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concurred in the present motion. No reliance could be placed upon the assurances of ministers with regard to Ireland; for, year after year, they had held out hopes that her grievances would be redressed, But government never could find a proper time for inquiring into the state of that country. He was convinced, however, that a change must soon take place in the conduct of the other side of the House towards Ireland, and that additional attention must be paid by gentlemen on his own side to Irish questions, or they would find themselves in the midst of difficulties and dangers.

Mr. Robertson considered, that much of the misery and discontent which was felt by the great body of the people of Ireland arose from the immense difference, in point of numbers, which existed between them and that portion of the population which was favoured by the state. It was not consistent with human nature, that six millions of people should sit down quietly under disqualifications, while 600,000 of their fellow countrymen were admitted to the enjoyment of rights and privileges to which they conceived themselves to be equally entitled. They had reduced the Catholics to a state of slavery worse than the Helots of ancient times; and then they affected to wonder at their discontent. They had oppressed them, and spread dissention through every family in the kingdom, and yet they asked, why were not the people of Ireland peaceable and contented? Besides, in what way had they relaxed the odious penal code? Never but in periods of distress; when the enemy were on their coasts; when the French and Spanish navy rode triumphant in the Channel-an ominous occurrence which might recur in the present state of the world-and when the government were reluctantly compelled to arm that people in the defence of the kingdom, whom they had previously degraded and oppressed. It was fear, not policy, which influenced the conduct of the government. For Mr. Fitzgerald had shortly before in vain tried to introduce a bill into the Irish parlia ment to enable Catholics to hold 61 years' leases of real property, which an unfeeling government had rejected, although in the moment of danger which followed, they extended to them leases of 999 years. How were the people of any nation to be grateful, for such misgovernment, or for concessions so wrung from the hand of power? Again and again he

would say, that for Ireland there could be no peace, without concession upon a broad and liberal scale. No petty concession would do. Nothing less than a general and perfect equality of privilege could ensure the tranquillity of that unhappy country. It was said, that the condition of Ireland would be improved by the introduction of capital to assist her population. He was aware that British capital was largely embarked in the concerns of other and unstable governments; but who could expect to procure capital for Ireland until something like order and tranquillity reigned there? It was said, that the diffusion of education would do a great deal for Ireland. He was the advocate for general education; but, let them bear in mind the necessity of convincing those whom they educated, that their condition was fairly attended to. What would be the effect of diffusing education throughout Ireland in the present oppressed and degraded state of the great bulk of her population? Why, an educated people would instantly break the chains which galled them. Did England imagine she could, in such an event, govern Ireland by the bayonet? There was but one po licy to be tried, and that was conciliation. He did not mean that parliament should at once break down that mound of impolitic and unjust legislation, which, for centuries, it had been erecting; but, let. them once avow that they meant to do so, with all reasonable despatch, and the people would be satisfied. Much stress had been laid upon middle-men, and absentees, and it was natural, that the people should look with jealousy upon those who oppressed them, and that they, in their turn, should feel distrust at being surrounded by enemies. Time and better treatment would wear away this mutual jarring. Let the Catholic and the Protestant be placed upon one footing, as they were in Switzerland, Prussia, and other states, and good feelings would pervade the community. It was these odious distinctions which bred mutual animosity among sects. It was a broad principle of legislation, that obedience to the laws implied protection from them. Had the Catholics been protected by the laws? Let us begin, then, at last, a principle of legislation more befitting an enlightened country to a suffering people, and put an end to this source of distraction, by repealing all those obnoxious statutes which had fed the flame of civil discord. Let

community of that country against the minority. [Cries of "No."] He was astonished that any hon. gentleman could deny that which was admitted to exist by the attorney-general for Ireland. Whatever measures the state of Ireland might eventually call for, the disorder must be remedied without delay, and by the application of this bill. He believed no practical good could result from the ap

the priests of the Catholics receive a stipend from the government. Let not all the tithes be paid to the clergy of 500,000 of this population. Let the Protestant pastor enter, as the Catholic priest did, into the miserable hut of the peasant, and then he could claim some share of the influence over his flock, now exclusively enjoyed by the latter. He concluded by entreating the English members to attend to this question, and by declaring his cor-pointment of a committee at the present dial support of the amendment. period of the session.

Mr. Hutchinson said, he cordially concurred in every thing which had fallen from the hon. gentleman who had spoken last, and from his hon. friend who moved the amendment. The hon. gentleman who spoke last had truly described the sad tale of proscription, exclusion, and suffering, which the page of Irish history recorded. Concessions had been made, it was true; but always with a bad grace. It was only when the government were struck with terror and dismay, that they had relaxed the severe restrictions imposed upon the Catholics. Much as he deplored the condition of Ireland-ready as he was, though with pain and anguish, to extend the protection now sought for, to the resident gentry, surrounded as they were with conflagration and outrage—yet still, if the motion for a committee were pressed to a division, it should carry his vote, from his extreme anxiety to promote, in every possible manner, an inquiry into the distracted state of his unhappy country. The ministers said, it was too late in the session for inquiry. Did these ministers, who said so, receive, as every body else did, daily accounts of the dreadful situation of Ireland; and, if they did, were they justified in denying immediate inquiry. The condition of Ireland must be probed to the bottom. Things could not go on as they were, unless. they were determined to precipitate the ruin of Ireland, and bring perdition upon the empire.

Mr. Bankes said, that every gentleman who had spoken during this debate had, however they differed upon other matters, concurred in the necessity of some mea sure like the present; except the hon. member for Grampound, who, like a northern metaphysician, had reasoned upon the question in a manner which would apply to any other subject, just as well as this. The disease of Ireland was an insurrection of those who had no property against those who had; and a deep-laid conspiracy of the majority of the religious

Mr. R. Martin wished to know why his hon. friend had not submitted his motion at the commencement of the session, rather than at the present moment. He was of opinion, that the identifying of the motion for a committee with the Insurrection act, he meant as to time, would have an extremely mischievous effect. The rebels would suppose that every member who supported his hon. friend's motion, approved of their illegal proceedings. He believed in his conscience, that the government distributed offices in Ireland equally between Catholics and Protestants. With respect to Catholic Emancipation, he would say, that if it were agreed to by parliament, it would not induce one rebel to lay down his arms. He believed, that, if the hon. member for Grampound were sent to the rebels of Munster to promise them Catholic Emancipation as an inducement to lay down their arms, captain Rock would order his head to be cut off.

Mr. S. Rice said, that his only motive for consenting to continue the Insurrection act was, that the repealing it might discourage the well-affected in Ireland. At the same time, he thought that the House was bound to inquire into the causes of the discontents which prevailed in that country. He regretted that his hon. friend had not brought forward his motion at an earlier period of the session; because it then would not have been liable to those objections with respect to time, which were now urged against it. He conceived that the disturbances in Ireland originated in the state of degradation in which the people were placed by the bad system of government which existed in that country. He did not think that any benefit would arise from a relaxation of the severity of the laws. On the contrary, he believed that tranquillity could only be obtained by a rigorous but just administration of the laws.

Mr. Dennis Browne said, he would vote

act.

for the continuance of the Insurrection | The struggle in the south of Ireland was neither more nor less than a struggle of pauperism against property.

Sir J. Newport thought the disturbances which at present agitated Ireland, were wholly owing to the system of government to which Ireland was subjected. That government had, for twenty-three years, gone on passing Insurrection act, after Insurrection act, instead of resorting to any measure of permanent.relief. No measure of that kind could be obtained from them, either when the country was disturbed, or when it was not. It seemed as if there really was no period in which the case of Ireland could bear to be probed to the bottom. If the country was tranquil, then the reply was, " why will you disturb the country now?" If there happened, unfortunately, to be disturbances, then the answer was, that "the country was in such a state that nothing would do but an Insurrection act." He begged to repeat to the House, the words which Mr. Pitt had made use of, in April 1800, when speaking of the proposed Union. "We must," said he, "look to this as the only measure we can adopt which can calm the dissentions, allay the animosities, and dissipate the jealousies which have unfortunately existed; as a measure whose object is, to communicate to the sister kingdom the skill, the capital, and the industry, which have raised this country to such a pitch of opulence; to give her a full participation of the commerce and of the constitution of England."* It was now three and twenty years since those words had been uttered by Mr. Pitt, and Ireland did not yet enjoy the advantages of the English constitution. He begged leave, also, to state to the House the opinion of a noble friend of his, which bore upon the present question. In 1816, lord Grenville, speaking upon a motion for inquiry, said, that " every person inhabiting the soil of Ireland is justified in seeking redress-not soliciting it at the hands of parliament, but demanding it as a right. Why did we unite with Ireland, unless we meant to give her a union in the advantages, a participation in the constitution of this country? When we consummated that union, we were bound in the sight of God and man, to provide for the happiness of Ireland, and unless we faithfully discharge our duty towards that country, we have

* Parl. Hist. vol. 35 p. 40.

usurped a power over it which we have no right to exercise."* Those were the words of his noble friend at that period, when an inquiry into the state of Ireland was proposed. That inquiry was refused, on the ground that the country was tranquil. A main cause of the principal evils that weighed so heavily upon Ireland might be found in the act of 1793, which confined the appointment of the sheriffs and sub-sheriffs to Protestants alone. There were particular counties to be named, in which no Roman Catholic had ever been on a grand jury where a Catholic was to be tried. He had also heard the sheriff of a county in Ireland thank his God, that, for the space of a hundred years, no Catholic had ever sat on the trial of Catholic or Protestant in that jurisdiction. Government might at tempt by these violent measures to put down a spirit of dissatisfaction and hostility; but every time they were repeated, they would have less effect. The hon. gentlemen on the other side talked of the miseries which a pauper population entailed upon Ireland; but they might, with more propriety, have attributed a considerable portion of them, to the effect of a transition from a state of war to peace, which had thrown upon the public a great number of hands, previously employed in the army and navy. Any government which attempted to sustain, by mere force, its dominion over six millionsof people,must of necessity, be a very mistaken and a very feeble government [Hear, hear]. He would say again, that a government which proposed to govern by coercive measures, instead of conciliation, was one that could not, and that ought not to be endured. Let ministers look to it, without taking the fact, momentous as it was, on the assertion of any individual. Nothing but a very careful inquiry could provide a remedy for such awful mischiefs as those which afflicted Ireland. He had had forty years experience of that country! and he did not believe, that any people on earth were more susceptible of gratitude for benefits conferred; but he knew, also, that they were not without a keen sense of injuries inflicted. The government might rest assured, that if they did not speedily adopt some mode of inquiry into the present state of Ireland, they would have ample reason to repent their neglect.

* See First Series of this work, v. 33 p. 832.

He could not accede to the original motion without some necessity being first shown for the introduction of so odious a measure. He was willing to believe that the marquis Wellesley, as far as he was allowed to act, was disposed to act for the benefit of Ireland; but, it was impossible for him, however much he might have the good of the country at heart, to act beneficially with a divided cabinet. It was impossible to expect a remedy from men who were not united in any measures calculated to restore Ireland to tranquillity. If his brother were in the cabinet, he would hold the same opinion. Three and twenty years had passed away since that Union which was to have conferred on Ireland the privileges of the constitution; and the friends of Ireland were, in 1823, calling in vain for an opportunity to sift to the bottom the causes of the misery that afflicted that country. Nothing could be more clear than that there was something radically defective in the state of Ireland --something that called for inquiry and investigation; but inquiry was denied, and the government were recurring to force, instead of adopting measures of conciliation.

Mr. Secretary Peel said, that as no member had questioned the propriety of passing the Insurrection act, it was not necessary for him to defend that measure. It had been said, that the government were deceiving themselves, when they supposed that that act would operate as a cure for the discontent and misery of Ireland. A cure -good God! who could be so infatuated as to suppose that that measure was intended as a cure? It was only meant as a temporary measure to meet a pressing emergency. With respect to the proposition of the hon. baronet, calling for a committee, he would only put it to the House, whether they could, at that period of the session, on the 24th day of June, enter into an inquiry such as the hon. baronet called for? An inquiry into the question of finance, would of itself take up three months. Then there was the question of education, and an inquiry into the administration of the laws. He submitted to the House, that it would be perfectly idle, at that period of the session, to go into such an inquiry. He thought that ministers had been rather hardly dealt with by hon. gentlemen in the course of the present discussion. During the last session, the great complaints of Ireland, as urged in that House, were excessive VOL. IX

taxation, the distillery laws, and tithes. Now government during the present session had met these evils; they had reduced taxation; they had revised the distillery laws, and they had brought forward measures respecting tithes. But still they were exposed to the censure of hon. members, as if they had done nothing to redress the grievances of Ireland. The hon. member for Grampound had said, that so long as any thing was denied to the Catholics, Ireland could not be restored to tranquillity. The hon. gentleman was for portioning out tithes for the Catholic clergy. That was indeed carrying things to the extreme end; but he would not quarrel with the hon. member for boldly and fairly stating his views. He would only say, that the subjects handled by the hon. member were of vast importance, and that, when the hon. member came to deal with them, he would discover more clearly their difficulty and their importance.

Mr. W. Smith contended, that the government had already been pledged to an inquiry into the state of Ireland, a resolution to that effect having passed in that House six weeks ago. With respect to the measures that had been proposed by ministers during the present session, he looked upon them as calculated merely to throw dust in the eyes of the public. Never was there a case which more strongly called for inquiry. Six millions of people were denied the rights of the constitution; while one million ate up all the patronage, the honours and power of the country. In such a state of things, it was impossible that permanent tranquillity could be restored. An allusion had been made to the church establishment. It was said, that it was too late in the session to commence an inquiry into the state of Ireland, but why had not that inquiry been entered upon more early? He hoped it would not be long delayed; and under that impression, he would, however reluctantly, give his vote in favour of the bill.

Mr. Denman entered his protest against the right hon. secretary's insinuation, that no one doubted the wisdom of passing the Insurrection act on the present occasion. Whenever, and as often as a proposal for renewing it, for however short a period, should be made in parliament, he would lift his voice against it, even if he stood alone.

Sir H. Parnell, after all that had been 4 H

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HOUSE OF COMMONS.

Wednesday, June 25. INEQUALITY IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE LAW-PETITION OF RoMAN CATHOLICS OF IRELAND.] Mr. Brougham said, that he held in his hand a petition signed by 2,000 Roman Catholics of Ireland, which complained of the general oppression in which that class of his majesty's subjects to which they belonged were holden, not only by the inequality of the laws as far as regarded them, but also by the unequal administration of the laws as they at present existed. That complaint, though it was stated with no less accuracy than force of language, contained nothing in it that was, in the slightest degree, disrespectful towards the House. As he intended to ground a proceeding upon this petition, it was unne cessary for him to state any thing further regarding its contents, than that the foundation of them was, firstly, the inequality, and, secondly, the unequal administration of the laws, as respected Roman Catholics. The petition was signed by many of the most respectable Catholic inhabitants of Dublin, and would have been signed by as many thousands as it now had hundreds, had not the petitioners thought it neces

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sary to send it with all speed to London, in order that it might be in his hands before the Irish members had left town. The Petition was then brought up and read; setting forth,

"That the petitioners approach the House with the deep respect which is due to its legislative character and authority, and appeal to it for protection and redress; the adminstration of justice is, in Ireland, corrupted to its source; a faction, deriving its power from the inequality of the law, has sprung out of the system by which that unfortunate country has been, and continues to be governed; from its ferocious antipathies the public tribunals do not afford them refuge; the subjects of an absolute government are less exposed than they are to the violation of personal right; a simple despotism weighs with an equality of pressure upon every class of the community; but where a faction is invested with exclusive privileges and sway, the machinery of corruption is much more complicated, and its operation more extensive; a system of helotism is established, the sense of masterdom intermingles itself in the ordinary familiarities of life, tyranny meets its object at every step, it assumes a character of much more immediate individuality, and is multiplied and varied into an infinitely greater diversity of shape; when the penal code was in its full operation, the people of Ireland were the victims of an oppression the most degrading which it was possible for the malignant ingenuity of persecution to devise, or for the patience of debased humanity to endure; the House has seen the effects of that revolting system exemplified by too many melancholy illustrations, to require that the petitioners should enter into a detail of the calamities to which it has given birth; look at Ireland, and behold the result of its legislation! it is true, that the penal laws have been greatly modified, the chain has been in part struck off, but many a heavy link still hangs upon them, and the impression of the fetters remains behind; their existing disqualifications are marked with the visible traces of their origin; the character of the oppressive code is still found among its unholy relics, which are preserved with such a superstitious reverence in the sanctuaries of the constitution; although the spirit of domination has been allayed, it is not yet extin

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