laws and customs, and feelings, and even prejudices and requirements. And as the hon. Member for Cork told us, we began with their religion. Because England was a Protestant nation with a Protestant Church Establishment, we forgot that in England the change had been preceded by preaching and conversion and that the creed was national. We sent into Ireland an Act of Parliament 1473 and told them to conform, and when they would not conform we put in execution the penal Acts. Now, Sir, Mr. Burke said there was nothing in the history of the civilized world to compare with the ferocious government of Ireland by England tinder these penal laws, and to this day we are reaping the bitter fruits. Are the Irish ignorant? asks Sir Henry Parnell. Thank their penal laws. Are they poor? Thank the penal laws. Are they disaffected? Thank the penal laws. The hon. Member for Cork reminded us of some of those laws. Education prescribed, their worship declared a crime; every motive for exertion, every hope, and every tie of natural affection legislated against. It was impossible that the utmost refinement of torture could devise a system more calculated to accomplish the mental, moral, and physical prostration of a people. And all this was done in the name of religion and of Protestantism—of the religion of peace and charity, to which we were converting the benighted Irish. Did it succeed? Did it make them Protestants? Did it make them loyal, peaceful, grateful? We know that it did precisely the reverse. Was Ireland, or England, or Protestantism the better for that Church? It is difficult to separate the Church from religion, or religion from its attributes of divine goodness; but when we see that Protestantism has dwindled in Ireland, while Popery has thriven; when we see that the mission of the Irish Church has been to engender crime and perpetuate ignorance, and that it is regarded as a curse to the land it was meant to bless; and when I see all this, and believe as I do believe, that so long as that Church exists as a favoured Church, there cannot, as I believe, be peace or contentment in the land, I am brought to the conclusion that that Church as a favoured Church cannot and ought not to be maintained. And while I object to the Protestant Establishment in Ireland on many grounds, I object to it most of all on this—that it is the deadliest enemy to Protestantism that the most malignant enemy of Protestantism could devise. The hon. Member for Cork tells you that this State Church confronts you and asks you how you will deal with it. Do you mean to deal with it in earnest? "Oh, yes," said the noble Lord; "of course we do; don't you see we have been appointing a Commission to inquire? Does not that show how much in earnest we are?" But a Commission to inquire into what? What 1474 is it you want to know? Whether the Church of Ireland is the Church of the minority? Had you such doubt about that as to require a Commission of Inquiry to set that point at rest? I have no doubt that the Commission will give you the most precise information as to the relative numbers of Roman Catholics and Protestants in every diocese in Ireland. They will tell you that in one parish in 1834 there were fifteen or sixteen Protestants, and that now the number has risen to nineteen or twenty. They will tell you that in another parish, whereas the proportion of Catholics to Protestants was ten to one, it is now not more than eight or seven to one. But the Church of Ireland is not to be dealt with like a decayed borough by Census returns. It has passed beyond the stage of investigation. It is no longer a question of figures. It is a question not of statistics, but of principle—not of figures, but of facts. And this broad fact stares you in the face—that the Established Church is of one religion, and the nation of another. And we ask you how you mean to deal with that fact? We do not ask you what measures you intend to propose, but we ask you to explain the principle on which you intend to act. Is it the old traditional principle of your fathers—the principle of Protestant ascendancy, or is it the principle for which we contend, of complete religious equality? But the noble Lord on the part of the Government will commit himself to no principle. They have shown their appreciation of the magnitude of the question, and given proof of their courage and statesmanship, by issuing a Commission of Inquiry, and, exhausted by that prodigious effort, they mean to shelve the question for another year. I think that it cannot, and ought not, to be shelved for another year. I think that it is the duty of this Parliament to affirm in some form or other the principle on which the ecclesiastical system of Ireland ought to continue, and having once affirmed that to be the principle of religious equality, I believe we may then hold up our heads before the world, which is crying shame upon us, and expect to be believed when we next declare that we sincerely desire to rule Ireland on principles of right and justice, and to promote the happiness and contentment of her people. I wish to say a few words on another question referred to by the noble Lord—that of land. Here, again, the question was raised by the hon. Member 1475 for Cork, whether all the difficulties and entanglements of the land question proceed from natural causes or have been artificially created. For my own part, I trace all these evils to a very recent date—to the date when seats in Parliament were competed for by Irish Members, when seats were valuable, and when England ruled Ireland very much by corruption. Then came that enormous multiplication of small holdings, for the purpose of creating votes, to which the noble Lord alluded. Tenant votes were then a more valuable commodity in the market than any improved cultivation of the soil, and thus there came an insatiable multiplication of holdings, which resulted in myriads of human beings being crammed into places that were hardly so good as English pigstyes, where they were reared in destitution and sedition. The first alleviation of this result was given in 1847, in the form of famine, pestilence, and emigration. Before hon. Gentlemen consider the various proposals for dealing with the land, let us consider what it is we have to do. As I understand, our aim and object is to make a whole people contented with the system under which they live—that is to say, with the tenure upon which their livelihood and existence depend. We want to identify the cultivator of the soil with the soil, and to give him not as an individual, but as a class, not merely an interest, but some confidence in the holding. We want to make him feel that he has more to lose than to gain by successful insurrection, and thus to furnish him with increasing motives for industry, frugality, and loyalty. Now, this can only be done by legislating for Ireland more than we have hitherto done in accordance with Irish wants and feeling, and upon principles that are strictly applicable to Ireland, and called for by her special circumstances, without asking whether or not they are equally applicable under all the circumstances to England. I was very much surprised to read a speech delivered at Bristol the other day by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He expressed an opinion which I should not have expected from one who takes such large and generous views. The noble Lord said there was no principle of legislation which we could apply to Ireland which we must not be prepared immediately to apply to England. Would the noble Lord apply that principle to the Established Church? If he would, 1476 I say "Why don't you appoint a Commission to inquire into the revenues of the Established Church in England?" He knows that to do so would be an intimation that legislation would follow. He knows that the Minister who should identify the two Churches, and say that they must stand or fall together, and that to issue such a Commission would be pronouncing the early doom of both. But if you cannot, or dare not, or will not do for Ireland what is good for her because it would be bad for England, what better plea could you furnish to the Fenians, or what better argument to those who are in favour of the repeal of the Union? It is absolutely impossible that you can legislate for Ireland, in regard to the land, upon principles applicable to England, because the circumstances of the two countries are entirely different. It is impossible to find any two countries in which the relations between landlord and tenant differ so greatly. In England, to begin with, you have between landlord and tenant that closest of all ties and sympathy—that they are of the same religion. In Ireland the religions of the landlord and tenant have waged implacable war for generations, which has been carried into every class and every household. In England, as a rule, the landlords are resident. In Ireland they are too often absentees. In England the landlords, as a rule, make the improvement in the soil. In Ireland the improvements are left, as a rule, to the tenant. The points of resemblance, indeed, are not to be found, and the dissimilarities are endless. In England the tenant is a capitalist and an employer of labour. In Ireland the tenant is usually his own labourer, and is very little removed from the class of paupers. In England the tenants, more than any other class, are the friends of order. In Ireland the tenants are the greatest sympathizers with the disturber. I say that in the South of Ireland, where Fenianism is rife, the farmers sympathize with these disorders. In England you have a strong, powerful and active middle class which bridges over the interval between the landlord and tenant, and by whose aid the proportion of tenants to farms is regulated according to the usual law of supply and demand. In England you have great coalfields and manufactures which employ your redundant population. In Ireland, on the contrary, the land is so over peopled that if a tenant loses one holding he cannot get another. There are no coalmines, no manufactures. The whole population are 1477 employed in the cultivation of the soil, and yet, however industrious any portion of that population may be, however peaceable, however loyal may be this vast element to be considered in Irish government and legislation, comprising as it does so many hundreds of thousands engaged in the one national occupation of making the land productive, they stand alone in the civilized world as a class to whom neither law, nor custom, nor opinion, nor the exigencies of the land or its proprietor, has given a secure home or a fixed dwelling; but, so far as any protection of the law avails them, there is not one man among those millions can say that on that day six months he, with all his family, may not be turned out of his cabin into the world, an outcast, a pauper, or an exile. The evils of this state of things have been acknowledged by Parliament, and various efforts have been made to find a remedy by legislation. I must say that the Bills which I have hitherto seen are not satisfactory. This has been not the fault of the authors, because they have introduced such measures as they thought Parliament would pass; but I do not believe that the Bills hitherto introduced would now be accepted as a settlement of the question. I believe that by such measures as I have pointed out you must deal with Ireland. By giving full effect to the principle of religious equality, by removing, by some mode or other, the feeling of insecurity which is driving the tenants abroad, and by uniting all creeds and classes in Ireland in one great system of unsectarian education, I believe you will be able to govern Ireland without having recourse to measures of coercion. And, binding the people to you by gratitude and affection, as well as law, you may reap the reward of wise and beneficent legislation in the attainment of peace and prosperity at home and the cessation of danger from abroad.
§ MR. CORRANCE
Mr. Speaker—Sir, I ought to apologize to hon. Members for wishing on this occasion to address the House, nevertheless, there may be a reason for this. It may seem to some an Irish assertion that this is not an Irish debate. I cannot hold it to be so in any exclusive manner. It involves Imperial questions of the gravest class, and is Imperial in the widest sense. Sir, before I enter further into this, let me make one remark—addressed especially to Irish Members on that side of the House. It will be my duty to differ somewhat widely from some opin- 1478 ions expressed. I shall hope to do so without offence. I am not unmindful of the peculiar, nay the painful circumstances of this case, not unconscious of the feelings they are best calculated to create, they are such as I, as an Englishman, can partake. Sir, the wrongs of Ireland are a fruitful theme—fruitful in one sense of words—barren of results. Now, why is this? The physicians are able, the diagnosis complete; many remedies have been recommended, many tried with indifferent success. Sir, from the hon. Member who preceded me, we hear that secular education has been a brilliant success. His statistics establish this—I am not at the instant prepared to contest their accuracy, but I may at least say this—that they differ with those from which I have lately obtained information upon such points. I believe since 1851 there has been a continuous decrease; but, Sir, if I concede this point, is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with the result? Why, Sir, to quote his own words, "Misery and disaffection prevail throughout." I ask him, is he content with this practical result? Once more—political economy. This has been tried. It can cure, at the expense of the sufferer's life. Successive Governments have tried to deal with it, without success, and since Lord Derby's Land Tenure Bill of 1845, several other such measures have been introduced. During recent times we have had two, both from the late Secretary for Ireland, and the noble Lord who now occupies that place. In each of these there was one distinct principle announced, that of compensation for unexhausted improvements of a certain class. Sir, if I say that these failed, I do so only in this sense: that owing to the immense variety of condition, and still more of sentiment, to which they were meant to apply, they could not gain success. Nevertheless, they were well meant legislative efforts, and I do not detract from their worth nor impugn the soundness of the principle upon which they were built. The remedy may be rather social than political in this case. Into these, nevertheless, I do not propose to go tonight, lest I trespass too far upon the attention of the House; besides these, there are schemes before us of another class. It is up to a certain time, we have been told, that the legislation for Ireland was altogether devoid of justice and of common sense, of penal law, and enactments of that class. Well, this may be true, and for 1479 the last twenty years political economy has been relied on to supply all wants. In the present instance we have before us plans wholly distinct. It may, I think, be said that they are neither political economy nor yet common sense. Nevertheless, Sir, as these schemes are endorsed by the distinguished names of the hon. Member for Westminster and the hon. Member for Birmingham, they must at least be treated with respect, and seriously discussed. What are these? They propose simply a transfer of the land from the owner to the occupier class, permissive at present at least. How is this to be done? Well, by the agency of the State. Under what precise condition this is to take place we are not yet fully informed; but whatever may be the machinery set up, whether Crown banks or a Credit Immobiliére, the real purchaser of the land will be the State. It takes the place of landlords of every class, even those city companies which the hon. Member for Cork dislikes so much. What are the securities upon which the State will rest? Well, the rent and the land itself. What is the guarantee for the payment of the first? Landlords have found it hard to collect, armed with the terrible power of distraint. Can this power be exercised by the State? Can it seize upon the land? Can it evict? Fancy a whole population evicted, expatriated by the State! Why, Sir, double that army of occupation to which the hon. Member has alluded would not suffice in such a case. Once more, Sir, have we not a parallel to such land tenures as this? It is in India that we must look for this. In the hon. Member for Westminster I speak to one instructed upon such a point. It is such as exists in some of our dependencies between the Ryot and the State—minor details apart. Is this the land tenure the hon. Gentleman would suggest? Are landlords to be superseded by the Zemindar class? Fancy the condition of a village like this. It is the dream of a pastoral poet, but as I before said, neither political economy nor common sense. But, Sir, the hon. Member for Westminster does not stop here. He holds bolder opinions than this. His social economy embraces confiscation of estates. What is the crime this is to punish, and whose the policy which such a measure is necessary to complete? Is it the Exodus of the people that demands this? Surely the hon. Member need not be reminded of this—that this policy was not that of the 1480 landlords, nor was the consequence their fault. It took place under a law in which they had no part—under the policy prescribed by the hon. Gentleman and his Friends, whose sympathy comes somewhat late. Sir, the hon. Member tell us we have lived in a "Fool's Paradise!" Then a "Fool's Paradise" of what? Of political economy; of material prosperity; of wealth without social obligations or moral duties discharged, and that these things it requires a revolution to correct. Let me turn to other authorities in this case—evidence which the hon. Gentleman will, I think, respect. In an able article the Westminster Review speaks of the Indian land tenures thus—A country cannot be improved per saltum; any attempt to revolutionize its institutions all at once is sure to end disastrously, like the judicial and land reforms of Lord Cornwallis. We must build on foundations ready laid, and the neglect of this truth is the main reason of the little progress we have made. The best which we can do, is to communicate the impulse of movement, to relieve every distrust, and to offer in our own actions an evidence of the good whither that movement should tend.One more authority as to this. Mr. Goldwin Smith speaks thus upon the same point—The plans of Land Reform which I think are to be deprecated are those for advancing public money to the small farmers of Ireland, and constituting the State in fact the creditor of that class. I think it is not too much to say that it would be the surest way to a rebellion. What it demands is, in fact, a measure of agrarian confiscation. Such things may follow in the wake of a great revolution, but can a nation coolly embrace confiscation as an expedient of statesmanship?I turn to the hon. Member for Cork. Sir, he has given us a somewhat highly-coloured picture of the state of Ireland, but, Sir, what remedies did he suggest? I listened attentively for this. Only the vaguest possible suggestions passed his lips. Sir, hon. Members are not expansive in this House. They lack the freedom we find in their books and discourses in another place. Even the boldest speakers must be conscious of this, and even the hon. Member for Birmingham has usually reserved his more generous suggestions for other audiences than this. But, Sir, we are in possession of some more accurate data as to this. I allude to the hon. Member for Cork. It is said "That mine enemy had written a book!" Sir, I qualify the allusion in part. The hon. Member is no enemy of mine; he never could be such for his wholehearted advocacy of a cause like this. It 1481 is of his race. But, Sir, has not his enthusiasm deceived himself—blinded him to conclusions furnished by himself. It seems to me so I confess. Let me quote from his book to show this. Speaking of the tenant-right feeling of our colonies, and some transactions which took place in Prince Edward's Island, he speaks thus—In confirmation of the existence of this feeling there is the policy of the leading public men of the colony, which is to free the actual cultivators of the soil from the obligation of rent, by converting the occupying tenant into a fee simple proprietor.He then instances the sale of the lands of Sir Samuel Cunard, and it is not a little significant to find that the purchase money was given up—practically abandoned. He goes on to say, that by means of legislative action, large arrears of rent were expunged from the books of proprietors and declared irrecoverable as against tenants who shall avail themselves of the provisions of this Bill—Whilst the tenant's improvements were in existence, they were a sufficient security against the recovery of all arrears of rent. On one lot the tenants, by having availed themselves of the advantages extended to them, had had over £1,000 of arrears wiped off—every farthing of which could have been recovered by the proprietors, because the tenants were in reality men of wealth. On the Sullivan property it was the same, There were many tenants upon the estates affected by the Fifteen Years' Purchase Act, to whom, before the passing of that Act the proprietors would not consent to sell the fee simple of the farm under twenty or thirty years' purchase, but who were compelled to part with it at fifteen years' purchase under this Act.Now, of course, when the hon. Gentleman calls upon us to adopt and follow such a precedent as this, it becomes of some importance to know the exact conditions of this case. When we consider that the sanction of a British Minister was obtained to such an arrangement, the significance of the circumstance is increased, and we are bound to inquire more particularly into the details of the case. This the hon. Member does not seem to have done, or he would have found that they were exceptional, a fact which I can place beyond doubt. He would have found that the title was of imperfect validity, and that the conditions had not been carried out—a very cursory examination of the documents referring to it will show this. In the Report of the Royal Commission which sat upon it, this is clearly pointed out. It proceeds thus—One of the first Acts of the Legislature was the taking into consideration the non-performance of the terms and stipulation of the grant. Dur- 1482 ing the ensuing five years the quit-rents were not paid as stipulated. During the first ten years, the terms of settlement with reference to population were complied with only in ten townships.Then follow five Resolutions condemnatory of the indulgences extended to the proprietors for the non-performance of the conditions of the grant. In the correspondence with the Duke of Newcastle, then Foreign Secretary, there is much more to the same effect. These estates were, in fact, liable to an escheat, which was only partially carried out. Well, Sir, I need not, I think, quote further to show that the circumstances were exceptional in this case, and that the application of such measures were clearly justifiable in such a case. But when the hon. Member argues from this that it conveys a lesson upon which, under widely different circumstances, it would be wise or prudent to act, he is deceiving others or else deceived himself. There is no parallel in this case. Of this, indeed, he seems half conscious himself, when he admits—That if proposed here it would be considered as a measure of sweeping confiscation, worthy of the days of Jack Cade, or of revolutionary France.He further tells us that to the Government it was a paying concern, a matter of which we can entertain no reasonable doubt. But, Sir, let me finally say this, that if such are the real sentiments of the hon. Member and of others in this House; if, I say, they conceive that such measures are at all applicable to the old settled properties of England or Ireland, they have either a very imperfect idea of the actual conditions, or the effect of the application of such measures to all property alike. What would, for instance, be the condition of the new proprietors in such a case? Under such a law let us suppose that they have acquired an estate, are they still subject to the law of escheat? Is forfeiture still the condition of a lease? Does the State resume its right in such a case? What sort of proprietorship is this? Take another instance, furnished by the hon. Gentleman himself—namely, of the MacCanus, who, axe in hand, hewed himself out an estate. Is this also liable to confiscation if let? Or that honest industrious Irishman in Upper Canada, who, he tells us, commencing with one week's wages, ended the master of 900 acres of fertile land. Is this possession still subject to the same law, and would there be no hardship in this? Surely, Sir, I need 1483 no further appeal to the hon. Member, his sympathy for the poor industrious man will correct his judgment as to what is due to the rich. At least let me say this, that if such a law were sanctioned, it would press upon the poor even more than the rich, and would exercise a pressure upon them more direct, a pressure which hitherto no Legislature has ever permitted, and no despot ever dared to exact. Sir, I have perhaps trespassed too long upon the time and patience of the House, but I would make one concluding remark. I do not deny the existence of evils in Ireland, nor the possibility of remedy. God forbid! Through her whole history there runs an evil vein, which has tended to an unfortunate result, and circumstances which none who have known and appreciated the rich genius of her race, can contemplate without sorrow and regret. For these the remedies may be political, they are more social, as I think; but they must be in any case a work of time to effect. Go to any long deserted or neglected village and you will see this. Sir, in the general scope and to the principles laid down in the speech of the noble Lord I concur, I agree also with the hon. Member who has urged that a full and fair inquiry should take place. But with those who, in this evil current of the time, seek occasion to preach a revolutionary propaganda, and to rouse the antagonisms of the past, Sir, I emphatically dissent.
§ MR. LOWE
Sir, it is the misfortune of Ireland that, having like other countries differences of opinion among its inhabitants, and relations of superiority and inferiority such as must always exist in every community, the national mind seems incapable of accepting them as they are accepted in other countries, but somehow or other contrives to engraft on them contention, division, and hatred. We have landlords and tenants in England as they exist else where, but we can contrive to carry on our business without mutual quarrels. We have Protestants and Catholics in England, as they have them in other countries, and we find that both here and in other countries the Protestants and Catholics can live side by side in harmony. The effect of the state of things in Ireland—the causes of which I will not now attempt to analyze—is the very lamentable one that whenever any event occurs—any misfortune, such as all communities are liable to at some time or another—instead of being regarded with candour and impartiality, it 1484 is seized upon eagerly by both parties, and sought to be made a weapon to embitter the controversy which already exists. In this point of view the incident of Fenianism has been a perfect godsend to those who are desirous of promoting agitation, though to a man who, like myself, is willing to take an impartial and common sense view of things nothing can be simpler than its origin. When the great civil war in America closed, and when even the enormous absorbing power of that vast and prosperous community was unable to take up all the elements of disorder which the war had brought into being, a number of persons were left who were unable to conform themselves to the habits of industry, and to a civilized and quiet life; and it is not to be wondered at that those persons saw in the discontent in Ireland—represented in America to be much greater than it really was—an opportunity of pushing their fortunes in the desperate and turbulent manner of life to which long years of civil war had accustomed them. That those persons should have come over to Ireland, furnished with money from their friends in America, and spend that money freely in public-houses which were the resorts of the lower class—that in a country like Ireland, where, unhappily, a great deal of poverty and misery still exists, they should gather around them persons of desperate fortunes, willing to embark in enterprizes of the most criminal character, is not a thing which ought to excite the surprise of any man who has read history, and more especially the history of Ireland. It seems to me quite unnecessary to go very deep into the social condition of Ireland, and the grievances under which she is alleged to suffer, in order to account for the very lamentable phenomena of the Fenian conspiracy. That conspiracy, however, has been identified with every existing source of Irish discontent. On the first occasion when the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act was moved, that was taken by several hon. Gentlemen in this House as the text for disquisitions on all the evils Ireland had suffered from the time of James II. to the present moment; and it is considered now to be an occasion which calls upon us for more peculiar exertions to correct the mischief existing in Ireland. But why is this the case unless we can connect, by some logical sequence, the Fenian conspiracy with the existing discontent in that country? Hon. Gentlemen say that because of the Fenian conspiracy 1485 we must adopt a revolutionary policy with regard to land. Why, what have the Fenians to do with the land? Have the small farmers joined the Fenians? The noble Lord (the Earl of Mayo) told us the other night that among the 1,100 persons arrested not one in 50 were small farmers. And when you think what "small farmer" means in Ireland—when you think of the poverty and misery which this term too often implies—the proportion is absolutely wonderfully small, and instead of showing any connection between the two, it seems to show the widest divergence possible. Is there any connection between the Fenians and those who complain of the Established Church? Do the Fenians care to redress the Irish grievances in that direction? Do they sympathize with the woes of those who complain that they have not Universities suitable to their case? Are these the errands on which these messengers of peace and civilization come to their help? Have they any secret understanding with any of the promoters of those causes which have been advocated in this House? Sir, it is ridiculous to say so. We know very well on what errand they have come. They may gloss it over with the name of nationality if they please, but in reality it is a game of confiscation. It is not England they come to attack. They come, in the exercise of their vocation as enemies of mankind, to prey upon the Irish people—to plunder and desolate Ireland; not to establish fixed tenure, but to take the place of the landlords, and to screw what they can out of the people. It is time to speak out upon this point, for an attempt has been made to connect with the causes of discontent, real and unfortunate as they are, this extraneous movement, which has little or nothing to do with them, although it may be traced up to what my right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman) calls causes or antecedents of discontent, which existed amongst the Irish many years ago, and are now extinct. In arguing this question, I would lay aside altogether the Fenian conspiracy. It merely tends to perplex and embarrass the Irish question, and in no way to clear it up or to lead us to what we ought to desire to arrive at—a solution which will really do some good to Ireland. We can deal with these Fenians, and when my hon. Friend talks of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and the suspension of the Constitution, I say, that if we 1486 had only to deal with the Irish indigenous discontent, we need not suspend it. We suspend the Habeas Corpus Act because a number of lawless foreign adventurers landed in Ireland, and because in justice and fairness—not to the people of England—but to those of Ireland, which they came to plunder, and among whom they came to exercise their vocation as robbers, and enemies of mankind—it was our duty to arrest those individuals, and to prevent their preying upon the people of Ireland. Before, however, I put this matter aside, I will give an illustration of the manner in which this Fenian conspiracy is spoken of, by quoting from a great authority—I allude to my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill). In the first place he compares it to a clap of thunder in a clear sky, and, as if that were not emphatic enough, he proceeds thus—The disaffection which they flatter themselves has been cured"—I am sorry to say that I am not acquainted with those who do so flatter themselves—"suddenly shows itself more intense, more violent, more unscrupulous, and more universal than ever. The population is divided between those who wish success to Fenianism and those who, though disapproving its means, and perhaps its ends, sympathize in its embittered feeling.Now, does my hon. Friend really mean to say that the Fenian outbreak, such as we have seen it, is "more intense, more unscrupulous, more violent, more universal," than any other outbreak Ireland has ever seen? That is the language of this pamphlet, and on this language he bases the proposal I will presently consider. But, I ask, can there be anything more calculated to mislead our judgment! Let us give full weight to the Fenian insurrection, and say anything we can of it with truth. Those who have read the history of the rebellion of 1641, of the bloody civil war of 1690 and 1691, of the war of 1798, or even of the insurrection of 1848, know very well that all the symptoms we are accustomed to look for in outbreaks of this character have been mitigated in the case of the Fenian outbreak. If we could derive encouragement from anything so melancholy, it would be really encouraging to contrast the outrages and horrors of 1798, perpetrated by both sides upon each other, with the regard for human life shown by the Fenian leaders, when it was not necessary for their purpose to take it. My hon. Friend talks of revolt and rebellion—where was the rebellion? There was some little stir last year; but when the Fenians 1487 were encountered by men with arms in their hands the contention was as to who could run away first. Since then, what have been the characteristics of the movement? We have had attempts, on the part of a few dastardly assassins, who confessed their weakness by their manner of attack, shooting stray policemen, or blowing up innocent women and children. That is the sort of rebellion we have had to meet—a kind of revolt and rebellion which half-a-dozen unscrupulous men, dead to feeling and humanity, can always raise against any Government. These are not occurrences to shake our manhood, or lead us to adopt measures more violent or revolutionary than we should take in ordinary times of peace. No doubt, there may be a great many things wrong in the state of Ireland—things which demand redress, even although we are not called on to take any violent measures in consequence of the Fenian outbreak. I do, therefore, invite the House to consider what there may be in the state of Ireland that we can redress, and the best way to find that out would, I think, be first of all to see what cannot be done. Now, Sir, in the first place, the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland has proved most satisfactorily that Ireland is not retrograding—that although the prosperity of Ireland is far behind that of England, still she is going forward. No doubt, she has had reverses peculiar to herself, being purely an agricultural country, and therefore at the mercy of the seasons. She is subject to the law which affects all those who, vulgarly speaking, put all their eggs in one basket, and have only one source of wealth. Still, Ireland is not retrograding, but, all things considered, is making considerable advances. Well, then, as to the ill-treatment Ireland receives from England, I protest against such language. England does not govern Ireland more than Ireland governs England. England, Scotland, and Ireland are partners in a great concern—portions of a system in which each acts and re-acts on the others in proportion to the weight it brings into it. Ireland is as fully represented in Parliament as even Irishmen claim she should be; she has her full share in the Government; she is not a dependency; she is not in any way subordinate to the Government of England. Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom. With her 105 Members in this House, it cannot be said she is inadequately represented; and if it does so happen that these 1488 Members are very nearly divided between the two parties, that is not our fault. The measures adopted by Parliament are not measures pressed by England and Scotland against Ireland, because if they were we should expect to see the whole of the 105 Members opposed to them. Well, then, look at the taxation. There are £4,000,000 of taxes paid by England and Scotland to which we do not ask Ireland to contribute. There are, for example, the assessed taxes and the railway tax from which Ireland is exempt. It is right that these things should be said, for I feel as an Englishman impatient under the weight of the misrepresentation and calumny to which this country is subjected. Again, at the time of the famine, a loan of £5,000,000 was incurred, and was charged on Irish land. England, very rightly, and certainly in no spirit of unkindness or hostility, undertook that loan, and placing it upon the general funds of the Empire, relieved Ireland of it. In England, the police force are partly paid out of the county rates; the police of Ireland are wholly supported out of the Consolidated Fund. Education in England is paid for only, to a small extent, by the Government, the proportion being one-third of the whole; but in Ireland, four-fifths of the primary education is paid for out of the Consolidated Fund. In England, we are in want of some University for the middle class; in Ireland, we have founded out of the public funds an admirable system of mixed education, which is maintained at the expense of the United Kingdom. I believe it is supposed in America, in Fenian circles, that we tax Ireland most unmercifully; but the fact is rather that Ireland taxes us. I now come to the next complaint, which is one fruitful of all sorts of difficulties—namely, the question of the land. I have sat on several Committees of this House to investigate this question, of the land in Ireland, and it never has been my fate to hear a single case of grievance or ill-treatment of a tenant alleged, with dates and circumstances, so that it could be verified. I sat on a Committee with the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland; he will recollect we heard many witnesses against the landlords, but there was not one fact adduced to bring the charges home. There were many general arguments and statements of the possibility of improving the law; but no facts were given on the subject. I mention this because I would venture to suggest that, as 1489 a Commission is to be appointed, it might be desirable that a clause should be inserted desiring them to hear statements of that kind. Our Committees were entirely unsuccessful in discovering any case of real grievance. Let us look at the question as it really stands before us. How does the law stand in Ireland with regard to landlord and tenant? It is ridiculous to inveigh against a law which is the same in Ireland as in England; and whatever may be the difference between the two countries, it is impossible that there can be any fundamental injustice in a law which works with entire satisfaction in a country like this. When it is looked into it is not difficult to arrive at a conclusion with regard to this question. The hon-Member for Westminster says that Ireland has only one industry—that of the cultivation of the land, while England has many; that in Ireland the tenant is not as in England and Scotland, a capitalist, but a labourer, or as poor as a labourer—often much poorer than the labourer in England; that in Ireland everything depends upon the terms upon which land can be got, and that the terms upon which it is to be had in Ireland are the worst to be found in Europe. This is a melancholy picture, and there is a great deal of truth in it; but not the whole truth. According to the statement of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, there are in Ireland 175,000 holders of land, who occupy on an average four-and-a-half acres of land each, at a rental not exceeding £4 a year, and there are 142,000 tenants who occupy on an average only thirteen acres each, at a rental not exceeding £8 a year. With this state of facts before us I do not see that we need go far to ascertain the cause of the distress existing in that country. How is it possible that such a system as this can be worked with satisfaction between landlord and tenant? Conceive a man holding those wretched four acres—who feels himself poorer than the labourer who works upon the farm of the larger tenant. Instead of receiving wages he must toil from morning to night in order to pay out of his wants, his miseries, and his necessities the rent he has agreed to pay to his landlord. He must exist in doubt and fear during good seasons, and in bad he can do nothing but throw himself upon the mercy of his landlord or parish. Do you think he can be happy and contented, or look on his position with satisfaction? Is it not wonder- 1490 ful—indeed is it not almost supernatural—that a man so placed should turn a deaf ear—as appears to have been the case—to the emissaries of civil war and sedition who come to him across the Atlantic with plenty of money, and who, pointing out the great houses around him, tell him of the plunder that lies within his reach, and ask him to join in a general raid against the property of the rich? I ask any Gentleman, who has an estate let in farms of 200 acres each, what would be his feelings if on returning home after an absence abroad of some years he should find that his agent had got rid of all his large tenants and had let his estate in holdings not exceeding in value £4 per annum? Why, he would feel, and rightly so, that his property had gone to ruin. That is the view that every practical man would take of such a state of things. But what do the hon. Members for Stroud, Cork, and Westminster ask us to do? According to their views we are to accept this state of things in Ireland as permanent. We are asked by them to concede that this miserable condition of affairs is to be the be-all and end-all of that country; that the occupiers of these holdings are to depend entirely upon agriculture in a country with a humid and uncertain climate and a not very grateful soil. They say we must accept this as the ultimate stage of civilization to which Ireland can aspire, and that we must take every means in our power to stereotype and perpetuate it. The noble Lord opposite himself proposes that we shall give the tenant compensation for improvements—that is good improvements—while it is clear that it will be totally out of the power of these small tenants to effect improvements that will in any way benefit the landlord. The only improvement a tenant could make upon such a holding that would really benefit his landlord would be that he should be good enough to walk out of it, and that would be an improvement which his landlord would doubtless be glad to make him compensation for. Before I come to deal with the scheme of the hon. Member for Westminster, I should like to say frankly how the matter strikes me. It seems to me to be quite manifest that this is not a state of things to be acquiesced in by us as the ultimate and permanent condition of Ireland; if it be so we may as well close the Irish statute book. It is of no avail for us to endeavour to make laws to encounter all this vast amount of misery 1491 and desolation; mate what laws you choose you will have nothing but discontent and wretchedness as long as it endures. The most obvious remedy—I will not say the only one—open to Ireland to relieve herself from her terrible condition is to provide for her working classes some alternative besides the cultivation of the land. Emigration may do much towards giving the relief sought, but no nation can be content, no nation will be loyal, unless the great mass of the people are raised above the misery of daily want. You may pass all the laws you please for the purpose of remedying the evil, but by so doing you will only stereotype and perpetuate it. Then, what is required to bring about a happier time? Why, capital ought to be thrown into the country, with which manufactures could be established. The right hon. Member talked about there being no coal in Ireland for manufacturing purposes; but if there be no other objection to the establishment of manufactories than this, Ireland, with her numerous ports and her network of railways, could soon have an ample supply of coal at a rate sufficiently cheap to enable her to have as great a variety of industries open to her population as England has. And why is it that capital does not flow into that country? That is exactly the point. It is not the fault of this House. We cannot pass laws to compel men to take their capital over to Ireland. Then, whose fault is it that they do not do so? Why it is the fault of those who call themselves the friends of Ireland. It is the fault of persons like the hon. Member for Cork, who denies that Ireland is in the improving condition in which the noble Lord represents it to be, and asserts that it is rapidly going to ruin. Is that the way to bring capital into the country? The hon. Member says, "I trust in God that something will be done to relieve this misery. I am unwilling to have recourse to agitation." That means, "If you do not do something we will have agitation." If the misrepresentations of the hon. Member do not drive capital away—and perhaps capitalists will not pay much attention to them—the agitation he threatens will do so. Thus it is we get into this vicious circle,—Ireland is miserable because capital cannot be brought into it to take the people from the cultivation of the land, to which employment their energies are too much restricted, and capital cannot be brought into Ireland because 1492 Irishmen will assert that the condition of the country is worse than it really is—her discontent greater, her means of improvement less. Well, what can we do under these circumstances? We can pass no law to give hon. Members common sense and ordinary prudence. They must try to obtain it from some other quarter. The hon. Member for Westminster has a remedy of his for the purpose. I am inferior to him in this, that I have no remedy to suggest. My only remedy would be to restore confidence in the country, which it is impossible to do as long as exaggeration, agitation, and discontent exist, and there is an absence of a spirit of good sense and moderation. The hon. Member for Westminster, after giving us a glowing description of the Fenians, proceeds to argue in this way. He says that the one cause of Fenianism is mismanagement, and that all Irish people who are not Fenians sympathize with them. That is the opinion which is expressed by the hon. Member, but I suppose he will except from those sympathizers the police who acted with such gallantry and devotion on every occasion, and the jurors who have acted beyond all praise, showing that they were not actuated by panic or by enmity, but exercising their power of mercy whenever they could find a reasonable excuse for so doing. I hope, therefore, my hon. Friend will allow me to make these exceptions from his sweeping denunciations. It is strange that the friends of Ireland should always be denouncing everybody in it. My hon. Friend says that this Fenian movement has been created by England's mismanagement, and that English mismanagement is created by conceit, and he exemplifies his assertion by referring to our mismanagement of the land, which he says proceeds from our own conceit in allowing the Irish to hold land and manage it as they do in England. The hon. Member says that we have forced on the people of Ireland the English idea of an absolute property in the soil. The thinkers of the school of my hon. Friend are in the habit of reproaching England, because, by the liberty our law gives of making settlements by deed or will, we place the great properties of the country in the hands of successive tenants, so that, with us, the owner is seldom the absolute owner. It is, therefore, not very easy to see what the hon. Member means by the term absolute property. I disclaim any "inordinate conceit" in the matter; but 1493 there is an oasis in the desert of politics upon which we may safely rest, and that is afforded us by the principles of political economy. In accordance with the best ascertained principles of political economy, as well as of law, every man who has made money is entitled to invest it in land, and if you introduce arbitrary restrictions with regard to land, you artificially depreciate that description of property compared with other property. Freedom of disposition of land is a strong stimulus to that desire of accumulation on which the wealth of nations depend. I entertain a prejudice, derived from Scotland and adopted by Adam Smith, that a man is at liberty to do what he likes with his own, and that having land, it is not unreasonable that he should be free to let his land to a person of full age upon the terms upon which they shall mutually agree. That I believe to be reason and good political economy. My hon. Friend refers to the declaration of the Roman Catholic clergy of Limerick, who hate Fenianism, are calm men, and only wish for separate institutions. These calm men of Limerick celebrated a mass in the morning for the souls of the three unfortunate men who were executed at Manchester for the murder of Brett, and after that they adjourned to the chapter-house and held a meeting in a very calm manner, and drew up a well-written paper on the advantages of liberty. They recommended a repeal of the Union in order to introduce into Ireland a system of protection to every Irish manufacture and every Irish interest. These calm men of Limerick want to go back from the policy of Free Trade. They said it was vain to ask such legislation as this from England. Our national conceit is such that we should never give it to them; and these calm men wished, as my hon. Friend (Mr. Stuart Mill) says he wishes, that Ireland should receive different treatment from England. Does the author of Political Economy, who has so ably advocated the principles of Free Trade, think that we are guilty of intolerable conceit because we differ from the calm men of Limerick on the subject of Free Trade? As for the Fenians having anything to do with this matter, I need not urge that point. I do not think it is absolute property which the Fenians object to. It is not so much the division of property between landlord and tenant which is the salient idea in their minds. With them it is rather a question of persons than of pro- 1494 perty; the question is not so much how the land should be enjoyed as who should enjoy it. Their mind is chiefly fixed on what the civil law calls "substitution"—the doctrine that you are to get out that I may get in. It is not so much that we have mismanaged the land or oppressed the tenant; our error has been in holding our property ourselves, instead of handing it over to them without giving them the trouble to take it. Now, the plan of my hon. Friend (Mr. Stuart Mill) is pretty clear. It is to have a Commission to investigate the present value of the 316,000 small holdings, and the other holdings, amounting altogether to 500,000 or 600,000; to consider what their prospective value is likely to be—on what data I know not—then to consider what would be the proper compensation the landlord should receive, and next, what would be the proper sum the tenant should pay. If the two things do not square, then the people of the United Kingdom are to pay the difference out of their pockets. That is a simple analysis of the plan. There is this further condition—that the rent, which is to be paid to the Government, as I understand, is to represent the full value of the land. There is an alternative, I believe. The landlord may either get rid of the concern altogether, receiving the value of his rent in stock, which, if he be a wise man, he will certainly do; or, if not, he may continue to receive the rent, being paid the difference out of the Exchequer. There is, I presume, to be no redemption of the rent, because the full rent is to be take as a security against subletting, so that you are to settle Ireland for ever according to its present system of occupations, and with every one of the holdings, be they large or small, which now exist. Who will be the better for this change? Will it be the State? I am sorry to say that, owing to the enormous number of small holdings in Ireland and the hard terms on which land is often let there, the landlord is in many cases an object of hostility to his tenants. In getting rid of the landlord you get rid of so much of this hostility. But then, at a moment when you are trying to reconcile the Irish people with the Government, you remove the landlord and place the British Government in his stead. Moreover, you take care that the new landlord shall be as odious as possible, because the State, which has become the landlord, is of necessity an absentee. The State is an abstract idea, and lives nowhere in particular—certainly 1495 not in Ireland. Then as to improvements—can you devise any scheme by which the State can make improvements? Would not any system of this kind be open to all sorts of abuses for electioneering purposes? The scheme is impossible. The State must of necessity be a hard, unyielding landlord, acting on fixed principles; for otherwise, you open the door to every species of jobbery and corruption. Then I suppose that sometimes the rent will not be paid. Indeed, it will very often not be paid. In bad seasons these 316,000 small holders will be pretty much on the hands of the State, and we shall have the hon. Member for Cork and other eloquent Irish Gentlemen entreating us to have mercy on a starving people. That claim will not be made in vain, particularly if parties happen to be evenly balanced at the time. But, after all, if only for the look of the thing, you cannot always be giving up your rent. In that case, where you have a property and a tenant who will not pay the rent you must evict. Is that one of the means to make the State popular in Ireland? The hon. Member (Mr. Maguire) tells us, in his book, of settlers in America who had been evicted from their holdings in Ireland, and were full of the cruelty and the hardship they had undergone. But what they said to the hon. Member was, "We did'nt mind the landlords; it was the bloody English Government and the Peelers." Now, if you put "the bloody English Government" in the place of the landlords, will that help to conciliate Irish tenants? If the Irish mind cannot endure the English Government interfering in case of an eviction to prevent a breach of the peace, how will it tolerate the Government which evicts tenants on its own account? Again, you say a great deal about compensation for improvements. Will you trust Government agents with the power of saying to tenants just before an election, "By-the-by, I quite overlooked that pigstye; it is a most elegant edifice, and adds very much to the beauty of the landscape, as well as to the value of your three-acre holding; please accept £10 as compensation for this improvement, and if it should be convenient to you to vote for Mr. So-and-so, perhaps you will oblige me by doing so?" How can you leave to the Government a discretion like this? The State must act upon certain inflexible rules, and, even if merciful and generous, it will still be ten times as odious as an individual landlord; 1496 but it must be hard or corrupt, and very probably will be both. Besides, although we seem much inclined to overlook everything in the case of Ireland, some justice is due to English taxpayers before undertaking a scheme which contemplates our paying the difference between what the landlord should receive and the tenant should pay. You ought to have some mercy upon us, and give us some better security than you propose to give us. We shall be heavy losers in point of money, and we shall, besides, become odious to the Irish people. We shall undertake an enormously difficult job; and there will be another risk of loss. The tenant will be very likely to "scourge" the land—I am indebted for this argument to the excellent pamphlet of Lord Dufferin—by growing flax and other exhausting crops. He will then go away, leaving the land on your hands, and you will have to re-let it at a lower rent to somebody else. The State, then, has no good reason to look with satisfaction on the scheme of my hon. Friend. As for the landlords, they would be wiped out completely. Of course, no man among them would remain under such circumstances. All the intelligence of this class, the property they possess elsewhere—a guarantee for funds upon which Ireland may draw in case of necessity—all this is lost to Ireland, and those persons will be withdrawn from the country. All the Conservative interests which now cluster round property there will be banished, and there will be nothing left between the Government and the people, just as in parts of India you have nothing between the Government and the ryot. There is one other matter. You are going to settle the rents on every portion of the land of Ireland. These rents are to be permanent, and, being chargeable on the whole holding, they cannot be apportioned in case of any subdivision of the land. Even the least sanguine of us must suppose that hereafter, in some portion of Ireland, there will be improvement. But if a village or town should spring up on any of this land, every house will be liable to be distrained on for the rent of the whole holding. Such a liability must interfere with the progress and development of the country, or perhaps prevent its development at all. With regard to the landlords, connected as they are with their property by interest and tradition, considering how many things there are in the occupation of land for which no compensation can be given, it is 1497 impossible to regard the measure as any other than a measure of confiscation which will be carried by violence against the wishes of a class. But then the tenant is to pay rack rent, and hence we have another reason to suppose that in many seasons he will be unable to pay his rent. Then very likely he will be evicted, and this will be more likely under the State than under a private landlord, because the agents of the State will have less discretion than a private landlord. The Fenians will get nothing out of the plan; and the labourers, who also ought to be considered on my hon. Friend's own showing, because they till the soil, will be worse off than they are now, for they will have to deal with poorer and therefore harder masters, and harder bargains will be made with them. The one great wish of the people of Ireland is to get land. This measure will not in the least gratify this desire unless it be by sub-letting. It will certainly not leave the tenant any better off. You will wipe out the whole class of estimable gentlemen who live in the country, without, as far as I can see, conferring any benefit on a single individual. There is another point I should like to submit to the House, because, although this is not exactly a point before us, it is in the highest degree important that these wild theories should be discussed and exposed. The holding of land, whether in large or small portions, is not a matter which can be regulated by rule of law, but depends upon economical conditions and the state of society in the country. I venture to lay that down as a broad, general principle, and will endeavour to illustrate it. You cannot have large estates in America, because the price of labour is so high that you cannot cultivate a large estate yourself, and you cannot let it because the persons who would elsewhere be tenants prefer to be freeholders. You cannot keep it idle, because taxes for roads, schools, and other matters would swallow up all your capital; and therefore you can do nothing but sell, and you must sell it in small portions, because the purchasers are as a rule out-coming emigrants, and these portions must be adapted to their wants, and will be paid for in instalments spread over five or six years, out of the proceeds of their labour. This is not a question of law, of democratic or other institutions, but arises from the nature of things themselves. In the same way you cannot have small estates in England. You had them at one 1498 time, when you had the yeomen whose disappearance has been wept over by poets and other sentimental persons. Yeomen, however, can only exist in a state of society in which money invested in land yields a large and ready return. But such a return cannot be obtained in a country which has become thickly peopled, and in which capital has largely accumulated. In such a country the ownership of land becomes a very expensive luxury, and the small holder finds it his interest to sell his property to the rich man, who, for his amusement, or for the sake of political influence or social station, aggregates large tracts, knowing that he will not thereby realize more than half the income he might derive from other investments. The measure of the inducement of the yeoman to sell is the excess of the interest of the purchase-money over the rent of the land. This will show that the question of holding of land is a thing that the conditions of a country will themselves regulate, and which it would be folly to attempt to regulate by law. My belief is that if this measure were to pass persons who have these pieces of land, subject to the payment of rent to the Government, would find that they could sell it on advantageous terms. They would sell the land, and it would be only rich people who could buy it. The process of aggregation would again commence, and large estates would once more be formed in spite of the hon. Member for Westminster. That would be the case of the provident, who would sell as purchasers offered. But besides that there would, no doubt, be improvident persons who would not sell; but who would be actuated by that spirit of land hunger which is so common in Ireland. They would hold the land and hand it down subdivided to their children and grandchildren, until it became a perfect human warren. Thus you would at length have one portion of the land divided into large estates, such as those which the hon. Member for Westminster now wishes to get rid of, while the remaining portion of the country would present a condition similar to that of Ireland previous to the famine of 1846. I must apologize to the House for dealing with this subject at such a length, and, in concluding, can only say that it is quite clear that the burning desire in the mind of these tenants of the Government would be to get rid of their landlord. Having first withdrawn all the Conservative influences in the country, you would, in the next place give 1499 the strongest possible impulse to the desire for separation, because the tenant would think that by getting rid of his landlord—that is, the Imperial Government—he would get rid of his rent at the same time, and be thus enabled to live like a gentleman for the remainder of his life. I now pass to another branch of the subject. I have spoken of what I consider cannot be done for Ireland, and now I would refer to what has fallen from the noble Lord (the Earl of Mayo) with respect to the Catholic University. Now, the propposal which he has made is one of the most retrograde it is possible to conceive. It is perfectly clear, to my mind at least, that if we were creating our Universities afresh we should not make them sectarian. I believe that they ought to be secular even now, as far as we can make them so. But the idea that we are now, at this time, deliberately to set to work to establish a sectarian University is one which, in my opinion, is utterly unworthy of a "truly liberal Government." I cannot understand such a proposal. There is a Roman Catholic University in Ireland already, established by Papal rescript issued in conformity with the resolution of the Synod of Thurles. In respect to that University, by the way, the Pope has assumed a power to which he has no right, that power being one of the Prerogatives of the Crown—to confer titles of honour in the shape of degrees. That University was set up to counteract the mixed system of education; it has a very large endowment fund amounting, as I have heard, to £120,000, though everything about it is very obscure. That University has existed up to the present time, and is not a success. Is it not most extraordinary that the noble Lord, or the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown, should propose to found a Catholic University; to place it in the hands of four Bishops, assisted by the president of Maynooth and six laymen; that he should make up his mind to endow it, and to revive the obsolete invention of affiliated Colleges, and that he should have done all this without consulting the Bishops on the subject; that in bringing it before the House for the first time, he should have ignored the existence of the present Catholic University; and that the noble Lord or the right hon. Gentleman should expect that the Bishops, having already got a University largely endowed and completely in their own hands, and being strong enough 1500 to make it worth the right hon. Gentleman's while to conciliate them, should now give way and give back to the laity the power they possess, and should cancel the Papal rescript? Does he think this so probable, or so likely, or so certain, that he does not take the trouble to consult the Bishops, but comes directly to this House to inform us that that is what he is about to do? I may, perhaps, be somewhat uncharitable, but it is with the utmost difficulty that I can persuade myself that the right. hon Gentleman is in earnest. It is so utterly contrary to my ideas of doing business, that this House should be asked to agree to a scheme the whole essence of which depends upon the consent of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. But it is, perhaps, one of those pyrotechnical devices, of which we have so many, I am sorry to say, of late years, which are sent up in the air so that mankind may gaze at them for a moment, and when they have answered their purpose sink like a rocket and disappear. I believe it impossible for the enemies of Ireland to devise a more objectionable scheme, one which, far from healing the wounds of that country, would be more likely to cause additional mischief. We should not be making a concession to the Roman Catholic population, but to the Roman Catholic hierarchy, an Ultramontane hierarchy—a hierarchy that has an electioneering influence; and it is that influence which you are seeking to buy by sacrificing the Roman Catholic laity. The Roman Catholic laity in Ireland are entitled to the sympathy and protection of this House, and, believe me, they want it. These are not the times of Dr. Crolly and Dr. Murray. You have to deal now with the Ultramontane priesthood in Ireland. The Ultramontane principle is not now, as in the time of Bossuet, a mere theological abstraction—a question of the limit of Papal power. That word is now the symbol of a creed which, to persons not under its influences, is one of the most objectionable that can be conceived, a creed which, instead of teaching that the Church is an equal, a co-ordinate, or even a superior power to the State, raises it above all temporal power and jurisdiction whatever, and views with dislike everything which tends to the improvement and welfare of mankind: it is to that power you are going to make this concession; it is to those elements of confusion and perennial discord that you are going to hand over the Catholic laity of 1501 Ireland, if, indeed, you are in earnest. But you will, I hope, think better of it. You are throwing a little dust in men's eyes; you are not in earnest. Had you been, you would have gone first to those who are really powers—the Catholic priesthood themselves—and not to those who, as is very evident to anyone who knows aught about it, it is much more probable will reject your offer. From what seems to me to be the only boon Her Majesty's Government offers to Ireland I pass to what they will not do. They will not touch the question of the Established Church. Let me state how this question strikes a person with no feeling except the wish to do what is best for all parties. I regard this tenth part of the rent of Ireland as public property. I believe that this and the other House of Parliament and Her Majesty are trustees of that property, coming as it does from Irish labour and land, for the benefit of the Irish people at large. I believe that property is scandalously misappropriated and misapplied when it is applied exclusively to the support of the religion of twelve persons out of every 100 of the inhabitants of Ireland. I feel it is a disgrace and a degradation to myself to have anything to do with such a state of things. The House knows I have not joined in any common-place declamation on this subject. I wish to speak fairly of all men and all subjects; but this is a subject on which an honest man and a good citizen cannot speak too plainly. It is not merely the shocking neglect, it is not merely the disgrace to us in the eyes of foreign countries, it is not the utter impossibility of defending it before any assembly of gentlemen, unbiassed by familiarity with the monstrous injustice—it is not that. What I hate still more is this—it is the last and only relic of the iniquitous past of Ireland. I am not going to quote history. I hate mere historical speeches. What we have to do with is the present; that we can deal with—it is enough for us. It is not well to be for ever reminding the Irish nation that though we have broken so many fetters, this last, perhaps the most galling, exists still; and that, with all our professions of wishes to conciliate and do justice, we are unwilling to disturb it. If ever the occasion shall come when the House in its wisdom shall remove it, then I consider we shall have broken with the evil past of Ireland altogether. I consider we are conscience-clear of the wicked laws of 1502 100 years ago, which Gentlemen yet debate with so much unction. It is for us to answer for our own misdeeds in this generation, and not for those of our great-grandfathers. Go back far enough, and there are plenty of things in the history of England—there have been cruel oppressions even in my own lifetime—which no man can justify—a barbarous criminal code, unjust civil and religious disabilities. This is the way to look at things; but when you are dealing with a susceptible people, and when you preserve still a monument of the oppression of past centuries, it is prudent, it is wise to sweep it away, and to take from those Fenians, whose real purpose is plunder, the last vestige of tyranny which furnishes their wretched excuse. As regards the laws of political economy, I believe they are the same on both sides of the Channel. As far as the right of private property goes, I would be no party to doing anything in Ireland I would not do in England. As far as civil and religious liberty goes, it is not because Ireland is a Catholic and England a Protestant country I will, with the (to me) hypocritical pretence of carrying out the wishes of the people of Ireland, how myself and bow them down to an Ultramontane hierarchy; but in this question of flagrant and manifest injustice and inequality I think the House of Commons is championed to the utterance by the right hon. Gentleman opposite when he refuses to do anything; and I do hope we shall vindicate ourselves in response to the challenge. I do not feel any confidence that it is in the power of this House to obtain any grand material results. I believe that in this case the patient must minister unto himself. I do not sympathize with those Gentlemen who are perpetually looking out for an injustice done by this country in order that they may have the pleasure of redressing it. We cannot do much to remove material grievances, but we can remove moral grievances. I believe we can do something to allay the traditionary feelings of hatred bred in the minds of the people, and in doing that we can follow out the principle of an enlightened policy. At any rate, let us not do injustice ourselves, nor let anyone in Ireland do it—not the tenant against the landlord, not the Protestant against the Catholic, not the Catholic against the Protestant, nor the Catholic hierarchy against the Catholic laity. Let us do justice ourselves, and re- 1503 quire justice to be done by others; and then, whatever come of it, we shall have satisfied the dictates of our consciences and wiped out the opprobrium which has too long rested upon us.
§ MR. THOMAS HUGHES
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had asked for one real Irish grievance which would bear sifting. He would endeavour to supply one at any rate. He could not but think that it was extremely desirable that Parliament should interfere at once for the settlement of the Irish tenant-right question. The Parliamentary blue books contained abundant information as to what tenant-right in Ireland really was, and what was the real grievance which caused disloyalty and disaffection. The question was not understood here as it was in Ireland, because we had mixed up with it the question of unexhausted improvements, which had nothing to do with it. Not to quote other witnesses of less authority, Mr. Trench, before the Committee of the other House last year, said it was a mistake to suppose that tenant-right was money paid for improvements made or supposed to be made by the outgoing tenant. It was dangerous to give a definition, but he (Mr. Hughes) would give this definition of tenant-right:—It was an immemorial custom prevailing in a great portion of Ireland, but not recognized as yet by Courts of Law or in the statute books, under which the ordinary tenant-at-will has acquired the right of selling, for a valuable consideration, the succession to his holding. He did not use the term immemorial custom in the old sense. Every lawyer knew that since the year 1832 the rule that a custom must have existed since the reign of Richard I. had been varied, and that, in order to obtain customary rights over property, it was now only necessary that they should have been exercised for different periods varying from twenty to eighty years. The evidence of the blue book he held in his hand showed that the practice of selling succession to a holding had existed for more than eighty years, and that the right belonged even to tenants-at-will. The Master in Chancery in Ireland, who had had most experience in dealing with land, in his evidence had expressed surprise that he had been unable to induce tenants to enter into written contracts with their landlords, and he had presumed the cause to be perhaps fear of expense, and partly fear of legal entanglement in some way. 1504 But the true reason was doubtless to be found in this custom of selling the succession. The man who was only a tenant-at-will in the eye of the law, had by custom obtained a quasi freehold property in his possession of this right, and it was natural he should be fearful of being deprived of it by signing a written agreement with his landlord. Custom had given the tenant a freehold estate, and he knew that a lease would vitiate his title. In England the absolute ownership of land was vested in the Crown, the dominium directum, as it was called; the right to have, hold, and enjoy, or the dominium utile, was vested in the landlord. In Ireland the dominium utile was divided between the landlord and tenant; but this division was not recognized by the Courts. Now as to the purchase of this right by the tenant for valuable consideration, Mr. Hamilton, in his evidence before the Committee, stated that an incoming tenant sometimes paid an outgoing tenant the fee-simple value of the land; Mr. Trench said that in his part of Ireland as much as from £6 to £12 an Irish acre was paid, and four land agents had stated that the sum payable for tenant-right was chargeable with all the arrears of rent which might happen at the time of the change to be due to the landlord. A custom which the carelessness, good nature, or advantage of the landlords had allowed to grow up and take such hold would, in England, have long ago been recognized on the statute book and by the Judges. But the custom not having been recognized, the tenants feel that they are entirely at the mercy of their landlords. That the right which existed in some parts of Ireland was valued by the tenants there was no dispute, and that it was for the benefit of the landlord was shown by the evidence before the Committee, to the effect that where tenant-right prevailed there were in the long run no arrears of rent. In a recent article in the great Conservative Review, supposed to be written by an eminent Liberal Member of that House, this payment for tenant-right was called levying black mail, or a payment by the incoming tenant to secure him from being shot from behind a hedge by the outgoing tenant, but they might just as well call rent black mail. It seemed to him that there was a practical and very simple remedy for the present state of things with regard to the land, so far as tenant-right was concerned. A custom 1505 had existed for generations in Ireland, but had not been recognised by the law, and it was admitted by the landlords and others that it could not be interfered with without very great danger to the peace of the country. Let this custom be recognised by law, and wherever tenant-right existed, let the tenant have that statutory protection which he did not now possess in selling that which was his own property. It might be said that this was an extreme measure; but a similar thing had been done in England in regard to copyholders. Previously to the recognition of the custom of copyhold by the Judges and the Legislature, the people of this country were in precisely the same position as the people of Ireland of the present day. The villeins held their estates absolutely at the will of their lords, who could evict them at pleasure; but after the copyhold tenure had existed for two or three generations the Judges held that the customary right of the tenants could not be interfered with, and when the barons or landlords endeavoured to evade the law by exacting arbitrary fines which made the custom valueless, the Judges again interfered, and insisted that the fines must be reasonable, and must not exceed two years' improved value of the land. This being the case, he felt that there was a fair claim on the part of tenant-right holders in Ireland to come to this country and say, "Do for us as your forefathers did for English tenants who were in exactly the same position that we are, and recognise by law a custom which has existed in the country for generations." Our object should be to make full citizens of the Irish people, to mate them feel that they were in all respects just as favourably treated as their fellow-countrymen in England. But we could not expect that suspicion and discontent would vanish while the land was held upon its present uncertain tenure. It might be said in opposition to his suggestion that landlords would probably cease to reside in the country if this right were recognised; but the existence of the custom for generations had not led them to leave the country, and no such result had attended the parallel change in England. Even if by this legal recognition the landlords were deprived of certain advantages which they at present possessed, he believed they would be patriotic enough to continue their residence in the country for the advantage of the country. Again, it might be said that it would be 1506 inconvenient to have a double system of holdings, but no mischief had resulted in England from that cause, and if there were any slight difficulty on that account, it was not to be considered for a moment when it stood in the way of their doing that which was just and right. At any rate, if the landlords did not like to admit the custom let them buy it out. For himself he had, however, no great faith in improvement, such as we all wished for, under the old system. His only hope for the future of agriculture in Ireland lay in the principle of association. That principle, which had produced such immense results in other branches of industry, would prove not less satisfactory when applied to land. It had been already tried, indeed, in Ireland with great success. The published proceedings of a club called the "Artizan's Club," in the year 1846, contained a statement to the effect that Lord Wallscourt had made trial upon his estate in the North-west of Ireland of the system of associated industry in agriculture, by combining all his small conacre tenants and agricultural labourers in the working of farms for their common benefit. By this operation Lord Wallscourt was said to have "stimulated the supine Irish tenant into active industry, and shed prosperity over a district formerly barren." The noble Lord himself wrote—I have tried the plan for seventeen years, and found it answer much beyond my hope, inasmuch as it identifies the labourer with the success of the farm, besides leaving me at liberty to travel for a year at a time. On my return I found that the farm had prospered more than when I was present.Upon some such system as that the future prosperity of Ireland must depend. It was all very well to say there were no real grievances in Ireland. Besides the grievance of the Irish Church, which was admitted, there was that of the land. He felt assured that if English tenants held under such a system as that which obtained in Ireland, they would be as disaffected as the Irish tenantry were at this moment. It was the duty of Parliament to look this difficulty of tenant-right manfully in the face. There was no need for loss of time in any further inquiry. Here at least was a grievance which might be dealt with at once. The Reports of the Earl of Devon's and other Commissions, the blue books, and the admirable pamphlets published by Lord 1507 Dufferin and others, gave all the materials that anybody required for studying the subject theoretically. This he had taken some pains to do, though he admitted that he was not in a position to speak upon the subject with practical knowledge. He trusted that the effect of such changes as Parliament might introduce would be to give peace, contentment, and loyalty to the people of Ireland; but there would be neither peace, content, nor loyalty, while the question of tenant-right was left in its present position.
§ MR. VANCE
congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) on having with his usual ability dispelled the notion that there was any connection between Fenianism and the tenure of land in Ireland, or the dis-endowment of the Established Church. He had also to congratulate him that he had proved, almost to demonstration, the difficulty of having any laws respecting the tenure of land in Ireland different from those which prevailed in England. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) had said that great and organic changes must be effected by the Legislature for the benefit of Ireland, while the hon. Member for Londonderry (Sir Frederick Heygate) proposed a solemn inquiry. The Government were in favour of inquiry, but offered some legislative measures. During the past century there had been a vast amount of legislation for Ireland, affecting its commercial, its agricultural, and its ecclesiastical condition. Many of those laws had been beneficial, but others had led to such complication, and to such disastrous results, as should make the Legislature very chary of attempting crude, premature, or exceptional legislation at the present time. The right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) had stated that it was the penal laws which had inflicted upon Ireland the evils now existing. He (Mr. Vance) maintained that that result was due rather to the wrong way in which this country had gone about the abrogation of those penal laws. In 1783 an Act was passed which injudiciously conferred the franchise upon the whole population, and it was the perpetuation and extension of the 40s. freeholds which was, in his opinion, at the root of most of the evils of Ireland. The 40s. freeholder in Ireland, unlike the 40s. freeholder in England, was not required to be the owner in fee of the land; but upon swearing that the land, or the tenement possessed by him, was of the value 1508 of 40s., he obtained the vote. The consequence was that the landlords multiplied this class of voters in order to secure Parliamentary support, and swarms of people were placed upon the land, which it was impossible they could effectually till. When that franchise was put an end to there was no longer any occasion for the 40s. freeholder, evictions commenced, and he (Mr. Vance) traced most of the miseries of Ireland to that source. Of course, the famine completed the catastrophe. He believed it was owing to the geographical position of Ireland that there had been no real union or amalgamation between the two countries. Irishmen came to this country, but few Englishmen went to Ireland. He agreed with the hon. Member for Cork that the Act of Union was carried by fraud and bribery; but, at the same time, he believed that that Act was essential to the maintenance of peace and tranquillity between the two countries. At the time of the Union one of the arrangements entered into between the two countries was that certain duties protective of Irish manufactures should continue for twenty years; and notwithstanding the deprecatory terms in which the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) had spoken of any attempt to advocate protection, he (Mr. Vance) did not hesitate to say that free trade had not served Ireland so usefully and beneficially as England. In fact, he doubted whether it had benefited her at all. When the Union duties were abrogated, and English manufactures were allowed freely to enter Ireland, there was a cessation of all that industry in silks, woollens, and cottons, which up to that period had flourished. Again, Catholic Emancipation was yielded under the influence of fear, not of reason, and the Duke of Wellington was indiscreet enough to say that unless emancipation were granted, rebellion and conflict could not be averted. Mr. O'Connell and other agitators finding that everything was conceded to fear and little to reason, immediately got up a very important agitation for the repeal of the Union, and thus kept the country in a state of ferment for many years. Then came the Reform Act of 1832. The democratic party in Ireland was very much increased by the Act of 1832. It was then found that a party of Roman Catholic Gentlemen would be formed in that House, with the balance of power in their hands, and that they would be able to obtain everything they desired. Though 1509 they had not been able to accomplish that, they had obtained a great deal of power by the plan they had adopted. The democratic party in Ireland had accomplished a vast amount of mischief in the way of Papal aggression. At the present moment there was an agitation—led in the Upper House by a statesman who was once Prime Minister—to put down the Established Church. But he believed Earl Russell had made a serious mistake in committing his views on the subject to the press, for everybody must remember that the noble Earl was the author of the Durham letter, in which he stated—"that the bulk of the nation looked with contempt on mummeries and superstition, and with the endeavours which were made to confine the intellect and enslave the soul." Yet, Earl Russell was willing to give to the religion which he thus described three-fourths of the Church endowment in Ireland, and give us members of the Established Church 2s. 6d. in the £ of our own money. His Lordship's scheme was one of simple confiscation, and the best of it was that those for whose benefit he intended it would not accept it. The property of the Church was too sacred to be dealt with in that manner, and such a mode of treating it would be in violation of that most solemn compact—the Act of Union. One of the fundamental articles of the Union provided that the United Church of England and Ireland should be one and indivisible, and it was held out to the people of Ireland by Mr. Pitt, that they would gain increased strength by uniting their Church with that of England. He came now to the repeal of the Corn Laws. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) had said that cereal crops had greatly diminished in Ireland, that in a great many counties the land had been turned into pasture-land, and this he attributed to a want of fixity of tenure. He (Mr. Vance) did not hesitate to attribute it to the repeal of the Corn Laws. He did not wish the House to re-enact those laws for the benefit of Ireland; but he thought they ought to trace Irish distress to its true source. A few years ago the Incumbered Estates Act was passed, but that was by no means an unmixed good. In many cases the land was purchased by men of moderate means, who paid as much as thirty, forty, and even fifty years' purchase for it; and then increased the rents. The new proprietors wished to make money out of the land, and many of the cases in 1510 which landlords had acted most severely towards their tenants had arisen on estates purchased in the Incumbered Estates Court. The circumstances of Ireland were badly understood in this country. With regard to the tenure of land, that must always be a matter of contract between the landlord and tenant. The relations between a landlord and his tenant might be compared to the relations between a father and his children. The very dependence of the children upon the father was one of the strongest reasons for his anxiety to protect them. If the tenant went to his landlord saying, "I shall take advantage of the law lately passed, and have compensation for past or future improvements," the relations of kindness and goodwill were gone. The landlord would take care of himself for the future, and would make such contracts with his tenants as would override any law that might be passed. The result would be continual litigation, distrust, and animosity, in place of the kindly relations which now existed in Ireland. In our legislation we had not yet infringed the rights of property; but a Tenant Right Bill such as many of those which had been proposed would infringe those rights, and the moment the Rubicon of right and justice was passed we should find the demands continue to increase until it would be impossible to comply with them without handing the property of the landlord over to the tenant altogether. In all our legislation we had not yet violated the Act of Union; but he did not hesitate to say that if we disendowed the Established Church we should destroy the compact existing between the two peoples—with what result he would leave the House to judge. He believed we should never regenerate Ireland by infringing the rights of property or by confiscating the Established Church, but only by inducing the people to see that the interests of landlords and tenants and of employers and employed were identical. We must increase the power of manufacture, extend our agriculture, hold the scales of justice fairly between all creeds and denominations, and satisfy the people of Ireland that they were not to be ruled by exceptional laws.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
said, that as one of the youngest Members of the House, he had no desire to take part in the debate; but as he had been personally alluded to by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Sir Frederick Heygate) on a 1511 former night, he wished to say a few words. That hon. Member had condescended to notice some remarks made by him a few weeks ago at a meeting held at the Town Hall, Manchester, and questioned the accuracy of the statement he made. He had not had the opportunity of hearing the speech of the hon. Member, for he happened not to be in the House when it was delivered. He therefore took the report contained in The Times. The hon. Member was reported to have said that he (Mr. Jacob Bright) stated that—There were 1,539 parishes in Ireland each containing less than 100 inhabitants belonging to the Established Church, and that there were 199 parishes without a single member of that communion.The hon. Baronet proceeded to say that if that were true it would be a very serious fact. Well, he did make that statement at Manchester, and he (Mr. Jacob Bright) was prepared to make it again that night. What he had said was perfectly true, for he had taken the trouble to consult the Census Report in the Library of the House, and found there was no mistake whatever in the figures. The fact was, that the hon. Gentleman had dealt with benefices, while he (Mr. Jacob Bright) had dealt with parishes. He did not know whether the figures of the hon. Baronet were correct; but if they were, they seemed to corroborate to a great extent the result at which he (Mr. Jacob Bright) wished to arrive—namely, the extreme scarceness of the Protestant population in the parishes of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman said—There was a great number of parishes having only one benefice between them, there being in some instances sixteen parishes grouped together, in others thirteen, and in others again eleven.He (Mr. Jacob Bright) wanted nothing more striking to establish his proposition than the fact that in order to get a Protestant congregation in Ireland they had to group together sixteen parishes; and the figures of the hon. Gentleman suited him better even than his own. Another important statement that he had made—a common but an important one—and which had not been impugned, was that the State Church of Ireland was in possession of one-eighth of the population of that country. Well, he contended that one-eighth of the population had no right to monopolize the ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland, and that for a sectarian purpose. He had listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord the Chief Secre- 1512 tary, which contained a great deal of very valuable information; but the noble Lord appeared to him to take much trouble to prove certain things which, when proved, would by no means serve the interest of the Government. The noble Lord contrasted the disaffection of the present day with the disaffection of past times, and said that in former days men of rank, influence, and wealth headed insurrectionary movements in Ireland, but now all that was changed. Well, it seemed to him (Mr. Jacob Bright) more easy to manage an insurrection so headed; because when there were prominent leaders you had only to secure those leaders, and you would greatly discourage, if you did not extinguish, the insurrection. But the noble Lord made a statement which, coming from the Treasury Bench, was of very great importance—namely, that the existing disaffection prevailed among the poorer class of cultivators, the farm labourers, and the artizans of the towns. It had been said that the nation lived in the cottage. If the nation lived in the cottage, and the cottage were disaffected, then it appeared to him that they had a disaffected nation on their hands. A most elaborate argument and array of facts had been brought forward by the noble Lord to show how great had been the material progress of Ireland. Well, he neither assented to nor denied it; but, assuming it to be true, still it seemed to him to place the Government in a greater difficulty than before. Why, it was the most remarkable thing in history that there should be that growth of disaffection among the humblest classes of Irish society side by side with the growth of material progress. It showed that the evils of Ireland were so deep-seated that none of the measures proposed by the Government on Tuesday night could possibly be deemed adequate to meet them. They had done either too much or too little for Ireland. If they persisted in perpetuating injustice upon a people, they ought to be careful not to put weapons into the hands of the victim in order to strengthen his contest against them. In the Southern States of America it would be remembered those who had determined to make slavery an enduring institution took pains to prevent the people being educated, and made it penal to teach a negro the alphabet. He held that, from their point of view, that was true statemanship, and that they were acting in accordance with sound logic. But we main- 1513 tained great grievances in Ireland, and at the same time instructed the people by admirable schools and a cheap press. We were doing one thing with the one hand, and another thing with the other. By the education and the information which we gave to a sharp-witted people, we armed them the better to combat any British Government that attempted to deny them justice. The noble Lord the Chief Secretary spoke with triumphant satisfaction on the subject of the representative institutions of Ireland, and said that country had its proper proportion of Members—that it had in the counties a franchise even lower than that which existed in England. But the noble Lord did not state to the House the position of the Irish tenant. Notwithstanding what the noble Lord said, he (Mr. Jacob Bright) remained of the opinion he had long held, that there was nothing in the world with the name of representative institutions which was so complete a mockery as the representative institutions of Ireland. The noble Lord did not tell them that, although the county franchise was lower in Ireland than in England, the vote did not belong to the Irishman, but that he was merely the nominal owner. And with respect to the borough franchise, if it were examined, it would be found to be a higher qualification than the English one if the difference in the value of property in the two countries were taken into account. Ireland wanted what England had wanted—a larger franchise, a proper re-distribution of seats, and vote by ballot; and until she obtained those three changes they could not have the opinion of the Irish people represented in that House. An hon. Member had observed that the representatives of Ireland were now very equally divided in opinion. That might be so; but he did not believe that opinion in Ireland was divided exactly as it was in that House. With a wider suffrage and vote by ballot, Irish opinion, he believed, would be so represented in that House that they might proceed in the work of Irish legislation with tenfold greater success than they were able to achieve now. They talked frequently of the influence and power of the United Kingdom, and there was not a subject of the Queen who did not desire to see that influence and power maintained and extended. It was often said to be of great importance to keep up the prestige of this country, when they considered the countless millions of different races whom they 1514 had to govern in distant parts of the globe An argument in favour of the Abyssinian Expedition had been grounded on the necessity of maintaining that prestige; but if one thing could be more perilous than another to our influence in those remote countries, it would be to show them we were distracted at home. If the Imperial Parliament was unable to govern the United Kingdom so as to secure contentment, people might be led to doubt its ability to govern countries situated thousands of miles away. The proposals of the Government appeared to him the merest tinkering with a great question. Those who sat on his side of the House asked for religious equality in Ireland; but the Government refused altogether to touch the Established Church. On the other hand, the Government gave them some intimation that they might possibly make some attempt to produce that desired equality in the most undesirable way. He understood the noble Lord to say that the Government would be much, more willing to elevate the other religious bodies than to level downwards. He believed himself that they must "level downwards." Both in Ireland and in this country public opinion was decidedly in favour of disendowing and disestablishing. Before the people of England would see another University of a sectarian character introduced into Ireland, they would try the plan of having every University in the United Kingdom thrown open, so that every subject of the Queen might fully enjoy their benefits without being required to take any test whatever. In conclusion, he might be allowed to remark that knowing as he did the extreme difficulty of passing great measures of justice throughout that House—for, though only a new Member of the House, he had been accustomed carefully to read the records of its proceedings—he rejoiced that a new political power had arisen in England, and that those who earned their bread by the sweat of their brow had been admitted to the franchise, even although the mode of that admission had been very extraordinary indeed. Whatever might be said of the faults and shortcomings of the working men of England, they, at any rate, had no vested interest in political injustice and wrong, and on the day of polling they would not cast their votes on the side of that Government which refused to abolish the Irish Church; they would support that Ministry and that party—no matter on 1515 what side of the House they were found—who would courageously and conscientiously endeavour to do justice not only to Ireland, but to the whole British Empire.
§ MR. AGAR-ELLIS
said, as nobody in that House generally acted more than he did upon the maxim that silence was golden, he trusted he might be permitted to offer a very few remarks. There had been many fearful attacks made on the Irish Church; but he could not understand the ascendancy of the Protestant Church, as it was termed, being so obnoxious to Roman Catholics. He thought that the payment of the tithe rent by Roman Catholics was a grievance; but that might be got over by making the rent-charge payable to the State, and the anomaly of causing the Irish people to pay for the Church of the few might be met by the payment of the Roman Catholic priesthood. It was said that they would not accept endowment. They, however, accepted it in other countries, and if they did not accept it in Ireland, they would then be responsible themselves for the continuance of the anomaly. The State should pay the Established Church, the Presbyterians, and the Roman Catholics in Ireland, and, moreover, there should be a real reform of the Established Church. If, as most people believed, it wanted cutting down, it should be cut down. With respect to the land question, he conceived that one strong argument against any Tenant Right Bill consisted in the fact that every side had tried to carry such a measure, and the only Bill that had been passed was that of the right hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell), which was not compulsory, and had not been made use of a dozen times. The schemes of the hon. Member for Westminster and the hon. Member for Birmingham pointed at fixity of tenure for the tenants. Irishmen knew what fixity of tenure was. Before the famine men having long leases were certain of holding their land as long as they paid the rent. But how did they pay the rent? They sold acre after acre, and the result was seen in the famine years; and if fixity of tenure were now established the same result would ensue. He believed that the whole of the English and Scotch Members wished to do all they could for Ireland; but he was afraid of the adoption of the same sort of legislation as was witnessed last year. He feared panic legislation. The great measure of 1516 Reform was passed in a panic last year. This was the same House of Commons, and the same parties were in power, and he feared panic legislation for Ireland.
§ MR. J. STUART MILL
It was with a feeling, I will not say of disappointment—because there can be no disappointment where there has not previously been hope—but of regret, that I witnessed the "beggarly account of empty boxes" which the Government has laid before us, instead of an Irish policy. My dissatisfaction was not so much with what they did, or what they refused to do, on the subject of the land—although I look upon that question as outweighing all the rest put together—and I believe that without a satisfactory dealing with it, nothing can be done which will be at all effectual. I am afraid the time is far distant when it would be fair to expect that a Government, and especially a Conservative Government, should be found in advance of public opinion—which I cannot deny that the present Government would be, if they were to propose such a measure on the Irish Land Question as I conceive would alone be effectual to settle it. But what we have a right to expect even from a Conservative Government, at all events from a Conservative Government which professes a Liberal policy—even with the qualifying adjunct, "truly Liberal"—is that they shall be on a level with the opinion of the people, and this they most assuredly are not, on the subject of the Irish Church. If there ever was a question on which I might say the whole human race has made up its mind, it is this. I concur in every word that was said, and every feeling that was expressed, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) on this subject, and I thank him from my heart for his manly and outspoken declaration in reference to that great scandal and iniquity, which was so well described by the right hon. Gentleman now at the head of the Government in a speech which, although last year he endeavoured to explain away, I am not aware that he has ever disavowed. It is an institution which could not be submitted to by any country, except at the point of the sword. Now, on this subject the Government have not shown themselves altogether inflexible. The noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland has expressed his willingness in some degree to entertain the principle of religious equality, and 1517 I thank him for it; but, as has been remarked by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright), he proposed to do it—if at all—by levelling up instead of levelling down. The noble Lord is willing that every valley shall be exalted; but he does not go on to the succeeding clause, and say that every mountain and hill shall be laid low. So long as the national property which is administered by the Episcopal Church of Ireland is not diverted from its present purpose, the noble Lord has no objection at all to this country saddling itself with the endowment of another great hierarchy, which, if effected on the principle of religious equality, would be a great deal more costly than even that which now exists. Does the noble Lord really think it possible that the people of England will submit to this? I may be permitted, as one who, in common with many of my betters, have been subjected to the charge of being Utopian, to congratulate the Government on having joined that goodly company. It is, perhaps, too complimentary to call them Utopians, they ought rather to be called dys-topians, or cacotopians. What is commonly called Utopian is something too good to be practicable; but what they appear to favour is too bad to be practicable. Not only would England and Scotland never submit to it, but the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland refuse it. They will not take your bribe. As in many other things I differ from the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Neate), who moved the Amendment, so my opinion on the subject of Irish remedies is directly contrary to his. Whereas the hon. and learned Member thinks that the real obstacle to the peace and prosperity of Ireland is the proposal of extravagant and impossible remedies, my opinion, on the contrary, is that the real obstacle is not the proposal of extravagant and impossible remedies, but the persistent unwillingness of the House even to look at any remedy which they have pre-judged to be extravagant and impossible. When a country has been so long in possession of full power over another, as this country has over Ireland, and still leave it in the state of feeling which now exists in Ireland, there is a strong presumption that the remedy required must be much stronger and more drastic than any which has yet been applied. All the presumption is in favour of the necessity of some great change. Great 1518 and obstinate evils require great remedies. If the House does not think so—if it still has faith in small remedies, I exhort it to make haste and adopt them. It has already lost a great deal of time. Counting from 1829, which was the time when this country first began to govern Ireland, or even to profess to govern Ireland, for the sake of Ireland, thirty-nine years have elapsed, and during that time, although there may have been some material progress, as there has been everywhere else, moral progress, in reconciling Ireland to our Government, and to the Union with us, has not been made, and does not seem likely soon to be made, unless we change our policy. Hon. Gentlemen prefer to soothe themselves with statistics, flattering themselves with the idea that Ireland is improving, and that the evil was greater at some former time than it is now. My right hon. Friend the Member for Calne has told us that we have no occasion to care for Fenianism, and that it is nothing of any consequence. I do not suppose my right hon. Friend thinks that the remedies proposed by me or any one else for the benefit of Ireland are intended to conciliate the Fenians. I know very little of the Fenians. I do not pretend to know what their opinions are, nor do I believe my right hon. Friend knows them a bit better. We do know, however, that they desire what I greatly deprecate—a violent separation of Ireland from this country; and they desire this with such bitterness and animosity that there is no chance of conciliating them. But the peculiar and growing danger in the state of Ireland is this—that there is nearly universal discontent, and very general disaffection. Hon. Gentlemen need not flatter themselves that this is an evil which can be safely disregarded. Ireland has had rebellions before. As a rebellion this recent one is nothing—it is contemptible. A great deal has been said about the circumstance that no person of consequence, personally or socially, has put himself at the head of it. It was not likely that anyone who had anything to lose would do so. Is it within the range of possibility that an insurrection could be successful in Ireland at this particular time? What does Mitchel himself say of it? This is the reason why everyone who has something to lose (and everyone who is an occupant of land has something to lose) will not, until he sees a greater chance of success, countenance rebellion, or throw 1519 any other difficulty in the way of suppressing it than by sheltering from the police those who are involved in it. That is not the danger. The danger is one of which there is the strongest evidence. My own information is derived from many trustworthy persons, not of extreme opinions, persons whose idea of remedial measures for Ireland falls far short of mine, but who are unanimously of opinion that the state of Ireland is more dangerous at this moment than at any former period, and that the feeling of the people is one of general discontent and wide disaffection. Gentlemen who hold land in Ireland do not think so; but they would be the last persons to find it out. Persons in the possession of power are usually the last to find out what is thought of them by their inferiors. They, however, awake from their dream and find it out when they little expect it. There are two circumstances which make the disaffection more alarming at this time than at any former period since the Rebellion of 1798. One is a circumstance which has never existed before. For the first time the discontent in Ireland rests on a background of several millions of Irish across the Atlantic. This is a fact which is not likely to diminish. The number of Irish in America is constantly increasing. Their power to influence the political conduct of the United States is increasing, and will daily increase; and is there any probability that the American-Irish will come to hate this country less than they do at the present moment? The noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland said truly that many Irish go to our colonies, and that they remain loyal. But why? The Irish who go to those colonies find everything they seek in vain here. They have the land—they have no sectarian church; they have even a separate Legislature. All this they have under the British Crown and the British flag. If you gave all this to Ireland the people would be tranquil enough there. They will be so with much less than that; but those who go to America, on the contrary, will be loyal only to the American Government, while their feeling towards England is, and must be, directly opposite to that of the Irish who go to Australia and the other English Colonies. That is one most serious cause of danger in Ireland. Another is that the disaffection has become more than at any former period one of nationality. The Irish were taught that feeling by Englishmen. England has only 1520 even professed to treat the Irish people as part of the same nation with ourselves since 1800. How did we treat them before that time? I will not go into the subject of the penal laws, because it may be said that those laws affected the Irish not as Irish but as Catholics. I will only mention the manner in which they were treated merely as Irish. I grant that for these things, no man now living has any share of the blame; we are all ashamed of them; but "the evil that men do lives after them." First of all, this House declared the importation of Irish cattle a public nuisance. When we refused to receive Irish cattle, the Irish thought they would slaughter and salt them, to try whether we would receive them in that shape. But that was not allowed. Then they thought that if they could not send the cattle or the flesh, they might send the hides in the form of leather. No; that was not allowed either. Being thus denied admission for cattle in any shape, they tried if they should be allowed to do anything with respect to sheep; and they commenced exporting wool to this country. No; we would not take their wool. Then they began to manufacture it, and tried if we would take the manufactured article. This was the worst of all. We compelled our deliverer, William III., of "pious and immortal memory," to promise his Parliament that he would put down the Irish woollen manufacture. This was not, I think, a brotherly course, or at all like treating Ireland as a part of the same nation. If we had been determined to impress upon Ireland in the strongest manner that she was regarded as a totally different and hostile nation, that was exactly the course to pursue. In fact, Ireland was treated in that thoroughly heathenish manner with which it was then customary for nations to treat other nations whom they had conquered—with the feeling that the dependent nation had no rights which the superior nation was bound to respect. It is unjust, however, to call that feeling heathenish, since it belonged only to the worst times of heathenism, before the Stoic philosophy—before the great and immortal Marcus Antoninus proclaimed the kinship of all mankind. From the year 1800, these things began to change; but down to 1829 it may be said that though in some sense we treated Ireland as a sister, it was as sister Cinderella—dust and ashes were good enough for her; pur- 1521 ple and fine linen were reserved for her sisters. From 1829, however, we ceased to govern Ireland in that way. From that time there has been no feeling in this country with respect to Ireland, but a continuance of the really sisterly feeling which then commenced. Since that time it has been the sincere desire of all parties in England to govern Ireland for her good; but we have grievously failed in knowing how to set about it. Let me take a brief review of the things done for Ireland during that time. They may be easily counted. First, we made the landlord the tithe-proctor. That was a right thing to do; it prevented a great deal of bloodshed, and an enormous amount of annoyance and disaffection. I only wish it had been done before it became practically impossible to collect the tithes in the old way. But, after all, this was merely changing the mode of taking something from the Irish people: it was not taking less. Next, we gave to Ireland a really unsectarian education. Ireland, long before England, received from us an elementary education which came down to the lowest grade of the people; and by degrees she also obtained unseetarian education in the higher branches. This is the most solid, and by far the greatest benefit we have yet conferred upon Ireland: and this, if the proposal of the Government is adopted, we are going in a great measure to give up. In your difficulties this is what you are going to throw over. You are going, in a great measure, to sacrifice the best thing you have done for Ireland, to save the bad things. The third thing did more credit to our kindness and generosity than to our wisdom. It was the £8,000,000—ultimately amounting to £10,000,000—that we gave at the time of the Irish famine, for the relief of the destitution in that country. Nobody will say that we were not right to give it; but I do not think that a people ever laid out £8,000,000 or £10,000,000 to meet an immediate emergency in a manner calculated to do so very minute a quantity of permanent good. We were lavish in the amount that we expended. We certainly saved many lives—though there were probably a greater number that we could not save—and for that we are entitled to all credit. In a case of desperate distress there is in this country no grudging of money. All parties are united in that respect. But when circumstances obliged us to lay out this great sum, we had 1522 an opportunity of doing permanent good, by reclaiming the waste lands of Ireland for the benefit of the people of Ireland; and if we had done that, we should probably never have heard anything about fixity of tenure in the shape in which we hear of it now. At that time there was a sufficient quantity of waste land in Ireland to have enabled us to establish a large portion of the Irish population, by their own labour, in the condition of peasant proprietors of the land which they would themselves have reclaimed. We lost that opportunity, and we lost it for ever: because since that time fully one-half of all the reclaimable waste land which existed at the time of Sir Richard Griffith's survey has been reclaimed; that is, it has been got hold of by the landlords; it has been reclaimed for the landlords, mainly, or very largely, by the aid of public money lent to them for the purpose. Therefore, it is no longer possible to produce these great results in Ireland merely by reclaiming the waste lands. The opportunity lost never can be regained; and now, therefore, you are asked to do much larger, and as it appears to you much more revolutionary things. There is only one more thing that we have done which is worth mentioning, and that is the Incumbered Estates Act. The Incumbered Estates Act was a statesmanlike measure; it was a measure admirably conceived, and excellent, provided it had been combined with other measures. Even as it was, it was in many respects a very valuable measure. In the first place, it effected a very great simplification of title. In the next, it to a great extent liberated Ireland from the great evil of needy landlords. But there is another side to the matter. The Act has had another effect which was not, I believe, anticipated by anybody, at least to the extent to which it has been realized. It has shown to Ireland that there might be a still greater evil than needy landlords—namely, grasping landlords. Those who have bought estates under the Act are, I believe, in the great majority of cases, much harder landlords than their predecessors; and naturally so, because they had no previous connection with the localities in which the estates they have purchased are situated. They were strangers—I do not mean to Ireland—but to the neighbourhood of their new properties. Many of them came from the towns. At all events, they had no connection with 1523 the tenants, and did not feel that the tenants had any moral claim upon them beyond that claim—a claim they ought to have recognized, which all who are dependent upon us have over us. They bought the land as a mere pecuniary speculation, and have very generally administered it as a mere speculation. Not unfrequently the first step they took was to raise the rents to the utmost possible amount, and in many cases they have ejected tenants because they could not pay those rents. These, then, are the things that we have done since we began to do the best we could, the best we knew how to do for Ireland; and I do not think they are very well calculated to remove from the minds of the Irish people the bitterness which had been produced by our previous mode of Government. If you say that there was nothing better to be done, you confess your incompetency to govern Ireland. I maintain that there is no country under Heaven which it is not possible to govern, and to govern in such a way that it shall be contented. If there was anything better to be done, and you would not do it, your confession is still worse. But I do you more justice than you do yourselves. I believe that if smaller measures would have sufficed you would have granted them; and it is because smaller measures will not suffice, because you must have large measures, because you must look at the thing on a much larger scale than you now do, because you must be willing to take into consideration what you think extravagant proposals—it is because of that, and not from any want of good intentions, that you have failed. The present state of Ireland is, I hope, gradually convincing you, if it does not do so all at once, that you must do something on a much larger scale than you have ever acted upon before, whether the particular things proposed to you are the right things or not. It is under this conviction that I have thought it my duty not to keep back three-fourths of what I believe to be the truth in regard to Ireland, for fear of prejudicing minor measures which the very people who propose them do not expect to produce any very large results. As to the plan which I have proposed—and whether hon. Gentlemen think that it is right or wrong, surely they will admit that it is good to have it discussed—as to that plan, it seems necessary that I should in the first place state what it is; for it 1524 does not appear to have been at all correctly understood by most of those who have attacked it, and least of all by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland. When I listened to his speech, I did not not know my own plan. It is evident that the arduous duties of his important position had not left him time to read my pamphlet, and he had been compelled to trust to the representation of some one who had given him a very unfaithful account of it. The noble Lord seemed to think that my plan was that the State should buy the land from the present proprietors, and resell or re-let it to the tenants. Now, I have said nothing whatever about buying the land. I should think it extremely objectionable to make that part of the plan. I do not want the rent-charge to be bought up by the tenants, because that would absorb the capital which I hope to see them employ in the improvement of the land. There is another mistake which seems to have been made pretty generally. Those who have objected to my proposal have always argued as if I was going to force perpetuity of tenure on unwilling tenants. I propose nothing of the sort. There are at present in Ireland a very great number of tenants who do not pay a full rent. The most improving landlords are precisely those who are the most moderate in their exactions. Now, it is an indispensable part of my plan that perpetuity should only be granted at a full rent—a fair rent, not an excessive, but still a full rent; and probably, therefore, many of these tenants will prefer to remain as they are. They might not do so if they were never to have another chance of gaining a perpetuity; but as according to my plan they would retain the power of claiming a perpetuity, at any future time, on a valuation to be then made, I think it extremely likely that many would wish to go on as they are. Many landlords, too, might prefer to arrange amicably with their tenants at something less than a full rent, in order to retain the present relations with them, and these, I believe, would he the best landlords, the most improving landlords, those who are on the best terms with their tenants, and whom it is most important to retain in the country. Many practical objections have been raised to the plan, to all of which I believe that I have answers; but there is a preliminary question that I should like to ask. Does the House really wish that these difficulties should be met? Because 1525 it is very possible that in the minds of hon. Gentlemen the question may be concluded and closed by a preliminary objection; such, for instance, as that it is an interference with the rights of property. If hon. Gentlemen are determined by this single circumstance—if this is enough to make them absolutely resist and condemn the plan—it is probable that they would be rather sorry than glad if it was possible to answer the practical objections and show that the plan would work; and in that case I cannot expect to have a very favourable or very unprejudiced audience when I attempt to answer them. And then there is another sort of preliminary objection: that which was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne, in the name of political economy. In my right hon. Friend's mind political economy appears to stand for a set of practical maxims. To him it is not a science, it is not an exposition, not a theory of the manner in which causes produce effects: it is a set of practical rules, and these practical rules are indefeasible. My right hon. Friend thinks that a maxim of political economy if good in England must be good in Ireland. But that is like saying that because there is but one science of astronomy, and the same law of gravitation holds for the earth and the planets, therefore the earth and the planets do not move in different orbits. So far from being a set of maxims and rules, to be applied without regard to times, places, and circumstances, the function of political economy is to enable us to find the rules which ought to govern any state of circumstances with which we have to deal—circumstances which are never the same in any two cases. I do not know in political economy, more than I know in other art or science, a single practical rule that must be applicable to all cases, and I am sure that no one is at all capable of determining what is the right political economy for any country until he knows its circumstances. My right hon. Friend perhaps thinks that what is good political economy for England must be good for India—or perhaps for the savages in the back woods of America. My right hon. Friend has been very plain spoken, and I will be plain spoken to. Political economy has a great many enemies; but its worst enemies are some of its friends, and I do not know that it has a more dangerous enemy than my right hon. Friend. It is such modes of argument as he is in the habit of employing 1526 that have made political economy so thoroughly unpopular with a large and not the least philanthropic portion of the people of England. In my right hon. Friend's mind political economy seems to exist as a bar even to the consideration of anything that is proposed for the benefit of the economic condition of any people in any but the old ways. As if science was a thing not to guide our judgment, but to stand in its place—a thing which may dispense with the necessity of studying a particular case, and determining how a given cause will operate under its circumstances. Political economy has never in my eyes possessed this character. Political economy in my eyes is a science by means of which we are enabled to form a judgment as to what each particular case requires; but it does not supply us with a ready-made judgment upon any case, and there cannot be a greater enemy to political economy than he who represents it in that light. I will presume, therefore, that the House will not be unwilling to allow me to state what answer I can make to the practical objections to my plan. First, there is the objection founded upon the sacredness of property. That is a feeling which I respect; but the sacredness of property is not violated by taking away property for the public good, if full compensation is given; and the interference that I propose is not more an interference—it is not even so much an interference—with property, as taking land for public improvements. Then, too, a man's right to his property is sacred; but is not a man's right to his person still more sacred? And yet no man is allowed to dispose of his person—in marriage, for instance—except in such way as the law provides; nor will it allow him to relieve himself from the contract except on very special grounds, to be decided on by a Court of Justice. To those hon. Gentlemen who are fond of applying the term confiscation to the plan that I propose, I will say that I recal them to the English language. I assure them that it is possible to argue against any proposition, if need be, and to refute what we think wrong, without altering the meaning of words, by doing which people only succeed in imposing upon themselves and others. How can that be confiscation in which the "fisc" instead of receiving anything, has only to pay; by which no individual will be the poorer, but many, I hope, a good deal richer? It may be 1527 objectionable, but that is a matter of argument; it may be undesirable, because the case may not be deemed strong enough to require it; but let us fight against opinions from which we differ without extending the war to the English language. I recommend to hon. Gentlemen to be always strictly Conservative of the English tongue. I will now come to arguments of a more practical kind. I will first mention the strongest argument I have ever heard, either in this House or elsewhere, against my plan—namely, that if we substitute the Government in the place of the present proprietors, we shall expose the Government to great difficulties, and make it still more unpopular than it has ever yet been. I have two answers to make to this objection, and if hon. Gentlemen are not impressed by the one they may perhaps be convinced by the other. Undoubtedly, if the proposal is not received by the tenants as a great boon—if they do not think that perpetuity of tenure on the terms I have suggested is a gift worth accepting, then I admit that there is nothing to say in favour of my plan; it would be idle to propose it. If, when we offer to the tenantry of Ireland that which they desire more than anything else in the world—a perfect security of tenure—the certainty that they would never have more to pay than they paid at first—that everything which their industry produced should belong to them alone—if they do not think that a boon worth having, I have nothing more to say. But this is a most improbable supposition. A similar prediction was made about the serfs of Russia. Many people said and believed that the emancipated serfs would never consent to pay rent, especially to the Government, for land which they had been accustomed to receive gratis when in their servile condition. That was the general prediction; but we do not hear that that prediction has been fulfilled. Everything seems to be going on smoothly, and the serfs, as far as is known, pay their rents regularly. This, then, is one answer. I have another which is more decisive. If it is thought that it will not do to make the Government a substitute for the landlord, I answer that this is an objection affecting only a part of my plan, an additional provision, not for the benefit of the tenant, but for the convenience and consolation of the landlords—that they should be allowed to receive their rents from the public Treasury. If, after the rent is converted into 1528 a rent-charge, it be thought that the landlords should like other rent-chargers, be left to the ordinary law of the country to collect their dues, by all means leave them to the ordinary legal remedies. If it be thought injurious to the public interest to give this consolation to the landlords, then do not give it. So falls to the ground a full half of the dissertation of the right hon. Member for Calne on the fatal consequences of the plan. But I must say that I do not believe the landlords as a body would wish to exchange their present condition for that of being mere receivers of dividends from the State. I observe that those who argue against any plan supposed to be contrary to the interest of landlords, invariably assume that the landlords are destitute of every spark of patriotic feeling. I do not think so. I believe that a large proportion of the landlords would prefer to retain their present position; that they would make private arrangements with their tenants on terms more favourable for them than my plan would give, and that so Ireland would retain a large proportion of the best class of landlords. Another objection made against my plan is, that many of the holdings are too small. But Lord Dufferin states in his pamphlet that the consolidation of small holdings has ceased—that the number of separate holdings has not diminished in the last fifteen years. We may conclude from that that the holdings, generally speaking, are as large as is required by the present state of the industry and capital of Ireland; because, if that were not so, I cannot but believe that the movement of consolidation would still be going on. I perfectly admit that a great many tenants hold smaller holdings than could be desired. But if the holdings are so small that the tenants cannot live on them, and, at the same time, pay the amount of rent that would be required, they will soon fall into arrears; and, if they fell into arrears, it is a necessary part of my plan that they should be ejected. This would enable the landlord, if he thought fit, in every case of eviction to consolidate farms, and whether he did so or not, the consequence would be the substitution of a better class of tenants. It is part of my plan that the landlord, if the holding were forfeited by non-payment of the rent-charge, should choose the tenant's successor, and that the consent of the landlord should be necessary to any sale of the occupier's interest. 1529 Another objection which has been urged is, that in Ireland lands held on long leases are always the worst farmed. Now, these are almost always old leases, granted to middlemen. These middlemen hold the farms at low rents; but I never heard that they granted leases at low rents to the sub-tenants; and who on earth would or could improve under competition rents? What interest has a man in improving who has promised a rent he can never pay, and who therefore knows that, lease or no lease, he may be turned out at any moment? If the farmers have undertaken to pay a rent equal to double what they make from the land, is it likely that they will exert themselves to double the produce merely for the benefit of the landlord? One of the most extraordinary circumstances connected with the attack made on my plan by my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne is that he went on ascribing all manner of evil effects to peasant proprietorships, and yet from the beginning to the end of his speech he never made allusion to any of the arguments in their favour. One would have thought that he had never heard the common and principal argument that the sentiment of property, the certainty that they are working for themselves, is the most powerful of all incentives to labour and frugality. This is the universal experience of every country where peasant proprietorship exists. And this brings me to the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who gave three reasons why peasant proprietorship is not desirable. These reasons were, that it does not prevent revolution, that it does not obviate famine, and that it leads to great indebtedness on the part of the holders. In regard to the first of these reasons, the case which the noble Lord appealed to, that of France, is certainly not in his favour, for in France the revolutions have not been made by the peasant proprietors, but by the artizans, all that the peasant proprietors have had to do with them being to put them down. Whether it was right or wrong—whether it was for good or evil to substitute the present Government of France for the Republic, it was the peasant proprietors who did it. As to the co-existence of great famines and small properties, the noble Lord was rather unhappy in the instance he gave of East Prussia, for it so happens that East Prussia is not a country of peasant proprietors, there being next to no small properties there. It is the 1530 Rhine Provinces of Prussia that are a country of small proprietors, and the noble Lord did not tell us of any famine there. With reference to the argument as to the indebtedness of the small proprietors, I rather think the noble Lord is indebted to me for one instance he gave—that of the canton of Zurich; but in adducing that instance he omitted to mention the testimony given, by the same author, to the "superhuman" industry of the peasant proprietors there. If we take the instance generally appealed to on this subject, that of France, M. Léonee de Lavergne stated some ten years ago that the mortgages on the landed property of France did not on the average exceed 10 per cent of its value, and on the rural property did not exceed 5 per cent; and he estimated the burthen of interest at 10 per cent of the income. He added that these burthens were not increasing but diminishing. It is true that this average is taken from all the landed properties in France, and not solely from the small properties; but the large proprietors must be very unlike other large landed proprietors if their estates are not generally burthened to at least this extent, so that the average is probably fairly applicable to the small properties. With regard to the danger of sub-letting, what motive would a tenant have to sublet? He could only sublet at the rent he himself paid, unless he had in the meantime improved his holding, and if he had done so he would have a good right to be allowed to realize his improvements, if he pleased, by sub-letting at an increased rent. It is thought that even if he did not sublet, he would sub-divide. But to suppose that sub-division would be general, is to ignore altogether one of the strongest motives that can operate on the mind. There is nothing like the possession of a property in the land by the actual cultivator, for inspiring him with industry and a desire to accumulate. It is not necessary to suppose that this influence would operate on the whole body of tenant proprietors. If it acted only on one-half, a great deal would be gained. Let hon. Gentlemen consider what an accumulation of savings there is in the hands of Irish farmers. I must say that it reflects great credit on the landlords of Ireland, taken as a body, that the tenants should have been able to accumulate such almost incredible sums as it is admitted that they have. Well, what is done with 1531 these savings? The farmer carries them anywhere but to the farm. They are invested in everything but the improvement of his holding; showing that the very landlords through whose forbearance these sums had been accumulated, are not trusted by the tenants; or, if they trust the landlord himself, they do not trust his heir, whom they do not know, or his creditor, who may come into possession, or the stranger to whom he may be obliged to sell. But under the small proprietary system, these sums would be brought out and applied to the farms, and there is enough of them to make all Ireland blossom like the rose. Tenants who had given such proof of forethought would be more likely to provide for their younger sons by buying more land, than by subdividing their own holdings. Moreover, it must be remembered that a bridge has now been built to America, over which the younger sons might cross. According to the testimony of Lord Dufferin, marriages are already less early in Ireland than they used to be, and many farmers have become sensible of the disadvantage of subdividing the small holdings. It may be thought that owing to the competition which exists for land, even those who hold at a full rent might be able to sublet at an increase, or sell their interest for a large sum of money. But even if this worst result should happen, the purchaser would even then be in as good a condition as the Ulster tenant would be if the tenant right which he enjoys by a precarious custom were secured to him by law: and this tenant right, even while resting only on custom, has been found to give a considerable feeling of security, and some encouragement to improvement. Then I am asked what my scheme would do for the agricultural labourers of Ireland? It would give to them what is found most valuable in all countries possessing peasant proprietors—the hope of acquiring landed property. This hope is what animates the wonderful industry of the peasantry of Flanders, most of whom have only short leases, but who, because they may hope, by exertion, to become owners of land, set an example of industry and thrift to all Europe. My plan is called an extreme one, but if its principle were accepted, the extent of its application would be in the hands of the House. Let the House look at the question in a large way, and admit that rights of property, subject to just compensation, must give way to the public interest. If 1532 the Commission which I propose were appointed, it would soon find out what temperaments might be applied in practice. I could myself suggest many such. I would not undertake that I myself would support them, but the House might. For instance, if it were thought that the holdings were too small, the holders of all farms below a certain extent might receive not a perpetuity at once but only the hope of it. Leases might be given to them, and the claim to a perpetuity might be made dependent on their, in the meantime, improving the land. Again, such a change as I propose is less required in the case of grazing than of arable land: confine it then, if you choose, in the first instance, to arable land, dealing with the purely grazing farms on some other plan, such as that of buying up such of them as might advantageously be converted into arable, and re-selling them in smaller lots. It is not an essential part of the scheme that every tenant should have an actual perpetuity, but only that every tenant who actually tills the soil should have the power of obtaining a perpetuity, on an impartial valuation. I believe that as the plan comes to be more considered, its difficulties will, in a great measure, disappear, and the House will be more inclined to view it with favour than at present.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
Sir, the hon. Member for Westminster has at considerable length, and with great ingenuity, entered upon the plan which he has published in a pamphlet, and which has been much discussed in the House. That is, indeed, very natural, considering the attack made upon his proposition by the right hon. Member for Calne. If the hon. Member for Westminster is correct in saying that Ireland is in a more dangerous or disaffected state now than at any previous period—if it be true that there is in America a large proportion of the population who have united with the Irish people in keeping up this disaffection, and encouraging it with all their endeavours, then I say it may be necessary to resort to some measure which I do not now like to contemplate. As far as I understand, the plan put forward by the hon. Member for Westminster in his pamphlet is one which he himself considers revolutionary in its dealing with the land of the country, and is totally different from any ever adopted in any other country. Supposing, then, that the owners should choose to select to accept it, and that those now 1533 holding their land without any leases, or who are tenants-at-will, were able to transform their holdings into permanent tenure—all those changes could be effected only with the view of conciliating and putting an end to that dangerous disaffection and discontent felt in Ireland, and which is also said to exist in what the hon. Gentleman calls the Irish nation in America. Sir, I do not believe, even if we were friendly to such a scheme, that it could be put in operation; nor do I think, if it even could be put in operation, that it would affect in any sense, as the hon. Member supposes, the great body of the population. If these designs he speaks of could be carried out, and if his scheme were admitted, which by a diminishing process in the course of his speech he gradually brought down to one part of Ireland only, dealing differently with grazing land from arable land, it might practically operate so as to deprive the most loyal subjects of their land, while it maintained the disaffected portion of the community in the land which they at present possess. I cannot but complain that a Gentleman occupying such a position as that of the hon. Member for Westminster should lend himself to the vague and unmeaning declamation of Irish agitation—declamation which carried us back to periods long passed and long forgotten by this House, except so far as to warn us against doing the like again, and inciting us to act upon the fraternal, or rather the sisterly feeling, existing since the commencement of the century, and which had been still stronger since 1829. Why did the hon. Gentleman go back to the time of William III.? Why did he not limit himself to the time of William IV., which was quite long enough to go back, and since which a great deal had been attempted on behalf of Ireland? I do not think the assertion of the hon. Member can be at all justified when he said that during the famine, if the money which had been collected in this country in aid of the starving people had been invested upon the improvement and settling of waste land, a much greater and more permanent good might have been accomplished. Now those who know Ireland must also know that there was not sufficient waste land then in Ireland to be cultivated to have created such a state of things as he described as possible. Again, when he complains of the present landlords, I say where 1534 are your instances? I have no doubt that, as in England and in Scotland, there may be exceptional cases of unfeeling landlords in Ireland. But I believe such cases are wholly exceptional. But when the hon. Member told us that the Government might become the landlords of the country, the admitted result of his plan would be that, if any tenant were in arrear, no mercy should be shown to him; he should be at once ejected, and the tender feeling that is supposed to exist between landlord and tenant—a sort of feudal feeling—would be abruptly extinguished. By the most harsh proceedings, the man who receives an estate with a guarantee for permanence of tenure is to be ejected if, under any circumstance, he falls into arrear, and to be thrown upon the world to seek for a livelihood. The hon. Member appears to approve of the Incumbered Estates Court; but he forgot to mention that the operation of that Act has been extended by the present Chief Justice to the Landed Estates Court, by which facilities for the disposal of land in Ireland had been created far in excess of anything that existed before. I believe that the estates are now disposed of almost invariably in lots, and in lots of such sizes as to be within the reach of tenants desirous to become proprietors. In this way the opportunity is afforded for the acquisition of land without our having recourse to the revolutionary schemes proposed by the hon. Member. And I should like to inquire why we are to suppose that the proprietors whom the hon. Member would create by a stroke of his wand would be gifted with all the virtues which the existing race of landlords are deficient in? I suspect that among the new creations would be found to be men of the like passions as their predecessors; that they would work very much in the same way for the accomplishment of what they thought to be their own interests, and whatever may be laid down by the principles of political economy—and I am sure that, at this late hour of the evening, I am not inclined further to discuss them—there has always been one principle by which the conduct of owners of property has been regulated—that is, to make the best of what they possess, to use their property as much as possible for their own advantage, and in following out that principle the interests of the landlord and the tenant are usually identical. With respect to what the hon. 1535 Member said regarding the use, or abuse, of the English language, I find that the word "confiscation," to which he objects, has been very freely used with reference to this subject, and the employment of the word is not confined to those who are opposed in every material particular to the opinions of the hon. Member for Westminster. This very day a letter has been put into my hands, written by a gentleman whose authority the hon. Gentleman will, I am sure, readily acknowledge, a gentleman of great ability and singularly skilful in the use of the English tongue—Mr. Goldwin Smith. Now, Mr. Goldwin Smith uses this very word, which the hon. Member for Westminster seems to think is employed only by the opponents of all progress, and he says—As to the land question, I have only to say that tenant right, to put it plainly, is illusion or confiscation; that in a case of extremity confiscation may be justifiable and necessary, but that the case of extremity must be proved, and that then, for the sake of morality, and to limit an exceptional measure to the need, confiscation should be called confiscation.In fact, you may call it what you like—fixity of tenure, permanence of tenure, tenant right, or any other term; but if, contrary to the will of the owner, you take the land out of his possession, or do not allow him to deal with it as he pleases, it is, in point of fact, neither more nor less than confiscation. When the hon. Member further says, by way of argument, that a man is not altogether free to dispose of his person as he chooses in marriage, and that, therefore, his property may be justifiably subject to legal limitation or disposal, I must congratulate the hon. Gentleman upon his argument, but I do not think that it will be necessary to refute it. Sir, when the debate was opened this evening by the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), I remembered that he was an old Irish Secretary, and I naturally listened to hear what remedies he was going to propose; so also when the question was brought before us by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) with all the fervid eloquence of his nation, as well as with great ability, I could not help feeling with respect both to that speech and the speech of the right hon. Member for Stroud, that the difficulty was to know the practical point at which so much eloquence was aimed. It is difficult to deal with a question upon 1536 a vague Resolution for going into Committee of the Whole House, and with no intimation before us of what we are to be asked to do when we get there. We are asked to inquire, to argue, and to discuss the whole wide question, in all its breadth, relating to Ireland, but without giving our attention to those details which, in such a case, are of the utmost importance. The hon. Member for Cork said that he would not make it a party question or a sectarian question, and that he had no desire to damage the Government; that it was a matter for quiet argument, and he invited the House to deal with it in that manner, and not in a way better calculated to rouse what I may call the spirit of old faction fights than to serve any practical beneficial purpose. The right hon. Member for Stroud also took care to remind us that any statesman who deals with this question must elevate himself above former times—must get out of the old ruts. But what did he do? Why the right hon. Gentleman forthwith began to start his own team, and jolted us over all those very old ruts, and almost shook us to death. He treated the familiar topics—the unsectarian education, the Irish Church, the land question—not for the purpose of showing what ought to be done, but merely to illustrate the conclusion at which he finally arrived, that a solution must be immediately arrived at somehow or other. Sir, I must say that I rather object to treating the question in that way. I have observed on other occasions that people will sometimes discover all on a sudden that some particular question must be instantly settled, and that anything that sounds at all like a settlement must be adopted. More than one instance of this sort has fallen under my notice, when Bills had been brought in and read a second time under the influence of this feeling, which upon examination in Committee have been found to be wholly un-suited to the requirements of the case. I must say that I was rather surprised that the right hon. Member for Stroud, who, as a former Secretary for Ireland, must have been accustomed to look at these questions in a practical statesmanlike manner, should come down and use so many vague expressions as he has done to-night—expressions, I venture to say, suited rather to the platform than to the floor of the House of Commons. For instance, he declared that the Government of Ireland was a Government of "fear and 1537 force." Now, is that an accurate description of the Government of Ireland?
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to base the observation upon the circumstance that the Habeas Corpus Act had been suspended. He said in effect—Look at what you are doing; Look at the mode in which you are governing Ireland by such coercive measures. Now, if there is one thing plainer than another, it surely is this, that, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne well said, the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act is not a coercive but a protective Act. It is, no doubt, coercive against brigands; but it is protective for honest men. It does not interfere with the agriculture, the trade, the commerce, or the religion of Ireland; nor does it affect any person who is loyal and well affected. There is no deprivation of any person's liberty, except he be one of those whose object is treason and sedition. In Ireland, as in England, every man is free to employ his time, his labour, his money as pleases him best; and I cannot help saying that when I see Irishmen in England living under our laws, working for our people, and earning their bread of them, and yet engaged in a conspiracy against the country that gives them shelter and a livelihood, it does strike me as one of the most fatal signs of a population tainted and infected, not by real grievances, but by some wrong suppositions that have been implanted in their minds. I feel as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone), who spoke in eloquent terms last Session of the disgraceful invasion of Canada, where a peaceful and contented province was wantonly invaded by men who, to wound the Imperial power, did not scruple to bring upon innocent families ruin and desolation. Well, the right hon. Member for Stroud told us that we must put an end to our Government of "fear or force" by passing conciliatory measures, and that we must not trust to "agitators and quacks." Now, Sir, looking at the variety of opinions that have been expressed with regard to Ireland, I cannot help saying that I do not know any country that has suffered more by "agitators and quacks" than Ireland. I know I shall be told that no agitation ever yet existed without some real griev- 1538 ance. But I reply that an agitation may be altogether disproportioned to the dimensions of the grievance, and that it may go far beyond those constitutional limits within which agitation is legitimate and salutary. Sir, this is no new question. In 1843 the same Motion was made that has been made by the hon. Member for Cork. It was then proposed by Mr. Smith O'Brien; a discussion of four or five nights followed on the same topics, and almost the same objections to English Government were made then as now, such as absenteeism, undue taxation, and the want of expenditure of public money in Ireland upon docks and ports. I may observe that on this latter point the hon. Member for Cork was especially emphatic in demanding that the terms of the Union should be fulfilled. Under the Union it was intended, said the hon. Member, and promised that there should be a dock at Cork, and that promise must be redeemed or the Union is practically at at end. That is all very well, and we shall find, no doubt, when the Union is wanted for some other purpose, how ready the hon. Member will be to admit the force of his arguments. When he is talking of the dock at Cork the Union is everything; when the maintenance of the Irish Church is in question it becomes utterly insignificant. But to return to what I was saying—In 1843, when the question was brought forward by Mr. Smith O'Brien, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud had not been Secretary for Ireland. Lord Russell, in speaking on the question at that time, referred to the agitation for the repeal, to the possibility of an invasion of our Canadian frontier from America, in much the same way as they have been referred to in the course of this debate. He dwelt upon the danger which would result from delay, and insisted upon it that no time, not even an hour, ought to be lost before passing measures for the benefit of Ireland. And yet how many years had since elapsed? For how many years were Lord Russell and the right hon. Gentleman in office without proposing those measures which were so imperatively necessary that each hour's delay is supposed to have increased our danger, and added to a disaffection which I believe to have been greater at that time than it is at present? The right hon. Gentleman apparently threatens us with a renewal of the agitation of 1843 if we do not do what he says; but if we adopt the course he recom- 1539 mends, inasmuch as it is vague, shadowy, and unpractical, he does not hold out any hope of our escape. The statements of the hon. Member for Westminster are most exaggerated, and my noble Friend has shown that Ireland is steadily, if not rapidly, progressing in material prosperity, and when it is considered that it is an agricultural country, its prosperity could not be expected to advance rapidly; but it is a perfectly steady and natural improvement. Now, with respect to the present condition of Ireland, I have heard that one of the Judges in going circuit, had made inquiries of the sheriffs and others, and they had informed him that they never remembered a period when rents were so quietly and regularly paid as they had been during the past year, and that there was never less crime in the country than at present; and further, I have been informed by a gentleman who has recently come over from Ireland, that he never remembered his district so free from alarm as at present. I have heard of a gentleman when about leaving Tipperary for England being told by one of his tenantry, "Well, Sir, I hope I shall see your honour back again, for you are going to a very dangerous country." Showing that the alarms of what has oc-ourred here have had a greater effect upon the Irish people than the inhabitants of this country. I venture to state that the disaffection in Ireland has not been so universal as described by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster. There have been no signs of it in the rising that has taken place. It is manifest that that rising was one of foreign importation, there being no real leaders of the people to be found connected with it. A disaffection without leaders and without money need not be looked upon with so much apprehension as when there are leaders of influence with money, such as there have been on previous occasions. I am anxious not to detain the House on what I consider to be the fringe of the subject, because the hon. Member for Westminster has done ample justice to all concerned in stating that all have been animated with the same intention—namely, that of giving peace and prosperity to Ireland. I wish to come to the measures which the Government intend partly to bring forward in the House and partly to deal with externally. I take it that any man who was convinced that certain measures would effect the cordial union of Ireland with 1540 England would be willing to yield any prejudices opposed to them; any he might even strain his principles for such an object, but he must believe that it would be realized by such plans, and because I do not believe that the measures proposed by hon. Members opposite would attain that result I do not support them. With regard to the subject of education, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud spoke of it in somewhat a wrong sense when he said the system adopted in Ireland has been carried on by laymen in opposition to the priesthood.
§ MR. HORSMAN
I said that at its commencement it was carried out by laymen against the wish of the priesthood.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
Well, all I can say is, that out of 6,000 schools, 4,000 of them are under the government of the priests; and not only that, but the mixed education to which the right hon. Gentleman refers does not exist to anything like the extent he supposes. In fact, the system has gradually become denominational. From the time that the Board began to sanction the omission of what were called Scripture lessons, when convent and monastery schools were admitted, they practically decided that the system should be denominational, and from the time that the Presbyterians joined it the schools became as practically denominational as they could be. When you find that what is called a mixed system is mixed in this sense only—that in Roman Catholic schools there are one or two Protestant children because there are no Protestant schools to go to, and in Presbyterian schools a small number of Roman Catholic children; that where denominations exist in sufficient numbers different patrons have been appointed to different schools of different religious bodies, expressly that each may have a school of its own, and that the schools are, as a matter of fact, carried on as denominational schools, that proves that the clergy of all denominations have alike felt that it is most desirable that education should be provided as far as possible in a denominational form; and that, when it can be done without interfering with the rights and privileges of others, that system recommends itself to the minds and feelings of the people. Then when we come to the next step in education we find the same feeling prevailing without the same means of giving effect to it. Trinity College, Dublin, always most liberal, was long ago 1541 extended so as to admit Roman Catholics, and, recently, scholarships open to Roman Catholics and Dissenters have been founded. Out of the twelve scholarships eight only have been filled up, and from that I take it, it may be fairly presumed that Roman Catholics and Dissenters do not come in large numbers, but prefer Colleges of their own denomination, or founded on different principles. The Roman Catholic University exists; but it is not an University in the ordinary sense of the term. It was called an University in the hope of its obtaining a charter; and now the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne attacks the Government on two points. First he says the Government acted wrongly in not consulting the Roman Catholic prelates, and again that they behaved worse in toadying to those Roman Catholic prelates. It was due to the House and to ourselves that our proposals with respect to University education should be made, on our responsibility, in a form acceptable to the House and also to the Roman Catholics of Ireland; and we propose not to adopt that which exists, but, with a considerable admixture of the lay element in the governing body, to give to a Roman Catholic University a charter and admit Roman Catholics to the education they desire. Does any one mean to say the Catholics of Ireland go freely to the Queen's Colleges? I do not believe that those who go there represent the classes who would send their sons to a Roman Catholic University. For myself I have always preferred a denominational system, whether of private or advanced education; and I am now supporting for Roman Catholics that which I would prefer for Protestants. I believe it would have been better if, when the Queen's Colleges were founded, instead of being made unsectarian, two had been founded for Roman Catholics and one for Presbyterians. If our plan interfere with the Queen's Colleges it will be because they are not in harmony with the feelings of the people. If they are they will maintain their ground. With respect to Trinity College, my opinion is that I think it is most desirable to keep it in its present position, so far as the governing body is concerned, because I believe it cannot be conducted better or more fairly and liberally. It may be said we shall have too many Universities in Ireland; but Scotland has four; and though we may desire to make two Universities 1542 in Ireland meet the wants of all, I am not sure it would be wise to do it, for we cannot deal with the Irish people as if they were chessmen, and place them where we wish. In spite of the want of endowment there has been founded a College which has cost £125,000, and has been maintained at great cost. That shows there is a need for such an institution; and I believe it will meet the views of the Roman Catholic laity, as well as the clergy, if degrees can be obtained there by Roman Catholics without their being associated with any but themselves. With respect to Germany, I find that Dr. Döllinger said that, notwithstanding the great University of Berlin, one of the finest established, the other Universities, which existed in such great numbers, had many of them risen to a very high standard, in consequence of the very competition which has arisen. It therefore seems from experience that we have nothing to fear for the success of a University established on the principle we propose. We do not, as was supposed, suggest a merely clerical University. If the Roman Catholics will not take that essential part of our proposal—a lay foundation with an ecclesiastical admixture—then I cannot say that I should be prepared to accede to it. Now, with respect to the Irish Church, I have not hesitated on former occasions to express my opinion upon this subject. We admit that at this moment no scheme has been proposed with respect to it. It is supposed by the right hon. Member for Calne that we (the Government.) last year issued a Commission to inquire into the state of the Irish Church spontaneously. The fact is, a proposition was made by Earl Russell, and it remained on the Notice Book of the House of Lords for some time before it came on in the shape in which it was eventually passed, and it was only a few days before it was actually discussed that Earl Russell added a few words which gave it a different complexion, proposing that the revenues should be applied "for the practical benefit of Ireland." But the House of Lords decided that the Commission should issue in the form which had been originally proposed by Earl Russell. Now, when he made the proposition the noble Lord either thought inquiry necessary, or he did not. If he did, the investigation, in the very mode in which he originally applied for it, is proceeding at this moment. If he did not think inquiry neces- 1543 sary, then the object of his original Motion is inconceivable to me. But I find that Earl Russell himself, in a new edition of his work of 1823, made some most extravagant mis-statements—unintentionally, no doubt—which were fully corrected in many pamphlets and many letters. And it is not unlikely that, finding himself thus in error, he wished for accurate information, and therefore proposed this inquiry. Some remarks have been made about the proceedings of the Commission. It is evident, however, that such a Commission cannot engage in the collection of information upon the spot. It therefore appoints sub-Commissioners, and issues queries to obtain the desired information, and until answers are returned to these circulars their meetings, of course, must be few in number, and without results till they have something practical before them. We have been called on by the hon. Member for Cork, in the strongest language, at once to disestablish and disendow the Established Church in Ireland. When you talk of a revolution of this kind we are at least entitled to ask upon what principles it shall be conducted. How are we to deal with the manifold interests concerned, and when we have obtained the money what are we to do with it? The hon. Member says, "I will tell you nothing of what is to be done with the money, but place yourselves at once in possession of the funds." I do not think we should be wrong in describing the process which is thus recommended to us in the terms which the hon. Member for Westminster applies to the change advocated with regard to the land. But surely we have a right to know beforehand that when the funds are acquired they will not be applied to a worse purpose, for there may be worse probably even in his view. The hon. Member for Cork even declines to give us that simple assurance. This question is one that has been brought again and again before the House since the year 1834. As I understood the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud, he wishes that there should be a renewal of the tactics of that day. He wishes that we should affirm a principle. But that is precisely what was done before. The principle of appropriation was affirmed then, without any practical results; and now we are, in the name of religious equality, invited to take the same course over again. I really think we ought to have a Parliamentary dictionary to give us definitions of these 1544 phrases, for really "civil and religious liberty" and "religious equality" are used so freely and vaguely that it is difficult to ascertain what is meant by those who employ them. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that "religious equality" in Ireland is to be attained by the disen dowment and abolition of the Established Church in that country, but that "religious equality" is to be preserved and maintained in England and Scotland without any similar disendowment and abolition? As I understand it, it either means religious equality for every individual, or it means nothing at all; for if you are to pick and choose in the matter, you are not carrying out the principle. There is a society in England—the Liberation Society—which would carry out the principle in its integrity, both in Scotland and in England. But when I am told that in one country I am to act on one principle, and in another on a principle totally different, I want to know why there should be one rule for Ireland, and another perfectly distinct for England and for Scotland? The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) whose opinion must have great weight, spoke on this question in 1865. He spoke very temperately, though I am bound to say he expressed great dissatisfaction with the position of affairs. It was on the Motion of the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), declaring that the present position of the Irish Church called for the early attention of Her Majesty's Government. That is precisely what is said to us now. And not only is it said that it calls for the "early" attention of Her Majesty's Government—that is to say, within the next year, or the next five months—but we are told that we must not lose an hour. The noble Lord in "another place" says, "Don't listen to them if they want an hour; let them immediately affirm the principle." But when the Motion of the hon. Member for Swansea was before the right hon. Gentleman who then had the grave responsibility of dealing with it, he did not dispose of it in this summary manner. I trust the House will permit me to quote the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, which seem to me a temperate and fair statement of what a Government should do. Speaking in 1865, and having assented to the first part of the Motion then before the House, the right hon. Gentleman said—With regard to the second, I think that I am 1545 not only not required by the fulfilment of duty, but that it would be a departure from duty on the part of Her Majesty's Government if they were to assent to the Motion, unless they were prepared to grapple with this great problem, of which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster has shown us the difficulty, and to bring this Session, or, if not this Session, still very soon, before Parliament some plan for the purpose of removing that unsatisfactory character of the condition of the Irish Establishment which we should have joined in asserting."—[3 Hansard, clxxviii. 422.]Then, after a long statement, he added—All this I say without in the slightest degree being able to point out, any more than hon. Gentlemen who have preceded me have pointed out, what ought to be done with respect to the Church of Ireland."—[Ibid. 430.]We must remember that this question had been before the country, and that the right hon. Gentleman had been a Member of this House and of successive Governments since the year 1841. He must therefore have had the question constantly in view. It is one that must have been pressed upon his attention at the time when Ireland was said to be convulsed from one end to the other. And yet, speaking in 1865, more than twenty years afterwards, the right hon. Gentleman says that this problem has not been solved. He goes on to say—Above all, I dwell upon this fact, that neither the hon. Member who moved the Resolution, nor the hon. Member for Tralee, who seconded it, while they described the existing evils in terms of a sufficiently strong nature, pointed out a remedy. The whole question is, what is the remedy?"—[Ibid. 431.]That I entirely concur with. And I must say that those who bring forward this question are bound, not merely to declaim against the Church and call for its disestablishment and disendowment, but they are bound to lay something like a scheme before us for the solution of the problem. The right hon. Gentleman pursues his argument thus:—We no sooner come to look upon this question practically than we light upon a whole next of problems of the utmost political difficulty … It is a serious thing for Governments to deal lightly with such questions. … It would be their duty to consider—whether surplus or no surplus—what obligations of the Act of Union remain to be fulfilled, and how they ought to be performed. It would be their duty to consider whether in the event of any change, any modification, in the Established Church, the property of that Church ought to be applied in one way or another."—[Ibid. 431–3–4.]Sir, at this very moment Lord Russell's Commission is inquiring into the question whether there is a surplus or no surplus. Then, declining to vote with the hon. 1546 Member for Swansea, the right hon. Gentleman gave as his reason for taking that course that to act otherwise would be to run the risk of committing in the eyes of the country "the gravest offence"—Giving a deliberate, a solemn, promise to the country, which promise it would be out of our power to fulfil."—[Ibid. 434.]Now, Sir, I say with respect to the Church in Ireland, that as far as I am concerned I am not prepared at present to say that there is a surplus to be disposed of, or how the Church property should be dealt with if there should be such a surplus. I do not think I am called on to make such a statement. With respect to the main question, I would say that although persons, who are called on to look at things in which the hopes and the happiness of the country are at stake, may be compelled to give up some of their predilections in case of necessity, yet, even if we were to assent to a Resolution at this moment for the disestablishment of the Irish Church—a piece of political baseness and cowardice unequalled in the annals of the world—I believe that, so far from conciliating the people of Ireland, this would only be made a standpoint for further demands upon us. And I for one, therefore, am not prepared to make any proposition to the House upon the subject. The terms of the Union are important in their bearing on this subject, and though I agree with the hon. Member for Cork that those terms are not absolutely closed for consideration; yet, as Sir Robert Peel said—That is a question which must be approached with great caution and care, and though he was not prepared to say that nothing should be done in the matter, yet it must be the gravest necessity which would justify any alteration in the Union.I may say that I am not prepared to redress what was called by hon. Gentlemen opposite a moral grievance by what I think would be a moral wrong to a great portion of the people of Ireland, and an unjustifiable attack on their most dear and most cherished interests. And now I come to the land question, on which it will not be necessary for me to dwell at any length, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne has left but little to be said on the subject. But when there is this general attack upon predatory landlords it may be well to remind the House that there are such beings as predatory tenants, whom it is impossible, with any advantage to the landlord, to keep upon the land which they scourge 1547 into barrenness. With respect to the mode of dealing with the land question, my noble Friend has said that he is prepared to bring forward a measure which, I think, on one point at all events, must be of great advantage to Ireland. Great difficulty arises in consequence of the parole tenure by which so many tenants hold their land, and my noble Friend proposes that certain rights should be taken from the landlord who does not enter into a written agreement. This will surely put the tenant into a position to protect himself from any landlord. Means will also be devised for ascertaining at the time that they are made what improvements are made, because it is evidently difficult, as Lord Dufferin has justly remarked, to ascertain afterwards the labour expended on some kinds of improvements; such, for instance, as the removal of stones from the land. I do not myself believe that Ireland is a country in which small culture will ever prevail to any great extent with advantage to the people who practise it. In a humid climate like that of Ireland corn growing must be always carried on under considerable difficulties, and I do not think you can ever have what I call small culture as regards grazing land. And if small culture is to fall back into potato growing, the country would return to a state of things which previously ended in famine. Upon all these questions, however, the Government is pressed to proceed with great haste and great vigour, and it certainly seems to me a little unreasonable that this pressure should be put upon us. We have held office for only a comparatively short period; and yet we have been asked to deal not only with great Imperial questions, as we have done with the Reform Bill of last year, but with a variety of details, and we are told that we ought to introduce measures with respect to the land, the Church, and education, which would entirely revolutionize the institution and laws at present in existence. And who is the principal person who makes this demand? It is Earl Russell. But Earl Russell in the year 1865 condemned, in language far stronger than any that has been used in this House, the proposal which he made in 1867. In 1865 Earl Grey made the same proposal which is contained in the recent pamphlet of Earl Russell, who at the time scouted the project as one which would cause more evil that anything that it could possibly remedy. The next 1548 year, however, Earl Russell was out of office, and adopted in the House of Lords that very system which he had condemned in 1865. He has been in office some thirty years, but during that time he never took any steps in accordance with any one of the propositions which he now makes in his pamphlets and speeches on this subject. And yet the noble Earl calls upon the House of Commons not to permit the Government a minute's delay. He says, "If they ask you for an hour, do not attend to them, but carry out your opinions"—opinions which the noble Earl himself has not attempted to carry out, and which up to 1866 were exactly contrary to those he now would force upon us. Are we to derive our teachings from the noble Earl, or are we to be guided by the same rules of prudenco which he says prevented him for years from grappling with the questions which he now wishes to settle. My noble Friend (the Earl of Mayo) has, in conjunction with the other Members of the Government, conducted the affairs of Ireland with impartiality as regards men of all creeds and opinions. This, I believe, is universally acknowledged both in this House and out of doors. We have carried out the law impartially wherever it has been violated, and we have endeavoured to do justice to all. These, Sir, are the principles upon which the present Government have acted throughout, and when they were obliged to ask for the further suspension of the ordinary protection of the liberty of the subject, the necessary powers were conceded, not after a heated debate and a division, but with the unanimous consent of the House, because it was felt that the manner in which my noble Friend had exercised the powers entrusted to him entitled the Government to the further confidence of the House. The suspension of the Habeas Corpus has been acted upon without a desire to injure anybody; and, indeed, the persons apprehended have, with hardly an exception, been set at liberty on their promising to leave Ireland. In this country, where the ordinary law alone has been enforced, the people in general have shown a firmness and a loyalty which justify me in saying that however Fenianism may by isolated acts of violence disgrace the cause of Ireland in England, a check has been put upon it which must prevent it from perpetrating anything more than those isolated deeds of wickedness. As to the proposal of the Government with regard 1549 to the gift of a charter to the Catholic University, I have already said that we shall not take any steps in the matter without previously consulting the House. As to the land question, there will be an opportunity for its discussion when my noble Friend brings forward his measure. And I trust that before the Commission which will be appointed most of the misapprehensions and calumnies which have been made the foundation of attacks upon the landlords of Ireland and of arguments in favour of a revolution in the tenure of land in that country, will be set at rest by a collection of facts which will show that the landlords of Ireland have done and are doing their duty in improving the condition of the country. In conclusion, I must express a hope that the House of Commons will go steadily on with measures of amelioration—moderate and judicious measures—instead of resorting to revolutionary enactments which, while they would fail to give satisfaction to those who are bent on disloyalty, would alienate the feelings of all those who have been the most attached friends of the country; and I refer not merely to those who, I regret to say, have been unwisely termed a garrison and an army, but to all loyal men in the country. If it pursues such a course as I recommend, the House will give satisfaction to them, without injuring the position either of England or of Ireland by such revolutionary measures as are proposed by the hon. Member for Westminster.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE moved that the debate be adjourned until to-morrow.
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.