§ The Earl of Eldon
rose, and said, that their Lordships were so habitually accustomed to extend their indulgence to those who rose to address them on occasions of this nature, that he almost considered it 6 superfluous to request that which their Lordships always so kindly granted; but, though he sincerely condoled with them on the prospect of having to listen to him on that occasion for a few minutes, he must say he also sincerely congratulated himself, that he was enabled to move the Address in reply to so gratifying a Speech as that which Her Majesty had made to them.
Those who had preceded him in moving the Address to the Throne on these occasions, in former years, had held out prospects to their Lordships of what they asked their Lordships to believe would take place, and they could only speak as those do who ask a favour. It was his better fortune, though by no merit of his own, that the Address which he had to lay on their Lordships' Table contained only matter of congratulation to the Sovereign and to the country. To those who had predicted an improvement in the state of the country, it would be grateful to find those prophecies so well realised. Now, so well did he know the character of their Lordships' House, that he was very confident, that if there were any of their Lordships who had objected to the measures which had produced these results at first, and while they were going through their Lordships' House, they would not now refuse to join him in congratulating Her Majesty on results as agreeable to the nation as they must be to her Majesty; so that the House might have the gratification of giving an unanimous vote on this occasion.
There was one exception among these sources of congratulation, which he was sure all their Lordships felt as much as he did—that which, though last in the Speech, he did Her Majesty but justice in saying was deepest in her heart and uppermost in her mind—he meant the subject of Ireland, and he was sure that there was but one wish among their Lordships,—that those troubled waters, which had so long flowed in that country, should at length, if possible, be allayed. He should not, however, trespass on their Lordships' attention with respect to Ireland, for the reasons and on the ground which had been so judiciously stated by Her Majesty. Into none of the details of those trials which were now before the tribunals of that country was he about to enter; but there was one point on which he might undertake to say (as Her Majesty bad already said it) that it would afford Her Majesty the greatest gratification, that every endea- 7 vour should be made, in order that strict justice should be done to the people of Ireland. What Her Majesty had promised in Her original declaration from the Throne, and what Her predecessor had promised was, that she would ever be ready to take every step to secure the peace and prosperity of that country, and to maintain the Legislative Union in full force. He was sensible that it was not in their Lordships' House that the proceedings now before the tribunals of that country should be alluded to; but he must say, that in carrying into effect Her intention, it was clear to him (the Earl of Eldon) that though it might appear to be long since it was made, Her Majesty had never lost sight of what she had promised on coming to the Throne, and that she had accordingly rightly desired that those things which had been doing in Ireland should be brought before a legal tribunal for its decision whether they were contrary to law or not. With those trials he had nothing to do; whether they or any other should terminate in conviction or acquittal was not material to his purpose in addressing their Lordships; but he was convinced that their Lordships would agree with him in the necessity of enabling Her Majesty to carry out Her intentions, and that if their Lordships found the present laws inadequate to keep the peace in that country (though his own reliance was strong on the adequacy of the existing laws to keep the peace and protect the liberty of the subject), they would have no hesitation in supporting Her Majesty's Government, or any noble Lord on either side of the House, by conferring on Her Majesty fresh powers for maintaining the peace and integrity of the empire. He had no hesitation in saying, that every Peer, in respect to any measure for this purpose to which his assent might be asked by the advisers of the Crown, would be ready to concur in any measure which might be deemed necessary for the happiness and prosperity of Ireland, declaring———Tuus, o regina, quod optes Explorare labor mihi jussa capessere fas est.That would be their Lordships' first duty, and it must always be the first duty of their Lordships to adopt every measure which could cause an accession of peace and prosperity to that country. Her Majesty had pointed out for early consideration the enactments at present in force in Ireland concerning the Registration of Voters for Members of Parliament. The 8 registration question was one which at one time obtained great attention, and he trusted, that when it should be brought before their Lordships, they would be disposed to give it every attention which a subject of such magnitude and importance required. Her Majesty had also called their attention to the state of the law and practice with regard to the relations of Landlord and Tenant in Ireland. Her Majesty had appointed a Commission to investigate those relations, and knowing as he did the noble Lord at the head of the Commission, and being aware as he was, that the Gentlemen associated with him would attend anxiously to their duty, he was assured that they would spare no pains that might be necessary to enable them to lay before their Lordships all the information necessary to a sound decision, and calculated to lead to practical results, in some measure for securing the peace and prosperity of Ireland. In any measure calculated to secure peace and prosperity to that country he was sure their Lordships would concur.
Her Majesty had spoken of the general peace, and Her Majesty happily had now so often had to tell their Lordships of the continuance of peace, and of the treaties which she had had to conclude with other countries, that he was happy to think that this country had on that ground every prospect of continued prosperity. Her Majesty spoke of her friendly relations with the King of the French, and the good understanding between her Government and that of his Majesty. Her Majesty's recent visit to the King of the French no doubt aided in creating that kindly feeling, and, as every one knew how much private feelings influenced public conduct, there was room for hope that his Majesty the King of the French also participated in the sentiments expressed by Her Majesty in Her Speech. As in a former year it was with the greatest gratification they beheld two of the first warriors of the age meeting to promote the peace of their respective countries, so during the late year it was with similar gratification they had witnessed the two Sovereigns of those same countries indulging in friendly intercourse with each other, and thereby promoting the welfare of their subjects. There could be nothing in that which could in any way tend to throw other nations, our allies, into the background; for every body would observe that the particular circumstances of that country had more thrown the French nation 9 into situations where they had had occasion to act on the same principles as we had; and it was for that reason that Her Majesty had more especially noticed them.
The subject which Her Majesty next mentioned was the Treaty that she had concluded with the Emperor of China. He thought the circumstances connected with that treaty, and the subsequent negotiations could not fail to strike every one as being most advantageous to this country; and the liberality with which Her Majesty had acted in not securing to Her subjects exclusive commercial advantages, would, be trusted, be appreciated by other nations, and produce in them a feeling that our conduct there, where we were called on to exercise no such forbearance by sentiments of gratitude towards them, was regulated by a manly, liberal, and kindly spirit.
The affairs of Scinde were of great interest to this country. He would, however, abstain from making any comment upon them further than remarking the gratification their Lordships must have had in knowing that the British soldiers had behaved in the most distinguished manner in the campaign in that country.
On the subject of the Estimates that were directed to be laid before their Lordships, relative to the expenditure of the country, he would merely say that every regard had been paid to economy consistently with keeping up the proper naval and military establishments. Their Lordships were all aware how much our financial state depended upon the condition of the country; and it would not be forgotten how necessary it had been to maintain a proper force in Ireland during the disturbances in that country. It was with the most painful feelings that he contemplated those disturbances, and a letter which he had received a few days ago from Ireland, written by a young lady, a relation of his, the daughter of a clergyman residing there, had convinced him that the country could scarcely be in a more deplorable state than it was in at present. The letter was not written with any impression that it would ever be quoted before their Lordships; but it was a simple narrative of distress which could hardly be stated in stronger words. After mentioning that the part of the country whence she wrote was in a peaceful state, and that a thought of danger scarcely ever entered their heads, she continued:—"Not so our neighbours. Some of them have fortified their houses, expecting nightly massacres." Her father said, 10 that he constantly received blessings from the poor people as he passed along the road. They said, "God Almighty bless your reverence, and shield you from every danger;" or words to that effect; and they were people with whose faces he was unacquainted, but who seemed as if they knew that some danger was impending, and wished to warn him. Thus, in a parish where there were not disturbances at present, the clergyman could not receive the blessing of his parishioners without their exciting in him feelings of apprehension and alarm.
He would then proceed to the other subjects that were mentioned in Her Majesty's Speech. Her Majesty stated that the trade of this country in the manufacturing districts was reviving. He felt the truth of that observation, and the exceptions that there were to it were so few, that he would not notice them; but such as there were he trusted would yet be rectified by the mutual bearing which one trade had upon another, and that their Lordships would endeavour to remedy the evils that still remained. Among the many blessings of Providence, Her Majesty mentioned that the demand for labour had increased. That must give the greatest satisfaction to every one, and must, indeed, make all thankful to Providence for the blessings again bestowed on us. This brought him near a subject to which, although not alluded to in Her Majesty's Speech, he would refer in a few words. He alluded to the Corn Laws; and he hoped, trusted, and believed, that the protection which the agricultural interests now received, would long be continued to them.
For several years, the annual produce of the Revenue had fallen short of the public Expenditure. He was gratified to find, that the prospects held out to them some time since were now realized, and that the Revenue, which had increased in the last quarter and the last year, was now in a most favourable state. Amongst other sources of income which bad contributed to it was the Income-tax, which had now been running on for two years. It had been successful in its operation, and as it was one which affected their Lordships more than any other tax could, the country must be convinced that they considered the interests of the people, and that they had such a regard for the welfare of the working classes as would secure their affection and gratitude. This 11 circumstance would enable Her Majesty to do something to prevent the Debt of this country from accumulating during the time of peace, and to make satisfactory financial arrangements, especially as the Bank Charter would expire during the present year.
Amongst other measures which passed last year, and which had tended to the happiness of the country, were those connected with Church Endowment and other questions relating to that subject. Her Majesty called on their Lordships to join with her in thanking Divine Providence for the blessings resulting to us from those measures. He was sensible that the subject was of so serious a nature, that he need only express his great gratification that Her Majesty had noticed it. A few days ago he heard that a rev. gentleman in the north of England, Dr. Hook, the vicar of Leeds, whom he was proud to call his schoolfellow, had in the most liberal manner given up an extensive part of his clerical preferment, had quitted claim to half his income, and retired to a smaller house than he had before occupied. The rev. gentleman had engaged to take every step by which so large a district as that of Leeds would be formed eventually into thirty parishes, so that every poor man might have his pastor, and every child his school. This conduct was so creditable to the rev. gentleman that he could not abstain from referring to it. With reference to the subject of National Education, he would remark, that the exertions which had been made on its behalf were most laudable, and likely to be felt by the whole community. The sum of 114,000l. laid been raised for this object.
There was another subject which he would mention on this occasion, though it did not occur in Her Majesty's Speech. It was, however, one of so serious a nature, that he could not let it pass. Their Lordships would recollect the dreadful circumstance which occurred last year, when an officer in Her Majesty's service fell by the hand of his brother officer, who was related to him. If there was any prospect of a measure that might protect the country from a repetition of such an evil as that to which be had alluded, he felt confident that their Lordships, in their exertions on behalf of such a measure, would carry with them the feelings of the country. He would not trouble their Lordships with any further observations, but would then move that a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, expressing to Her Majesty 12 the humble thanks of the House for Her Majesty's most gracious Speech. The noble Lord then moved the following Address:—
§ MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,
§ WE, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to return your Majesty our humble Thanks for Your Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne.
§ We desire to assure Your Majesty that we rejoice in the confident Hope expressed by Your Majesty that the general Peace, so necessary for the Happiness and Prosperity of all Nations, will continue uninterrupted; and that Your Majesty's friendly Relations with the King of the French, and the good Understanding happily established between Your Majesty's Government and that of His Majesty, with the continued Assurances of the peaceful and friendly dispositions of all Princes and States, confirm Your Majesty in this Expectation.
§ WE humbly thank Your Majesty for directing the Treaty concluded by Your Majesty with the Emperor of China to be laid before us; and, with your Majesty, we rejoice to think that its Results will prove highly advantageous to the Trade of this Country.
§ We beg to acknowledge your Majesty's gracious Intimation, that throughout the Negotiations with the Government of China Your Majesty has uniformly disclaimed the Wish for any exclusive Commercial Advantages, and desired that equal Favour should be shown to the Industry and Commercial Enterprise of all Nations.
§ We thank Your Majesty for informing us that the Hostilities which have taken place during the past Year in Scinde have led to the Annexation of a considerable Portion of that Country to the British Possessions in the East.
§ We cordially participate in the Opinion expressed by Your Majesty, that the Constancy and Valour of the Troops, Native and European, and the Skill and Gallantry of their distinguished Commander, have been conspicuous in all the Military Operations, and especially in the Battles of Meeanee and Hydrabad.13
§ We humbly thank Your Majesty for ordering additional Information, explanatory of the Transactions in Scinde, to be forthwith communicated to us.
§ In common with Your Majesty we rejoice in the improved Condition of several important Branches of the Trade and Manufactures of the country.
§ In accordance with your Majesty we trust that the increased Demand for Labour has relieved in a corresponding Degree, many Classes of Your Majesty's faithful Subjects from Sufferings and Privations which at former Periods Your Majesty has had occasion to deplore.
§ We have seen with regret that for several successive Years the annual Produce of the Revenue fell short of the Public Expenditure. We are therefore gratified to learn that Your Majesty trusts that in the present Year the Public Income will be amply sufficient to defray the Charges upon it. We humbly beg to assure your Majesty that, in considering all Matters connected with the Financial Concerns of the Country, we will bear in mind the evil Consequences of accumulating Debt during the Time of Peace, and that we are firmly resolved to uphold that Public Credit the Maintenance of which concerns equally the permanent Interest, Honour, and Reputation of a great Country.
§ We thank Your Majesty for informing us, that in the course of the present Year the Opportunity will occur of giving Notice to the Bank of England on the Subject of the Revision of its Charter; and we assure Your Majesty that we will give due Consideration to the State of the Law with regard to the Privileges of the Bank of England and other Banking Establishments, whenever the same shall be brought under our Consideration.
§ We humbly desire to thank Your Majesty for the Assurance that Your Majesty is resolved to act in strict Conformity with the Declaration made by Your Majesty at the Close of the last Session of Parliament, to maintain inviolate the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland; and also for the Expression of Your Majesty's earnest Desire to co-operate with Parliament in the Adoption of all such Measures as might tend 14 to improve the social Condition of Ireland, and to develope the natural Resources of that Part of the United Kingdom.
§ We assure Your Majesty that we fully enter into Your Majesty's Feelings in forbearing from Observation on Events in Ireland in respect to which Proceedings are pending before the proper legal Tribunal.
§ We thank Your Majesty for informing us that Your Majesty's Attention has been directed to the State of the Law and Practice in respect to the Occupation of Land in Ireland.
§ We assure your Majesty that we fully appreciate Your Majesty's Wisdom in having instituted extensive local Inquiries into a Subject of so much Importance, and in having appointed a Commission, with ample Authority to conduct the requisite Investigation.
§ We thank Your Majesty for recommending to our Consideration the Enactments at present in force in Ireland concerning the Registration of Voters for Members of Parliament; and we assure Your Majesty that we will give our earnest Attention to Your Majesty's gracious Intimation, that we may probably find that a Revision of the Law of Registration, taken in conjunction with other Causes at present in operation, would produce a material Diminution of the Number of County Voters, and that it may be desirable on that account to consider the State of the Law with a view to an Extension of the County Franchise in Ireland.
§ We humbly beg to thank Your Majesty for the Confidence expressed in the Loyalty and Wisdom of Parliament, in committing to our deliberate Consideration the various important Questions of Public Policy which will necessarily come under our Review; and we join most fervently in Your Majesty's Prayer to Almighty God to direct and favour all our Efforts for the Advancement of the general Welfare.
said, that on rising to second the Address which his noble Friend had so ably moved, it was a great satisfaction to him that it would not be necessary for him to occupy much of their Lordships' time. He was sure that it must afford the greatest gratification to their Lordships to find that Her Majesty continued to receive from Foreign Powers the strongest assurances of friendship, and that her Majesty had con- 15 cluded a Treaty with the Emperor of China, based on the most liberal policy towards other nations, and likely to be productive of very great advantages to our own. With regard to the affairs of Scinde, it could not but be highly pleasing to their Lordships to learn that a large addition had been made to the territories of Great Britain in that part of the world. The state of the country generally, he was happy to say, was more satisfactory than it had been for some years past; for, upon referring to Her Majesty's Speech, he found that the Revenue was now amply sufficient to meet all the exigencies of the State, and that many branches of our trade and manufactures were in an improved condition. He wished that he could say as much for agriculture; and having for a long time represented, in the other House of Parliament, a large agricultural county, he hoped that he might be permitted to say, that he trusted that the revival of manufactures would be followed by the revival of agriculture, and that we might again witness a return of prosperity to that interest which had raised this country to the proud eminence which it occupied. In Her Majesty's Speech there was an allusion to certain proceedings which had taken place in Ireland, but he could not help expressing a hope that those proceedings which were now going on would check the seditious from inciting the lower orders to outbreak and rebellion. He was sure that Her Majesty's Government would be supported by the loyalty and good sense of the nation, and he trusted, above all, that Irish proprietors would co-operate with the Government in sifting to the bottom the real state of that country, and endeavouring to ameliorate its condition; then they might hope to see such measures pass as would permanently improve its condition—measures which would strengthen the Protestant interests of the country, and maintain inviolate the integrity of the empire, which Her Majesty had declared it to be Her intention to preserve. He did not know that it could be required of him to make any further observations, and he therefore begged at once to second the Address.
§ On the motion being put,
The Marquis of Normanby
said, that as the noble Earl who had moved the Address had commenced his speech by saying, that whatever position Ireland might occupy in the Address which he moved, or, however slight might be the allusion to it in her Majesty's Speech, he felt that it was the 16 one paramount subject which must occupy their Lordships' attention; he (the Marquis of Normanby) trusted that as he concurred in that sentiment, and as he had during a considerable period, under the Administration of his noble Friend behind him, been connected with that country by official ties, and as, moreover, he had been prevented by ill health from attending that House last session, when those questions were gradually assuming the importance which they had now attained, he trusted that their Lordships would not think it unnatural if, at the first moment which presented itself, he had felt it his duty to state his opinion on certain subjects connected with that country; that sense of duty was, however, on that occasion restrained by one reason only, adverted to in the Speech and enjoined by the noble Earl though not promoted by his example—and with regard to which there was, he thought, a ground laid before their Lordships which ought to induce them to maintain at present a silence complete and absolute; and although those matters upon which that silence ought to be at present maintained were far from involving all the questions which it would be his duty to impress upon their Lordships' attention concerning that country, yet heacknowledged that it would be difficult entirely to separate them from any general observations as to the present state and condition of Ireland. The noble Earl, however, had alluded to that subject; and, indeed, it appeared to him that the noble Earl, in that, and sundry other subjects, seemed to think that his duty was not, as had been the usual custom, discharged by lightly touching on the various topics presented in the Speech, but that he ought to supply, out of his own feelings and views, those subjects which, whether intentionally or not, had certainly been altogether omitted from the Speech. The noble Earl had, for instance, stated what he thought should be done in the event of a certain result of the proceedings to which they were not now to allude, but he would not be tempted by what he could not help considering the indiscretion of the noble Earl to enter at present into any discussion upon those proceedings, or to declare how different were his views as to the course which Government ought to take when all these questions were open for discussion. He had already stated that it was that reason, and that reason only, which had induced him to forego what he should otherwise have considered the imperative duty 17 of impressing upon their Lordships the unhappy state of that country, to which he could say, from the bottom of his heart, that he felt bound by ties of affection as strong and enduring as any which could arise from the mere accident of birth. He would now, however, abstain from saying more than this, that he should feel it to be his duty, as soon as the present trials had terminated, to give notice of a general motion on the state of Ireland, on the earliest day that could be conveniently fixed for the purpose. The noble Lord had read to their Lordships, on the subject of the state of Ireland, a letter from a young lady, containing the most amiable apprehensions very kindly expressed—a letter which no doubt did credit to the feelings of the author—but he could readily believe the noble Earl that that letter was never intended for presentation to that House; he would not undertake, therefore, the ungracious task of questioning its inference, and, indeed, for what purpose the noble Earl had read it, or what permanent impression he could expect it to make, he (Lord Normanby) was at a loss to conceive. It was not upon such letters that Government would be able to justify increased estimates; Parliament would require other documentary evidence than that to induce them to sanction increased establishments for the purpose of coercing Ireland. The noble Earl had spoken most sincerely the sentiments which he entertained; but if the noble Duke intended to act up to the spirit of that law which he himself brought into that House, and to establish fully the rights of his Roman Catholic fellow-subjects in Ireland, he would find the noble Earl as inconvenient an ally as he had found his great-grandfather formerly. [Laughter and"Grandfather."] Well; great in one sense, certainly—and as he had mentioned his name he must be permitted to say that widely as he had differed from that noble person, there was no person for whom he had entertained a greater respect, or from whom he had invariably received greater kindness. There were, however, certain other topics on which the Speech did not enjoin silence; and though he did not wish to detain their Lordships many minutes, he would make a few remarks on the subject of the Registration of voters in that country. If that which had been thrown out more freely than was usual in Queen's Speeches as to the intention of extending the county franchise were fully carried out, there was no 18 person who would give a more cordial and hearty support to that measure than himself. At the same time, of course, he must reserve his opinion as to any particular measure until he saw it, especially as he perceived, that the proposed registration itself was spoken of as having a tendency to restrict the franchise. There was still one other subject on which he felt it necessary to say a few words—and it was a subject which he approached with difficulty, because he knew it was one of very great delicacy—he meant the appointment of the Commission to enquire into the Law of Landlord and Tenant in Ireland. Their Lordships might recollect, that he was not likely to take a very light view of the necessity of some revision of the law on that subject; because he was the person who had dictated and directed to be sent to the Tipperary magistrates a letter which had since been much discussed. It was true that some of their Lordships had charged him with indiscretion on account of an opinion which he had expressed in that letter—a phrase which had since been much commented upon—this censure was thrown out erroneously, as he believed, at the time; and he had last Session the satisfaction of finding that that opinion was echoed from the highest quarter of the Government in the other House of Parliament. He owned, however, that he felt fears with regard to the present Commission. He would much rather that the Government had informed itself on those particular points on which alteration was necessary, had acted on its own responsibility, and had brought in a bill confined to those specific grievances which it was intended to remedy. The Speech told them that the Commission had full authority to inquire. He did not doubt that it had full authority, but he rather regretted that that authority had not been restricted as to the points to which the inquiry was to extend, if the commission were to be issued at all. He also much regretted the extent of time which the inquiry was to occupy, and during which the public expectation was to be excited. He lamented that all these expectations were to be kept alive so long amongst such a body as the tenant population of Ireland. Speaking from his knowledge of the state of Ireland—not latterly a personal knowledge, but a knowledge derived from communications made to him, he could assure their Lordships that it was most desirable, that if the Commission were to be continued, some declaration should be 19 made of the specific points to which its attention would be directed; and that some means should be adopted for checking the growth of erroneous impressions, that the people of that country might not suddenly find themselves deprived of remedies which they had been accustomed to expect, and be thus driven into a state of greater irritation than before. He trusted that this desire that something specific should be known on a subject which he believed had excited misapprehensions, would not be misconstrued. He did not accuse the Government of having any such intention; but the appointment of this Commission might have an effect convenient to them—that during the continuance of this lengthy inquiry, it would afford a reason for resisting all measures proposed by others during that period, as well as for declining to act themselves upon their own inquiries and their own responsibility. He had risen in consequence of the position which he had occupied in Ireland, and the interest which he could never fail to feel in her welfare, simply to state the grounds which induced him then not to enter fully into the case of that unhappy country. He would now, therefore, only add, that amongst the evils which might result from the present proceedings, he hoped that one good would arise—that they might turn the attention of the people of England to what was actually passing in that country, and to what were the real wants and wishes of that people. He believed, that in the history of the world there was no country about which the ignorance was so great as was the ignorance in respect to Ireland in this country, and he had never yet known any one who had visited that country and become at all acquainted with the people, who had not returned with mire kindly feelings towards it,—that ignorance would be unfortunate, even if it were not made the reason for drawing distinctions between England and Ireland; but it was still more unfortunate when it was made the ground for perpetuating such distinctions between the two countries. He was speaking in the presence of many who had opposed Catholic Emancipation, and of some who, perhaps, now regretted that that step had been taken, but he was sure there was not one of their Lordships who did not feel that it was impossible to retrace that step; and now, as all the different means of governing Ireland had been tried, except that one of strict justice, to use the words of the noble Earl, though they might differ as to their application, he did hope 20 that those who had hitherto opposed the claims of the Roman Catholics would now unite in removing all distinctions, political and religious, and in endeavouring to put the two countries on precisely the same footing. As to the other matters touched upon in the Speech, he would only say that he was never one who had despaired of the resources of the country, and though he thought that the noble Earl had rather unfortunately alluded to the extent to which the receipts from the Income-tax had reached—for it appeared that the increase in the revenue had been in exact proportion to the amount which the Income-tax had produced beyond that which it had been calculated to produce—yet he would not, on that occasion, take advantage of that topic. Neither would he be tempted to touch upon that other question which had also been introduced by the noble Earl, and which had elicited cheers from some noble Lords, but which had been carefully omitted from the Speech—he meant the question of Corn. Their Lord-ships knew that he differed on that subject from the noble Earl, but he was willing to leave that difference to be discussed on a future occasion. As to the occupation of Scinde, the Speech had been so judiciously and properly worded, that it left no room for difference; but he could not allow that opportunity to pass without saying with what pleasure he should concur in any Vote of Thanks for some of the most brilliant exploits which ever distinguished the British arms in that country. He should do so with the more pleasure to himself from his long personal acquaintance, not only with the commander of that gallant army—but with one under his command, Colonel Pennefather—who having been severely wounded in a critical moment in one of the first actions, was prevented from reaping all that fame, of which his previous conduct gave the promise. With reference to another part of the Speech, he must say, that he should indeed have thought the French nation much changed, if they had not been touched by the individual act of the Sovereign of this realm, especially considering who that Sovereign was, in paying a visit to the Monarch of their choice; that was a meeting likely to foster those feelings which he thought most desirable to cherish; for he yielded to no man in the strength of his conviction, that on a good understanding between this country and France must depend the growth of civilization and national liberty, 21 and no man would join more gladly than himself in an expression of gratification at that visit. He would not now further trouble their Lordships, but whilst the House was full he would take that opportunity of saying that at present he thought it probable that the 13th would be the day which he should fix for his motion on the state of Ireland.
said, that he rose immediately after his noble Friend, not certainly for the purpose of differing from him, for in almost all his statements every one must agree, but to express his great satisfaction at having lived to see the day when, as the noble Earl opposite had, he believed, correctly said, for the first time in the experience of any of their lordships they had been called upon to present, in the language of the Speech and in the language of truth, to the Throne an Address containing from the beginning to the end nothing but congratulation. He certainly never remembered a time when the affairs of this country were in such a state that Parliament, in its return to the Speech from the Throne, should have no regrets to express, there being no one point of the political horizon obscured by a cloud. He observed, and with great approval, that the Speech and the Address abstained from entering into minute discussion of the state of Ireland pending the trials that were at present going on; that was a matter of necessity, and, indeed, of course; for should he be willing to cuter upon the consideration of any part of that question, he would be so hampered—so confined and restrained by a sense of justice to the Crown, and above all by a sense of justice to the defendants, whom he was bound to presume innocent until a verdict of their countrymen pronounced them guilty—that it would be impossible to debate the matter with the least advantage. It was impossible for them to enter at all into the consideration of the state of Ireland without interfering with that wholesome rule which prohibited discussion on any matter involved in a pending trial. Those proceedings, however, were inevitable; they had been instituted in the discharge of the duty of the Crown to protect the constitution, and it now remained for the defendants to defend themselves; and it remained for the court and the jury, unbiassed by any murmur which might escape from any quarters, to do justice between the parties, and to deliver the verdict and the judgment in the cause. But the noble Earl opposite had 22 made an observation which he thought somewhat deviated from that strict rule—speaking, as if one event should take place, some particular course, ought, in his opinion, to be adopted; but he (Lord Brougham) would not anticipate any result. New laws might be required, the noble Earl had said, to arm the government for the suppression of violence. He would not enter on that question prematurely, by anticipation, and hypothetically. He could not deal with it even hypothetically without saying things which he thought he ought not to say whilst men were on their trial. Parliament would do its duty, if on any occasion the laws were insufficient. If the Government were not armed with sufficient powers to enable it to discharge its first, its most sacred duty—the preservation of the peace, and the maintenance of the constitution of our realm—when he said that Parliament would do its duty and give them that power, he was only stating a self evident and identical proposition. The only question would be in such a case as to the fact of the necessity, upon which, in all such crises, there must be difference of opinion. But he would rather see the Government, armed with other power, inclined to use it—not for the purpose of displaying force against the people of Ireland—not for the purpose of coercing them—but using their power with a disposition to better their condition, to improve them in all things which required that condition to be bettered, to gain them over rather than to force them into submission, to show such a paternal feeling towards them as should inspire a beneficent government towards all the subjects of the realm, and most of all towards those portions of their people, which being in comparative ignorance and distress, had been found for a season to be the dupes of impostors. And if Government should be enabled to do this, and disposed to take this course, preferring attraction to compulsion, and viewing their subjects' conduct with a partial eye, being "to their faults a little blind," and "to their virtues very kind," and clapping "a padlock on the mind," and not on the limbs—then it was he (Lord Brougham) should have no fear whatever of the public peace being disturbed—then it was, that he should be abundantly confident that the public tranquillity and the constitution and the security of the empire, and the sacred union between all its parts, might set at nought alike the turbulence of public meetings, however 23 numerous, the arts of profligate, unprincipled, sordid, rapacious agitators, and the designs of priests, alternately the tools, and the tyrants, of the multitude and their leaders. Upon one portion of the Speech, his noble Friend, who had last spoken, intimated an opinion, in which, perhaps, some of their Lordships might not coincide, and from which he must differ—he meant respecting the Landlord and Tenant Commission, most judiciously, he thought, issued by her Majesty's Government, and at the head of which, by another most judicious arrangement, was placed his noble and learned Friend (Lord Devon), whose affection for and connexion with the people of that country was known to have been of very long standing. It was a most delicate and difficult investigation which had been intrusted to his care, and he was sure that against some expressions of his noble Friend who spoke last, which he did not think were weighed with his noble Friend's accustomed accuracy, he might be permitted to protest. He took this opportunity of doing so, to prevent the possibility of its being supposed that there was any foundation for those hopes, which the form of the expression, perhaps, rather than its substance, might appear calculated to excite in the less well-informed inhabitants of the sister country. Property, it had been well said in a document to which his noble Friend had referred, and which bore the signature of a dear and lamented friend of his, the late Mr. Drummond—property had its duties as well as its rights. True, but with this difference, that the duties were of imperfect obligation, while the rights were perfect, absolute and strict, and however much he might lament to see persons acting towards their tenantry, or towards their neighbours, for it came to the same thing, with a want of feeling, or towards their friends or their families, or towards the poor who craved their aid in the form of charity—however much he might lament to see that they were not kind and long-suffering towards their tenants—however much he might lament not to see them straining a point, and giving up a good deal of what was due to them, in order to avoid consolidating small farms in one case, in order to avoid dispossessing insolvent or ignorant tenants, or persons without capital, in another case—however much he might lament this, and wish it otherwise, and desire to see all landlords like his noble Friend opposite, or like the noble 24 Marquess on the bench above him, (the Marquess of Lansdowne) and the noble Marquess near him, (the Marquess of Clanricarde) and others whom he might name, and fairly hold up as examples to others of their fellow-subjects in all parts of the kingdom—yet he could but feel exactly as he felt when he saw rich men refusing to give a dole of charity to a miserable and starving mendicant, perishing from hunger before their eyes. He was sorry for it, he did not approve it, he blamed it; but it was remediless, there was no right to compel them. The duty of benevolence, was one of imperfect obligation; and though, by compelling any person to do what he ought to do in a particular instance, you might in that instance remove the evil and do good, you would do infinitely greater mischief—you would work a thousand times greater evil—you would unhinge society, you would shake its foundations, you would destroy the corner-stone of the structure, the sacred, the absolutely inviolable right of property upon which the whole fabric rests. That must always be borne in mind in the discussions before his noble and learned Friend's committee; that never should—that never must—be lost sight of, and all the remedies applied must be consistent with the sacred rights of property, the removal of which would create far greater mischief, and far more speedy desolation, than any evils, however great and general of which any parties might now have to complain. Having cleared the ground so far, he had really little more to address to their Lordships. Had it not been for the last observation of his noble Friend, to which he had just adverted, possibly he might not have made any remark on this portion of the Speech from the Throne. But one point it was impossible for him to pass over in silence; he alluded to that most cheering and gratifying announcement at the commencement of the Speech, in which Her Majesty justly expressed her confidence in the state of our relations with Foreign Powers, and, above all, in the friendly intercourse, and, he might say, the cordial good understanding which prevailed between this Government and the French government, and, he would add, between the people of this country and the people of France. Upon this he might be permitted to make one or two observations, because they would tend to cement that precious intercourse, to improve that present good understanding, and 25 therefore to maintain the great and blessed work of peace. He would begin by expressing what he was sure all men who were acquainted with the late proceedings in France must admit, his boundless admiration, and offering his humble tribute of praise to the able, to the honest, to the virtuous, and, above all, to the firm unshaken conduct of the French Minister for Foreign Affairs,—a man whose name was illustrious in letters and science, as well as in politics, and who appeared fated, every year that passed over his head, to add new claims to the respect and the affection of his fellow-men, whether in France or in England, or the rest of Europe—a man whose late conduct was above all praise, for noble determination of purpose. Assailed by such a coalition, such an unnatural union of factions, such an aggregation of the discordant elements of all factions, as had produced a scene, the equal of which in turbulence bad not been witnessed since the anarchy of the French Convention of 1793 and 1794, he had, notwithstanding, maintained his ground, and honestly and manfully stated his principles—he had dared his adversaries to assail him, and found that the attack resolved itself, after all the threats of his enemies, into this "Novum crimen et antehunc diem inauditurn—Quinturn Ligarium in Africâ fitisse; and he might add, that the Tuberos on this occasion had been as fortunate as their predecessor of old, they had "quod est accusatori maxime optandurn,confitentem reum." Such was the praise to which M. Guizot, his honourable friend (and who would not be proud of calling him so?) was entitled. But if he were to go a step further, and to ask whether this great minister was a very great friend of this country—if he were to inquire whether we in England had any very peculiar reason to commend him, or be grateful to him, except as a friend of peace and an enemy of anarchy, determined to maintain the French constitution, and to maintain tranquillity there and in Europe—if he were called upon to say whether he were in love with England, subject to what was called Anglomania, he was afraid he could not extend his panegyric by any manner of means in that direction, or to that extent. When it was said that he was an able minister, firm of purpose, unshaken in his determination to do his duty to the French crown, which he served, and to the French people, whom he loved, and whom he led, to this he could entirely assent; but when it was added—and although we know the 26 direct contrary to be true, yet there were those who, for factious and party purposes, for dishonest purposes, falsely made the assertion—that he was a minister devoted to the interest of this country, and who consulted our wishes, rather than his duty as a French statesman, to that he must demur. He knew not what the course of the negotiations might be in which his noble Friend opposite at the head of the Foreign Department was engaged; but he believed he might form a very safe and sound conjecture, and he did not think his noble Friend would dissent from it, that his noble Friend had never met in negotiation any minister of France or any other country whom he had more difficulty with, he being a perfectly good Frenchman, and sedulously attentive to the interests of the French crown and people. [Lord Aberdeen: "Hear! Hear!"] Here then his panegyric must be wound up; it must be within these limits; and thus much justice compelled him to say. But what should be said of the other party—what should be said of the enemies of peace—what should be said of those who were seeking to stir up in the gallant, the proud, but susceptible people of France, and rather, he should say, of Paris than of France—every slumbering ember of hostility to this country which they could hope to fan into a destructive flame? That the people of France had suffered much—that they had felt, and deeply felt, and long would feel, the events of the last war towards its close, in which they had no share of blame, in which they showed no weakness or imbecility, but in which a conqueror and a tyrant led them on almost to their ruin, although under that man they wrought all but miracles, and performed everything but impossibilities—that they, though satiated with glory and military fame beyond almost all the people of ancient or of modern times, should feel susceptible on the subject of their English relations, in consequence of those unhappy passages of the last war from which they had endured so much, in which they had bled so profusely, and triumphed so gloriously, that they should feel thus susceptible was but too inevitable. It was the weakness of human nature—the griefs of the individual communicating themselves to the mass, and the mass from contagious sympathy feel more than individuals, their supposed wrongs. But what would be the duty of honest men pretending to be their leaders? What would be the duty of honest statesmen if they thought of their 27 country, of truth, of humanity, and not of factious purposes and party victories? It would be to guide them to better things, to calm these susceptible emotions, to rule their passions by eloquence, to soothe their troubled bosoms, to win over their minds to more healthy feelings, to cultivate the principles of peace, and divert them from their exaggerated spirit of animosity. What did they do? Nothing of all this—the very reverse of all this. They stirred up every sore place; they purposely probed and vexed the tender parts; they actively kindled every slumbering ember of antipathy and revenge; they degraded themselves; they stooped to the very mud and mire of the grossest delusion that could be practised upon national feeelings; they sank themselves still lower by falsehoods respecting the conduct of this country, and of their own government, and the other powers of Europe, whom they envied their repose. All this they did, not from hatred of peace; not from dislike of England; not from contempt of this country—not from any ardent feeling of affection towards their own; but from contempt for the people whom they were deceiving by their falsehoods, out of hatred for the Government of which they did not form a part, out of an honest and conscientious dislike, not of England, which they did not care a straw about, but of those gloomy shades of opposition in which they were pining, and out of an ardent and zealous love, not for the glory of France, but to quit that cold shade for the sunny eminence of power. These were the motives of that vile party of despicable intriguers, and still more despicable agitators in the press above all, who had lately been renewing their attempts, for the thousandth time, to disturb the relations between the two countries, and to break the peace of the world. But they did not know the people of France. He undertook to say, presumptuous it might seem, but he undertook to say, they miscalculated the temper of the people of that country. That people had far too much sense, and far too much acuteness, to be thus duped and deluded. That people knew its own glory, felt proud of its ancient renown, of its illustrious achievements in arts, sciences, and letters, in persons, and through ages unnumbered, as well as of the immortal fame of its victorious armies, whose triumphs they counted by the years of their existence as a nation. Therefore it was, that satiated with military as with civil glory, the French people 28 would not suffer themselves to be lured towards war, in search of new triumphs, in which they were already so rich, and of which they had no more need than his noble Friend, the illustrious Duke opposite, had of new laurels, but would persevere in maintaining the tranquillity of France and the peace of Europe. He (Lord Brougham) passed so much of his time among that great, that generous, that most rational, reflecting, acute, and inquiring people, that he had thought it his bounden duty to declare here, in the presence of their Lordships, the opinion he had formed from personal intercourse with them. If he had felt it necessary to allude to any subject which would have tended, in the smallest degree, to widen any breach between the two countries, he should unquestionably have performed the duty with as much reluctance as he derived satisfaction from thus commenting on the character of the relations now subsisting between them. One only point remained in the Address they were now called upon to discuss, and that was the gratifying assurance of the Queen, that every means would continue to be taken for maintaining unshaken the credit of this empire; and a must just sentence was introduced into that part of the Speech relative to the great importance of public credit, and of faithfully, accurately, and honestly performing all the engagements with creditors whether foreign or domestic, which the state might at any time have entered into. The importance of this to the credit of the nation was great, it was greater still to its reputation; and he was delighted to think that, in return for the late communications from the other side of the Atlantic, this passage of Her Majesty's Speech would be wafted across the waves to that country, in which it seemed that, for the moment, precisely the same views were not everywhere taken. To dwell further on this would be little desirable; he would fain touch it as lightly as the Speech from the Throne had done. But having always been, as his noble Friend opposite well knew, a strenuous advocate for America—being one of those in this country who during the last thirty, nay very nearly forty years, had always been a partizan in the disputes which had occurred with the United States, and exposing himself, therefore, to much greater obloquy, and much better founded probably, than any which M. Guizot had incurred, for his hon. Friend did not belong to the class of English advocates in France, as he 29 (Lord Brougham) belonged to the class of American advocates in England—he might perhaps, be allowed to address a single word of kindly and amicable remonstrance to his clients, as they had been called, of the American people. He declared solemnly before their Lordships that it was far more with a view to the character and credit of free popular governments, of republican institutions, than from any consideration for the number of persons in this country who had been ruined by the obstinate refusal to pay debts which were justly due, that he addressed them on this subject. They said, in Pennsylvania, we are very rich, our pockets are loaded with money more than we know what to do with, but we are determined not to pay our debts. He now complained of such unexampled conduct more from regard for their own character than from the interest he took in the claims of the creditors in this country, for he hardly knew any of them except one, and he was well able to defend himself. But he felt ashamed and he felt anxious on account of the Americans. He would tell their Lordships a short anecdote in illustration of the view he took, and to show how anxious honest Americans felt. He had lately had occasion to visit one of the great railways in progress in the centre of France, to join that of Orleans with the Birmingham Iron Manufactory of France. He asked who the workmen were; and was told they were English and Irish. He said he hoped his countrymen behaved well. It was answered that they did not quite reciprocate this expression. Did you find the English sober? was his next question. Not at all, was the answer. He said he was sorry for that, but had heard of such a complaint before. Well, he asked, surely you got on better with the Irish? Oh, said they, they are a great deal worse; always quarrelling and fighting with each other, and drinking as well as fighting; excellent and good-natured people when they did not fight, but so fond of it that they seemed to beat one another for the mere love of the exercise. He happened to mention this to a gentleman speaking English, whom he met saying it was a very painful thing that they could never hear of an Irishman who was not a fighter, or of an Englishman who was not a drinker. The stranger said, "Well, I wish I were either an Englishman or an Irishman." He (Lord Brougham) said, "Oh, perhaps you are a Scotchman." and he (Lord Brougham) 30 began to dread some worse charge against the Scotch. "Alas," was the reply, "I am from Philadelphia." His (Lord Brougham's) remark was, that he did not think the gentleman's countrymen could long continue the course they were now taking, whether they were governed by a regard for their interest or their honesty. On this the other declared that he had good ground to hang his head, for an American at present was ashamed to avow his country. He could hardly conceive a fact more calculated to strike deep into the feelings of the people of that province, for he believed repudiation was confined chiefly to one province—he could scarcely conceive anything more calculated to sink deep into their minds and rouse them to a sense of justice; and they would find, if they meant to rely on their credit, and looking only to their own interest, that on both sides of the Atlantic honesty was ever the best policy. He begged pardon for having detained their Lordships so long. He had thought it his duty to make the statements he had done with the view of using his humble endeavour to preserve, as much as in him lay, the peace of Europe. He had purposely avoided saying one word on the delicate and difficult question of the right of search—a question daily becoming more delicate and difficult, and the only one which was likely to cloud the friendship happily prevailing.
The Marquess of Normanby
explained that he thought he had sufficiently drawn the distinction of which his noble and learned Friend seemed to think he had lost sight—between that portion of the relations between landlord and tenant which was dependent on the good will and free co-operation of the respective parties, and that portion which might be reached by legislation.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
said, he should not think of detaining their Lordships long, especially after the eloquent speech they had just heard. Unfortunately he could not take so very cheerful a view of the Speech under discussion as his noble and learned friend. He agreed with him on almost every point; but if it were true that the Speech contained nothing but topics of congratulation, he maintained that was because on the most important subject at present to be considered by the Government and people of this country the Speech was entirely silent. I le alluded, of course, to the state of Ireland. To any other part of the Speech he should be un- 31 willing to offer any opposition; opposition, indeed, he could hardly be said to offer to the Address. As to that part regarding international relations, touching on the present prospect of peace, and the good understanding happily prevailing between the French and British Governments, he should be one of the last men in the world not to participate in this congratulation. He was sure the events of late years had tended to make that good understanding more firm and lasting, because whatever had occurred must have increased the respect of the French government for the people of England, and the best foundation for a sincere and lasting alliance was mutual respect. On the question of Scinde, and the events which had taken place there, the Address was so discreetly and wisely worded as to call for no observation. From a perusal of those already before the House, he thought it would be necessary to look very closely at the additional papers which were to be presented before they could pronounce an opinion as to the policy of the war; but with respect to the successes of our arms, on that head there could be but one opinion. He was only obliged, therefore, to direct a few observations to that part of the Speech relating to Ireland. He perfectly agreed with the sentiment of the Speech that, upon those events with respect to which trials were now pending in Ireland, it would be in the highest degree improper that any direct opinion should be uttered in the Speech. It would be equally improper in him (the Marquess of Clanricarde) to make any observations on this point. The fault he found with the Speech was, that it looked to those trials as if they constituted the whole or the main part of what, in general parlance, was called the Irish question. The real question did not consist in any struggle between the Government and the Repeal Association; it was how they could best improve and develope the resources of the country, and bring it into that happy condition in which they must wish to see all her Majesty's subjects placed. Ireland had listened too long to such language to be satisfied with the vague assurances held out in the Speech and in the Address. They were told that such measures should be adopted "as might tend to improve the social condition of Ireland, and develope the natural resources of that part of the kingdom." This was sound advice, but the language in which it was couched was much too vague and uncertain, to bring 32 much comfort to the Irish mind. Was it to be supposed that they could really ameliorate the state of the country by such phrases as this? Ireland would look to the means by which it was proposed to develope her resources and improve her social condition. From the Speech, as well as from the remarks of the noble Lords who had introduced the Address, he unfortunately felt convinced that her Majesty's Government bad at this moment no measure for the good of Ireland in view. The only measure to be introduced during this Session to which they could point, was one relating to the elective franchise, a most important and grave subject, but one relating to political liberty, which formed an element in the constitutional rights of the people, but which was not a measure for developing the resources of Ireland or improving its condition. There was no prospect whatever that Government meant to bring forward any other measure. There was indeed, another measure touched upon by the Speech, which could not be considered as holding out the slightest hope that anything would be done for these objects—he meant the Commission at the head of which his noble and learned Friend was placed. He considered this measure to be one of the most mischievous and pitiable contrivances to which a perplexed ministry ever had recourse. It was his firm conviction, and nothing he had heard to-night had gone in the least to shake it, that Government had had recourse to this step, which he must call a mere claptrap, for the purpose of delusion, in order to evade the necessity of immediately taking means to improve the condition of Ireland, and develope its resources. That was in his opinion the only ground conceivable for the commission issued by the Government, a measure which he must again designate as of a most mischievous and clap-trap character. What, let him ask their Lordships, was the commission? To inquire into the relations existing between landlord and tenant. [The Earl of Devon: "The commission is no such thing."] He said that it was a Commission to inquire into the County cess and other charges respectively borne by Landlord and Tenant. The popular name it went by was certainly, therefore, not far wrong. The title given it by the newspapers was a fair testimony of popular opinion. It was called in common parlance the Landlords' and Tenants' Commission, by those even who were friendly to it. 33 But what he maintained was, that it should be called the Fixity of Tenure Commission, for he put it to their Lordships whether they heard one word about it from her Majesty's Ministers or any of the adherents of the Government, until the phrase of "Fixity of Tenure" was circulated throughout the country? It was when the agitators in both countries began to use this phrase (for it was not, let him say, confined to Ireland), that it occurred to the Ministers to send forth this Commission. He should like to know what possible good this Commission could effect. He should like to hear any Member of her Majesty's Government state some good and valid reason for issuing it. If they had wanted to inquire into the comparatively petty though important question, of what alteration should be made in the statutes affecting the occupation and use of land, as between landlord and tenant—if that were the subject on which they really wanted information, a committee of both Houses in one week, could gain complete information on those points. But if they meant really to touch the fixity of tenure—if they wished to go into the question of the necessity of an alteration between the connection of landlord and tenant, if it really came to that it was not a commission of country gentlemen, with one learned individual at its head, that should be appointed, but the Government should seek the advice and assistance of the greatest lawyers in the country. In that case their measures would touch the whole of the real property of the country. They would require the advice, not of persons connected with quarter sessions, but of those who were acquainted with the nature of real property in England and Ireland—all the changes and all the doctrines concerning it—the rules of occupancy, coparcenary, and many other such terms, as he did not himself understand. What was the immediate effect of this Commission? It was calculated to produce, anti had in fact produced in Ireland the most disastrous consequences. Far be it from him to say that what was stated in the public papers was correct—that murders were actually committed in consequence of the appointment of this Commission; but this he would say, because he knew it of his own knowledge, that the minds of men perfectly tranquil on the subject before were disturbed by this Commission. All through the country there were now self-appointed committees, who called on landlords, tenants, and persons of all descrip- 34 tions to state to them whatever they chose to call a grievance and the particulars of every case into which they thought it right to inquire. They said, as it was Her Majesty's pleasure to appoint a Commission to inquire into all cases of grievance, anti they occupied themselves with receiving full information for the benefit of the Commission, they considered themselves, and in fact acted as assistant commissioners to Her Majesty's Commission. This proceeding was, in the present state of Ireland, excessively dangerous. Those persons denounced any individual who refused to comply with their commands, and their Lordships knew that such a denunciation was no trifling matter in some parts of that unfortunate country. Was it wonderful that the peasantry of Ireland should misconceive the object of that Commission? Did not the mention of the subject induce an eloquent exposition of the rights of property from his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham); and when a person of his learning and legal education thought it right to guard himself by bestowing a very measured share of approbation on this Commission, to qualify his approval by enunciating the doctrines of property and the foundation of society, was it to be wondered that the peasant, acted upon as he had been by the wildest notions of fixity of tenure, proceeding from agitators on each side of the Channel, should have misconceived its scope and object? But this was not the only effect of the Commission. The moment it was issued, it was considered as a sweeping condemnation of the conduct of the landlords of Ireland under Her Majesty's sign manual. He was perfectly aware of all he exposed himself to by asserting that the class to which he belonged had been aspersed. Their conduct had been more than once inquired into, and he believed, as a class, they were found to have acted not one whit worse than others would have done in their situation. As to fixity of tenure and removing tenants, he ventured to say, there was a greater proportion of tenants who had remained for centuries on the estates of landlords in Ireland than in any other part of the United Kingdom. It was not true that the Irish landlords shrunk from inquiry into their conduct. But it was unfair—when they had misgoverned the country for centuries, when they had reduced its overburthened population to a state of poverty and misery; while they gave no help to the landlords in developing its unreclaimed resources—to 35 turn round and say a state of things so brought about was the fault of the landlords, and to issue a most mischievous Commission to enquire into the relations between them and their tenants. He maintained, then, that this was a most mischievous Commission. He had no doubt that some important evidence would be laid before that Commission; but that evidence was not needed by the members of either House, of Parliament, for if they searched their library they would find the most accurate information on everything respecting the tenure between landlord and tenant. To tell him that it required the Queen's Commission to inquire into the questions whether the civil bill process should be taken away, or whether there should be a power of yearly or half-yearly ejectment, and whether distress should be allowed—to tell him this was an absurdity. But if it were said that the Commission was issued to effect a total alteration in the law and principle of real property, then he insisted they had no right to take a course, which must propagate doctrines fraught with danger. His noble Friend behind him stated that he should early bring before their Lordships the whole state of Ireland. Such being the case, he would not then enter into a consideration of the subject; but he could not understand why Her Majesty's Government had considered it necessary to be so discreet with reference to the mention of Ireland in the Speech from the Throne. He would venture to say that in those districts in Ireland which had obtained a disgraceful and melancholy notoriety for outrage, crime was more rife than it had been within the memory of man. He did not think that this Government was to blame for that; but he could not help remarking that when such a state of things was formerly canvassed credit was taken and blame imputed most unjustly. He was quite certain that this administration, as every administration, did the best—though whether they took the right method was another question—to repress outrage. He repeated it was monstrous to suppose that the difficulty of the government of Ireland would be solved by the result of the contest now going on between the Repeal Association and the Government. There were great questions respecting Ireland which the Government must introduce, or which, if they did not, must be taken up by the Imperial Parliament, or there was no chance whatever of recovering the affections of the Irish people.
§ Earl Fitzwilliam
As the noble Earl I opposite seemed to question the correctness of his noble Friend's description of the Commission, perhaps he will tell them what it really was appointed to inquire into?
§ The Earl of Devon
had denied that the title of the Commission was what the noble Marquess described it. He said it was not a Commission to inquire into the relations between Landlord and Tenant.
§ Earl Fitzwilliam
had no doubt that the noble Earl had in his own mind a perfect recollection of the object of the Commission; but he certainly did not appear to have a perfect recollection of the allusion to it in Her Majesty's Speech. He would just beg to call the attention of the noble Earl and the Government to the general tendency of the paragraph in Her Majesty's Speech:—My attention has been directed to the state of the law and practice with regard to the occupation of land in Ireland. I have deemed it advisable to institute extensive local inquiries into a subject of so much importance, and have appointed a Commission, with ample authority, to conduct the requisite investigation.What in the world did that mean, but an inquiry into the circumstances under which the tenants in Ireland occupy their land? What other meaning can be affixed to it? But he understood that a hon. Member in the other House obtained leave last Session to bring in a bill which had reference to the regulations between Landlord and Tenant; that bill went no further than a first reading, but the consequence was, the declaration on the part of a member of the Government that the attention of Ministers had been directed to the question. The result of that understanding was, as he understood it, the issuing of this Commission. If this did not connect the appointment of the Commission with a determination to inquire into the relations between Landlord and Tenant, he could not conceive what the real objects of the Commission were. The real objects of it the Government ought to state distinctly to the House on some future occasion. He had thus pointed out the discrepancy which existed between Her Majesty's Speech and the expression which had fallen from the noble Earl opposite. He would before he sat down give notice, that he should shortly move for a return of the number of land forces in Ireland from 1828 down to the present time; and also a return of the ex- 37 pense of certain fortifications which he understood had lately been erected there.
§ The Earl of Devon
said, he was misunderstood. He merely wished to deny that the style and title of the Commission was such as the noble Marquess described it.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
had merely given the title of Landlord and Tenant Commission as that by which it was popularly designated. Its real title, as he argued, should have been the Fixity of Tenure Commission—the step being a concession to agitation by those who affected a disregard of it.
said, he did not rise to disturb the unanimity which prevailed respecting the Queen's Speech. He was happy that the Speech had been so framed as to prevent the necessity of such a step. He begged leave, however, to protest against some observations which had been made by his noble Friend who moved the Address, and by his noble and learned Friend who sat behind him. They had asserted that their Lordships could approach Her Majesty in terms of approbation alone. He thought that rather an unhandsome return for the resolution to abstain—in the propriety of which he entirely concurred—from touching on any topics which could show the country was in a state of great alarm and peril. As to Ireland, he thought that while the state trials were pending, it was quite proper to abstain from any topic that could have the slightest connection with them. When they were terminated he should have much to say as to the manner in which they were instituted—he should have much to say as to the manner in which they had been conducted. But, for the present, he would entirely abstain from such topics, lest any mention of them should, in the slightest degree, be supposed to have an influence on the verdict to be pronounced by the jury. But the object of his now addressing the House was not in respect to anything the Speech contained, but in respect to what was omitted from it. It had been usual when any measures were in contemplation for the amendment of the law, to make some direct allusion to them in the Speech from the Throne. That course had been hitherto adopted during the administration of those who now ruled the affairs of this country. In the first Speech they had advised of Her Majesty to make, after the formation of the Administration, Her Majesty intimated 38 that measures would be submitted for the amendment of the law of Bankruptcy, and for the amendment of the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts. Accordingly a measure was brought in by the noble Lord near him, which had for its object the improvement of the law of Bankruptcy. He believed it to be a total failure, but that, he would not now dwell upon. With regard to the measure for the improvement of the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts, that bill fell through the Session of 1842, and being re-introduced in 1843, the Speech delivered by order of Her Majesty acquainted Parliament that measures connected with the improvement of the law would be submitted for their consideration. He did not mean now to review the melancholy fate of that and other measures during the last Session. On that occasion there was much promise and little performance. But in 1841 we had not even a promise. On the subject of amendment of the law the deepest silence prevailed. During the last Session two bills had been introduced respecting, the Ecclesiastical and County Courts. They were not carried; they came to an untimely end, If brought into that House at an early period of the Session, he had little doubt that they would have been maturely considered; and being properly framed, would have become the law of the laud, to the great improvement of our institutions: that course was not pursued and consequently the measures were lost. If in the present Session it were in the contemplation of Government to bring forward measures with respect to Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Local Courts, Her Majesty's Speech might have intimated that such measures would be submitted to Parliament. Again, he believed their Lordships were aware, that gross and extravagant compensations had been given to officers removed from the equity courts. He thought the suitors in those courts might reasonably look forward to some relief in that respect; but he now perceived no prospect whatever of it. But, however, it was possible, that the Government meant to reverse their conduct of last year, and to give performance without promise, as they last year certainly held out promises without performance. He had Some reason to hope, that from an intimation given by a noble Earl opposite, who, no doubt after communication with Her Majesty's Ministers, expressed a hope that some measure 39 would be brought forward to put down the mischievous practice of duelling, that such would be the case, and he concluded, that after the termination of the state trials some such measure would be introduced and he should presume this might be a Government measure, and intended for the pacification of Ireland. No doubt the Irish were a fighting people, and as my noble and learned Friend had assured us they fought abroad as well as at home, it might be for their good, therefore, that duelling should be abolished; and the Government bill could be very appropriately introduced by their Irish Attorney-general?
The Lord Chancellor
begged to say, that it was his intention to introduce, in a few days, a measure directed to one of the objects mentioned by his noble and learned Friend. He meant the revival of the measure as to Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction. It was also his intention to renew the bill brought in last Session for the recovery of small debts. With respect to the last subject mentioned—the compensation awarded to officers who lost their places in the equity courts—he could only state, that the compensation was strictly in accordance with the act of Parliament, which was imperative in its provisions. If his noble and learned Friend conceived, that any impropriety had taken place, he trusted the noble Lord would introduce some motion on the subject, which would bring the nature of this compensation and its effect under the notice of their Lordships. There was no intention on the part of Government to bring in any measure on the subject of duelling. He did not think it necessary to notice the facetious observation of his noble and learned Friend; but to the grave matters he had given an answer.
His noble and learned Friend complained last year and other years of the performance falling so short of the promises of the Government. Now he did not pretend to be a prophet, or to be in the secret; but he should be very much disappointed, if the performance as to amendments of the law this year did not exceed the promises.
The Lord Chancellor
said, the measures he had mentioned, were the only mea- 40 sures of law reform which the Government had it in contemplation to propose.
§ Lord Cottenham
said, that a bill of his on the subject of Local Courts lay on the Table of the House for a considerable period last Session. He had been prevented from pressing it, from an understanding that some such measure was under the consideration of Government. A noble Friend of his also laid a bill on the Table of the House which was not pressed, he presumed, from a similar expectation. Unfortunately, he had been so patient, that his bill remained on the Table until the close of the Session. Now, unless his noble and learned Friend could assure him it was in the contemplation of Government to bring in a bill on that subject, he should bring forward his own measure at once, and move the second reading very speedily.
The Lord Chancellor
said, he understood his noble and learned Friend did not press his measure because there was a bill pending on the subject of small debts in the House of Commons, and also because a noble and learned Friend of his had introduced here a bill on the same subject. He had stated that it was his intention to recommend some alterations and improvements in which his noble and learned Friend concurred, and which he thought would meet all the objects contemplated by his measure. Of course, if his noble and learned Friend chose, it was open to him to bring forward his bill again.
Nothing could be more satisfactory than the announcement of his noble and learned Friend. He must protest against an observation of his noble and learned Friend (Lord Campbell) by way of parenthesis—that the bankruptcy bill was a complete failure. Never was a bill more completely successful.
§ The Address was then agreed to without opposition.