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Mr. Wynn asked, whether it was tight that a petition should be laid on the table, which charged a member of the House with an offence for which he was indictable in a court of law. If such a petition were suffered to lie on the table, the House must, for its own credit, as well as for that of the hon. member accused, enter into an investigation of the charges it contained. As the ordinary tribunals of the country were competent to entertain the accusations of the petitioner, he thought that there was no occasion for the House to take them up. He therefore suggested to his hon. and learned friend to withdraw the petition.

Mr. Brougham said, that after the dis⚫tinct, unequivocal, and unreserved manner, in which the charge had been denied by the hon. member opposite, he was bound by every principle of justice and humanity to believe that the allegations in the petition could not be sustained, and he could have no hesitation in withdrawing the petition, as it would be open to the petitioner, if he still persisted in the charge, to renew his petition in the next session. In the mean time, an opportunity would be afforded the petitioner of considering the serious responsibility he incurred, if he brought a false charge against a member of that House, and the punishment which would, in that case, await him for a breach of the privileges of parliament.

The petition was then withdrawn.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE LAW IN IRELAND.] Mr. Brougham, having moved, that the petition which he yesterday presented from the Roman Catholics of Ireland, complaining of the Inequality in the Administration of the Law, be entered as read, said, that he had never risen to address the House under feelings of greater anxiety. When he recollected the vast talent, on both sides of the House, which had been employed at various peiods on topics connected with the subject of the petition, and the multitude of persons in Ireland earnestly looking at the result of this discussion-when he considered even the strength of the case committed to his charge; and, more than all, the present state of the sister kingdom, it might well be supposed that he felt somewhat overawed at the task he had undertaken. The petitioners themselves had rendered the duty incalculably more difficult; for, whereas, when the Catholic question was discussed, the affairs

of Ireland, and the intolerant and injudicious scheme of policy long pursued there, had been constant matters of debate, and had been handled, by the ablest men, in every different form in which they could be shaped by talent and ingenuity; and whereas the great desideratum now was, to supply an answer to this question, "What is the practical effect of that system?"-to solve this difficulty, "How do the penal laws operate in Ireland, not merely upon individuals of rank excluded from the higher offices of the state, but upon all classes, from the loftiest to the lowest ;" and whereas the petitioners, in the very title of their representation of grievance, complained of " inequality in the administration of the law,"-yet they, who of all others were able to give the best information, to afford the clearest solution, to stop the mouths of those who maintained that there was no practical evil, by showing that justice was not equally administered by giving facts in detail-the petitioners, intimately acquainted with the merits of their own case, deeply feeling the grievances under which they laboured, and having daily and hourly experience of the consequences of the present system, had nevertheless omitted all statement of particulars, and had confined themselves merely to general declarations. He made this a ground of complaint, certainly not from himself towards the petitioners, but from himself on their behalf, because they thus sent him into court, as it were, briefless, requiring him to answer all objections, without being furnished by them with the means of doing so.

He was thus reduced to one of two alternatives-either he must undertake the hopeless task of again going over the ground repeatedly trodden by the greatest men; or he must attempt, what was perhaps yet more hopeless, to supply the defect in the case that had been intrusted to his hands.

He took the cause for this oversight to be this--the petitioners did not give the House credit for knowing so little of the present state of Ireland; they assumed that the House knew what it did not know-that it was aware of facts that might be proved at the bar, to show that justice was not equally administered to all classes in Ireland. When parties entered a court of justice in this country (for in this country they happily were courts of justice), rich and poor were treated with the same impartiality. The

[1258 law, thank God, was administered equally evidence they possessed, because it was to both. But the petitioners, feeling, the evidence of their own senses, they and well knowing the existence of the bad omitted the insertion of all details, melancholy facts on which they relied, no giving the House credit for knowing that more thought of introducing them into of which it was ignorant. The consetheir statement, than any petitioner in quence was, that the petitioners, and he this kingdom would take upon himself to was sorry to say, the whole people of Ireexplain and expound the excellence of our land, had suppressed the most important own judicial system. A petitioner in this facts. In the intensity of their sufferings, country would never dream of telling the they had lost, as it were, the articulate House, that juries were not packed; that language of remonstrance, and had had judges were decorous, and never sacri- recourse rather to exclamations of despair, ficed the rights of parties to a ribald joke; and those exclamations had been followthat chancellors held even the balance of ed, in some instances, by acts of open justice between Protestants and Catholics, aggression: for exclamations of despair episcopalians and dissenters; that here were the forerunners of such acts, and the keeper of the great seal would never often at too short a distance [Hear, think of striking a gentleman out of the hear]. Forerunners, he perhaps ought commission of the peace, because he was not to say; for while he was speaking, a sectary, as had been done in Ireland- these outrages were going on, and it was the keeper of the great seal there, admit- impossible for any man to be so little acting that in so doing he had been guilty of quainted with these transactions, as not an act of gross injustice, yet eight years to be aware that he (Mr. B.) was guilty afterwards repeating it. In England, in of any thing but exaggeration, when he administering the law to a creditor against took upon himself to assert that, for the last his debtor, we should never think of in- thirty years, Ireland had never been in a quiring, whether he was or was not able more alarming state. Of what, in the first to bribe an under-sheriff. In England, instance, did the Roman Catholic petithe king's writ ran into all parts of the tioners complain? They said, that the laws country. Here there was no detached were in themselves unequal, and that that corner, no land of Goshen, where some inequality was aggravated by the incilittle tyrant dared to raise his flag in de- dental circumstance, not perhaps necesfiance to the orders of his liege lord. Our sarily, but naturally, connected with the courts were open to the poorest suppliant; inequality of the laws, of a still more and however humble or unprotected, he grossly partial administration. In his had an equal chance with his titled ad- view, a mere representation of this kind, versary; nay, though he even were ad- by a large body of the king's subjects, dicted to sectarian opinions, instead of was a sufficient prima facie case. If they paying his devotions in a cathedral. The demanded inquiry, and called for redress, petitioners were in themselves a most im- that alone ought to be enough to induce portant class, and they represented many parliament to lend the petitioners a thousands; for the petition would have favourable ear. But the House was not been signed by tens of thousands, had a left to this, even in the absence of any few more days been allowed. The signa- detail on the part of the petitioners. It tures already obtained were from persons was only needful to consider the state of of commanding influence, who spoke the that law which, though not necessarily, sense of six millions of his majesty's sub- naturally led to an unequal administration, jects, who were strongly persuaded, that in order to persuade any one that as long the law in Ireland was not as it was in as men maintained their natures, the law England that he would be guilty, not which created an inequality in religious of extravagant flattery merely, but of in-sects could not be equally administered. tolerable mockery, of gross and ridiculous irony, who should attempt to compare the two. They felt that the law was not equally administered to all classes in point of rank; and that it was still more unequal, and still less fair and impartial, in the manner in which it was dealt out among the adherents of conflicting religious sects. From the fulness of the

The law at present separated the king's subjects into two classes; it severed those who ought to be as brothers under the same paternal government. The law of England viewed the subjects of the realm as brothers, and the king as their common parent; but the law of Ireland held a language widely different. It marshalled man against man, sect against sect.

It

moved; but the degradation and the insult remained, as long as a link was left, to remind the sufferer of his miserable bondage. But, if the advice of the right hon. gentleman had been followed, and if the last link had been knocked off, still he (Mr. B.) should say, that as long as the gall of the fetter, the mark it inflicted, continued visible, justice could not be impartially administered; because one class was thereby improperly stigmatized; the eyes of judges, witnesses, and jurors would still detect the mark, and as long as human infirmity existed, impartial justice could not be done. Why, then, had the wound, aggravated by the impatience of the prisoner, been allowed to rankle, when it was in the power of the legislature in one moment to heal it for ever? It was powerless as a security, and infinitely prejudicial as a distinction; and as long as that hideous, that odious distinction was preserved, so long would Ireland continue the scene of discontent and aggression [Hear]. One principle at this moment influenced judges, jurors, magistrates, and almost every witnessthe English, the humane, the equitable principle, not invented in a dark age, nor imported from a barbarous country-not

employed religious tenets on the one hand | true it was, that the chains had been reto foment (if it were not to profane the word) religious animosities on the other. The law of England esteemed all men equal. It was sufficient to be born within the king's allegiance, to be entitled to all the rights the loftiest subject of the land enjoyed. None were disqualified by it; and the only distinction was between natural born subjects and aliens. Such, indeed, was the liberality of our system in times which we called barbarous, but from which, in these enlightened days, it might be well to take a hint, that if a man were even an alien born, he was not deprived of the protection of the law. In Ireland, however, the law held a directly opposite doctrine. The sect to which a man belonged-the cast of his religious opinions-the form in which he worshipped his Creator-were the grounds on which the law separated him from his fellows, and banned him to the endurance of a system of the most cruel injustice. Not only this, but on the very same grounds, and with, if possible, less right -with, if possible, more impolicy-and with, if possible, greater cruelty, it leagued him against all who held opposite notions, as essentially and as implacably, as his enemies were combined against him. He would admit, that great and salutary alter-even adopted in this our day of imitative ations had taken place. Since the year admiration, from the holy alliance, and 1778, but more especially since 1793, supported by their legions of cossacks, important improvements in the code had but invented in England, and adopted by been effected. The odious distinctions a body calling itself the English parliahad been, in a great degree, mitigated. ment. It originated in the enlightened What remained was nothing in com- policy of this enlightened country in this parison with what had been taken away. enlightened age. It remained for the Enough, indeed, was left to make an nineteenth century to see the doctrine absurd and ridiculous difference-absurd fully established-that the law in Ireland and ridiculous when viewed by the eye of is a respecter of persons-that it prefers the philosopher, but melancholy and de- one sect to another-that it will not allow grading when contemplated with the eye men to worship God according to their of the politician. Enough was left for consciences, or if they do they must do offence and insult, while nothing was ac-it at the signal peril of forfeiting all claim complished for happiness and security. to the protection of the law. The right hon. the secretary for foreign affairs, who had so ably, on a former occasion, and before he accepted office, advocated the cause of the Roman Catholics, had well referred to the mark which the fetters, though removed, had left behind them, and to the system of extirpation which a ferocious tyrant of a former age was about to carry into effect. That system would have had, at least, more consistency in it than the one which this country had pursued towards Ireland. Chains had no sense and consistency, and

The first ground he submitted was, that the petition came from those who both actually and virtually represent the whole body of the Roman Catholics. His second ground was, that they had just reason to complain, and that as long as the odious distinction he had noticed reinained, justice could not, in the nature of man, be equally distributed. But he thought that he should leave the case incomplete if he did not go somewhat into details, though he would not trouble the House with more than was absolutely

he (Mr. B.) founded his first observation; because, if a principle were established in England, the propriety of which no man disputed, was it not very extraordinary that by as common consent it was allowed that it was impossible to extend it to Ireland? This fact was worth a thousand matters of mere detail. As to particular facts, a man might be misled or mistaken; but here was something that could not deceive-a principle acted upon invariably on one side of the water was met by a diametrically opposite principle on the other; and the difference could only arise from the fact, that the stuff of which justice was composed in England was of much happier material than in Ireland. But he was not without particular facts and authorities; and he would just call the attention of the House to a few instances out of a great variety. The late lord Gosford, governor of the county of Armagh, on a memorable occasion had said, that "justice had been suffered to disappear, and the supineness of the magistracy to become the common topic of conversation in every corner of the kingdom." Before he proceeded further he would just mention that the word

necessary, intending rather to give specimens than to enter into any elaborate and systematic examination of the subject, to which he professed himself incompetent. It was fit, however, to mention a few facts which he should be prepared to prove at the bar, should the House adopt the proposition with which he intended to conclude. In all he should now offer, the House was to consider that he was, in truth, tendering evidence; and he should scrupulously abstain from every thing which could not, as he was satisfied, be substantiated by legal testimony, either of witnesses or of records. When the subject was so extensive, it was of little importance where he began; but he would commence with one of the most material parts of it-the state of the magistracy in Ireland, by whose local jurisdictions justice ought, in fact, to be brought home as it were, to every man's door. It was in vain to deny that in England abuses had, from time to time, crept into this branch of the administration of justice; but various salutary acts had been passed on the one hand to protect magistrates acting bona fide, and on the other, to guard the king's subjects from malversation, and misuse of power, sometimes purely discretionary. It was by no means a matter of frequent complaint in this country, that improper individuals were included in the magistracy. In England, a rule had been laid down by the keeper of the great seal (indeed he had seen it stated under the hand of the present lord Chancellor), that they never would strike a person out of the commission, whatever private charges might be brought against him, unless he had been brought to trial, and convicted by the verdict of a jury. He had known an instance of a magistrate several times accused of perjury, with complaints against him by a vast majority of his fellows in the commission, whom the lord Chancellor peremptorily refused to oust, because he had been tried and acquitted. He recollected another case in Durham, about ten years ago, where the bishop, as custos rotulorum, had been obliged to reinstate a certain magistrate because, though accused, he had not been brought to trial. He did not mean that this rule was applicable to Ireland. A much greater latitude of discretion was required there. Not only the present, but former chancellors, lord Redesdale and the late Mr. Ponsonby, had agreed upon this point. Upon that, indeed,

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Supineness" would often occur in what he should read, and that it was to be understood as a delicate mode of expressing a disinclination to suppress violence in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred-the Orange violence against the Catholics. [Hear, hear!] The late Mr. Grattan was certainly a party man. In the highest, truest, and most honourable sense he performed what he justly considered the important duties of party; but of all members on the opposition side of the House, his authority was themost unexceptionable; because he had undeviatingly observed the strictest accuracy in his details, and was little liable to the imputation of being carried away by enthusiasm. He was a man of singular candour and of great moderation; and from his entrance into public life to the close of his illustrious career, had given signal proofs of his moderation, of his extreme forbearance, nay, of his gentleness. He had observed on one occasion, that the government "trifled with the northern weaver, when it sent him to a grand jury;" and he had added, that "the supineness and partiality of the magistracy had been the occasion of his sufferings and his losses." Mr. Ponsonby, who had filled the office of lord Chancellor in Ireland, and was

therefore so competent to judge on the question, looking back to the time when he had held the great seal, had said with becoming reserve, that "The magistrates too often had been anything but what they ought to have been." Mr. Justice Day, in an address to the grand jury, had charged them with "negligence, corruption, and partiality," and the late lord Kingston complained of some men as "a disgrace to the magistracy, deserving rather to be hanged than to be included in the commission." The charge of Judge Fletcher, in the year 1814, was well known. It was an able and elaborate production, and next to delivering no political charge at all, the greatest merit was, to deliver one so sound in its doctrines that they were liable to no exception. Talking of the Orange societies, he said, that they poisoned the very fountains of justice," and that "even some magistrates, under their influence, had, in too many instances, violated their duty and their oaths." Thence he proceeded to say, that such associations were most pernicious, whether consisting of Orange or Riband men, and adding, that under their influence petty juries had declined to do their duty it was sufficient to say such a man displayed such a colour, to produce an utter disbelief of his testimony; and when another has stood with his hand at the bar, the display of his party badge has mitigated the murder into manslaughter. These sentiments, coming from a man discharging judicial duties, were of the highest importance. Thence he proceeded to condemn all those associations bound together by unlawful oaths, remarking, "with these Orange associations I connect all commemorations and processions producing embittering recollections and inflicting wounds upon the feelings of others. I do emphatically state it as my settled opinion, that until those associations are put down, and the arms taken from their hands, in vain will the north of Ireland express tranquillity or peace." The learned judge went on to censure the unlawful oaths (such as had been treated with so much respect in this House on a recent occasion) taken by the members of the associations; and of the magistrates, he said, that "some were over zealous, and some, on the contrary, were supine," and he complained that "jobbers of absentees" and " traders in false loyalty," among others, were too often put into the commission. Eight years

afterwards, the same learned judge did not appear to have found any material amendment in the magistracy; and in one of his last charges he had asserted, that the conduct of the magistracy "might ultimately drive thousands to rebellion." A great deal had been said of late respecting a reform in the commission of the peace of Ireland, and twelve counties had undergone the operation. If the scheme had been executed with the same honest and zealous intention for improvement with which it was undertaken, much good might have been the result; but if he (Mr. B.) had been rightly informed, little or no advantage had been the consequence, the measure having been treated as one rather of form than of substance. He had been told (and to this point he could produce evidence at the bar) that in six counties 152 magistrates had been displaced. The number looked as if a great sweeping and radical change had been effected; but, in truth, the vast majority of the 152 consisted of absentees, English and Irish militia, officers, and others incapacitated from age, sickness, and not a few by death. How many did the House think, out of the whole 152, had been really removed for reasons such as those to which the charge was originally intended to apply? Only fourteen. Twenty-five had been removed in one county, and in another fifteen; all of whom were incapacitated for the various causes he had named. [Mr. Goulburn asked, across the table, to what county the learned gentleman referred?] The county of Monaghan; and since the question had been put, he would just add, that among those removed for being sick, or dead, or absent, or an English militia officer, or an Irish militia officer, was not sir Harcourt Lees. He was continued in the commission [Hear hear!]. In the county and city of Dublin, major Sirr had not been removed; and he (Mr. B.) thought there was just ground to complain, that he was still in

the commission. It was an insult to the people of Ireland, over whom he exercised all the nameless tyrannies of the last rebellion. Even on the rule of the lord Chancellor of England, his name ought to be instantly struck out. Nevertheless, he was allowed to be at the head of the police of Dublin; and he had told the House at the bar, that he there daily and nightly acted as one of the magistrates. Yet, in the city of Dub

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