§ MR. BUTT
rose to move the Resolution of which he had given Notice—That this House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House, to Consider the present Parliamentary relations Between Great Britain and Ireland.The hon. and learned Member said, that as a large number of the people of 701 Ireland entertained the opinion that the present relations between the two countries were unsatisfactory, he felt that those opinions ought to be submitted to the consideration of this House. In the difficulties in which he was placed in bringing the question forward, he certainly had this support—that he knew he was addressing an audience that would give him every indulgence. He had already read the Motion which he intended to submit to the House, and if he were fortunate enough to obtain assent to it, and they went into Committee, he intended further to move—That it is expedient and just to restore to the Irish Nation the right and power of managing all exclusively Irish affairs in an Irish Parliament; and that provision should be made at the same time for maintaining the integrity of the Empire and the connection between the Countries by reserving to this Imperial Parliament full and exclusive control over all Imperial affairs.Now, at the outset he would say a few words as to the form in which he had submitted his proposals, and he believed that in moving that the House resolve itself into Committee, he was strictly adhering to Parliamentary usage. This was the form which was repeatedly observed in olden times in reference to matters connected with the state of the nation. The question of Roman Catholic Emancipation was dealt with in this way; it was the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister in his Reform Bill, and later still the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) followed his example in his Resolutions regarding the Irish Church. He did not wish to shelter himself in moving this first Resolution under any vague generalities; but he proposed at the same time to discuss the two Resolutions which he intended to follow if the House wont into Committee. He believed his duty was to put the House, as far as possible, in possession of the fullest and most complete information as to the plan he intended to submit, the new arrangement he proposed in the place of that which now existed, and which he maintained was imperfect. He believed he was entitled to do this with some authority, for in the course of last autumn he and those who agreed with him in wishing for a new arrangement, as far as the present law of the land permitted them, took steps to obtain the general opinion of 702 the people of Ireland. A requisition, signed by 25,000 persons fairly representing the middle classes, at all events, of three of the Provinces, and no inconsiderable portion of the fourth, had been got up for the purpose of having a Conference in Dublin, where the plan he now proposed was fully and deliberately considered. At that Conference certain Resolutions were adopted, and 59 Irish Members who were returned to the present Parliament entirely assented to those Resolutions. After that there could no longer be any room for doubt as to what the Irish people desired, and whatever might be the decision of the House on that question, he was anxious that it should be distinctly understood, that they were not seeking separation from England, but that, whether their plan was right or wrong, the object was to perpetuate and consolidate the connection between the two countries. In the Resolutions to which he referred, the Conference declared it to be their conviction that it was essential to the peace and prosperity of the people of Ireland that they should have the right of domestic legislation with respect to all Irish affairs; that the right of the Irish people to self-government by means of a Parliament assembled in that country was inalienable; that in asking for those rights he adopted the principle of a Federal arrangement which would secure to that Parliament the power of regulating all the internal affairs of the country, while leaving all Imperial questions to be decided by the Imperial Legislature, such as all matters relating to the defence of the Empire and the providing of supplies for Imperial purposes. The Resolutions which the Conference passed, embodying these views, had down the principles of the party very distinctly, and, so far as he could see, there would be no difficulty in carrying them into effect. He had heard them described as "misty," and perhaps they did not rival the conspicuous terseness of those statesmen who never wrapped their thoughts in involved sentences and ambiguous phrases; but to his mind there was no possibility of mistaking them. The Resolutions he now submitted to the House were very clear, and if they were debated, it would be seen that they were quite sufficient to guide the House to a conclusion. In the next place, he would direct their attention 703 to this fact—that they involved no change in the Constitution; and he was anxious that the House should clearly understand this. He proposed no change in the Imperial Parliament, and if his scheme were adopted, the House would meet next year just as it had done this; there would not be a single change in Members or constituencies; there would be the Members for Leeds, Glasgow, Dublin, and Limerick—the only change would be to take from that Assembly some of the duties which it now discharged in reference to Irish business, and to relegate them to another. That being so, he was tempted to ask, whether the removal of the Irish business from that House would be regarded by hon. Members as an intolerable grievance? Some might be of opinion that it would be no great grievance if the Irish Members were sent away; but the great majority, he believed, would be of opinion that if the Irish business were transacted elsewhere, more time would be left for the transaction of the legitimate business of the House. Now, he might be asked what he called Irish business; and further, if, should Irish Members go into a Parliament of their own to transact their own business, they would still claim the power and privilege of voting on English questions in this House? He would answer the second question by saying emphatically "No;" for he was of opinion that the voting of Irish Members on English questions had been a great damage to themselves, to the character of Parliament, and to English legislation. Before going further into that subject he might be permitted to give a retrospective glance at the history of Ireland, which he hoped would guide the House a little in forming an opinion on the question at issue. The rights of Ireland with respect to its Parliament originated with the first time an English Monarch set his foot in that country. The right to Parliamentary institutions followed the English Commons, and when King John proclaimed common law in England and gave England its Magna Charta, he became bound to govern in Ireland as in England—through the medium of the great Council of the nation assembled in Parliament. It was, indeed, true that for some time the whole Irish nation was not represented in the Irish Parliament; because 704 the country was not then all divided into shires, and not all subject to English law; but wherever English law was established and shires were formed, by virtue of the common law, the freeholders of every county returned Members to Parliament exactly as in England. In the reign of James I. the country was all divided into shires, and there was then, for the first time, a full representation of the people, and James exercised the right which English Monarchs had not then forfeited, of establishing boroughs in Ireland. These boroughs were established according to English law. From the days of James I. Ireland had her Parliament. It was interrupted, no doubt, by wars, but from the Revolution down to 1800 it regularly met; and the electoral franchise was precisely the same in Ireland as in England. He did not want to conceal from the House that during that period restrictions were put upon the action of the Irish Parliament. Prom the earliest period it had been admitted that the Crown of Ireland was an inseparable dependency upon the Crown of England, and this was strongly expressed by Mr. O'Connor when he said that whoever was King de facto in England was King de jure in Ireland. Her Majesty was Queen of Ireland in virtue of an Act of Succession passed by the English Parliament. It followed from this in former times that Ireland had really no potential voice in any question of peace or war, or in the government of our colonies and dependencies, although they could refuse supplies to the English Parliament if they thought fit. In 1782 the Irish Parliament acquired new rights. The English Parliament gave up the claim to legislate for Ireland, and the Irish Parliament, with the consent of the Sovereign, modified Poyning's Law, so as to make it necessary that its Acts should receive the assent, not of the English Parliament, but of the English Privy Council. This state of things continued until 1800. It was easy to judge after the event, but one could not help recognizing that the settlement of 1782 carried with it some seeds of weakness. At present such an arrangement would be defective in two respects. It would fail to do justice to Ireland, for it would not give her a voice in Imperial affairs, and would compel her to go to war without consulting her; and it would injure the strength of the Empire by not giving 705 to one Parliament, in case of necessity, the power of controlling the energies of the whole United Kingdom. The resolutions of the Dublin conference proposed to supplement the Constitution of 1782 by giving Ireland a representation in the Parliament which regulated Imperial concerns, and by giving that Parliament power to tax all the resources of Ireland for Imperial purposes. He would ask the House to consider for a moment what the Irish Parliament did in the period to which he had referred. It consisted of 300 Members, of whom 64 were returned by the freeholders of the country, and about 64 others by election, more or less popular; while all the rest were absolutely the nominees of the proprietors of close boroughs. It was exclusively a Protestant Parliament, and this was another source of weakness. But what, nevertheless, did it accomplish? It wrung from the Privy Council of England an Act for shortening the duration of the Irish Parliament to eight years; it admitted Roman Catholics to the electoral franchise; it repealed the penal laws; it opened the Dublin University to Roman Catholics more than half a century before they were admitted to any English University; and he believed that, if its course had not been interrupted, it would have settled the question of Catholic Emancipation, and others of vital importance, with results very different from those which they had witnessed in Ireland. He hoped that English Members would try, when considering this subject, to place themselves in the position of Irish Members, who had to impress upon the House how strong was the desire on the part of their countrymen to have a Parliament of their own. The period from 1782 to 1800 was, beyond all doubt, one of great prosperity in Ireland; and the fact was acknowledged by the Earl of Clare in the remarkable speech in which he moved the Union in the Irish Parliament. Both friends and enemies testified that her progress was far greater during the period in question than that of either England or Scotland. He did not altogether attribute this prosperity to the wise measures of the Irish Parliament. At the same time, it was undeniable that they did pass many measures calculated to foster trade and industry. But there was a virtue in freedom. It gave independence and an energy of 706 mind; and whether we looked to the great Republic across the Atlantic, or to the ancient Republics of Italy, or to Belgium, or any other country which had acquired freedom, we invariably found that, by some law of nature, prosperity and peace followed liberty. He attributed the prosperity of Ireland at that time far more to the consciousness of the Irish people that they had the management of their own affairs than to any measures passed by the Irish Parliament. In 1800 the Irish Parliament was done away with, and he had no hesitation in saying that that act was a dark spot in the history of England. There was no excuse which could justify the course then taken, because the Irish Parliament had never refused supplies to the English Parliament; on the contrary, it had granted them with lavish liberality. In the time of the Regency in the reign of George III. an Act was passed that whenever a Regency was declared in England it should be the same in Ireland. Then came the French Revolution and the spread of democratic and revolutionary principles. The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended in in both countries. In England the storm passed over without danger; but in Ireland men who sought the same ends—and it was said that discontent was fostered by the Government—were very differently treated than English discontents. 130,000 British troops occupied Ireland at the time, martial-law was proclaimed, public meetings were dispersed by military force, and whilst the whole country was suffering under martial-law the Union was proclaimed. He was sorry to say that corruption of the grossest character largely prevailed. The patrons of boroughs sold their boroughs to the Government—some for peerages, and some for money; and in cases where sitting Members would not vote they were compelled by Act of Parliament to vacate their seats. Sixty-three of them did vacate their seats, and their places were filled up principally by the officers of regiments quartered in Ireland to keep down the Irish, and who had nothing whatever to do with Ireland. All contemporary testimony concurred in this—that the most open bribery prevailed. Mr. Grattan said that Lord Castlereagh stated openly that if half a million of money were wanted to carry the Union it should be used. The threat 707 was pursued, offices were offered to some, titles to others, and corruption to all. Lord Plunket said that revolutionary France never equalled the crimes committed by England to carry the Union.For my part," said the noble Lord, "I shall resist to the last gasp, and when I see my efforts are of no avail, then, like the father of Hannibal, I shall lead my children to the altar, and make them swear eternal hatred to England.Mr. Saurin, who was Attorney General for more than 20 years, and who was one of the ablest lawyers that any Bar ever produced, stated in the Irish House of Commons that this Union was not binding on consciences. Resistance was a duty, and the time when it took place would be a matter of opportunity. These utterances were still living in the hearts of the Irish people. The Irish people had never given their assent to the surrender of their Parliamentary rights, and the authority of the United Parliament rested, so far as Ireland was concerned, upon crime as great as that which caused the disruption of Poland. He, as a friend of order, regretted that such was the ease, and he thought it would be better for both countries that the authority should rest in the willing assent of the people, and not be supported, as now, by force. In weighing the desire of the people for restoration, they must not ignore the passions and the prejudices of the nation, their attachment to old principles, their indignation at the fraud perpetrated on them, and the wrong done them in wresting independent government from them. These were the forces at work which statesmen could not ignore. The Union having been carried there was no dissolution of the English Parliament, the 100 Irish Members simply took their seats in the English House of Commons, and there was an end of the matter. All he asked was that the 100 Irish Members should be sent back again to a Parliament of their own, and the English Parliament might go on sitting as it was now. Did the Representatives of English constituencies wish that Irish Members should vote on English questions? He believed they did not. The English Parliament, including the Scotch Members—he would perhaps have a word to say on the last point presently—would meet to discuss purely English affairs, and when there was any question 708 affecting the Empire at large, Irish Members might be summoned to attend. He saw no difficulty in the matter. The English Parliament could manage English affairs as before the Union; but now the English Parliament undertook a duty it was unable to perform—namely, to manage the internal affairs of Ireland to the satisfaction of the Irish people. He did not seek to interfere with the right of taxing Ireland for Imperial purposes, providing always that Ireland had a voice in Imperial matters. He was asking only for a Constitutional Government, and the benefit of those free institutions which had made England great. If he succeeded in showing that Ireland had not a Constitutional Government, then he thought he could rely on the justice and generosity of the English Parliament and of the Commons at large to give it to her. What was Constitutional Government? It consisted of adequate representation in Parliament—a control of the administration of affairs by a Representative Assembly of the people, so as to bring the Government of the country into harmony with the feeling, the wants, and the wishes of the people. Did the representation by 103 Irish Members in the English House of Commons amount to that? Could it be said that that House discharged the great function of Constitutional Government to Ireland? If it did not, then it followed that Ireland was deprived of that Constitutional Government which was its inherent right. He knew it might be said that this involved the question whether Ireland and England were not so blended into one nation, that the same House might discharge the duties of a Representative Assembly for both. That, again, was a matter of fact. The House might wish that they were all "West Britons, but wishes would not alter facts. They should deal with things as they were. On the subject of whether the two nations were blended into one he would refer to a passage in a speech delivered in that House in the year 1866 by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone.) The right hon. Gentleman said—For my own part, I can only beg to say that which I have often presumed to say in this House. We are an united people, with a Common Government, and a complete political incorporation. But we are also an united kingdom made up of three nations, of three countries 709 welded politically into one, but necessarily and in fact with many distinctions of law, of usage, of character, of history, and of religion. In circumstances such as these there are common questions which must he administered upon principles common to the whole Empire—all those questions in which the interests of the whole overbear and swallow up the interests of the part.…There are many other questions in regard to which, in England, in Scotland, in Ireland, that interest which is English, Scotch, or Irish, respectively predominates over that which is common."—[3 Hansard, clxxxi. 271–2.]If the right hon. Gentleman were then present he would call upon him to carry out the logical consequence of that statement, and would claim his assent to their going into Committee of the Whole House. An Irishman travelling through England, while admiring the people and their manufacturing prosperity, and wishing they might long enjoy it, would think with bitter regret that his own country was not likewise prosperous. The two countries were not blended together, because in every department in Ireland the distinction was marked. They had a separate Government, a separate Lord Lieutenant, separate Courts of Law; and exceptional laws were passed for Ireland which would never be tolerated for England. How, then, could one Representative Assembly act for both? Was not the consequence that the weaker country had no Constitutional Government? In this country there was Constitutional Government. The House of Commons administered the affairs of the nation in harmony with the sentiments of the English people. Statesmen in that House breathed an atmosphere of English feeling; they discussed English questions in an English Assembly; they were driven of necessity to mould the administration of the Government in accordance with the wants and wishes of the people. They asked the same for Ireland, and they asked for no more. Would any hon. Member venture to say that Ireland had a Constitutional Government? Was there a department of the Irish Administration which did not consider it its highest policy to thwart the wishes of the Irish people? ["Oh!"] That he said deliberately. Apart from the office of Lord Chancellor there were five great and important administrative offices in Ireland:—that of the Chief Secretary, the Chief of the Irish Constabulary—that Irish Army of Occupation which 710 was not placed in that country for the purposes of police—the First Commissioner of Police in Dublin, the Chief of the Local Government Board, and the chief of a very powerful, but anomalous Board—namely, the Board of Works. How many of these were Irishmen? Not a single one. And these were offices the owners of which were brought into daily contact with the life of the people. They were all filled at this moment by Englishmen or Scotchmen. He did not complain of Englishmen or Scotchmen holding offices in Ireland, but he thought it something more than a coincidence that five such offices should be so filled. He did not complain upon the administration of the foreign affairs of the Empire. On the contrary, he wished the Queen to have one Parliament to advise her upon foreign affairs, and to use the whole resources of the United Kingdom whenever it was necessary to do so; but he would try the Union by the administration of Irish affairs. At the end of 73 years of union with the richest country in the world, Ireland was, in proportion to its resources, the poorest country in Europe; and at the end of 73 years of union with the freest country in the world, Ireland laboured under a system of coercion more galling and oppressive than existed at that moment in any civilized European State. What had become of her population? In 1800 England contained 9,000,000 of people, and Ireland about half that number. England had increased to 22,000,000, while Ireland had to point to destroyed houses and depopulated villages, and to a people flying across the Atlantic with hostile feelings, he regretted to say, towards the people and the Government of England. Again, let them apply the test of wealth. In 1869 the income of England was assessed to the income tax at £370,300,000; that of Scotland—with a population of 3,500,000—at £39,000,000; while that of Ireland, with her 5,500,000 people, was only £26,000,000. The assessment of trades and professions was still more remarkable. In England it amounted to £147,000,000; in Scotland to £16,000,000; and in Ireland to £7,000,000. In England the number of persons who were brought under the income tax was 350,000, in Ireland 22,000. These facts were not calculated to make Irishmen quite satisfied with 711 the Union arrangement. It should be remembered that before the Union, Ireland was progressing more rapidly than Scotland. Had the Union realized the hopes that were entertained of it as regarded Imperial purposes? Mr. Pitt said that the descent of the French upon Bantry Bay showed him that Ireland was the weak point of the English nation. If there were a war now, was the feeling of the people towards England better than it was in that former time? Was not Ireland still the weak point of England? This was a subject on which he did not wish to enlarge, but to which he must allude. He said that Ireland was much more the weakness of England now than she was in 1800. Why the Coercion Laws which now existed in Ireland were never heard of in the worst time of Tory oppression, and were framed by a Liberal Government of England for Ireland. There were 31 counties in Ireland in which it was an offence punishable by two years' imprisonment for a man to appear armed, and in which a policeman might, under pretence of searching for arms, enter any man's house at any hour of the day or night, and there were counties in which men were not allowed to be abroad after dusk. Again, the Press of the country was not free. ["Oh, oh!"] He would like to hear the notions of hon. Gentlemen who thought the Press was free. Did hon. Gentlemen say that the Press of Ireland was free, when all the Lord Lieutenant had to do was to give warning to a paper, and, without trial, without jury, and without information, he could seize upon that journal and suppress it? There were journals printed in England which assailed the Queen, the laws, and the Christian religion in a manner which was not known in Ireland; but they did this with perfect impunity. If any newspapers were to be prosecuted, let all be treated alike, instead of having a law under which a newspaper writer pursued his calling under the terror of a ukase which might affect his ruin without leaving him any means of redress. In Ireland every principle of the English Constitution appeared to be studiously violated. In England every man's house was said to be his castle; but there was only one favoured county in Ireland to which the phrase could at all apply. In England a man had a right to be brought 712 to trial after he had been imprisoned; but only a few weeks back it was his duty to call the attention of the House to the case of a man in Ireland who had been confined for four years without trial and without a charge being made against him, who had been carried about from gaol to gaol upon the mere warrant of the Lord Lieutenant. Was this freedom? With regard to the police force of the country, he had the authority of Lord Boss for saying that they were not kept for the purpose of police, but were, in fact, a military and political force. The same noble Lord said that a fourth of the present force would be ample to preserve the peace of the country. As a matter of fact, the whole government of Ireland was based upon distrust of all classes in the community. Stipendary magistrates were substituted for the resident gentry of the country, and a sub-inspector of constabulary was a more influential person than the lord-lieutenant of a county. The whole record of the legislation for Ireland since the Union was made up of successive Arms Acts, suspensions of the Habeas Corpus Act, to Party Processions Prevention Acts, and Coercion Acts, each one being more severe than its predecessor. And this record was the more gloomy because it was a record of the doings of well-intentioned Parliaments. Notwithstanding all that had been done, the curfew bell of the Norman conquerors was rung in many parts of the country, and in others blood money was exacted after the example of the Saxons. Even if it were true—which he denied—that such a course of legislation had been necessary, that very fact would be its most grievous condemnation. He was therefore justified in saying that up to now the Government of the country had failed, and in asking that the Irish people might have an opportunity of managing their own affairs. He was told that Parliament having passed the Land Act and the Church Act, the Irish people were ungrateful in coming forward and demanding Home Rule also. It was even said that such a course was an act of ingratitude towards the individual Minister who had been mainly instrumental in passing those Acts. All he could say was that such assertions showed the faultiness of the system under which they could be possible, Who ever 713 spoke of the English people being grateful for the passing of a good Act? With regard to the Irish Church Act, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) gave a very clear account of the reasons for bringing it forward, and at the same time he pronounced a severe condemnation upon the whole system of the English Government, for he said the question was not taken up until the termination of the American War and the appearance of Fenianism turned the mind of the country to Irish affairs. If a declaration like this taught the Irish people anything, it taught them that if they wanted a grievance redressed they must get up, at any rate, a mock rebellion, or do something which would enable Parliament to deal with Irish questions for party purposes. The words spoken by one of the Leaders of the Conservative party in Ireland some years ago were still true—Government for Ireland there is none, said the speaker to whom he referred. Irish questions are regarded in the British Parliament as means for rewarding auxiliaries or embarrassing opponents; but a Government for Ireland influenced by regard for the wellbeing or wishes of its population there is none.Was there an Englishman in the House who would not be glad to get rid of the opprobiums attaching to the Government of Ireland? If the wish was really entertained, the way to get rid of it was by allowing the Irish people an opportunity of trying to govern themselves. If they succeeded, great and glorious would be the reward of those who gave the opportunity; if they failed, theirs alone would be the blame. And where was there to be found any valid objection to granting what they asked? The Imperial Parliament would hold the Army, the Navy, and all that was connected with affairs purely Imperial, and no difficulty would be found in separating from Imperial questions those with which an Irish Parliament might properly deal. The United States of America afforded an illustration of a successful Federal Government with independent State Legislatures, and in some of our own Colonies they found instances of people owning the Imperial sway of England, but at the same time managing their own internal affairs. Even supposing that there might be some disaffected Members of an Irish Parliament 714 —and this he did not admit—they would be in a miserable minority, and the fact of their disaffection being open to the light would give the strongest assurance of its speedy extinction. In two English Colonies were to be found men who, driven out of Ireland because they could no longer endure the system of Government existing there, had become Ministers under the British Crown, and were doing honour alike to the Colonies in which they served and to the Sovereign who had appointed them. Sir George Grey, the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, wrote strongly in favour of giving a Federal Parliament to Ireland, and he believed in his soul that it would be the means of effecting a complete union with England. Wrong had driven a largo proportion of the Irish people into the madness of insurrection or sympathy with insurrection. It was, indeed, the consciousness of this fact which made him set himself earnestly to work to devise a means of stopping this miserable series of abortive insurrections and revolts by which Ireland had been torn and some of the best and bravest of her sons driven into exile. He believed he had devised a plan which would satisfy the just demands of the people without producing a disintegration of the Empire; therefore, he had asked the people to give up the madness of revolt and join with him in constitutionally and peacefully making an appeal to England. Many of the people who supported this moderate proposal would waste their lives in useless struggles against England, if they saw no other redress for the sufferings of their country. Was any Irishman satisfied with the way in which Irish business was conducted in that House? Why, if it was only for the physical impossibility of the House transacting such business in a satisfactory manner he would have made out his case. Were Scotchmen satisfied with the way Scotch business was done, or indeed were Englishmen satisfied with the way English business was done? English business was hurried through at 2 or 8 o'clock in the morning, without discussion, because the House was overburdened with work. This was an injury to the character of the House. They were giving up something every day. He said nothing about the curtailment of the privileges of Irish Members, and 715 nothing about the shortening of discussions in order that business might be done. The House 30 years ago completely gave up the right of debate upon Petitions, which Lord Brougham said was one of the greatest blows that was ever struck at free discussions in the House, but it was inevitable. Now, the House would purchase cheaply freedom of discussion upon these matters by giving an Irish Parliament the management of Irish affairs. He could conceive many cases of hardship arising from Irishmen interfering in purely English and Scotch questions. For example the Public Worship Regulation Bill was coming down from the other House, and surely Englishmen would deem it a hardship if Irish Members were to prevent them from making such provisions as they thought fit for the preservation of the purity of their Protestant Church? In like manner, Scotchmen would feel annoyed if the question of Church patronage were decided by the voices of English or Irish Members. So strongly did he feel on this point that he had determined to give his vote in accordance with the view taken by the majority of the Scotch Representatives; for they, and not Irishmen, were the proper judges of the matter. If the Scotch Members wished to be separated from the English he should be ready to support them, but if they were satisfied with the English Legislature he should not wish to disturb the existing arrangements so far as they were concerned, and he would in that event propose that the House should meet without Irish Members for the discussion of English and Scotch affairs. It almost of necessity followed that when hon. Members took part in deciding on questions they did not understand they would give their votes according to Parliamentary faction and Parliamentary intrigue. It must not be supposed that all those who had not joined the Home Rule movement in Ireland were in favour of the present method of governing the country. The dissatisfaction was general. A Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, in the course of an historical lecture the other day expressed a strong opinion against Home Rule for Ireland because he was afraid of Popery. "Therefore," said this gentleman, "it is better to continue under a Parliament which blunders in all its legislation than to run the risk of Cardinal Cullen or somebody 716 else interfering." Well, there was no wish or intention that this should be the case, and even if there were the Irish Protestants would be a tough morsel. The late Lord Clancarty, a Conservative of Conservatives, wrote him a letter in which he approved self-government for Ireland, although he was afraid the Irish people were not trained enough for it. This nobleman was of opinion that much good, would result if a Committee of Irish Members and of Irish Peers having seats in Parliament were to meet in Dublin previous to each session for the purpose of considering and reporting upon public and private Bills relating exclusively to Ireland. Many Conservative gentlemen, he believed, entertained the same opinion as the late Lord Clancarty, and would be glad to see a cautions advance made in this direction. It was idle to maintain that the Irish electors did not know what Home Rule meant. He did not mean to say that every man who voted for a Home Rule candidate knew all the details of the plan he had just explained, but neither did every voter who contributed to the Conservative reaction understand all the Conservative principles. But scarcely a man voted for Home Rule who did not perfectly understand he was voting to gain back to Ireland the management of Irish affairs, while pledging the country to submit in all general concerns to the authority of this Parliament. He had passed very rapidly over a great many things, but he had endeavoured to show the plan which they proposed, and which had been adopted after long discussion and full deliberation, and he asked the House not lightly to reject the demand. He believed the Irish people were essentially Conservative. It was only misgovernment that had driven them into revolt. Give them fair play, and there was no people on earth who would be more attached to true Conservative principles than the Irish nation. The geographical position of Ireland made it her interest to be united with England. They were allied to England by ties of kindred and ties of self-interest, which bound them to maintain inviolate the connection with these country, and the way to maintain that connection was to give them justice in the management of their own internal affairs. Had they justice at present? Was the election franchise the same in the two 717 countries? In Ireland one man in 25 had a vote; in England one in six. In Ireland a man must rent a house, paying £10 rent, to enjoy the municipal franchise; in England the renter of a £1 house could enjoy the franchise; and let them remember that it was since the Union the franchise was varied in the two countries. Give us—continued the hon. and learned Gentleman—a full participation in your freedom, and make us sharers in those free institutions which have made England so great and glorious. Give us our share which we have not now in that greatest and best of all free institutions—a free Parliament, representing indifferently the whole people. Then, indeed, we might speak the words which were spoken before in this House.Non ego nee Teucris Italos parere jubebo, Nee nova regna peto: paribus se legibus ambæ Invictæ gentes æterna in fœdera mittant."—[Parl. History, vol. xxxiv. 285.]These were the words with which Mr. Pitt closed the speech in which he introduced the Irish Union. Have these promises been fulfilled? Are we under equal laws? Is there no trace in your policy of conquest? Give us a new participation in a new compact, carried, not by fraud and coercion, but founded on the free sanction of the Irish people. Backed as I am now by 60 Representatives of the Irish people, in their name I offer you this compact, and I believe if it is accepted it will be, humanly speaking, eternal. Omniscience alone can foresee, and Omnipotence alone can control the events of the far off and distant future; but speaking for us who can calculate and deal with the forces that move men in the present clay, I believe that if you give Ireland the management of her own affairs, many a day will pass before there will be any change in the connection between the two countries. It is with reference to these views; it is in the confidence of these hopes; it is with an unwavering faith in these convictions that I now submit these Resolutions.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee to consider the present Parliamentary relations between Great Britain and Ireland."—(Mr. Butt.)
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Dr. BALL)
said, that a clear, distinct, and emphatic decision on the question now submitted to their consideration 718 was imperatively demanded. It was demanded in the interest of the Irish people, disturbed from the pursuits of industry by a mischievous agitation for unattainable objects; in the interest of the English people harassed by claims which, consistently with the safety of the Empire, could not be conceded. It was the duty of the Government, which for the time represented the feelings and opinions of the country, to speak with no faltering voice; and he therefore rose at once to give, on their behalf, a decided and emphatic negative to all the propositions that had been offered by the hon. and learned Member who had just spoken. The hon. and learned Member, for the purposes of his case and to maintain his position, even for a moment before the people of England, had abjured Repeal, and had offered them what he thought to be consistent with the abjuration of Repeal and with the maintenance of Imperial power over these Kingdoms. It was an important concession that the hon. and learned Member was obliged to abandon Repeal. The hon. and learned Member severed himself from the whole line of argument and action on which the ablest and greatest man who ever led what was miscalled "the National Party" in Ireland, Mr. O'Connell, founded his agitation upon the question. And why was the hon. and learned' Member constrained to abandon Repeal? Because, with almost absolute unanimity and unwavering determination, Parliament had already pronounced against it. Repeal would be fatal to the integrity of the British Empire, immeasurably more fatal to the peace, the tranquillity, and the welfare of Ireland. If there existed a powerful nation in immediate contiguity to an inferior and weaker one, there was no safety for the weaker nation but in incorporation, and no perfect safety for the stronger nation either; because the power of each to injure the other continued as long as they were separate, and opportunity might for the weaker supply the place of strength. But by incorporation they elevated the weaker nation, without in the least degree taking away from the greatness of the stronger one. "If," said Montesquieu, a profound thinker, to Lord Charlemont—"If I were an Irishman I would aim at a union between England and Ireland; as a general lover of liberty 719 I certainly desire it. Without union, Ireland can never be sure of constitutional freedom." The truth—truth too obvious to need argument for its support—the truth was that England must make Ireland either her partner or her dependant. What did the hon. and learned Member now offer them in lieu of Repeal? He offered them the Sovereign, who was to continue Sovereign of Ireland, an Irish House of Peers, and an Irish House of Commons. There was to be a separate Irish Administration, for that was particularly had down in his Resolutions. The separate Legislature, with its separate Irish Administration, was to be concerned, wholly, without control, with Irish affairs and Irish interests. If the hon. and learned Member's plan differed from that of O'Connell in the limitation of its range, it still contained the same elements of evil and mischief, and was equally incapable of working. Foreign and Colonial affairs were excluded by the hon. and learned Member's proposal, but it included the whole succession to property in Ireland, all rights connected with property, the entire administration of the law in every branch, all the multiform relations between the owner and occupier of the soil, all the relations between capitalist and workman, the whole range of education, the entire internal police of the country, and commercial dealings as far as concerned Irish interests. Why, the last subject alone would draw after it what might be the welfare of the Empire. Three years after Ireland obtained her independence she placed herself in direct antagonism to England on what was known as "the Commercial Propositions." Not that they were injurious, but that to admit them seemed to acknowledge English superiority. It was the demonstration thus given of the incapacity of the Irish to conduct their affairs with profit to themselves which made some of the wisest statesmen feel the indispensable necessity of the Union. How were they to avoid similar conflicts under any system by which those questions were to be within the control of an Irish Parliament? Supposing a Resolution or a Bill were passed in that House with regard to commerce or trade, some of which commerce or trade reached Ireland, an opposite view of the subject might be taken in that country, and protective duties, or some similar measure, 720 proposed in the Irish Parliament. He believed Parliament could not proceed for five Sessions without having, on the single question of commerce, England and Ireland diametrically opposed to each other. A bare majority in Ireland would suffice to create a conflict; nay, it was proclaimed that a bare majority ought to have this power, for let the House observe the principle on which the hon. and learned Gentleman himself proceeded. He endeavoured, he said, to ascertain how the majority of the Scotch Members meant to vote in that House in reference to any subject affecting Scotland, and he always voted in accordance with the views of that majority. The hon. Member knew he would never have unanimity. The North of Ireland was severed by a broad line of demarcation from the South. Its feelings and sympathies always had been, always would be, with England. Therefore he had to lay down the absolute authority of a majority. In the minority might be the wealth, education, intelligence of the country; but still the majority, however small, was to prevail. Was the English Parliament to be paralyzed in its action because some small majority in the Irish Parliament had determined to run directly counter to the feelings of the English people and it might be of the whole Kingdom with the single exception of that one Island? Was the whole control of the education of Ireland itself, and the entire management of its internal affairs, to be handed over to such a majority? It was quite idle to contend that the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman was divested of danger because of its limited range. Ear from being limited, its operation would extend over everything in which one could take an interest in Ireland itself, as well as in its relations with this country. And what, he would ask, was the position which this country held with regard to Ireland? A very large amount of the property in Ireland was held by persons who were resident in England. He believed that the number of small proprietors from England and Scotland who had purchased land in Ireland since the famine, was more than was generally supposed. A large amount of the shares in railways, and in every single institution which had prospered in Ireland, was held by Englishmen and Scotchmen. English capital, English 721 industry and interests, were spread over the country as a network. How could an Irish. Parliament, then, legislate for Ireland without legislating in relation to a country which was thus interwoven with it? The hon. and learned Gentleman said he and those who supported him did not mean to interfere with any English interests; but how could they avoid it? All questions between the two countries affecting trade, manufactures, customs—the whole system under which money was raised and applied for any of these purposes—must so touch directly English interests that an Irish Parliament could not stir without interfering with them. The House might therefore rely upon it that the present proposal involved as much real changer to English interests as any of its predecessors. But he, an Irishman by birth, education, and feeling, did not stand up to meet the Resolution of the hon. and learned Gentleman merely on English grounds. It was pre-eminently on Irish grounds that he opposed it; it was in the interest of Ireland and Irishmen that he opposed it, and that he emphatically met with uncompromising refusal, propositions pregnant with incalculable evil. Nor were they less impracticable than evil. What was suggested in reference to the constitution of the Legislature that was to deal with all-important subjects?—important to the English, but to the Irish "their whole existence." On what principle was the Legislature to be framed in whose power would be placed the honour, the education, the internal Government, and the police of Ireland? Were the Irish Peers to be restored and the House of Commons to be elected under the present franchise? The hon. and learned Gentleman had very judiciously left the House on all those points without a particle of information. Did any one imagine that a House of Commons, elected as the hon. and learned Member would wish it, would, for one year even, agree with the existing Peers in policy? In order to place the Upper House in harmony with the House of Commons, were Peers to be created, and what number? And suppose the working of the Legislative machine were brought about in that way, would there not still be the cardinal difficulty to meet, that that part of the country would be opposed to the 722 scheme, in which the greatest amount of wealth, power, and intelligence were to be found? Did the hon. and learned Gentleman imagine that the North of Ireland would tamely submit to the dominion of a narrow majority constantly meddling with every great interest? Such was the crude, undigested scheme, which the House was invited to adopt, all for the sake of meeting a temporary clamour—that clamour largely created by the injudicious speeches of the late Prime Minister, from which extracts had been read by the hon. and learned Member that evening. If that temporary clamour were yielded to, the result would be a contest between England and Ireland with regard to their interests, and a contest between North and South, in which brute force would be arrayed on one side against wealth and intelligence on the other. And what was that clamour of which he was speaking? Nothing but fear gave it importance. Could anybody call the meeting in Dublin, of which so much had been said, a fair representation of the Irish people? Let the House ignore the property, the highest and the best education of the country—ignore all the wealth, mercantile industry, and activity of the country, and it might, perhaps, look upon that meeting as representing what remained. Why, then, because of such an agitation should the concessions which were asked for be made? But—to come back to the propositions offered for the approval of Parliament—in what an ignoble position did the hon. and learned Gentleman place the Irish Members who were still to sit in that House? A particular time was, it seemed, to be fixed under the new system for the consideration of Imperial subjects; but no matter how important those subjects might be in which England and Scotland only were concerned, an Irish Representative was to have in them no voice. Let the House for a moment contrast such a position with that which an Irish Member at present occupied. He could now take part in the discussion of English questions which might affect the best interests of the human race—of questions intimately connected with the future of a nation whose language had spread itself over the globe, and which had filled the literature of the age with its opinions and its thoughts. And was he, he would ask, 723 to be debarred from participating in this noble field of government and legislation as a person unworthy to influence the determination of such questions, and to be consigned for the future to that miserable large vestry which the hon. Member proposed to construct in Ireland? Could it be imagined that when Irish Members had banished themselves from the English Parliament, and had consigned themselves to this obscure and ignoble position, they would continue to enjoy all the advantages they at present had? There was not a colony in which Irishmen had not been advanced and promoted. Irishmen had been accorded the greatest justice and favour. The present Lord Chancellor of England was of Irish race, and had been born and educated in Ire-; land. Recently, as many as five of the Judges of the English Common Law: Bench were Irishmen who had been educated in Ireland. In every profession Irishmen had been welcomed and advanced. All the avenues to power and distinction had been thrown open to them. But it had been said that manufactures flourished before the Union, and did not flourish now. If it were so, was this the fault of the English people? Was it possible to point to a single case in which manufactures had ever been the creatures of Acts of Parliament? They were the natural product of a soil suitable for their production. They could not be made; they must grow. But was the assertion true? He would point out what had really been the condition of Ireland in regard to manufactures prior to the Union. Fortunately, there was undeniable evidence at hand on the subject. He would begin with 1781, confining himself to the time when the Irish were in the enjoyment of their "independence." In that year there was a Petition to the Irish Parliament from Cork, alleging a total destruction of its manufactures and consequent distress; and a similar Petition came from Wexford. In 1783 the broad-cloth manufacturers alleged distress, and the Lord Mayor and Corporation of Dublin petitioned for protection and restoration of the industry. Afterwards, the worsted weavers alleged the total decay of their trade, and petitioned for a loan of £40,000, of which £25,000 was granted by Parliament. The hatters also petitioned. Later on, the woollen manufacturers 724 complained in the same way of distress. In 1788 the silk and satin manufacturers represented the decay of their industry, and the woollen manufacturers again petitioned. In 1792 the shoemakers asserted that their business was entirely destroyed, English boots being the cause of their ruin. The hosiers, in 1793, said that their trade had ceased to flourish; and 15,000 persons who had been employed in the cotton and wool manufactures petitioned Parliament inconsequence of their being out of work. In the same year the silk manufacturers again petitioned. In 1796 the book trade said they were ruined. In 1797 the tanners did the same, alleging the introduction of hides from England as the cause. The builders, in the same year, petitioned because there was a measure before Parliament which would tend to lessen the number of fires. These facts he took from the speech made by Mr. Spring-Rice, in the debates upon Repeal of the Union. What, then, had the Union to do with the failure of manufactures in Ireland? Why was the North prosperous in regard to manufactures, while the South was not prosperous? The simple answer was, that in the former there was an innate tendency towards manufacturing industry, while in the latter the nature of the people inclined more to an agricultural life. Altogether, he believed Ireland to be at this moment in the enjoyment of an unexampled degree of prosperity, although certain manufactures did not flourish. Whatever trade suited the place and the people, did flourish. He would point, for example, to the exportation of porter and whiskey from Ireland, and he saw hon. Gentlemen present, well acquainted with this branch of trade, who he was sure would support him on this point. It was not the English system of legislation which prevented manufactures and trades from flourishing, but the want of capacity and inclination to carry on the system requisite for the particular trade and commerce. Could anyone deny that the three chief towns of Ireland—namely, Belfast, Dublin, and Cork—had progressed, and were still progressing and thriving? Dublin and its neighbourhood had wholly changed since he was a boy, and had increased in wealth to a remarkable degree. As to Belfast, it could stand comparison 725 with any other town in the British dominions for the rapidity with which it had, during the last 10 years, advanced in size and wealth. It was idle to deny that Ireland enjoyed at this moment great wealth and great prosperity. One of the very best tests of the growth of wealth was afforded by the amount realized from the probate and administration duties. In this department there was a constant and progressive increase. This increase afforded a measure of the accumulation of capitalized wealth. It was therefore impossible to say that Ireland was in such a depressed condition as to require the remedy now proposed. He would now meet another ground on which the demand for Home Rule was rested—that Irish interests were neglected because the British Parliament had not time to attend to them. The history of a country was to be found, not in declamation, not in vague assertion, but nowhere better than in the Statute Book. Now, so far from Irish subjects being treated with neglect, there was not a single branch of interest in human affairs on which there had not been legislation since the Union by the English Parliament with regard to Ireland. Let them observe, the charge was not directed against the injudicious legislation of Parliament, but it was that Parliament could not attend to Irish affairs. How did the facts stand? There had been more than one Act defining and codifying the law relating to landlord and tenant. The Irish Parliament left a system of renewable leases which extended to at least a fifth of Ireland, expensive and inconvenient to the tenant, but the British Parliament passed an Act which changed the interest of the tenant, which was liable to perish, into a perpetual fee. Again, let them take the Landed Estates Court Act. He doubted whether that great measure could have been obtained from an Irish Parliament. So much for the land. Now, as to ecclesiastical affairs, there had been a constant course of legislation going on in favour of the occupiers of the soil. First, there was the composition of tithes; then there was the commutation of tithes into a rent-charge; and then, next, the Church Temporalities Act, and then the Act for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. Now, as to corporations. 726 The Irish Parliament left them with entirely Protestant officers; but the British Parliament altered all that, and passed the measure under which those corporations at present existed, and which gave corporations open without distinction of religion. He now came to another measure which was passed by the British Parliament—namely, the Act passed for the relief of the poor in Ireland. Previously to the passing of that Act, the poor of Ireland lived in huts, half clothed and half fed. O'Connell and the voice of Ireland opposed the passing of that measure, which had given independence and strength to the people of Ireland. [Laughter.] Well, that was his view of it, and he believed that was the view entertained by those who thought most impartially upon the, subject. Ireland had at present a dispensary system in connection with the Poor Law, which extended to every part of the Kingdom, and which could bear comparison with that of any other country. They owed this to the British Parliament. They owed also the system of the protection of the peace to an Act of the British Parliament. The constabulary—that admirable force—was spread over the whole country, and they were protectors of order who were, he believed, superior to any other body of men of the kind in any other place. He now came to the administration of the law. He would say nothing about the Bill introduced this Session, but many measures in previous years had been passed by the British Parliament, having for their object the simplifying of procedure and improvement of the law in Ireland. County Courts were now established throughout Ireland. The Bankruptcy Law in that country had been reformed. The whole system of Petty Sessions in Ireland had been regulated and made to correspond with the wants of society, and justice was administered in that country cheaply and expeditiously. The Grand Jury laws had been passed by the British Parliament. [Murmurs.] They were not now dealing with the question whether those laws were susceptible of amendment. Then they had the Charitable Donations Act. They had had no difficulty in obtaining Acts for the construction of railways in Ireland. There were railways now in 727 every part of Ireland, The banking system had been placed upon sure foundations by English legislation. Prohibitive and restrictive duties had also been put an end to, and Ireland also shared in the Reform Bills. And now let them contrast the proceedings of the Irish Parliament with that of the British Parliament in the matter of education. "For lack of knowledge the people perisheth," said Secretary Ord, in a debate immediately before the Union. What was the state of education now? The University of Dublin was thrown open without distinction of creed, race, or sect; and the National Board had, on the 81st March, 1873, 1,010,148 children who were being educated in schools in Ireland. Who maintained those schools? Were those schools maintained by Irish contributions? Miserable, indeed, were the contributions of Ireland to education. Was it maintained by using Irish property? No. Was it maintained by a poll-tax on the Irish people? No. It was paid out of the Imperial Exchequer by order of the Imperial Parliament, and from Imperial taxation. When the British Parliament was charged with being neglectful of Irish interests, he would put forward that one single fact of the national schools, because, in his opinion, that would outweigh all the declamation brought forward, to the assertion that there had been neglect of Irish interests. Neither of the intellectual advancement, nor of the material interests of Ireland, had there been neglect. Great unfairness had been shown in speaking of the English Parliament in this discussion. Particular measures were caught hold of, and without the slightest inquiry as to whom those measures were passed by, they were all charged against the British Parliament. They were told that they should consider the wishes of the majority of the people of Ireland as shown by their Representatives; and the very stock in trade of the agitation was Coercion Bills. Now how stood the facts as to the Coercion Bills? On the 19th of May, 1871, the hon. Member for Roscommon (The O'Conor Don), when the Bill to renew the Peace Preservation Act of 1870 was before Parliament, moved that it was not expedient to continue the Act. What were the numbers for the division? Against the 728 Amendment, 340; for it, 12. Out of 102 Irish Members, only 12 went into the Lobby against the Bill. The House again divided:—For the second reading of the Bill, 293; against it, 11. One had fallen off. When they read that Ireland was deprived of Constitutional Government, or that she existed under a system of coercion without precedent, what was to be said of those who made such charges, when their predecessors, the Irish Members, either absented themselves or voted in the majority, so that there was a preponderating majority of Irish Members in the divisions in favour of the Bill? And yet the people of Ireland were left in utter ignorance of the fact of what their own Representatives had done or left undone, and were told that it was the British Parliament which forced upon Ireland measures which were, in fact, measures of Imperial necessity. The Acts referred to had never met with any real opposition in the House, and they were aimed, not at the people, but at crime of a peculiar character, with which the people generally had no connection, of which the people were the victims, and none more than the humble and the poor. The landlord could defend himself by the aid of his servants; but what, except those Acts, was to protect the poor and unarmed tenant and small farmer from the insulting domination of an organized system of violence and outrage? If it were said there was legislation, but injurious, then he asked—Who had proposed those measures? Prom 1832 to the present time, what were called Liberal principles were in the ascendant, and what were called Liberal Governments in power. And who supported the successive Governments? Who were they that never failed them? Why, the Irish Members. If those measures were wrong, who had voted for them? Whoever else might, Irish Liberal Members could not object to the measures of the British Parliament. But he unhesitatingly said that the answer to the Motion was not to be found in elaborate argument or in dealing with allegations and assertions which were alike unfounded. It was to be found in the perception which must flash across the mind of every man acquainted with the history of the two countries that to grant it would be to weaken, if not to destroy, the power and 729 greatness of the Empire. They talked of confining themselves in the Parliament in Dublin to special questions. That was the theory, but they could not limit the range or the aims of the power they had called into existence. It would chip and burst the shell in which it had grown and been fostered, and soar far beyond command or control. What commenced with local affairs would expand to Imperial. Having crushed the landlords of Ireland, they would next proclaim war with the Saxon and the Protestant. They could not measure the progress of representative institutions. The House of Commons, scarcely tolerated by the Tudors, had grown to be the prominent power in the State. The Irish Parliament, however sincere might be the efforts of those who demanded it to check it, would expand to dangerous dimensions. It would become ambitious, and aspire to dictate and intermeddle in the policy of the Empire. Let them take one foreign question. If the King of Italy proposed measures to consolidate his Kingdom, did the House think that this Parliament of Ireland would content itself with passing measures for the cleansing of the Liffey; or that it would not rather, with the whole force and power of religious feeling, endeavour, through the fears of the British Parliament, to force itself into a position of power on the Continent, and to intermeddle in that great organization on behalf of the ecclesiastical system which was at this moment attempting to re-establish itself on the Continent of Europe? They could not bind by legislation, by compacts on parchment or paper, the proceedings of men whom they had banished from amongst them; and when they had reduced them to an obscure position, those men would revenge themselves by becoming the enemies of England's system and race. The safety of England lay in not paltering with this question. It should be met with a thorough, a determined, an uncompromising opposition. The Irish, like other nations—the Gauls of old especially—were an enthusiastic, susceptible, and credulous people. It was the holding out of false promises; it was the spread of delusive opinions; it was the playing upon words as if they were realities—and to them they were realities—that brought the hon. and learned Gentleman and his following into their present 730 position. The existing agitation owed its being to peculiar circumstances—in no small degree to the incautious and un-statesmanlike utterances of the late Prime Minister on the subject of Fenianism and its influence on the Church question—government according to Irish ideas, or from an Irish point of view. The notion had gone abroad that it was only necessary to ask to obtain. It was that, and that alone, which had raised up this question and given it vitality. Without it, it would have sunk into insignificance. Now they had the question face to face, and they should meet it boldly until the agitation was extinguished. Let them be firm, and it would die. Scotland was at one time equally discontented—and Scotland was a country harder to cope with when there was antagonism of Legislatures. For years after the Union, discontent prevailed. But what said—not a statesman, for he did not deserve the name, but a great and sagacious Minister, thoroughly acquainted with men and affairs—what said he in reference to that very agitation, and there was not a word he uttered that was not applicable to the present movement?—You may "be sure," said Lord Bolingbroke, "that all those naturally turbulent and restless all who have languished in expectation, all who have any cause for personal resentment, will take the occasion to add to the cry, and to pursue their own views by intermingling them in this cause.That was the history of the present position of affairs. Home Rule had a few—not many—thoroughly disinterested and enthusiastic supporters; with them were joined all the various classes summed up by Bolingbroke. It represented, not a national movement, but the vague and indefinite aspiration and discontent that had not been extinguished, but fomented, by the measures which had been passed. These measures were, in fact, but the precursors of further and general dissatisfaction. They were represented as being the be-all and the end-all, and when the result came it had not justified those representations. All the resulting excitement, unsatisfied expectation, subsequent discontent, had been collected into one current, which swept on and obtained for the moment the name of Home Rule. Let the House meet it as they had done the Scotch agitation. Let them refuse to listen to it. If they met 731 it in the same way, they might anticipate the same end. It, too, would exhaust itself. It, too, would leave no impress, except on the page of history. There, a future Froude might gather up some broken weapon, covered with dust and oblivion, the only record of the conflict in which they were engaged; just as the husbandman in Virgil, whose ploughshare, in passing over the field, once the scene of battle, turned up the fragments of ancient armour. Not that history could continue in the spirit of the description—grandia que effossis mirabitur ossa sepulcris. She would find no grandia ossa—no remnant of heroic greatness—of a greater race of people who had struggled and fallen; her only wonder would be at the folly, the ingratitude, which gave a temporary importance to an agitation so feeble and so worthless in itself.
§ MR. R. SMYTH
The Amendment which I had placed upon the Paper is to the following effect:—That it would be prejudicial to the material prosperity, and dangerous to the peace and independence of the Irish Nation, to make any change in the Parliamentary Government of those countries, involving a dissolution of the Legislative Union of Great Britain and Ireland.The speech just delivered by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Dr. Ball), announcing the course which Her Majesty's Government intends to pursue in this question relieves me from the necessity of moving the Amendment which I have just read to the House. I think the Government was perfectly justified in meeting the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) with a negative on the threshold, thus refusing to admit that any case has been made warranting the House to go into Committee. It is now merely left to me to join in direct opposition to the Motion. Nor, Sir, do I apprehend any inconvenience either to myself or to the House from my interposing at this stage of the debate, for whilst on the main issue I concur with the conclusions arrived at by the Attorney General for Ireland, at the same time, I am far from disposed to follow in the track of that stern spirit by which he is animated. It is not for me, a humble Member of this House, to take to task the Attorney General for Ireland for the form and spirit in which it may seem meet to him to present the views of Her Majesty's Go- 732 vernment; but I must be permitted to say thus much—that I feel for an Irishman the exigencies of whose office compel him to speak with official contempt of a large proportion of his countrymen. I approach this question with far different feeling. It is far from being a pleasant task to me to oppose a proposition which I am sure has had its origin in the most patriotic motives, and which has been sustained by the rare ability and eloquence of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick. I have two special reasons for regretting the position in which I stand. In the first place, it is never a seemly thing—and certainly as disagreeable as unseemly—for Members on the same side of the House, to join issue among themselves on a vital question of politics. On this point, indeed, I might be somewhat relieved, though not quite consoled, by remembering what was stated last night by an hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lowther) that even the occupants of front benches in this House have not always been able, during the present Session, to set to their followers an example of unbroken harmony. But I have another ground of reluctance besides that of party interests. I am an Irishman, with instincts and feelings as national—I am not one bit afraid to use the word national—as those of my hon. Friends, and I know how much our national cause is weakened and discredited by these divisions among ourselves. Still, there are occasions when convictions must speak out without reference to party, and when it becomes a duty to show—if we can show it—that one set of opinions ought not to be taken as the true and only exponent of nationality. All who pay any attention to political life must have observed that two policies, utterly irreconcileable with each other, have been advocated by Irish Members of Parliament. On the one side, we have the policy of distrust of England, which had, from time to time, its advocates all through our history down to the days of the illustrious O'Connell, and which has found its latest, and not least powerful, incarnation in my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick. Then, on the other hand, there was the policy of distrust of Ireland—the favourite creed of Lord Deputies and Cromwellian settlers—and which always had support from 733 those Irish Members who voted for Coercion Bills, Peace Preservation Acts, and repressive measures of all sorts and sizes. I do not affirm that this present Parliament contains any of the latter class; but I should not wonder if even the Ballot has left a few of them to keep up the traditions of the times with which the youth of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick must have been familiar. Indeed, the speech just delivered by the Attorney General for Ireland must have reminded the House of those stormier times when Coercion Bills ran before strong winds to their desired haven on the Statute Book. It is surely worth while to know that there is a third party in Ireland—a party who trust their own countrymen, and who trust Englishmen at the same time—who do not believe that Ireland exists merely for the purpose of being governed by people who live outside of it, and who do not believe that it is the one great happiness of England to make Irishmen unhappy. For my part, I belong to the party of trust, and not either party of distrust, and I reject alike the motto, "Keep England out," and the motto, "Keep Ireland down." The Motion and the speech of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Butt) taken together, constitute a serious indictment against the present system of Parliamentary Government in these countries—and that indictment is supported by two sets of arguments. First of all, my hon. and learned Friend asserts that Ireland has a natural and historical right to govern itself; and, secondly, he asserts that the present system of government has wrought badly, has produced only evil continually, and has failed to redress grievances. Now, as to abstract right, that is really a question of too subtle a nature to admit of satisfactory analysis and adjustment in a debate in the House of Commons. Abstractly, I suppose every man has a right to govern himself, and the man who succeeds in doing it well is among the greatest of men, for he who rules his own spirit is greater than he that taketh a city. No man has an abstract right to govern another. The very statement of this proposition is its own proof, for between two it would be impossible to tell where the abstract right lay. But the misfortune is—and this is the simple reply to all this—that 734 we do not meet with men in the abstract, but generally meet them in the concrete, and if there is one man less in the abstract and more in the concrete than another, it is an Irishman. No one knows better than the hon. and learned Gentleman that human rights, so far as they are political, are conditioned and cheeked by the general good of society; and however it may grate upon the ears of some hon. Gentlemen around me who may not take time to consider the meaning of the declaration, I must say that I, as an individual, have no political rights separate from the good of the country, and it will be impossible to convince thoughtful statesmen that Ireland has any abstract rights separate from the good of the Empire. Ireland is not now an outlying dependency of England, but her interests are interwoven at every point with the interests of the Empire, just in the very same way, and to the very same extent proportionately, as the interests of England are interwoven with the Empire. Ireland is not as she was once, a mere annex to England, but is an integral part of the Imperial system; and, as an Irishman, I refuse to discuss this question in the assumption, or to blazon it before the world, that Ireland is no more than a political excrescence upon the British Empire. We have just as much to do with England as England has to do with us, and if my hon. Friends want to take lower ground than that, I will not go down with them. I do not stop to inquire—because it is not pertinent to the issue—how it was that Ireland found herself in 1800 introduced into this House. I suppose we all know how that came about. In more recent times people have been charged with giving bribes to get in here; but in 1800 Ireland was bribed to come in. Be it so. We are here now, and I dare to say, here we shall remain, for the simple reason that the Empire, as a whole, considers that we are more useful, or to put it in a somewhat less flattering form, less troublesome inside these walls than we would be anywhere else. While the Empire requires us we shall stay—when it does not require us I suppose we shall be allowed to go. Ireland is now one of the arms of a strong man—a part of the body politic You may weaken the man by cutting off the arm; but whilst you mutilate the body from which it is taken, the 735 amputated limb will be useless. Passing from this question of abstract right, may we look for a moment at the historical side of the argument? Here I must express some degree of wonderment that my hon. and learned Friend should have ventured into such a region as history, because if there is one thing which a man, pleading for an Irish Parliament, ought to avoid making the most distant allusion to, it is the history of Irish Parliaments. The patriot who can take comfort from a review of the position, the constitution, and doings of Irish Parliaments in former times must bear within him some intellectual principle, like the philosopher's stone, which turns everything it touches into gold. I submit that there is no political or patriotic alchemy that will fuse into precious recollections the wretched humiliations of Irish Parliamentary history. And yet, it will be observed, the Motion which we are discussing speaks of restoring to Ireland the right and power of managing all exclusively Irish affairs in an Irish Parliament. It is, in fact, a restoration which this Motion demands. We have, then, a deep interest in knowing what is the precise period in the Constitutional history of Ireland which my hon. Friends want reproduced in this second half of the 19th century. I have read the history of my country with some care, and I have glanced over it once more in connection with this very question, in order that I might, if possible, lay my finger upon some epoch that would serve as a model for a Parliamentary restoration. I have failed to find it. I do not know one single buried era in Irish history that I should like to see coming forth in a sudden political resurrection. Has my hon. and learned Friend found it? What is it? Begin with Tara, come down through the days of Brian Born, Dermot M'Murrough, the Statute of Drogheda, the struggles of Desmond and Tyrone, the Sumptuary Laws, the Government of Wentworth, the violated Treaty of Limerick, the Parliament of 1703, and the Penal Laws, and the whole of the 18th century. I wish we knew what it is we are to restore to the Irish nation. The Irish nation, as a nation, had no Parliament in the 18th century, and in all her history Ireland never had so much a Parliament of her own as she had from 1868 to 1873, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member 736 for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) at its head. Let us see who sat in the Irish Parliament of the 18th century. Only Protestants—Sacramental Protestants—no Catholic or Dissenter was admitted within the walls of the Irish House of Commons. It was reserved for the united Parliament of a united Empire, that was able to rise above the wretched contendings and jealousies of creeds to pass a measure of Catholic Emancipation. And even if the people of Ireland had been allowed to select for themselves their Representatives from among the the Protestants, matters would not have been in quite so bad a state—for there were always Protestants, and Protestants in Ireland—but this was denied them. The lords of the soil sent the Members to the Irish House of Commons. Territorial magnates carried the boroughs and even counties in their pockets, in the shape of Irish guineas; and the profligacy of the time was so barefaced that the value of a Parliamentary borough was appraised at the time of the Union with as much coolness as a profane person would estimate in these days the value of an advowson of the cure of souls. To be sure there were what were known as open boroughs in Ireland in the 18th century, and previously. In some of these the King had a vote; and I need hardly say that the King's candidate stood a good chance of being elected. In others of the open boroughs the Member was elected by the Mayor or Provost and the twelve burgesses, but then the Mayor himself was frequently pocketed by a neighbouring great man. I have read in one of the Union pamphlets a story of the way in which the thing was usually done. An Irish gentleman of the last century wanted to get into Parliament. There was one of the open boroughs whose Provost was the creature of a neighbouring noble. The noble offered to sell the Provost to the aspirant for what he would bring in this not very open market. The bargain was struck; the money was paid; but the candidate for parliamentary honours had some doubt about the votes of the twelve burgesses. "How," asked he, "shall I get the burgesses to go with the Provost?" The Provost happened to be a tanner, and this suggested a reply to the witty lord. "Make your mind easy, my dear fellow," said the lord, "the Provost is a 737 tanner, and he has a rule that the tail always goes with the hide." Is this the system we are asked to restore? Perhaps my hon. Friends may think that all this stress upon the word "restore" is hypercritical, and little more than verbal quibbling. But it is not so, for if you ask a restoration we know exactly what it is you do ask; but if it is a brand-new Parliamentary system for Ireland you want, then we do not know what that is, and we must suspend our judgment until the great outlines of the plan are had before the country. Even if we had the new plan, we have no idea of the way it might work, for it would be a totally now experiment in the constitutional history of Ireland. Consequently, the historical argument fails, and must be put aside with that which is drawn from natural and abstract rights. These are my hon. and learned Friend's à priori pleas. But he has one, à posteriori—namely, unredressed grievances. I, too, believe that there are grievances still to be redressed; but that is not peculiar to Ireland. What are we all here for? If there were no grievances to be redressed in England, Ireland, and Scotland, the only use for us here would be to vote money to carry on the government. All Parliamentary action may be reduced to the redress of grievances and the voting of money. These Bills which we discuss from day to day are all intended to remove some obstruction to the free play of popular liberty and national well-being, and there is no man now alive whose grandchildren will see the last grievance of England redressed. New complaints will be heard to the very end of England's career as a nation. I admit that the government of Ireland was long a scandal and disgrace to England; but I If maintain that the scandal was at its I greatest at the time that Ireland had what is ironically called a Parliament of her own. There have been more grievances redressed since 1800 than by all the Parliaments that ever sat in College Green; and suspicious people say—I do not, for I do not believe it—that this new agitation was got up lest, if We had waited a few years longer, there would hardly have been left a grievance substantial enough to feed it. I do not think this Parliament is averse to the consideration of Irish grievances. Even when Irish grouse had their grievances 738 stated this Session by a noble Lord opposite (Viscount Crichton), their case was conceded, and they are now to be allowed the right of getting shot as early in the year as English grouse, and are, I suppose, to enter on their new privileges on the 12th of August next. My hon. and learned Friend must not be too hard upon the present Parliament. But let us consider how this question of grievance avails as a plea for an Irish Parliament. My hon. and learned Friend says, "There are many things which an Irish Parliament would do and you refuse to do—give us our own Legislature and we will do them for ourselves." But the obvious reply is—"We either approve of those things being done or we do not—if we approve of them we shall do them here; but if we do not approve of them, why should we send you home to do them?" It is as if a man said to his wealthy neighbour—"I beg of you to break down that bridge which spans the river between your field and mine—the communication is too easy." The wealthy man refuses, as he wants the communication kept up. "Well, then," says the other, "lam ready for a compromise—you place £10,000 to my credit in the bank, and I shall do it myself." And if he got the £10,000 he would not only pull down the bridge, but would do several other things with the surplus funds that would be very disagreeable to his neighbour on the other side of the river. No sane man would listen to such a request, and I do think my hon. and learned Friend credits the United Legislature with too much childlike simplicity when he asks it to constitute an Irish Legislature for the avowed object of doing things which it does not think ought to be done at all. I can understand the plea that there are measures which the United Parliament would be willing to see passed for Ireland, but from want of time or want of zeal, they cannot be got through. Everyone knows that a Shannon Bill or a Belfast Water Bill awakens little enthusiasm within these walls, and even the Municipal Privileges Bill of the present Session, supported by the Government, had a struggle for life. Possibly for purely local Irish Bills, not of any political nature, an Irish Commission of Parliament might be appointed, as a sort of court of first instance, or, perhaps, with Parliamentary power; but I hardly know how it would 739 work. If the Irish Parliament, consisting of the Imperial Representatives, is to sit at the same time as the Imperial, and if, as my hon. and learned Friend suggests, the Irish Members are to be sent for when an Imperial question crops up, I should like to know how they will like, in the midst of a great debate in Dublin on University Education, to get a message from London to appear on the scene next day when the Army Estimates will be taken as First Order of the Day. ["No, no!"] My hon. Friend near me says "No no." Well, I shall take the other alternative. Suppose the Irish Session were to convene on the 12th of August, and continue till the 1st of February, I rather think the only creatures satisfied with the arrangement would be partridges and Irish foxes, which would have an easier time of it; whilst Members of Parliament themselves would be sorely tempted to break somebody's windows in Dublin in order to get sent to the treadmill as a relief from the toils of legislation. Still, these difficulties might be got over, and something like that might be tried. But that is not the proposition before us—the proposal is to change the whole constitution of Parliamentary Government in these countries. If the present system is broken up there are only three possible substitutes for it. The first is simple separation, the second is a vassal Parliament, and the third is Federation. The first would take us back to the 11th century, the second would land Ireland in the 18th century, and the third would take her back to no century at all, but it would practically give us one new thing and one old thing in combination—it would give us a new Federation and an old vassalage. To have a Federation worth anything the contracting States must enter into it on a perfect equality—able to arrange the terms as equals. Austria and Hungary did so. But the very terms in which my hon. and learned Friend's Motion is expressed show that he regards Ireland at the present moment as in no position to negotiate for a Federal Union, because the Motion asks that power should be granted to Ireland to manage her own affairs. I confess myself rather non-plussed to know what these words are intended to convey. The only way you can give a nation power is by making it powerful, but here the meaning appears to be no 740 more than this—that Ireland is to have a delegated authority to do certain things in her own way. If she is only to have a delegated power, and that is what is asked, what becomes of the dreams of Irish independence? Ireland is independent now, as Yorkshire is independent; but I object to my country being sent about her business with a worthless lease of power which would turn out to be only as tenancy-at-will held under the Imperial Parliament. These are the smallest mercies that patriots ever asked for their country. No doubt we are weak in the House of Commons; but we would be much weaker out of it. If history means anything it means that. I am sorry there are not more of us here—a regret with which all sides of the House evidently sympathize—but in all fairness we can scarcely lay the blame upon England that Ireland is a small country, and that there are not more Irishmen in the world. I dare say the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) would like to see a great many more Welshmen in the House—as many as would carry one or two Welsh Judges into the Principality. The Welsh are in some respects worse off than we are, for they are judged by Englishmen, whereas our Judges, whatever else they are, are all Irishmen, and no doubt some of them can speak Irish. But notwithstanding all our weakness here numerically, the history of the past 70 years, and especially the history of the last six years, proves that justice will always in the long run have numbers on its side in the Imperial Parliament, and that the grievances of Ireland can be redressed without a vassal Parliament sitting in Dublin. The Motion recommends that when the Federal scheme is carried provision should be made at the same time for maintaining the integrity of the Empire. Now, whilst that evidently shows that my hon. Friends do not wish to demolish more than is necessary, it shows also that they are sensible of a great peril to the Empire. The advice reminds me of that given by an old gentleman to a Water Board in Ireland, to throw down an unsightly embankment, and at the same time to make provision for keeping the water in the reservoir. The Water Board took one part of the advice; they replied that they intended to make all proper provisions for keeping 741 the water in the basin, but they would do that by leaving the embankment alone. I imagine that the Lords and Commons of Great Britain and Ireland will think that if they have to begin at this time of day to make provision for preserving the integrity of the British Empire, the safest way and the best plan would be to let it alone. A few words after the statement of facts submitted by the Attorney General for Ireland will suffice to point out how the material prosperity of Ireland would be prejudiced by breaking up the Union. The shock, which a great political change, like that now proposed, would give to Ireland could not but toll injuriously upon her industries and her relations with foreign countries as well as with the rest of the Empire. Despite all drawbacks we have prospered since 1800. I shall just give a few figures to illustrate this point. Faulkner, in his pamphlet of 1783, gives a list of more than 400 Irish proprietors who were absentees at that time, spending out of Ireland a rental of £1,188,980, so that it is vain to suppose that a Parliament in Dublin would be a cure for absenteeism. Let it be observed that this was the very palmiest period of the Irish Parliament. The evil would be aggravated to an enormous extent if we had a vassal Parliament constituted in Dublin. Then, as to the trade of Ireland, in 1800 there were 16,000 cattle exported from Ireland; in 1870, 415,000. In 1800, 800 sheep; in 1870, 620,000. Bacon and hams in 1800, 42,000 cwt; in 1870, 540,000 cwt. Whiskey in 1800, 2,374 gallons; in 1870, 1,893,000 gallons. If we do insist on making whiskey, I take it as an evidence of the prosperity and prudence of Ireland that so much of it goes out of the country, for it leaves the country for the country's good. Porter and ale in 1800, none; in 1870, 360,000 hogsheads. Oats and meal in 1800, 324,000 quarters; in 1870, 1,247,000 quarters. The imports of Ireland in 1800 were value for £4,500,000; in 1870, £35,000,000. The rental of Ireland in 1800 was £3,000,000, and in 1870 it was £12,000,000. Personal estate and capital in 1800 was £12,000,000; in 1874, £217,800,000. I admit that these figures are not brilliant, but they are hopeful. Ireland is still a poor country as compared with England, but I have yet to learn that it would do her any good to 742 dissolve the partnership with the richer country. Give Ireland back her old vassal Parliament and you may depend upon it the old trade jealousies between the countries will return, and the weaker will go to the wall. The whole Empire is open to us now—would it be so if the Union were broken up? Young Irishmen are eligible for all civil appointments, and whilst there is no brand of inferiority upon them because of their nationality, before they go into the examination rooms, there is, I am happy to say, generally no brand of inferiority upon them because of bad answering when they are in those rooms. Is Ireland "willing to be driven out of the open competitions of the Empire? ["No."] If you say no, then I ask you to consider what you are doing, for if you want to be busied about matters that are exclusively Irish, you may find that you have only loft to you those which are very exclusively Irish. I hope we are not going to be driven out of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras, out of London and Liverpool, and all the fields of enterprise which are open to Irishmen without distinction of rank or creed. It will be small comfort to the pushing and enterprising people of Ireland to find themselves some morning warned off the premises in the marts of England and her dependencies, whilst her legislators have the honour and glory of holding a vestry in College Green, Dublin, with English sentinels at the door. I have no desire to make any purely party allusion in this debate, for the subject is altogether too important to be advanced in any way by party squabbles. But I must be forgiven if I allude to statements which are freely made in the Press and elsewhere, and which the Attorney General for Ireland has virtually repeated in this debate, that the policy of the last six years with regard to Ireland has been a failure. Now, there are two ways in which a policy may fail. It may fail to promote the material interests of the country, and it may fail to allay discontent. In neither of these respects has the policy of 1869 and 1870 been a failure. Every Irish Member of this House knows that, although the Land Act requires supplementary declarations to make it complete, yet it has already done immense good to the farming classes in Ireland, and to the landlords as well. The right hon. and learned 743 Gentleman (Dr. Ball) has spoken of it as a measure "to crush the landlords." How does he sustain this tremendous allegation? He has given no proof of it, and he has attempted none. But I shall give proofs on the other side. It was once a favourite maxim in the mouths of those who opposed the late Mr. Sharman Crawford, that "Tenant-right was Landlord-wrong." But what do we now find? The rights of the tenants have been pro-tectedtotheextentofatleast£25,000,000, and at the same time, the selling value of the fee-simple of property in the Landed Estates Court has been raised not less than 18 per cent since 1870. We know now that Tenant-right is Landlord-right; and, what is more, there is scarcely a county Member from Ulster on the other side of the House who did not at the last General Election proclaim with more or less distinctness his admiration of the principles of the Land Act of 1870. The House will perhaps bear with a few quotations. Here is the testimony of my hon. Friend the senior Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney):—I believe it to be quite practicable, by means of Amendments, conceived in the spirit of justice and fair play between man and man, to base those laws so firmly and intelligently on the time-honoured custom of Ulster as to extend to every agricultural holding in this wide province, free from such estate rules as limit in an arbitrary manner its value, the full benefit of Ulster Tenant-right, as heretofore understood and practised on the best-managed estates.The hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) says—With regard to this all-important subject of Tenant-right, the Act of 1870 being, as I think, generally accepted as a settlement of this long-vexed question, it only remains to make it more perfect in details, especially as there seems to be some doubt as to whether it applies to leaseholders whose tenure has expired. Those rights of tenants which it upholds have proved of incalculable benefit to the North of Ireland, and I will support any reasonable Amendment of that Act which will secure Tenant-right to occupiers in the fall of leases.The noble Lord the Member for Donegal (the Marquess of Hamilton) says—I beg to refer to the votes which I gave during the passing of the Land Act, every one of which was given in support of its principle.The hon. Members for Antrim bear similar testimony. My hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh (Mr. Archdall) is, if possible, more decided:—I consider the Land Act, when properly understood and carried out, the greatest boon ever granted to the tenants of Ireland.744 These are the replies which Gentlemen opposite have, by anticipation, given to the new assaults upon the Land Act which we have witnessed from the Treasury Bench this evening. These were no ephemeral words to catch the ears of electors, but the expression, I am confident, of sincere Conservative convictions. The policy of 1870, as far as it goes, is upheld by all political parties in Ireland. It has stimulated the outlay of capital, the reclamation of land, and has given a sense of security, at least in the North—I wish I could say that it had done as much for the South, but I cannot honestly say that—such as was not known for centuries in the history of Irish agriculture. But, then, it is urged, the policy of 1869 and 1870 has not allayed discontent. I join issue there—it has allayed it, but it has not abolished it. In 1868 conspiracy overspread, the country, and multitudes of the Irish people were resorting to the last devices of Irish despair—secret rebellion. That was the Ireland which was handed over to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. All that is now changed; and, instead of conspiracy and rebellion, we find this—the Irish people are so convinced of the reasonableness of the United Parliament that they have sent about 60 Gentlemen to discuss a theory of politics in this House, without threat, without bluster, and with the most candid and manly avowals of perfect loyalty to the Queen. Home Rule is a political theory inside the provisions of the Constitution, and my hon. Friends ask you to debate it with them in the open arena of Parliament. I say that the presence of my hon. Friends in this House, with the theory they are commissioned to advocate, is a conclusive testimony of the confidence which the people of Ireland have at last learned to place in the counsels of Parliament. I trust the Government now in power will be able to carry forward the good work which has been begun. It has been begun; for I cannot say less than this—that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich found Ireland a country only half conquered, and left it a country half conciliated. I oppose this Motion, because the peace and liberties of Ireland would be seriously endangered by its passing. I am sorry to say that the spirit of religious fervour in the North of Ireland is just as ready to rise into party rancour 745 as it is in the South, and perhaps more so. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick says, you cannot ignore the passions of a nation. But neither can you ignore the passions of a province, and you may rely upon it that Ulster has its passions, like the rest of the world; and what renders this fact the more significant is, that there are passions in England and Scotland, which might be touched and roused by passionate appeals from the North of Ireland. If we had an Irish Parliament, I fear the feuds between North and South; and I ask my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick, what guarantee he proposes to take that England will not interfere to settle them. How do you mean to keep her out? It has been often said that "Home Rule is Rome Rule." I believe nothing of the kind, and the sagacious prelates and dignitaries who preside over the Catholic Church in Ireland believe nothing of the kind. They know how easy it would be to foment jealousies between North and South—how Protestant minorities, knowing themselves worsted and imagining themselves wronged in the encounter, would make their appeal to religious passion on the other side of the Irish Sea, and the settlement, of Irish disputes would take place not by agreement but by the sword. The last condition of Catholicism, and of Ireland itself, would be worse than the first. I believe in my heart that if bad blood were not too often excited by party displays—and I certainly do not exempt the North from this reference—we should soon have a more cordial understanding between Catholic and Protestant than at any previous period. Irishmen are beginning to see that religious strife is not the fountain of national well-being, and, notwithstanding the political theory which my hon. Friends represent in this House, I am persuaded that there is a wide-spread recognition of the benefits that have accrued from the legislation of later years. Ireland had much to complain of in former times. Her misfortunes were often, but not always, the fault of England; but this I will say, that if the present movement should land her in any new misfortune, the fault will, undoubtedly, be her own. Never was there less excuse for vast constitutional changes such as are recommended in the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend; and if 746 we are crossing the current with something substantial in our possession, let us not be guilty of the infatuation of tossing it from us for the sake of the most deceptive shadow that ever quivered in the stream of Irish patriotism.
§ MR. RICHARD POWER
said, it was with some amount of hesitation that he rose to address a few observations to the House upon the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt); but he would not be discharging the duty he owed to his constituents if he did not express what he believed to be their opinions upon this important subject. He asked the House not to be led away by prejudice or preconceived ideas, but to approach the question in that spirit of justice and fair play which ought to characterize all their deliberations. He could truly say, that they on their part were earnestly striving to end the quarrel of centuries in a peaceable and Constitutional manner within the walls of that House. In dealing with this question they must not forget the extraordinary position of their party. For the first time, since the Act of Union, a majority of Irish Members had been returned pledged to seek for the restoration of the Lords and Commons of Ire-laud under the Queen of England. When the late Mr. O'Connell satin the House, the most he could command was 37 followers. There were now 59 Members from Ireland, and many friends from England and Scotland, pledged to a Constitutional programme, and he believed that the people of Ireland had confidence in their Representatives, for they found them to be independent Members, and no longer the followers of a party who used them when they were necessary, and then, by some marvellous absence of mind, forgot their existence when they ceased to be a utility. But for the manner in which they had been taken by surprise at the unexpected Dissolution of Parliament, not 60, but 80 Members would have been there that evening to support the Motion. It was rather late now to question the wisdom of the course adopted by the late Prime Minister; but doubtless Her Majesty's late Government were following a notable precedent in Irish history when, in the time of St. Patrick, the serpents committed suicide to save themselves from slaughter. He should not question that 747 policy, which, although it might have been dictated by the wisdom of the serpent, had given fixity of tenure to their rivals, and had caused the transit of their own celestial bodies to a lower sphere, where, like "stars, they are brightly shining, because they have nothing else to do." Hon. Members opposite might have reason to know possession was nine points of the law. The majority of the late Members were not pledged to Home Rule, and they had in an almost inconceivably short space of time to dislodge some, and to convert others. Therefore, they lost considerably by the strategic movements of the late Prime Minister. Yet, in the face of all these difficulties the Irish succeeded in returning a majority pledged to a Home Rule programme. He regretted to state that from the first day of the Session down to the present moment many hon. Members had spared no opportunity of dragging this question of Home Rule into almost every debate in which Irish Members took part. He should not now revert to the language of the hon. Member for Donegal, being disinclined to disturb his utterances from that well-merited repose into which they had already sunk. But he could not conceal from the House the surprise he experienced when he heard a right hon. Gentleman state with an amount of ardour and anxiety that he really did not believe him capable of, that it was contrary to the principles of Home Rule to vote for the preservation of ancient monuments. The Home Rule party had been looked upon as agitators, and they would be told that they were disturbing the peace of the country; but they must all have experience enough to know that polities was a profession that had before now been tainted with the foulest breath of suspicion and calumny, and he was happy to say that while they had agreed as to their objects their opponents certainly formed no definite opinion about them. Sometimes they were called Republicans, and the next moment the servile followers of priests striving to establish Catholic ascendancy. Now, as regarded the first charge, it was a curious fact that during the late elections there appeared but one Republican address. The author of those sentiments only polled 500 votes out of a constituency numbering nearly 4,000, and was consequently at the bottom of the poll. As 748 regarded Catholic ascendancy, there were no people in the world who would oppose it more strongly than the Catholic people of Ireland themselves. It was a thing of the past, and did not now exist in any country in Europe. It was the ghost of the "No Popery" cry conjured up by the enemies of Ireland to frighten the people of England from following their natural instincts of justice and fair play. Catholic ascendancy was a myth. The Irish priesthood did not want it, and the Irish people would not submit to it. They had already given proofs of their liberality, and he asked the noble Lord the Member for the county of Waterford if he saw anything like a wish for ascendancy during his canvass, the result of which placed him, the representative of one of the staunchest Protestant families, in a majority over the representative of one of the oldest Catholic families. But he should not detain the House in bringing forward further proofs. Any desire for Catholic ascendancy did not exist in reality; it was a mere chimera. But, then, it would be said—"Why all this agitation about Home Rule; you are getting on very well, leave well alone." Now, he maintained they were not getting on very well, but they were getting off very quickly. By a Return lately issued they found that in the first 10 months of 1873, 85,287 persons emigrated from Ireland, being 13,677 more people than in the first 10 months of 1872. Ah, but it might be said, "Emigration benefits a country, because those who remain behind gain considerably by those who have left." As regarded Ireland, this argument could not hold good, for pauperism was on the increase. In 1871, the population of Ireland was 5,402,759, and the number of paupers in the same year was 282,492. In 1872, the population sank to 5,368,166, and the number of paupers rose to 296,256, so that with a decreasing population they had an increasing pauperism. Under the present gorgeous system of government only three sections of the people throve—the publicans, the pawnbrokers, and the lunatics. Under this so-called Union, as under the withering shade of a upas tree, their manufactures had died out, their agriculture was languishing, their people were hastening away to foreign lands, and their gentry fled the country like rats from a sinking ship. As regarded 749 manufactures, that source of wealth had made England what she was. There was a time when Ireland had her manufactures. When under the fostering care of a native Parliament, they rose to such a state of perfection as to win the jealousy of this country. Henry VIII. became furiously indignant when he learned that the Irish had the independence to wear linen, and laws were enacted to restrain its use. So far back as 1699 the liberty of exporting woollens was taken away. Yet, in the face of all their difficulties Irish manufacturers existed and flourished so long as they had their Parliament. It appeared by the Return made by the Inspectors of yarn, in 1802, that there were over 20,000 looms engaged in manufacturing cotton, producing 200,000 yards of cloth every week, and employing and supporting 600,000 individuals. That was two years after the Union; 70 years after the Union there were only 14 cotton factories, employing only 4,157 persons. Therefore, it was evident that from some cause or other their manufactures had declined since the Union. With respect to the question of absenteeism, it would be said that it had an early origin in their country, and existed before the year 1800, but it had been greatly increased by the Union. The following extract from the Report of the Select Committee on Dublin Local Taxation, in 1825, corroborated that opinion:—Prior to the Union, 98 Peers and a proportionate number of wealthy Commoners inhabited the City. The number of resident Peers at present docs not exceed 12. The effect of the Union has boon to withdraw from Dublin many of those who were likely to contribute most effectually to its opulence and importance. A house which, in 1797, paid £6 4s. is now subject to £30, whilst the value of property has been reduced 20 per cent. The number of inhabited houses has diminished from 15,104 to 14,949. The number of insolvent houses augmented from the year 1815 to 1822 from 880 to 4,719. In 1799, there were only 7 bankrupts in Dublin; in 1810, there were 152.One of the most extraordinary things was the enormous increase of the expenses attending the administration of the criminal jurisdiction of the City of Dublin since the Union. In 1807 it was £4,198 9s. 10d.; in 1820 it was £21,508 2s. 7d.; and the Select Committee to which already reference had been made by him, attributed that extra expense to the increase of crime throughout Ireland. These were but a few of 750 the effects of a Union that was based upon neither moral nor political virtue, that was carried by corrupt means, and without that admirable modern resource—an appeal to the country. He would not conceal from the House that the Irish Parliament had its faults as well as its virtues. There might have been moments in its existence when it forgot the dignity that belonged to it, but he had yet to learn that a more offensive epithet than "Trickster" ever polluted the atmosphere of that Assembly. A spirit of loyalty was never absent. Those most devoted to independence were the strongest supporters of the connection. One of the first Acts passed by the Irish Parliament in 1782, when it gained its independence, was a vote for the supply of 20,000 sailors for the British Navy. How strangely did that vote contrast with almost the first Act of this Parliament in 1800—the renewal of the Irish Martial Law Bill. And since the Union they had had little else than a succession of Coercion and Peace Preservation Acts, and yet they found the people of Ireland loyal. They had been loyal even to a fault. They must remember that loyalty without royalty was loyalty under difficulties. Ireland know nothing of Royalty, and he feared Royalty knew as little of Ireland. Two visits in the lifetime of a British Sovereign were deemed sufficient for the Irish people. Perhaps Her Majesty's Advisers thought that distance lent enchantment to the view. If such were the case the people of Ireland ought to be perfectly enchanted. But he could not deny that a great amount-of discontent existed in Ireland, and discontent was the seed of disloyalty. This state of things arose principally from the belief that the condition of Ireland was attributable to British legislation. The misfortunes that had afflicted their country, the backward state of Ireland, in a political and social sense, were had at the door of the British Parliament. That Parliament might be sometimes wrongly accused, but rightly or wrongly, the people of Ireland believed that most of their ills were owing to English legislation; but it was the duty of a wise statesman to remove that impression, and the only way it could be done was by allowing them to manage their own affairs; and if, as the House anticipated, they would be no better off than at present—if they still had the same complaints—they 751 could not blame the British Government; all the fault must he at the door of an Irish Parliament. If their wasteland were unreclaimed—if their gentry were absentees—if the people were carrying their industry and capital to foreign lands—the Irish Parliament would be alone responsible. If Coercion Acts were the rules of Government—if the Constitution were suspended and the Press threatened—they could then blame no one but themselves, and by that means the chief cause of the present discontent and disaffection towards England would be removed. But if the hopes of the people of Ireland were realized—if wealth and prosperity should follow self-government—then England would be the gainer, for she must partake of her wealth and prosperity. A rich and contented country was a source of wealth and stability to the Empire, while an impoverished and dissatisfied people must be a cause of weakness and of danger. Hon. Members opposite might talk of the stability and integrity of this Empire, but he contended that the stability of a great Empire depended not so much upon its armies and its navies as upon the affection and the loyalty of a united people. They had heard that Home Rule was a delusion. If so, it was necessary for the peace and welfare of the State that they should prove to the people of Ireland that it was a delusion. If they really believed so, there was only one way of proving it, that was, to give it to them. Then they would be told that they were for separation, whereas they only sought for union that would be honourable and profitable to both countries. It was others who would cause separation by forcing a hateful union on an unwilling people. Their object was not to dismember the Empire, but to establish it on a more durable basis than existed at present—on the loyalty and affections of the Irish people. They asked not for an Irish Republic or annexation to any other country, but they asked to be a flourishing country under one Sovereign with England and Scotland—they asked for union where now existed disunion. They must either grant self-government or govern Ireland as a conquered land. They had no choice between Home Rule and Coercion. He claimed to be no prophet of evil to this great country; for he trusted that the man was not yet born who would write the "Decline and Fall of the British 752 Empire;" but he contended that this present so-called Union was fraught with danger to the best interests of the State. To call the present connection between the two countries a Union, was a misnomer. Of course they could maintain it by the sword, but was such a Union lasting? No. A Union to be lasting must be founded on the self-interest and friendship of both countries. Any other Union was truly a delusion. Let them base their Union on self-interest, for it was the great motive power of nations as well as of individuals, and would last as long as man lasted. They sought to establish a Union of self-interest and affection, if he might be allowed to call it, a Siamese Union, in which England and Ireland should have but one life, and be united by a tie, the severance of which should be death to both. In conclusion, he would say that he was not a wise statesman who disregarded national affinities. They had traditions, memories, and prejudices of their own, they looked forward to the restoration of their Parliament, and they hoped that the wise advice given by Mr. Fox, in 1797, might soon be followed—I would have the whole Irish government regulated by Irish notions and Irish prejudices; and I firmly believe, according to another Irish expression, the more she is under the Irish government the more she will be bound to English interests."—[Parl. History, xxxiii. 154.]
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he must compliment the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) on the very moderato tone he had adopted in introducing this question, and he hoped, as the Government had seen fit to give a night for this discussion, the rumblings of distant thunder in the air would cease, and the result would be to clear the atmosphere of the House. When the question had been properly discussed, and the division taken, he trusted that Irish Members would be satisfied, and would not again introduce the subject during the present Parliament. The burden of proof lay on the Irish Members to show not merely that the evils they described existed, but that they were entailed on Ireland by her connection with England. Ireland, for many years, had unfortunately been a scene of lawlessness and disorder. Certainly, fighting and disorder had been more the rule than the exception. He would read a passage on that subject from Froude— 753To the Englishman the perpetual disturbance appeared a dishonour and a disgrace; to the Celt it was the normal and natural employment of human beings, in the pursuit of which lay the only glory and the only manly pleasure.The Commissioners sent over to Ireland by James I. reported that—The appearance of the Irish showed them to he the fruit not of a good tree; they exercised no virtue and refrained from no vice; every man thought he had a right to do what he listed; on the Sabbath they rested from all honest exercise, and on the week-day they were never idle, but worse occupied; when murder was committed they never ceased killing all they could; thus they lived and thus they died; and there was no one to teach them better.Of course, there was considerable improvement since that time. ["No, no!"] He would not, however, dwell on the state of Ireland at that remote period, but would rather pass to the period of Ireland's boasted independence. In 1782, Ireland received what was then considered the great gift of a free Parliament, and it had been claimed for her that during that period, she made gigantic strides in material prosperity. He would not touch on that question at present, but would like to inquire into the social condition of Ireland while it was governed by its free Parliament; and on looking over the pages of her history, he found that between 1782 and 1800, the peasantry were ground down and oppressed; the landlords raised the rents to fabulous amounts, as much as £5 and £6 per acre of potato land. Associations for setting the law at defiance overspread the land; there were White Boys, Peep-o'-day Boys, Levellers, and tar-and-feathering committees. ["Oh, oh!"] This was no matter of theory—it was history; and at last it culminated in the Revolution of 1798. During that period, inoffensive men were dragged from their beds, wives and children were driven out-of-doors, and the Southern provinces were flooded with armed incendiaries. Many who joined these associations were ignorant and uneducated; many thought they were advancing the cause of Roman Catholicism, and they had some dim notion that by this Revolution they would get rid of tithes and high rents. The concluding years of that century showed a disgraceful state of things—the Government was totally unable to keep order, and the consequence was, Union was 754 demanded by the voice of the country. Grattan, who had been quoted, said of the free Parliament, that it produced nothing but a Police Bill, a Press Bill, and a Riot Act; a great increase of pensions, 14 new places for Members of Parliament, and a corrupt sale of Peerages; and he asked—"Where will all this end? "The hon. and learned Member for Limerick had quoted a passage from a speech of Lord Clare's, speaking of the material prosperity of Ireland between 1782 and 1800; but he also wished to quote a passage from a speech of Lord Clare's—If we are to pursue the beaten course of faction and folly, I have no scruple to say it were better for Great Britain that Ireland should sink into the sea than continue attached to the British Crown on the terms of our present connection. Our difficulties arise from an Irish war, a war of faction, a Whig war, a United Irishman's war. It has been demanded, how are we to be relieved by a Union? I answer—We are to be relieved from British and Irish faction, which is the source of all our calamities. When I look at the squalid misery of the mass of the Irish people, I am sickened with the rant of Irish dignity and independence. I hope I feel as becomes a true Irishman for the dignity and independence of my country. I would therefore elevate her to her proper station in the rank of civilized nations. I would advance her from the degraded post of a mercenary province to the proud station of an integral and governing member of the greatest empire in the world.The hon. and learned Member had also quoted from a speech of Mr. Foster's, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, to show how much opposed he was to the Union. It was true he was much opposed to the Union at the time it took place; but did the hon. and learned Member know that this same Mr. Poster afterwards became a Member of the Imperial House of Commons, and that in that House, in 1805, on the question of Catholic Emancipation, he said—Should some score Catholics, by the vote of that night, find their way into the Imperial Parliament, and afterwards feel their inferiority in an assembly of 658 Members, they would rapidly augment their strength by new political recruits, and endeavour, by a repeal of the Union, to re-establish the Irish Parliament. He felt the full force of the consequences to be apprehended from such a measure, and he trembled for the separation of his native country from that connection with England, deprived of which, he was convinced she could be neither prosperous nor happy.As it had been said that Ireland had not progressed since the Union, he would 755 quote a few figures bearing on that point; and first, some shipping statistics of the tonnage belonging to, and registered at the Irish ports. Before the Union, the number of tons were:—In 1792, 69,567; in 1793, 67,790; in 1794, 63,162; in 1795, 58,778; in 1796, 56,575; in 1797, 53,181; and in the triennial period of 1797–8–9, 112,333 tons. Since the Union, the numbers were, for triennial periods, as follows:—1824–5–6, 225,866 tons; 1833–4–5, 337,772 tons; 1840–1–2, 569,294 tons; 1843–4–5, 631,981 tons; 1846–7–8, 781,943 tons; 1849–50–51, 791,525 tons. The increase in 1849–50–51 over 1797–8–9 was 679,192 tons. From official Returns it appeared that the annual average imports of Ireland amounted in value for the three years ending 1790, to £3,535,588; and for the three years ending 1800, to £4,299,493. For the three years ending 1810, they amounted to £6,535,068; for the three years ending 1820, to £6,008,273; and for the three years ending 1826, to £7,491,890. The exports for triennial periods ending with the same periods were—1790, £4,125,333; 1800, £4,015,976; 1810, £5,270,471; 1820, £6,921,275; 1826, £8,454,918. These figures showed that between 1790 and 1826 the imports and exports of Ireland doubled. After 1825, no statistics were available, but it was estimated that the imports and exports in 1835 amounted to £32,000,000—say £15,337,077 of imports, and £17,394,813 of exports; and in 1848, the two amounted to £40,000,000. The annual average number and tonnage of vessels entered inwards for triennial periods were as follow:—England, in 1790, 7,243 vessels, 622,013 tons; 1800, 7,209 vessels, 642,477 tons; 1810, 8,397 vessels, 764,658 tons; 1820, 10,955 vessels, 961,884 tons; 1830, 13,337 vessels, 1,325,079 tons, and the tonnage for recent years had been as follow:—1868, 4,525,776 tons; 1869, 4,787,624 tons; 1870, 4,910,408 tons; 1871, 4,985,957 tons; 1872, 5,256,745 tons. It had been said that the cotton trade of Ireland had fallen off; but how about the linen trade? That had been increased immensely. The number of yards exported had been as follow:—19,556,379 in 1780; 35,676,908 in 1800; 37,166,399 in 1809; 33,945,615 in 1813; 56,230,575 in 1817; 49,531,139 in 1821; 55,114,515 in 1825; 70,000,000 in 1845; 756 and 106,000,000 in 1857. O'Connell, in his Argument for Ireland, stated that before the Union the increase was 22,114,593 yards in 18 years, and he contrasted that with the much smaller increase from 1800 to 1825 of 5,917,735 yards in 25 years. The above figures shewed some exceptional causes at work preventing an increase, and really causing a decrease between 1817 to 1825; but, taking the increase from 1800 to 1857, it showed an increase fully equal to the extreme period taken by O'Connell. An indication of the progress of Ireland was furnished by the figures which showed how much whiskey she had drunk. In 1790 she drank 3,700,000 gallons, and last year, 6,294,000 gallons. In 1857, the amount of annual value assessed to the income tax under Schedule D on trades, &c, in Ireland, was £4,577,874; and in 1871 it was £7,623,548. In 1864, £121,044 was received from the depositors in Post Office savings banks in Ireland; and in 1872, £373,887; and the capital of these banks was £181,484 in 1864, and £825,740 in 1872. These figures showed conclusively that Ireland was progressing. But if there was anything which kept Ireland back, it was the constant agitation of this question. They had heard that Irish Home Rule Members were unanimous in their assent to the moderate programme now placed before the House, and that there was no question of Repeal involved; and in proof of that, the hon. and learned Member for Limerick had referred to the proceedings at the Home Rule Conference. But on referring to those proceedings, he found a Gentleman Who bore the name of the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. P. J. Smyth), said—"He was a simple Repealer, and Repeal was the only logical ground on which the nation could stand; "a Gentleman who bore the same name as the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. J. Martin), said he was "a Repealer, and while consenting to the resolution he still held his own opinion; "and a Gentleman who bore the name of the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), said he was "a Repealer 40 years ago, was a Repealer that day, and would be a Repealer until Repeal was carried." The fact was, this question simply meant Repeal of the Union, by whatever name hon. Gentlemen pleased to call it, and there could 757 be little doubt that although hon. Members who professed Repeal had for the present subscribed to the more moderate proposition, they would, if it were carried, at once begin anew to agitate for total separation, backed, as they would probably be, by the support of an Irish Parliament. Hon. Members from Ireland asked why they should feel gratitude to England for mere justice. But should Irishmen feel no gratitude for what England had done for their country in time of need? Had Ireland no gratitude for what England had done in time of the famine? He would not refer to the disestablishment of the Irish Church, although it fully and clearly showed how strong was the desire of England to remedy Irish grievances when she was made acquainted with them. And yet it was no small thing that she should haul down the flag of the Reformation, which had flown in Ireland for so long a time, and sink all her cherished convictions. It was said that Ireland was not prosperous, but that Scotland was. Was not Scotland legislated for by the Imperial Parliament in the same way that Ireland was? Therefore, if Scotland was prosperous, and Ireland was not, the cause must be looked for elsewhere. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick had told the House that Ireland wanted a domestic Ministry, and a voice in the Imperial Parliament. But if Ireland were to have a Parliament for domestic measures, England and Scotland would have to get Parliaments for the same purpose. And how would the thing work? The Prime Minister might have a large majority while the Irish Members were away; but when they walked into the House they might overwhelm him, and the consequence would be, he would have to walk over to the other side. A fearful dilemma would be the result, for Members would not know who was Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire or the right hon. Member for Greenwich. The whole scheme was unworkable. While ready to remove every Irish grievance, they were above all determined to hand down unbroken that trust of an United Kingdom which had been handed down to them.
§ COLONEL WHITE
said, he was thankful that the Speaker had selected him to address the House upon this great question, 758 particularly after the vague misrepresentations, misconceptions, misapprehensions, and accusations which had been expressed against those who entertained what was called the novel idea of Home Rule. He had lately been made painfully aware that the so-called freedom of opinion of Members of Parliament—that much vaunted privilege—in some cases might be practically a myth, and that however single minded, upright, and loyal a man might be, he must consent to choose whether he would be guided alone by the opinion of the social, or it might be the military world, in which he might happen to be, or rest satisfied with the consciousness that, according to his lights, he had endeavoured to do his duty, not only to his country, but the nation at large. He was well aware that there existed a feeling which was most unjust, a feeling which had been most improperly encouraged by the public Press of England, and notably by The Times newspaper, that all those who were connected with the Home Rule movement must be, in some degree, discontented and disaffected. Now, in the name of his constituents and of his hon. Friends, he most indignantly repudiated that monstrous allegation, for every man who supported him during the late Election voted for the cause of law, loyalty, and order. He, moreover, claimed to repudiate it a thousand times more indignantly in his own name, because he felt conscious that, as regarded himself, it was the incarnation of injustice. He had been asked how it was that he, holding, as he did, Her Majesty's commission both as an officer in the Army and in the representation as Lord Lieutenant of the county of Clare, could support the principle of self-legislation for Ireland; and his answer simply and plainly was, because he firmly believed that this proposal, wisely, judiciously, and carefully carried out, would ultimately be for the benefit of Her Majesty's Empire. That Motion was a loyal and constitutional request loyally and constitutionally preferred, and it was a calumny to say that the separation or disintegration of the Empire was ever suggested or intended, either by its promoters or supporters. It was a proposition put forth by three-fourths of the Irish nation, and he held that it was not for the public weal that, being so put forward, it should 759 be ignored or scouted. Ireland was now in a stagnating, if not a deteriorating state; and he believed that some such, galvanic stimulus as that was necessary to rouse its energies into fresh, life. As a landed proprietor and a magistrate, he considered himself responsible for the good behaviour of those amongst whom his lot was cast. Home Rule was a "bugbear" to many hon. Members, whose vivid imaginations had invested it with all the attributes of some hideous phantom. It was well known that the business of Parliament was almost at a stand-still, and that was shown by what was called the "massacre of the innocents" at the end of every Session. If evidence on this point were necessary, he would refer to the Address of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) on the Dissolution of Parliament in January last. That right hon. Gentleman, when speaking of the duties of Parliament, said that they reached a point which seemed to defy all efforts to overtake them, and he also said—I think we ought not only to admit, but to welcome every improvement in the organization of local and subordinate authority, which, under the unquestioned control of Parliament, would tend to lighten its labours and to expedite the public Business.That was what was said by all the best of the Irish people. He would next turn to Dublin, and ask whether she was not, at that moment, in a stagnant and unimproving state, and in the position of a fourth-rate town. Now, would not a Parliament within her precincts raise her into importance, and make her the great city of the nation? That proposition was incontrovertible and unanswerable. They were told that the proposition before the House was a covert attempt at separation; but if separation was intended by the supporters of Home Rule, he would rather cut off his hand than support it. No; disintegration or separation had never been intended. They were all opposed to it. Who were its supporters? Why, men of great wealth and recognized position and character and integrity; and, amongst them, were landed proprietors and mercantile men, whose word was as good as their bond; and hundreds of magistrates holding commissions of the peace, and Deputy Lieutenants of counties. Would anyone tell him that those men had no 760 stake in the country and nothing to lose? A more absurd idea could not be entertained. It was not for him to say how such a Parliament as that they were discussing was to be constituted; but he would say that the more generously they considered it, and the broader the basis on which they framed it, the more Conservative and the more loyal it would be. He might, he might add, be told that many Irish Representatives went further than he did, but he was responsible only for his own opinions; and he felt quite satisfied that if the Home Rule movement were to be as unbendingly opposed, as he was sorry to say it had been by the Attorney General for Ireland that evening, it would be regarded in Ireland as amounting to a declaration that the system under which she was now governed was perfect; and what was that system? Take the case of the Lord Lieutenant alone, He was said to be the representative of the Sovereign—and so he was theoretically—but practically he was the representative of that political party to which he might happen to belong. To show the justice of that view, he might mention that Lord Spencer, a nobleman who combined, in a remarkable degree, zeal, energy, ability, courtesy, charming manners, and great personal popularity, while he was received by the mass of the Irish people with cordiality as the representative of the Sovereign, met with quite a different reception from the Conservative Peers and gentry, who abstained from attending his levees during the first two years of his administration, probably because they looked upon him, not so much as the representative of the Sovereign, as of that party which they considered were then engaged in an act of sacrilege, in disestablishing the Irish Church, and in confiscation, in handing over the property of the landlord and tenant. Again, there was the Irish Peerage, that anomalous body whose members one day wrote letters to The Times, and the next had their position before the House of Lords. They were a body of educated gentlemen "who were neither fish, flesh, nor fowl"—an excrescence on the body politic—absolutely debarred from taking any part in the councils of the nation, and utterly ostracised by their absurd position from the commonest rights of citizenship; and if he were an Irish Peer, he should, from that very fact 761 alone, be a Home Ruler. They had been told again and again that Ireland was in a state of prosperity; but no country could be so described that was being depopulated as Ireland was at the present time. In 1872 the total number of emigrants from Ireland was 78,102, and in 1873 it was 90,149, showing an increase of 12,047 in one year. If this was prosperity, it was of a very negative kind, with which, before long, the Legislature would have to deal. He asked the House not to disregard the petition of such a large proportion of the Irish people, who were not ignorant that they were incorporated with the noblest Empire that the world had seen. They merely asked for such a change in their system of government as should tend to increase their self-respect and develop their energies, talents, and resources. A policy of coercion had been tried for upwards of 300 years; but if such an alteration were now made as would make the Government of the country an absolute reality instead of an unmeaning sham, he had no doubt the result would be to unite it to England in bonds of sympathy hitherto unknown.
§ SIR CHARLES LEGARD
expressed his great satisfaction at finding that the long-threatened subject of Home Rule had at length been fairly brought before the House; but the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) must excuse him if he said that the change which he advocated was very like that which a few years ago had been proposed under the name of Repeal. Remembering the language which some hon. Members had recently addressed to their constituents, he was astonished to find they had been suddenly converted, and that they would now be perfectly satisfied with Home Rule, instead of what they had loudly demanded but a little while ago. What did Home Rule—this new panacea for Irish wrongs—really mean? They had been told it meant local self-government. Did it mean self-government in matters purely local, as Englishmen understood the words, or was it a disingenuous phrase, the true and honest interpretation of which was Repeal in disguise? It was customary for counsel, when bringing a charge of bribery and corruption in an election case, to investigate the previous character of the constituency; and similarly in this matter he had run through 762 the beadroll of the magnates of Repeal who now sat in that House, had read their speeches on various occasions within the last 12 months, and when he remembered the language made use of on those occasions, and now found the same hon. Members ready to be sponsors to the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick, he felt the strongest apprehension that they wanted more than they dared to ask. If they succeeded in getting Home Rule to-morrow, they would demand Repeal the day after. If it was not so, he hoped the hon. Members to whom he referred would get up and say that now in 1874 they utterly, and without mental reservation, repudiated their utterances of 1873. But who could doubt that Repeal, and nothing short of Repeal, was the object really in view? The hon. Member for Meath (Mr. J. Martin) boldly avowed last October that that was what he wanted. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Ronayne) supported, with his usual eloquence, at a public meeting in that City, a resolution declaring that it being the divine right of nations to govern themselves, and experience having shown that, as ruled by the English Governing Body, the affairs of Ireland were sadly mismanaged, the Irish people being driven from the soil and their fertile country transformed into a worthless waste, therefore the people of Cork pledged themselves to countenance every movement in the cause of Home Government in Ireland. This justified him in saying that more was wanted than was at present asked for; and that if what were now asked for were granted it would be followed by further demands. He would oppose all such demands, believing that they tended to weaken the commercial and social ties which happily subsisted between the sister Islands. He would commend to the earnest consideration of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick and his Colleagues the language of one of the greatest, and, at the same time, one of the most liberal-minded statesmen that ever adorned the British Senate—Edmund Burke, a countryman of their own—My poor opinion is that the closest connection between great Britain and Ireland is essential to the well-being, I had almost said, to the very being, of the two kingdoms. I think, indeed, that Great Britain would be ruined by the separation of Ireland; by such a separation Ireland would be the most completely undone country 763 in the world, the most wretched, the most distracted, and, in the end, the most desolate part of the habitable globe.
§ CHEVALIER O'CLERY said
The speeches delivered in opposition to the Motion for self-government for Ireland appear to be based on the assumption that our country has advanced in material prosperity because of the Legislative Union with England in 1800. To the Irish people this assumption must appear as astounding as it is false. It is unnecessary in disproving it to recapitulate the history of the acts and intrigues which led up to that unfortunate period when the autonomy of Ireland was sacrificed to Imperialism. Of the historical iniquity which culminated in the passing of the Union, I will only say that the results to us are as calamitous as the means employed by you to accomplish it were unworthy and unjust. The true measure of the prosperity of a country must be taken by the standard of an ever-increasing population, ever capable of self-sustainment on the soil. England has thus increased in true wealth by her population, disproportionate though it be to the area of her soil, but sustained by the extremest development under the fostering care of a native Government. Now, what of Ireland? What of a people not less gifted than Englishmen in everything that makes Englishmen great? We have the answer in a population as low as that at the dawn of this century; in manufactures destroyed; in agriculture just allowed to exist by the unwilling concession of a land law of a few years' standing which may, or may not, at the close of this century, root an equal population on the soil. Let us look at the details of the picture, and endeavour to account for this stationary population—this decline in real prosperity—while every country in Europe is advancing in strength and power. The reason beyond question is to be found in the Act of Union which destroyed self-government in Ireland, and made the liberties and the welfare of her people absolutely dependent on the caprices and prejudices of another country. During the 74 years of the connection, the Irish people have never ceased to attribute, the decay of their national resources to the absence of self-government. In 1810 many of the grand juries in Ireland, but especially those of Dublin city and county, urged on Grattan the necessity 764 of endeavouring to repeal the Union, as the only means of arresting the general decay in trade and manufactures that had set in since 1800. From that time we find Select Committees and Royal Commissions without number appointed by Parliament to inquire into the condition of the Irish people. Those Commissions reported on the necessity for the reclamation of waste lands, on drainage of rivers, on the development of the fisheries, and other schemes. But their Reports were not attended to. There were always found in London insuperable objections to measures for the welfare of our people. This neglect of the interests of Ireland was, however, aggravated after the abolition of the 40s. franchise in 1829, when the people, deprived in a great measure of their rights of suffrage, lost their political value in the eyes of the two great English parties. When the famine came, the people were regarded merely as an incumbrance to be flung off as weeds from the soil. And here, we must consider, Ireland suffered a loss so overwhelmingly calamitous in its results, that all other evils attendant on the loss of her Parliament sink into insignificance before it. Despite the incontestable fact that corn and provisions were exported from Ireland to a large extent during the so-called famine year, yet during that very time more than 1,000,000 of the people perished on the soil, and I fearlessly assert this awful calamity could have been averted had the country possessed its own Government. Would not the first aim of a native Parliament be to save the people by prohibiting the export of provisions from the country, and by taking prompt measures to give employment to the masses? The Report of the Devon Commission pointed to such action, but its Report was disregarded in deference to the requirements of "political economy" and the necessity of getting rid of the so-called "surplus population" of Ireland! No wonder that in the wake of the famine should follow the exodus which is to this hour draining the life blood of the country! The history of that terrible crisis alone condemns without appeal the government of Ireland by the British Parliament. What we desire instead is our national Parliament in Dublin having the management of Irish affairs. Without this the country will not be content. 765 And this demand is not unreasonable, seeing that other countries in Europe have set us the example. Norway and Sweden have possessed their separate Legislatures under the one Crown since 1814, and their experience of 60 years only strengthens the desire to maintain the connection which has proved of such advantage to both countries. On the other hand, the forced union by Lord Castlereagh of Belgium and Holland, in 1815, in which Belgium was denied her Parliament and the power of making her own laws, resulted in the war of 1830 which established Belgian independence. And to this the English Government readily assented in the interest of Belgium. But in the relations which have subsisted between Austria and Hungary may be found the example which affords the truest adjustment of the difficulty between England and Ireland. For generations Austria attempted to crush out the national feeling of Hungary, until the constitution of the Kingdom was declared abolished, and Austria by brute force strove to rule the country from Vienna. The Hungarians declared war for the maintenance of their institutions. After a long and desperate struggle, the Emperor of Austria was obliged to ask for help from Russia; and on the field of Raab, the flag of Hungary went down before a combined Russian and Austrian force. Hungary was now crushed and bleeding at the feet of Austria, who pursued a system of Imperial rule which made Europe believe that Hungarian nationality, as a vital force, was no more. But the national party never despaired, and their country abandoning a war policy, they strove by constitutional agitation of the most moderate, conciliatory, and yet persistent character to prepare for the opportunity that must ever come to a people worthy of their freedom. It came sooner than they expected. The crash of Sadowa was heard throughout Europe. Austria, reeling under the shock, looked around vainly for help! In that moment, while ruin awaited her—and before the smoke had cleared from the battle-field, and the thunder of the enemy's guns had died away—a message of peace went forth from Vienna, and Hungary was once more a nation. In that hour, Austria was saved. The Hungarians, who as subjects of Austria were at once the weakness and the danger of the Empire, are now its bravest 766 defenders. Surely this is a lesson from which to draw much profit. Its careful study should be entered upon with the knowledge of the fact that in a time of profound peace England deems it needful to maintain at immense expense a garrison of 40,000 bayonets in Ireland. Is this the only result of three-quarters of a century of union with a nation which claims to possess the freest constitution in the world? And yet we are taunted with the revolutionary character of our demand for self-government, when you have readily granted the same rights to the Colonies, and in so doing have added immensely to the strength of the Empire. It is only when the question of Home Rule for Ireland is put forward that fears are expressed for the integrity of the Empire. At the time England was at war with the United Colonies of America, persons entertaining similar fears prevented the simple demand for Home Rule made at the outset by the Americans being granted; and when at length they agreed to grant the concession in 1778, it was too late. The United Colonies had become the United States, and were lost for ever to the British Empire. In our demand there is no revolutionary design. Ireland is the most Conservative nation in Europe—she is Conservative of all that is great and glorious in her history; she is Conservative of her religion, in the face of centuries of persecution; she is Conservative of her nationality under every trial. Ireland was Conservative of her loyalty to the Sovereign, when England trampled upon the Throne. And when subsequently Englishmen paused not to sacrifice the life of the Monarch, Irishmen resisted to the last the act of regicide. Ireland seeks by the restoration of her Parliament to raise a barrier against the revolutionary passions, which threaten the disruption of society by the establishment of a British Republic based on Atheism. Our experience of a former Republic is thrown into strong relief by the flames which shed their lurid light on the havoc and carnage of our defenceless people in the squares of Drogheda and Wexford. Remembering the past, we can have no sympathy with the admirers of that model Republican, Cromwell. And in the same way we repudiate and spurn the revolutionary propaganda of the Continent, which 767 would seem to find such favour in England. But it has been urged that the House of Commons would not be in a position to judge of the character of the men who would form the Irish Parliament. A similar argument was used against the great reform movement of 1832, and time has proved how groundless were the fears then expressed. Ireland may be trusted only to send men to the national capital, who are worthy of the country and its history. Of the advantages to England by this act of justice to Ireland, not the least would be found in the conciliation of the Irish people in America. The Irish race forming so great and powerful an element in each country, would render war between England and America an impossibility, and so prevent the repetition of the humiliation involved in another Geneva Award. In like manner the traditional friendship between France and Ireland would serve as a link between France and England. With France, England, and America thus united by the friendship of Ireland, all fear of a German or Russian invasion would cease to be considered a possibility by Englishmen. In the near future, with all its dangerous complications, England cannot afford to disregard the friendship and support that Ireland, self governed and contented, could offer her. The first Minister of the Crown, in one of his recent speeches, declared that England is an ancient nation, whose people are greatly influenced by the traditions, and proud of the achievements, of their forefathers in the olden time. And it is no matter of surprise to Englishmen that he should speak of this nation in such terms. For looking back upon the warring conflicts and fierce struggles recorded in English history, they think only with pride of the men who figured in those struggles. They praise equally the Yorkist with the Lancastrian, and while admiring the magnificent courage and chivalrous devotion of the Cavaliers, they do not ignore the iron will and stern purpose of their Parliamentarian antagonists. And so on to later times. But I would remind the Prime Minister that my country is also an ancient nation, and that the Irish people are greatly influenced by the traditions, and intensely proud of the achievements of their fore-fathers. 768 And here I speak especially of the Irish Representatives around me, who, like myself, are of that Celtic race which you have in vain sought to destroy. In us you find men whose fathers disputed every foot of Irish soil with yours, and who, in resisting the desolating advance of your invading arms, made your path through the Island for centuries one of fire and blood. Ours is no inferior race, but the equal of yours; and to-day, notwithstanding our fearful losses and the sufferings we have endured, we are more powerful to resist oppression, and struggle for the restoration of our nationality, than at any other period in our history. Now, when we meet you in a friendly and peaceful, but withal a frank and fearless spirit, to settle for ever the differences that have caused such sorrow and suffering to us, and so much weakness to you—when we desire to arrange the terms of a treaty of peace between the two nations, give us that consideration and respect which honourable adversaries ever receive at the hands of brave and just men. We make this effort to arrest the ruin that is settling on our country. We know that if our demand be acceded to, the discontent which prevails at present will disappear. The exodus which is a natural consequence of the system which debars the development of the country's resources, continues with unabated force to drain the population from our shores. The action of a native Parliament would tend directly to check that terrible drain. And it is not the less your interest that it should be checked. Imagine the feelings of a keen-witted people who see you, in no wise better gifted than they, constantly advancing in the path of prosperity and power, while they themselves are forced as if by inexorable fate to flee a land which is proverbially endeared to them, and to seek under a foreign and oft-time hostile flag the liberty denied them at homo. Tell us that you will discard for ever the mistaken state policy, and the effete national prejudices that have produced results so deplorable for our country! We demand it from your sense of justice to us, and your consideration for yourselves. Ireland comes here to-day as the Sybil, and in return for simple justice, offers you the priceless guerdon of her friendship. Her great heart is ready to forgive the countless wrongs of the 769 bitter and terrible past. Disregard not that offer—it is made in good faith—and the day will come when you will look back with gratitude on the hour of that alliance between the two countries, in which you relied "upon Erin's honour and Erin's pride."
§ VISCOUNT CRICHTON
said, he thought the hon. and learned Member for Limerick was bound to show, first, that the material prosperity of Ireland had of late years been retrograding so much as to call for the change he proposed, and, secondly, that there was an overwhelming preponderance of feeling in Ireland—not merely a numerical preponderance, but a preponderance of all parties in all parts of the Island—in favour of the change. The population of Ireland remained somewhat stationary in consequence of the potato disease, and it was too bad that a visitation of Providence should, be charged to the fault of the Imperial Parliament of England. A reference to authentic statistics showed that the prosperity of the country was increasing. The value of live stock in Ireland was £21,200,000 in 1841 and £37,515,000 in 1871. The number of cattle was 2,900,000 in 1850 and 4,100,000 in 1873; while the number of sheep was 1,800,000 in 1850 as against 4,400,000 in 1873. The only species of live stock which had not numerically increased in Ireland during that period was the donkey. Again, the increased manufactures might be taken as a fair test of the prosperity of the country. In 1862 there were 100 factories with 592,000 spindles and employing 33,000 people; whereas in 1870 there were 150 flax factories, with 916,000 spindles, and employing 55,000 people. But the greatest test was supplied by the deposits in the joint stock banks, which having been £5,500,000 in 1840, had reached the amount of £28,700,000 in 1872. These few figures spoke of the material prosperity of Ireland more eloquently than the rhetoric of hon. Members below the gangway. As to the alleged preponderance of Irish opinion in favour of the change, he would remark that there was only a majority of 15 Irish Members in favour of Home rule, and that so narrow a majority would not justify the House in assenting to the proposed change. The hon. and learned Member had alluded to the requisition for a Home Rule Conference, with its 25,000 770 signatures; but a careful analysis of that requisition would show how little claim it had to represent the wealth, the intelligence, or the social influence of Ireland. Of 187 Peers in Ireland only I had signed the requisition; of 107 Baronets only 5; of 3,500 magistrates and deputy-lieutenants 200; of 1,950 Protestant clergy 16; of 625 Presbyterian ministers 1; of 1,150 barristers 50; of 1,300 practising solicitors 300; of 2,900 medical men 400; and not one-twentieth of the landowners, bankers, or merchants. Then, what was the feeling of the Province of Ulster? At the last General Election every seat in Ulster was contested with the exception of two—Downpatrick and Lisburn. He admitted that two Home Rulers were returned for the county of Cavan, which, though geographically in Ulster, was more closely allied with the neighbouring Provinces than with the Black North. In Monaghan, too, a Conservative Home Ruler—that creation of the misgovernment of Ireland during the last five years—ran the sitting Members very close; but in not one of the other constituencies in Ulster did a Home Ruler dare show his nose. If, then, Ulster insisted on maintaining its connection with England, on what ground could Parliament deny its right to do so? Home Rule in Ireland would mean civil war with Ulster. ["No, no!"] The hon. and learned Member for limerick said that, in his opinion, Home Rule did not mean Borne Rule; but he could not concur in that opinion. He did not wish to say anything which would excite the susceptibilities of any hon. Gentleman; but there certainly was a strong and deep-rooted feeling in Ulster that Home Rule did mean Rome Rule, and that it would be the subjugation of the country to a foreign and hostile Power.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he wished, before he referred to the hon. and learned Member for Limerick's (Mr. Butt's) Resolution, to say a few words on the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for the county of Londonderry (Mr. E. Smyth), and on the Amendment which he had placed on the Paper, although it was not his intention to move it on the present occasion. The House might congratulate itself on the honest and manly speech in which that hon. Member expressed the views of a very large portion of the in 771 habitants of the North of Ireland, who entirely disapproved the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick; and he thought the House must also view with considerable satisfaction the expression of that opinion which the hon. Member proposed to place on the Journals of the House. Still, in his judgment, the Government had taken a wise line, and the House would do well to support them, in preferring to meet the Resolution by a direct negative rather than by the adoption of the suggested Amendment, which, though eminently satisfactory as emanating from an Irish Member, did not cover the whole ground. In honour and in honesty, the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain were bound to tell the Irish people that whatever arguments might be used in reference to this question as it applied to Ireland, while giving every consideration to the just claims of Ireland, they could only look at it from an Imperial point of view; and that they were convinced that whatever might be the effect of the proposal upon the internal affairs of that country, they could never give their assent to the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick. It might be said that this was a strong declaration, but at the same time a very safe one on his part, seeing that the party to which he belonged were at present in a hopeless minority in that House, and that they had therefore nothing either to hope or to fear from the support of Irish Members. But he could say for himself—and he thought he might say the same on behalf of those who sat round him—that no motive of personal ambition, no consideration of party advantage, could ever induce them to purchase the support of hon. Members representing Irish constituencies by any sacrifice which, in their opinion, would endanger the union between the two countries. He knew it might be said that protestations of this kind were of little avail, and that when the exigency of the moment demanded it, they might be easily evaded and set aside; and therefore it was of more importance that he should express his firm conviction that if any hon. Members sitting on that side of the House were so reckless as to show a symptom on their part of a disposition to coquet with this question, there would instantly be such a disruption and disorganization of 772 parties, that they would find that they had lost more support from England and Scotland than they could over hope to obtain from Ireland. Turning to the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick, he thought the House would not be justified in discussing the Motion directly before it without referring to the whole series of resolutions, submitted to the Home Rule Conference in Dublin, which the hon. and learned Member had read, and which constituted the whole platform of Home Rule. The Resolution to which he should chiefly refer was the second which the hon. and learned Member had read, which was as follows—That, solemnly re-asserting the inalienable rig-lit of the Irish people to self-government, we declare the time, in our opinion, has come when a combined and energetic effort should be made to obtain the restoration of that right.He submitted that the only claim of right which could be put forward in behalf of the Irish people was a claim to be restored to the position they held just before the Union; yet the hon. and learned Member claimed to set up on their behalf a perfectly new system of Federal Government. He need scarcely point out the overwhelming objections to our returning to the state of things that existed before the Union. In a speech which the hon. and learned Member delivered in reply to the late Mr. O'Connell in the Mansion House in Dublin some years ago, in which he put forward all the objections that it was necessary to urge against our returning to such a state of things, the hon. and learned Gentleman said—I ask of any advocate of that which is termed simple repeal, is he willing-to recur to the state of things which existed on the day before the Union was passed? Is he willing to covenant that Ireland should abide by it? Let us suppose that an Act were passed declaring-the Union null and void. We would return to the state of things that existed after 1782. In the first place, you must have all Bills passed by the Irish Parliament approved of by the English Privy Council, and sanctioned under the Great Seal of England, by Ministers responsible only to the English Parliament. More, far more, than this; you would have no Irish Administration really responsible to your Irish Parliament; you would have your internal, your local affairs, managed by Ministers dependent for their continuance in office upon the votes of an English Parliament at Westminster coming-in and going out with an English Party, and, lastly and above all, you might find yourselves plunged into all the dangers and horrors of war by advice given by an English Ministry. 773 You would have all questions of peace and war, and all Imperial questions, settled by the advice of a Ministry over whom you have no control, and settled by a Parliament in which you were not represented, and, as I have said, the very moment the English Ministers advised the Queen to declare war against France without consulting Ireland at all, without one single Irishman having any voice in the matter, that moment the Irishman who aided Franco would be guilty of treason. In 1791, eight years after 1782, Wolfe Tone thus described the position of Ireland in the Imperial confederation—for a confederation, though an imperfect one, there was—'"The present state of Ireland is such as is not to be paralleled in history or fable. Inferior to no other country in Europe in the gifts of nature—blessed with a temperate sky and a fruitful soil, intersected by many great rivers-indented round her whole coast with the noblest harbours, abounding with all the necessary materials for unlimited commerce—teeming with inexhaustible mines of the most useful metals—filled by 4,000,000 of an ingenious and gallant people, with bold hands and ardent spirits—posted right in the track between Europe and America, within 50 miles of England, and 300 of France; yet, with all these great advantages, unheard of and unknown, without pride, or power, or name, without Ambassadors, Army, or Navy, not of half the consequence in the Empire, of which she has the honour to make a part, with the single county of York, or the loyal and well-regulated town of Birmingham.'This is a true description of the state of things which existed, in 1791. This, Sir, would plainly and indisputably be the effect of an Act which would simply repeal the Act of Union, and so send us back to the state of things which existed the day before it was passed, binding Ireland in all Imperial relations by the Acts of an English Ministry and an English Parliament.That was the state of things which the hon. and learned Member stated existed before 1795, and that was the state of things to which alone the Irish people could demand to be restored under a claim of right. The hon. and learned Member, in a part of his speech tonight, had pointed out that a return to the state of things which existed previous to 1782 would be still more injurious to Ireland. Since that time Great Britain had acquired vast colonial and foreign possessions, in which, if the Union were dissolved, Ireland would have no right nor title to share. But he should probably be told that it was not proposed to dissolve the Union. The House would, however, see that it was impossible to set up a federation unless the Kingdoms were first separated, and that, therefore, the first step towards federation must be to dissolve the Union. But then, if the Union were dissolved, 774 Englishmen and Scotchmen might well pause before they admitted Ireland to a share in the control of their vast Imperial possessions when Ireland refused to allow them to exercise any control over her internal affairs. The proposal, if entertained, must be considered not upon any claim of right, but upon its own intrinsic merits. There had been a new proposal had before the House, and one that had never before entered into the mind of any English statesman. In his opinion, the proposition, if accepted, would lead to a complete separation, although the hon. and learned Member for Limerick had assured them to the contrary—that Ireland would not ask for, or desire, further separation. But what authority had the hon. and learned Member for saying so? Was he certain that if he went to Limerick for re-election after such a measure had been carried that all further grievances, with regard to social independence, were at an end? he could only say he gave the hon. and learned Member credit for perfect good faith; but it was the assertion of himself alone, and of his own opinion, and he (the Select Committee to which already reference had been made by him, attributed Marquess of Hartington) was not willing to risk the integrity of the Empire on the assertion of anyone, however well-meaning he might be. It might be said that if the separation were effected, and jealousy and suspicion followed on Home Rule, the remedy would, as now, be in the hands of the Government of this country, and that if discontent prevailed it would have to be met then as it would be met now—by force. But he would submit that the position of the Imperial Parliament, in dealing with an organized attempt at separation, after the establishment of an Irish Parliament, would be a very different one from what it was now; for in dealing with sedition and insurrection now, they could cope with individuals by the power of the Legislature; but the case would be altogether different if they had to meet a demand for separation proceeding from an Irish Parliament with a complete organized system of Government, and all the resources of that Government at its disposal. That was one objection he took to this proposal. He would not go into the pecuniary difficulties of the case, which had been lightly touched on by the hon. and learned Member on that, as well as on other occasions; but he 775 would ask the hon. and learned Member, and others who agreed with him, what would be the pecuniary effect on the resources of Ireland if the course he advocated was followed? Ireland, it was said, was willing to pay her fair share of the Imperial expenditure; but as no complaint was made that Ireland was overtaxed, it might be fairly assumed that she would contribute to the Imperial expenditure just as much as she did at present. But did the hon. and learned Member for Limerick and his Friends expect after Home Rule those subsidies so liberally extended by the House in aid of purely Irish local objects? The aggregate of purely Irish grants in 1872 was £2,298,955, while in the same year the grants applicable to Great Britain reached no higher a sum than £2,664,000. Taking the total of those grants at £4,900,000, Ireland absorbed 46 per cent. or within 4 per cent of the half. Now, to Gentlemen of a patriotic mind £2,000,000 might be a very small consideration; but it could hardly be expected that grants would be made from the Imperial Exchequer to Ireland when it was deprived of all control over her expenditure. He knew that there was one grant for which some hon. Gentlemen were not grateful to that House—the grant for the Irish Constabulary; but perhaps they supposed that when there was an Irish Parliament there would be no necessity for an Irish Constabulary. There might be some credulity on that point; but there were other financial difficulties, which appeared to him to be insuperable. He had paid great attention to the figures of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and to the means by which he proposed to manage the financial affairs of the separate Kingdom and the Imperial Kingdom, but he confessed he had not succeeded in mastering them. He would admit it might be possible to devise some plan by which the ordinary expenditure might be divided between the two Kingdoms, and that such expenditure might be met by fixed taxes. But there was extraordinary as well as ordinary expenditure to be considered. It might be that this country might have to raise large sums for war taxes, and then either the Imperial Government must retain the power of taxing the people of Ireland or else the Imperial Government must make a demand on 776 the Irish Parliament for a lump sum equivalent to what should have been the contributions of that country. Now, he did not think that either of these plans would work. How was the Imperial Parliament to levy war taxes in Ireland if not supported by the influence and authority of the Irish Government and Parliament, and, more than that, in direct opposition to their wishes? And if the Imperial Parliament demanded £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 in a lump sum, what security would there be that the Irish Parliament would vote the amount? It might be said that we compelled Ireland to pay taxes; but it was a very different thing to compel people to pay taxes and to compel a nation to pay taxes which its Legislature did not approve. He hoped some one later in the debate would solve this difficulty; and he would now come to one of his strongest objections to the Motion. The hon. and learned Gentleman had assured the House—and he hoped he might be forgiven for saying that in this the hon. and learned Gentleman had shown consummate coolness—that the proposed change would, as regarded England and Scotland, be a slight one. In one of the speeches made by Mr. Charles Gavan Duffy, in October, 1844, he urged this objection to the Federation plan—Federalism, he said, as it is interpreted by some of the soundest men of that party, demands local Parliaments for the three divisions of the Empire, and the Imperial one in common. Now, if this principle be insisted upon, federalism is an impracticability, for it implies a reorganization of the British Constitution. Apart from any other ejection to it, it raises a new and tremendous difficulty which does not exist against repeal.The hon. and learned Gentleman had said—I perfectly agree with Mr. Duffy. Any plan of a Federal union which would involve the breaking up of all the arrangements of the Constitution is impracticable. We must not come forward with a proposal to pull all existing things to pieces, in order to reconstruct fantastic baby-houses, or to frame political toys. It is vain to expect that the English people will consent to pull the fabric of Government to pieces for the sake of giving us Home Rule. The plan we propose to-day is open to no such objection. It can be carried out with scarcely an alteration—with no essential alteration in the present machinery of the Imperial Government.The hon. and learned Gentleman had claimed for Ireland that she should have a local Legislature and Administration, and if England and Scotland were 777 to have a local Legislature, it followed they must have a local Administration also. But neither England nor Scotland asked for a separate Parliament. What, therefore, followed? There must be a thorough examination and reconstruction of our whole administrative system, and we should have to decide what was merely local and what Imperial. We must keep the Foreign Office, the Colonial and War Office, the Admiralty, the Office of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Treasury, though there would be two Treasuries, and take away the Home Office, the Local Government Board, the Education Department, the Legal Department, and they would have a separate government and not be responsible to Parliament. Would the hon. and learned Gentleman tell him that such a reorganization of our system was possible? It would not follow that the balance of parties which now existed in the Imperial Parliament would be the same in the Parliament of England and Scotland. It was possible that while the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Butt) might be at the head of the Irish Administration, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Mr. Assheton Cross) might be the Secretary for the Home Department, while his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) might be at the head of the Imperial Administration. Take, again, the period of the last American War. The Imperial Government, anxious to avoid a dispute with the Northern States, resolved to stop two rams which had been ordered in this country for the Confederate States. But, supposing that the Secretary of State for the Home Department might not be answerable to the Imperial Parliament and supposing the English and Scotch Members took a different view of the case, who was to stop those rams? The Foreign Office had not any police or officers of Inland Revenue or any other force at their disposal; and if the Home Secretary would not cooperate with the Foreign Secretary and the Imperial Government, the Foreign Office might in vain order the rams to be stopped, and they would go out, and American vessels might become engaged in a hostile encounter with ships that had been permitted to escape by the Government of England. Suppose, again, that disturbances should 778 break out in any part of the country which required a military force for their suppression. The Home Secretary would belong to one Government, and the Secretary for War to another. They might not be on speaking terms, indeed, they might be bitterly opposed in politics, and how were the disturbances to be put down? The mere statement of the consequences which might ensue from such a system was enough. What, then, was the indictment on which the necessity for these extraordinary and unheard of changes was advanced? They were told that the Imperial Government had misgoverned Ireland. If that meant that the Government of this country had not been uniformly wise or successful he was afraid that such a charge might be brought not only against this, but against any Government that had over existed. But could any Irish Member put his finger upon anything that the Imperial Parliament had done during the last 70 years, and say that it warranted such a charge? The Imperial Government could not be made responsible for the Potato Famine in Ireland. Was it sought to make it responsible for the diminution of population caused by emigration? Did any one contend that it would have been the duty of the Irish Government, if it could, to have prevented that emigration? If the Irish Government had stopped that emigration it would have done Ireland a worse turn than had ever been done to that country before. Would the hon. and learned Member for Limerick himself wish that the hundreds and thousands of Irishmen who were now earning a comfortable subsistence in America and our Colonies, and many of whom were now in affluent circumstances, should have remained and starved at home? The Irish emigration had no doubt been accompanied by suffering and hardship. Yet the emigration from Ireland had been the best thing that ever happened to that country, the emigrants themselves being better off and the condition of those who remained behind being also improved. If that was the worst indictment that could be brought against England he would plead guilty to that charge. It was said that our Government had not prevented insurrections in Ireland, and that it had been necessary when they were put down to take measures to prevent their recurrence. It was very 779 much our habit when insurrection broke out to say that the fault was always with the Government and never with the people. There were, however, some cases in which the reverse might be said, and he would ask whether there had been a single insurrection in Ireland since the Union for which a shadow of justification could be pleaded. It could only be said that these insurrectionary movements had been owing to the ineradicable desire of the Irish people to regain their independence and return to a system of self-government which would be wholly impracticable. If the hon. and learned Member for Limerick had been at the head of an Irish Administration it would have been just as much his duty to suppress these insurrections as it had been the duty of the Government that was in power. The Attorney General for Ireland, in his eloquent speech, had enumerated the great measures passed by the Imperial Parliament since the Union. Among those measures was Catholic Emancipation. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had also alluded to National Education. For himself, he would not go further back than the last Parliament; but he must say a word on the measures passed in that Parliament. He had heard with equal pain the observations of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Butt) and of the Attorney General for Ireland upon the legislation of the last Parliament. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick had repudiated any claim or obligation of gratitude on the part of the Irish people for those measures, and he had insinuated that they had been wrung from the Imperial Parliament by the fears generated by the Fenian insurrection. The Attorney General for Ireland speaking on the same subject, had accused his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) of having, to a great extent, created the same impression by his imprudent references to the same subject. He denied both charges. He denied that the people of this country ever felt any serious alarm from the puny attempts of the Fenians. His right hon. Friend had said more than once that although the people of this country were never intimidated by the Fenian conspiracy, yet that the measures taken to suppress it had directed the attention of the people of England to the subject—that they were shocked at the amount of disaffection in Ireland, that their conscience was 780 thoroughly aroused, and that when a grievance was made an excuse for disaffection they determined to eradicate the causes of disaffection. It was both ungenerous and unjust of the hon. and learned Gentleman to attribute to fear what was really a noble and generous impulse on the part of his right hon. Friend. If disaffection existed, as it certainly did exist, it was the wisest, most courageous, and most manly policy to admit its existence, and to acknowledge the cause, and to avow the intention of the Imperial Government to eradicate all just causes of complaint. In the last debate on this subject, some forty years ago, the late Sir Robert Peel, in combating the Motion for a Committee, after enumerating the arguments that weighed against the proposal for Repeal, said that hon. Members must "consult their senses." Nature herself, he said, had pointed out the impracticability of Repeal, and the hon. Members had only to look to the map, and they would see that it was absolutely necessary that the two countries should be governed by one Government and by one Legislature. If the two countries were obviously united forty years ago, how much more completely they were united at the present moment by the increased facilities of communication and the development of trade. The intermixture of the two peoples had made them one far more than could possibly have been the case 40 years ago. Englishmen were settled in every part of Ireland, hundreds of thousands of Irishmen were settled in England. Their interests were indissolubly one; and it seemed to him that if either country had more interest than the other in the continuance of the connection, it was Ireland. England had, no doubt, made much greater advances in prosperity, but was not that all the more reason that Ireland should avail itself of the influence and energy of England? Wore those men good friends of Ireland who, instead of removing every ground of grievance and uniting in closer bonds, were seeking to widen the breach as far as they could? It remained for the people of Ireland to consider whether, by accepting the inevitable—and he thought they would, by the result of this discussion, discover that it was inevitable—by entering freely and cheerfully into all their counsels, they would secure to themselves a far greater share of influence in the management of 781 their own affairs than they had over yet possessed since the Union, and get a very large share in all the Imperial con-corns of England, or whether by advocating what was impracticable, by placing themselves in hopeless opposition to the ascertained wishes of the vast majority of the people of England and the Legislature, they would reduce to insignificancy their influence in the councils of the nation and compel them to legislate for them without their aid, and perhaps sometimes in opposition even to their just rights.
Sir—It is very necessary to be remembered that in this debate the Irish Members are not pleading before a tribunal the judgment of which can be hold to be independent, or the decision of which can fairly be accepted upon the merits of their case. To accuse a man to himself, to ask of him a verdict upon his own actions, is hardly to consult an impartial authority. And just so do we stand here to-night in this debate—60 men before 500; but 60 men, almost two-thirds of the Representatives of the Irish nation, to plead this case, not before an impartial tribunal, but before the Representatives of the nation that has done us the wrong. ["No, no!"] I do not say not impartial as imputing anything against your fair dispositions to hear our case, and judge it as fairly as men may be expected to judge their own wrong-doing. I confide largely in your good-natured desire to understand our demand; but I do say, human nature being just what it is—that is to say, not being angelic nature, but human nature, you cannot call your-selves, nor can I, with sincerity, call you—being, as you are, one of the parties in the suit, being the defendants in the case, an impartial tribunal to try this great international issue between your land and ours. On the very threshold, I desire this matter clearly understood and well remembered. I want it understood that I address myself not to my judges, but that I accuse my wrongers; glad, indeed, to let their reply and my accusation be weighed by public opinion—the public opinion of the world; but quite refusing to let the decision of the accused, judge the merits of the case I plead. The front benches—at least the subordinates of the front benches on either side—have, apparently, competed in eagerness to combat the Irish 782 demand. We understand all this-It is a part of the game of parties. Until a cause is understood to be a winning cause—a cause out of the support of which more political capital is to be made than out of its resistance—your outs and ins will each seek to fasten on the other, or each seek to thrust from themselves the imputation of befriending it. And so we have seen the rivalry between a converted Irishman on the Treasury bench and an English nobleman on the ex-Ministerial bench; such a rivalry as many questions once decried, but subsequently supported, called forth between the same political parties. It was all the more necessary, I suppose, for the noble Marquess to make such a strong speech against the Irish demand, because his Leader, the late Prime Minister, in some of those oracular utterances for which he is famous, is alleged, by his political antagonists, to have said something which, according to the light in which it is viewed, might moan Home Rule, or Imperial Hide, or neither. Perhaps the Liberal Chief is, in this case as in others, the prescient statesman of the future, who desires to keep the future open; or, perhaps, our cause is deemed so weak just yet, that a lieutenant is put up to clear his chief of suspicion of favouring us. Le this as it may, I heard with admiration, for its ability, the speech of the noble Marquess. I think it was almost the only speech as yet delivered in this debate that really touched our ease so as to call for serious answer. There was one portion of it, however, which was certainly unstatesman like. A real statesman, in these clays, in combating a change, will carefully avoid the word "never." Never! It is a formidable word. We Members for Ireland have heard the noble Lords' dread ultimatum "never," and are in no way disquieted. And I will tell him why. It is because we have heard that ultimatum, that same word before, in reference to Irish demands, and we know what came of it. So the word does not hurt us, though it may harm greatly the party of which the noble Lord is a Member. He alluded to what he called the almost hopeless exclusion of his party from office, as lending disinterestedness to this wondrous eager attack upon us. Perhaps it throws the light the other way. Be that as it may, I can tell him that, whatever 783 might have been the hopelessness of that party attaining to office before his speech this evening, it has been made a bitter reality for many a long day now. He tells us our demand can "never" be granted. The people of Ireland "will only laugh when they recollect—it is within the memory of most of those who sit around me at this moment—a momentous occasion, upon which not merely the son of a Duke, but the son of a King, and the brother of the reigning Sovereign, used that same word of Catholic Emancipation, and clinched it with an oath—"My Lords, this Bill shall never pass; so help me God! "said York. The incident is within our own memory: the words are on public record. Well, the Irish people lived through, and triumphed over the "never" of the Royal Duke; they will live through and triumph over the "never" of the noble Marquess. We do not believe in any "never" in this business, as availing to put us down. All we care for is to be morally and politically right; and, being in the right, we face the future confidently. We do not come here to propose any novel scheme for altering ancient constitutional usage. We do not come here to plead about a plan for pleasing a county or a score of counties. We do not come here to debate, as it were, a Bill—that is, an ordinary Bill, in reference to which the House rightly puts the promoters of the innovation on their proof that the new Act will be better than the old. No; we deny that we are called upon to project our claim from that level, for ours is not a question between counties and counties, or between a school of reforming theorists and the nation at large. No; ours is the ancient constitutional and indefeasible claim of a nation to their birthright—a right which they never surrendered—a right wrested from them by terrorism and intimidation the most brutal, and by corruption the most flagitious—a right the illegal overthrow of which they have never sanctioned or condoned, and with which they are today equitably and morally as fully endowed as before that crime had been done. That is our case. And what is yours? Two of our positions are not disputed. It is, of course, admitted that Ireland possessed these independent legislative rights, which, with some modifications suggested by the growth of new 784 and common interests, we now demand in her name. It is not denied that she was some 74 years ago deprived of those rights, by scandalous and immoral means, by force and by fraud. So much, you say, is granted; but if it be, thou I say our whole case is granted. For take any case you like in every-day life. Take an election to this House. Do you not here, in this House, every Session apply the doctrine that corruption or intimidation vitiates an election? You say the constituency has not chosen freely or legally, and you quash the election and declare it null and void. Well, is the election of a single Member of Parliament of more importance than the question of abolishing a national Legislature altogether? Will you tell me that the question of whether the Whig Mr. Brown or the Tory Mr. Jones is returned for a small borough to this House, is of greater moment than the life or death of a nation, the extinction of its Legislature, the abrogation of its autonomy? Why, you know the thing is too absurd, too ridiculous, too monstrous for serious argument. You would not allow a man to take his seat in this House; you would declare his election for ever illegal, for the millionth part of the fraud, corruption, and intimidation by which the Irish constitution was overthrown in 1800. So, we say then, the act was vitiated from the first—was never legitimatized. The protests of the Irish nation have ever kept the claim alive; and as you cannot plead against us the effect of mere force and violence by you in our own wrong, we stand here to-day as if the Act were only an hour old. In view of these facts, we simply decline to occupy ourselves with some of the petty points raised in some of the speeches made this evening—as, for instance, the speech of the Attorney General for Ireland, one half of which answered the other. He told us of funny Petitions presented 80 or 90 years ago to the Irish House of Commons. Why, Petitions far more absurd are presented here in our own day. "Oh, but," says the right hon. Gentleman, "it is only in an Assembly like this, by coming in contact with Englishmen, Irish Members can become great statesmen." Well, consider the Irishmen who rose to fame in the Irish Legislature, and consider the Irishmen who have had this wondrous advantage of 785 mixing here with Englishmen. I look across the House this moment to survey on the Treasury bench or elsewhere the superiors of the men whose names will never die. Well, I see an Irish Attorney General. Once an Irish Attorney General appeared in this House—he had made his fame in an Irish Parliament. Oh, what a giant he! While now, under the system of all those "advantages"—well—what shall I say? "Oh, what a falling off is here!" I shall moderately content myself with merely stating that with all those advantages of contact with statesmen in this arena, we have not another Plunket in the Attorney General for Ireland. The noble Marquess occupied himself considerably and with undoubted ability in imagining or suggesting the possible difficulties or inconveniences in way of our demand. We do not underrate those difficulties, though they may be exaggerated. We candidly say, yes there will be many difficulties to be solved; but we say their solution is not beyond the capacity of British statesmen. I answer all those ingenious puzzles and difficulties of the noble Marquess by the words of his now absent chief, who, in this House a few months ago, said that if it were once shown that the concession of Home Rule were advisable, he would be a poor statesman who could not readily devise the means for satisfactorily settling those details. In this there spoke out the mind of a statesman; and it is common sense, too. Let us only agree upon the other portion of the case, and this will not bar us long. Let us only in good faith and good feeling approach the question of Ireland's title to these rights, and many a seeming difficulty will melt into air. I appeal then to the House to rise to a higher level, and to deal with the main principles of the question, and not to waste its time peddling over paltry quibbles and petty details, which no true statesman believes would stand a moment in the way, once you found such a solution of the case necessary for Ireland, for England, and for the Empire. We have heard wonders about Ireland's prosperity since the Union. Fallacious comparisons have been used—the Ireland of 1790 being compared with the Ireland of 1874—and the system of London legislation has been coolly credited with all the result. To be sure, Ireland has 786 grown and progressed something from whore she stood 90 years ago; but does that prove she has progressed in a natural healthful ratio of improvement? Why, Mrs. Harriette Winslow, the celebrated English baby-farmer, would be vindicated by such a line of argument, instead of being condemned to death for cruelty. "Here," she might say, "is a child of two years; when you gave it to me 23 months ago it weighed only 9 lbs., and now it weighs fully 15. It measures fully three inches more in length, and it can almost walk." And all that was true of some of the children whom she was punished for starving nevertheless. Yet the child's mother would, I am sure, say, the real question was not had the child grown so much, but ought it to have grown much more if it had been as fully fed and as truly cared for as if it were under a mother's care? So with all this talk about Ireland's progress and prosperity since the days of the Irish Parliament. We ought not to compare Ireland of 1782 with Ireland of 1874 absolutely; but rather compare the progress of Ireland between 1872 and 1795—when the English Minister once more got our Legislature under his influence—with the progress of Ireland from 1800 to 1874. We challenge you to that comparison—the true comparison—or compare the England of 1782 with the England of 1874, and compare the Ireland of 1782 with the Ireland of 1874. We challenge you that comparison. I myself have made it. I have, as far as I was able, looked into the facts and figures of that comparison, and what does it show? Why, that wherever Ireland's prosperity was doubled, England's was at least quintupled, and in many instances increased twenty-fold; and wherever Ireland's had quadrupled, England's had increased more than twenty-five fold. I invite hon. Gentlemen to grapple with this state of facts if they can. In truth, in this rich and fair land of yours, the accumulation of capital within the past 70 years has almost surpassed comprehension. Contrast it with the measure of advance Ireland has been able to make in chains. ["Oh!"] Men who make only a very superficial study of this question are always profuse with statistics of the many excellent things Ireland has now, which in the days of an Irish Parliament were unknown; as 787 if that necessarily discredited an Irish. Legislature. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ritchie) was overflowing with such statistics this evening. Why, I can considerably help him in that line. He forgot to parade for us how many post office telegraph stations Ireland has now, whereas she had not one in 1782. The hon. Gentlemen could have made a grand point out of so many millions of postage stamps sold now in Ireland, and not one at all in the time of our own Parliament. But really was not this sort of thing very small? The rule of the Imperial Parliament might as well be credited with the general progress of the world, and with all the improvements flowing from the application of steam and electricity. All the world has been moving in these 74 years; and England has certainly been proudly foremost in the advance. The question then is not—Does Ireland stand now whore she did 74 years ago; but whore does she stand relatively with England, or with Home Ruled Belgium, in their rate of progression? In truth, there is a graver issue than all this, at best. It is not a question of postage stamps or telegraph stations, or exports or imports, or more or less pigs and oxen, though all those have their weight. The true question for a Ministry responsible to the Sovereign for the safety of the Realm, and for the contentment and happiness of her people, is—"Are you governing Ireland against her will? Is the Irish nation discontented or satisfied?" A prosperous and educated, but disaffected, nation is more dangerous any day than a poverty-stricken, ignorant, and discontented nation. There never was a more dangerous fallacy than that Ireland, if prosperous, would be contented with subjection. It used to be said in the powerful journals of this country that as the Irish farmer and citizen rose to comfort, his ideas of political regeneration and his love of nationality would pass away. I will ask hon. Members on my own side of the House, what has been their experience at the late elections in Ireland? Exactly as a county or district was prosperous or well-to-do, there the cause of Home Rule triumphed. ["No, no!" "Yes, yes!" and an hon. MEMBER—"Ulster!"] Oh! I will deal with the inevitable Ulster by-and-by. I state a fact which is within the knowledge and experience of 788 scores of hon. Gentlemen here, that where the people were poor and struggling, the Home Rule cause was most weak, and was most boldly attacked; whereas in the rich and prosperous counties of Meath, Westmeath, Limerick, Cork, Tipperary, Queen's County, King's County, Louth, and such places, the Home Rule majorities were largest, or else no opposition to Home Rule was attempted; for the passion for nationality was found to be imperishably implanted in the breasts of the people. As a people progress in education and increase in comfort, the less will they tolerate subjection or wrong. The great question, then, for this House is—Whether it is ruling Ireland in accordance with the will and desire of the Irish people? ["Yes yes!" "No no!"] Well, assertions are cheap, being easily made; but what test will the hon. Members who have "yes, yes!" so ready—what test, I say, will they be satisfied to take? Will they be satisfied with a vote of the population, as the Bonapartists are ready to take in France? Was there any one year, any one month or day since 1800, wherein or whereupon you would have dared to take a vote of the Irish people on your rule in that country? Not one; no, not one. Oh! but in such a case you will, no doubt, find some grand excuses—some great faults with a plebiscite. You found none with it, however, when even a base parody of a plebiscite was declared by you all-sufficient to overthrow the rule of the Sovereign Pontiff, and create this new power called Italy. Well, but if you will not have a plebiscite, what else will you have—what other way will you seek the verdict? Will you take the voice of the municipalities, or other elective-bodies? No; you will find some other reason for shunning this. But, I say again, tell us what resort or process you hold to be efficacious for ascertaining a nation's will? We, on our part, say, "Try it." Will you take the Parliamentary representation of the Kingdom? At the last General Election, for the first time, the electors, having the shield of the ballot, could freely declare their will. And how have they expressed it? By returning an overwhelming majority of Home Rulers. The majority of Home Rulers in the Irish representation is proportionately far larger than the majority which enables 789 right hon. Gentlemen opposite to speak for and to rule the British Empire. Would the Parliamentary vote of Ireland be taken on this question? One of the greatest of your public authorities in the Press—The Times—has told us that the merits or demerits of a governmental rule is a question solely for the nation ruled by it to decide, and not for those who impose that rule, or for those who are outside of its operation. That was propounded for another case, to be sure; but we claim its benefit. If you will have neither of these tests, nor any test, do you expect the world to believe you when you say that you are ruling Ireland according to the will and desire of its people? No, you are not. Even in this Parliament, how stands the ease? Within my memory there has not sat a Parliament here which approached the consideration of Irish questions in a better temper, or with, on the whole, kindlier feeling than this one has; and yet, what has it done on purely Irish questions? On every Irish question in which there has been a division, you have voted down, by English and Scotch votes, the constitutionally represented desire of the Irish nation. Take the figures. On the Amendment to the Address on the 19th of March, the Irish vote was—Ayes 43, Noes 25—carried by nearly two to one, but overborne by your British hundreds. On the 17th April, on the Irish Municipal Franchise Bill, a purely Irish question, the Irish vote—Ayes 43, Noes 12—was overborne by your English hundreds. On the question of Irish railways, the Irish vote—Ayes 46, Noes 6—was overborne by 185 British votes. On the Sunday closing question—a purely Irish question, and not a political question at all, but an effort for the protection of public morality—the Irish vote—Ayes 34, Noes 10—was in the same way overborne by English votes. I might go on through the whole Session; the Division Lists tell the same story. Even in this Parliament you are ruling Ireland against her will, and overbearing her desires. And if this be so, what is your position before the public opinion of the civilized world? You may ask—What do the Irish people want? Are they not clothed and fed? Have they not post office telegraphs, and postage stamps, and all the fine things of science and civilization? Are not, in fact, their chains gilded? Ah! I will 790 appeal to the men I sec before me. I will appeal to Englishmen, in whose breasts surely must survive memories of greatness, and glory, and heroism. I appeal to you, and shall I appeal in vain to the men whose country's banner once led the way in giant struggles for blessed liberty on the battlefields of Europe? I appeal to you to recognize the fact that there is, after all, something greater, and grander, and nobler than mere animal life—something a nation ought to sacrifice and struggle for besides mere bread and butter and clothing! I, for one, refuse to allow the question of my country's life and liberty, as a nation, to be lowered to the mere level of the pocket, or the stomach considerations. Take any man in the world around you, I care not humble or lofty, only let him be, indeed, in intellect and soul, a man—feed him, clothe him, rule his affairs, curb and direct his actions, chastise his children, domineer in his home; doing, it may be, all for the best, as you think. Ask him, is he satisfied? Ask him, what does he want; has he not food and raiment, and perhaps luxuries in the home in which your authority has displaced his? What does he want? He will answer you in one word—Liberty! He will prefer "a crust of bread and liberty." So with a nation—if it be not an aggregation of slavish creatures, all stomach and no soul—they will any day prefer even poverty and liberty rather than to fatten in gilded chains. Some one has sought in this debate to make au argument against us out of the allegation that there is a more violent and extreme party behind us. The allegation is a fact; there is such a party. It is the accurate fact that we are a third party, a middle party, between the party of centralization on the one side, and the party of separation on the other. So far from hiding that fact, so far from it being an argument against us, we wish you to note and study it. We stand in Irish politics where the Peak party stood in Hungarian; they stood between the Imperial Austrian party on the one hand, and the Kossuth separationists on the other. We, too, have our Peak; we, too, have to withstand our Kossuth party on one side, and our Imperial factionists on the other. It is a difficult and often a painful task, this endeavour of ours amicably and honourably to settle this question. We must be 791 assailed from each extreme. Be it so. Whatever the vote of this House to-night may be, it will yet be recognized that we have offered a proposition—for the advantage of our own country it is true—but at the same time not less for the advantage of yours also. Surely, surely, it were true statesmanship to harmonize Ireland's desire for national autonomy with the requirements of Imperial welfare and safety. I reject the word "impossible," which would throw Ireland into the arms of the party of separation. I, on the contrary, have full faith in the future of the cause I plead. This House of Commons may vote it down to-night; but as long as we command a majority of the Irish representation, so long is your voting all in vain, so long will your hundreds against us be only your own condemnation.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I believe there is some anxiety on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite that this debate should be adjourned. But the House will recollect the period of the Session at which we have arrived, and the great difficulty in which we are placed, although there is an anxious desire on the part of the Government to meet the wishes of the House on the subject. I trust, therefore, hon. Gentlemen will consider the matter. Her Majesty's Government are prepared to conclude the debate to-night; but I should be very sorry to address the House if afterwards we were to enter into a contest upon the subject of adjournment. If the House will proceed with the debate I will endeavour to bring it to a termination.
§ SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN
said, it was impossible that the debate on such a subject could be concluded that evening, for hon. Members knew perfectly well that the newspapers reported nothing of the speeches after half-past 12 o'clock. There were a great many hon. Gentlemen on that side anxious to speak, and he hoped, therefore, the Government would give another night.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I understand there is a wish—not confined to one side of the House—for adjournment, and if a concession of that kind is to be made, the handsomest manner of making it is the best. I will, therefore, agree that this debate should be continued on Thursday; but I do so with the generous 792 confidence that it will be concluded on that night. But it will be necessary that we should have a Morning Sitting on Friday.
§ Debate adjourned till Thursday.
§ House adjourned at half after Twelve o'clock.