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under cereals in one year; and in nineteen the people, the Protestants and Presbyyears a decrease of tillage to the amount terians of the North were fostered and of 1,223,588 acres, and we are asked to encouraged by laws which, under the be contented and happy. Need I say that acts of settlement, or articles of plantawe have a fine proof of our contentedness tion, compelled those who got grants of in the fact that one million and a half of confiscated estates to let their farms out our people ran away from misery between at rents which would enable the ProtestMay 1851, and May 1864—that is, over ant or Presbyterian tenant to prosper, and 11,100 a year. It might be supposed failing to do this, the landlord was liable indeed, it had been frequently asserted— to be deprived of his estates. And thus that since the population of Ireland had two laws which existed at the same time diminished from nearly 9,000,000, to the first conceived in fear, in hatred of about 5,500,000, that the present in- a plundered race; and the other to habitants were much better off by hav- encourage those differing with them ing proportionately a greater amount of in race and faith, became the normal produce to divide amongst them; such arrangement between the owner and was not, however, the fact, for poor as occupier of the soil; and, down to the the people were in the years just before present hour, influenced the transactions the famine, on a moderate calculation between landlord and tenant ; whether he believed there was £1 per head as in the north, where custom had almost more for them from the produce of the acquired the force of law in making the country, than there was last year, which landlord not only let his land at a fair was considered a good one. Now that rent, and recognize the tenant's right to fact, he thought, disposed of the boast obtain the value of his improvements; or about Irish prosperity, as compared as in the south led the proprietor to genewith the time there was nearly double rally exact the interest the tenant could the population. As his hon. Friend pay, consistently with living in the poorest had clearly pointed out, the remedy for manner, tenantcy-at-will, and a liability the state of things he described was to very often exercised of being evicted withgive the tenant security for a just com-out being compensated for the improvepensation for whatever improvements he ments his industry had created. Excepmade in the letting value of the land, tional legislation had been the main cause in the event of his being evicted, or of these evils, so far as the people of the having to surrender possession. No doubt three provinces were concerned ; and it was many hon. Members would say why have not, he thought, too much to ask that exthis exceptional legislation for Ireland as ceptional legislation should be demanded regards land ; has not that country just to remedy, to some extent, at least, the the same, or just as good, laws respecting evils it had inflicted on Ireland ; and he land as England ? All this he admitted believed if that House, in its wisdom and was quite true; but as regards agricultural justice, took the course which he and customs, and the dealing of landlords with others suggested, that so far from injur. their tenants, the cases were very differ- ing the landlords, that the value of their ent. It should be borne in mind that rentals would be increased, their property Ireland was a conquered country; that would be rendered more secure, and the nearly all her soil had been three times people prosperous and contented, would, over confiscated to those who had subdued instead of being a source of apprehension her; and that besides depriving the an- and danger to the Government, become cient inheritors of their estates, different one of the bulwarks of the Empire ; her customs and mode of tenure was forced right hand in the hour of danger instead on the humbler cultivator of the soil, to of a sharp thorn in her side. What did those to which he had been accustomed. Fenianism owe its origin to ? To the Within almost a century laws existed, settled conviction on the part of the people and were often strongly enforced, which that what they complained of would not forbade Papists, which really meant no be redressed by constitutional means. He farmer in Leinster, Connaught, or Mun had been obliged to tell his constituents, ster, holding land for a term exceeding after nearly ten years spent in that House, thirty-one years, on which three-fourths that he believed their votes and efforts of the full yearly imposed value was not were thrown away in sending him there, received for rent; while such were the and his own life and means wasted in cruel enactments against the great body of remaining, so far as there was any use in appealing to the justice or policy of Par- been treated, had caused great disaffection liament on the one vital question for Ire in many parts of Ireland. It was geneland. Fenianism was strong, not on ac- rally understood that prisoners convicted of count of its enrolled members, but because political offences should not be treated it relied on the sympathy of the great like common felons. It would be in the remass of the people ; the small farmers, collection of the House that no one had tenants-at-wili
, half-paid labourers, poor more eloquently laid down than the right artizans, impoverished tradespeople. In hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exthe United States it counted its numbers chequer that the treatment of political in hundreds of thousands of well-drilled prisoners ought to be different from the soldiers who had fought and won the treatment of other prisoners. He was battles of the Union—in thousands of indebted for his authority on that subIrish evicted farmers who had become the ject to a letter of an hon. Friend of his, the owners of the land they tilled in America late Member for the King's County (Mr. —but who strongly sympathized with Hennessy), whom he sincerely hoped soon their less fortunate kindred at home; and to see again in that House. Mr. Hennessy the number was still further augmented had quoted a passage from a letter addressby the emigrants who daily left the shores ed by the right hon. Gentleman to Lord of Ireland, carrying such settled feelings of Aberdeen, in which he denounced the vengeance in their hearts against England. Neapolitan Government for having obliged He (Mr. Blake) lived almost in the centre their political prisoners to share their of the southern proclaimed districts. The heads and beards. He granted the right city he represented was proclaimed; the of the Government to punish the persons adjoining counties of Waterford, Tipperary, convicted as political prisoners; but the Cork, and Kilkenny, were either in whole treatment which they had received was or part proclaimed also ; and he firmly quite different from that of Mr. Smith believed that if the great mass of the peo- O'Brien and other political prisoners in ple of these counties, and many others 1848, who were taken red-handed in rebesides, only thought there was a good volt, and whom the Government gave chance of success, that they would join in orders to treat as gentlemen. The Fenian the revolution; and he was also persuaded, prisoners were compelled, after their conif the militia regiments raised in the south viction, to shave off their beards, they and west saw England in a difficulty, and were put into convict dress and, previous that they thought by joining the in- to being sent on board ship they were surgents they would insure success, they heavily ironed; this fact he had from an would do it. Now, he would ask the eye-witness. On their arrival at PentonHouse was not that a deplorable picture ville Prison those unfortunate men were for England ? In his own locality he subjected to a punishment similar to that had done all in his power, when oppor- inflicted on footpads, burglars, and other tunity offered, to dissuade the people from criminals of the very lowest grade. The enrolling themselves as Fenians; and re effect of the treatment at Pentonville presented to them, under existing circum. Prison on the prisoners had been well de. stances, the utter folly and hopelessness of scribed by a high authority, Chatham, who attempting to cope with the power of stated that when the unhappy men were England. He felt he .was, therefore, en transferred from Pentonville numbers of titled to ask Government to do what they them fell into fits, and it was only by allegitimately could to remove the cause of lowing them to associate for a fortnight disaffection. He was interested in the before they left the former prison that this maintenance of order, as if a successful was prevented. The same gentleman insurrection took place, in the confusion stated that for weeks after the prisoners that would ensue, he probably would lose arrived there from Pentonville, it would nearly all on which he depended for his be absurd to treat them as rational men. maintenance; and there were many well Such was the nature of the punishment to affected towards the Government, who which the men recently convicted of would be great sufferers, and they had a treason in Ireland were doomed. The right to expect that Parliament would do matter was one well worthy of the attenwhat it could to render them more secure. tion of the House-well worthy of the atWhile on the subject of Fenianism, he tention of the right hon. Gentleman who would remark that the manner in which had in such eloquent language denounced the political prisoners, lately convicted, had the treatment to which the Neapolitan
prisoners were subjected. Thosc Neapolitan the power of self-government. Nor can I prisoners were all
, it should not be for- attach any weight to the statement that gotten, found guilty of as serious an offence 105 Irish Members in this House are not against the laws of the country as were the able to carry any measure in favour of Irish political prisoners-in many cases of their country, because they are sure to be a far more serious offence, for some of them outnumbered by the English and Scotch had been convicted of plotting the assassi. Members. Sir, I do not believe that such nation of the King of Naples. He trusted is the spirit or temper of the British Iouse that before the sitting was over he would of Commons. On the contrary, I am conhear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, fident that if the 105 Irish Members, or or some other occupant of the Treasury any considerable number of them, were Bench, an assurance that, during the united together in support of any measure present Session, measures would be brought which they conscientiously believed to be forward calculated to put a stop to the pre- for the benefit of their country, such measent deplorable condition of things in Ire- sure would receive a full, fair, and imland. If that assurance was not given, he partial consideration, as has always been would have no alternative save to follow given under such circumstances by the the hon. Member for Tralee into the divi- House of Commons. I therefore think sion lobby.
there is no foundation whatever for the Question proposed, “That the words statement of the hon. Member for Tralee, proposed to be left out stand part of the that Ireland is deprived of the power of paragraph."
self-government. I, for one, think, as the THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR hon. Member has referred to matters con. IRELAND (Mk. Lawson): Sir, I am nected with the Act of Union, and has sure it is unnecessary for me to be spoken of evils which he attributes to it, speak the kind indulgence of the House that the results have been very different while I rise to make a few observa- from those alleged. I look
look upon the questions in answer to the speech of the hon. tion in this light—that it is a much nobler Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), and a higher destiny for a country like followed by one from the hon. Member for Ireland to be able to send representatives Waterford (Mr. Blake), and to state the into this honourable House to take part in grounds on which it appears to me that discussions relating to this mighty Empire. this House ought not to accede to the Irish Members have been always treated Amendment proposed. I was glad to hear in this House with respect; and I am from the hon. Member for Tralee the em convinced that when those representatives phatic statement, which he repeated more do present themselves to its notice, acting than once, that he had no anti-English honestly and suggesting bona fide measures feeling. I am glad that the hon. Member for the good of their country, that they has made that public declaration, for I never will fail to receive a just and imthink it will be of considerable value to partial hearing from both English and himself. But I can only say that, how- Scotch Members. The hon. Member for erer valuable it may be to himself, it is Waterford (Mr. Blake) has introduced a at the same time one by no means calcu- matter which appears to me to be alien lated to advance his popularity with the to the actual subject under discussion, members of the Fenian Brotherhood. I and therefore I am anxious to dispose of am glad that the hon. Gentleman has made it before proceeding to deal with the arthe observation, because—although I con- guments used by the hon. Member for fess his speech was characterized -as his Tralee, which are entitled to an answer speeches always are — by great ability, from me, and to every consideration of Devertheless, I think that he has intro- this House. The hon. Member for Waterduced into it some matters of the tone and ford introduced the topic connected with temper of which, exhibited in the British the treatment of the prisoners convicted House of Commons, I might fairly com- in the recent political trials in Ireland. I plain. Although, Sir, I am a new Mem- have made it my business to inquire into ber of the House of Commons, and this the matter, and I have ascertained that is the first occasion on which I have had the statements so industriously made in the honour of speaking here, I have no respect to such treatment are entirely and hesitation in saying that I cannot give utterly destitute of foundation. The most any credence to the statement of the hon. absurd and unfounded statements have been Gentleman that Ireland has entirely lost circulated. For instance, a statement has
been made that corporal punishment has the same way as any other persons in that been inflicted on one of these prisoners in prison convicted of crime and sentenced to Pentonville Prison. I repeat that such a penal servitude. No additional punishstatement is utterly without foundation. ment of any kind is inflicted on them, And yet that statement has been repeat their treatment is exactly similar ; and I edly made, accompanied with such details have heard no argument adduced by the and particulars as would make one sup-hon. Member for Waterford to show why pose that it could only have been made by it should be otherwise. In respect to the one who was himself present at the occur- letter referred to by the hon. Member for rence. Now this story is not only untrue, Waterford, written some years ago by my but there is not the slightest shadow of right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the foundation for it. The hon. Member for Exchequer, a letter on the subject of the Waterford has stated—of course on infor- treatment given to the Neapolitan State mation furnished to him that the re- prisoners, I beg to remind the hon. Gencently.convicted prisoners in Ireland, now tleman that the observations to which he in Pentonville, are undergoing a system alluded had reference not, like the men of separate confinement; that they are sub- of whose treatment the hon. Gentleman jected to great and unnecessary severity, complains, convicted felons, but to untried and are compelled to herd with footpads, prisoners, who were kept in custody and robbers, and the vilest felons. Now, that subjected to much severity without having statement is not correct. It is true they are been brought to trial. But it never was inundergoing the separate system of punish- tended by the writer to say—nor could ment, but they are not made to associate my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of with the persons whom he has described. the Exchequer have ever intended to
MR. BLAKE: I wish to say a word in lay down as a general principle-that explanation. I did not say that the Irish political prisoners convicted of conspiracy political prisoners were coin pelled to herd to overthrow the Government were to be with robbers, foot-pads, and other felons, dealt with in a different manner from other because, being subjected to the separate prisoners whose crimes after all were not system of punishment, it is of course ob- of a more heinous character. I know vious that such could not be the case. But no such principle in British law as that what I said was, that at Pentonville the when a man is convicted of a political political prisoners were subjected to the offence, if he be one who had occupied a same mode of treatment dealt out to the respectable position in society, or a man ordinary malefactors.
who had a certain halo around his name, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR he is to be dealt with more leniently than IRELAND: That is totally different any other felon convicted of an equal from what I supposed the hon. Gentle- offence and was sentenced to the same man to state. Those political prisoners punishment. I have, I think, disposed of must necessarily be subjected to the same the observations of the hon. Member for system as other persons convicted of Waterford, in which he referred to the equally grave offences. Is British law, treason-felony prisoners, and I will now I ask, to have respect to persons, and to venture to approach the immediate subjectsay, if one man is able to raise himself to matter brought forward by the hon. Nemthe position of a State prisoner by com- ber for Tralee. The hon. Gentleman inpassing to overthrow the government and troduced the question regarding Ireland the institutions of the country, that, on that in the shape of an Amendment to the Adaccount, he is to be treated with more dress moved in this House in reply to leniency and tenderness than an humbler the gracious Speech of Her Majesty. The individual guilty of a heinous crime, into Address does not allege the existence of which his ignorance may have led him, any general spirit of disaffection in Ireland, or his poverty tempted him to commit? but states-what was an undoubted and Sir, I think it would be unworthy of any incontrovertible fact—that a conspiracy Government to treat such a man with against law and order in these countries greater severity than any offender of the had been proved to exist in Ireland, a former class ; and, therefore, whilst the conspiracy condemned, as the hon. Member most scrupulous care has been taken to for Tralee stated, by all classes of the prevent any undue severity being practised, community, by the clergy especially, instructions were given that those political and by no one more emphatically than prisoners should be dealt with precisely in by the hon. Member himself,
The Attorney General for Ireland
THE O'DONOGHUE : I am sure the Anyone who had read the history of the right hon. Gentleman (the Attorney General Fenian conspiracy must be perfectly aware for Ireland) would not attribute anything that it has not sprung, as the hon. Mem. to me which I did not say. I beg to state ber for Tralee supposed, from the misthat I did not express any condemnation. government of the country. The avowed
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR aim of the Fenian conspiracy was not IRELAND: I am sorry I should have to improve, but to destroy the institutions attributed to the hon. Gentleman any. under which we live. Its organ denounced thing that he has not said. I think if he in unmistakable terms all constitutional did not condemn the Fenian organization agitation for the redress of grievances, and he ought to have condemned it, for it is all appeals to the Imperial Parliament. It condemned by the unanimous opinion of even represented the granting of Catholic every right-thinking man in the Empire. emancipation as injurious to the cause of I was stating that this conspiracy existed; Ireland, because it tended to render Roman and then Her Majesty's Speech goes on to Catholics more loyal to British rule. Those state that it has been dealt with by the are the sentiments avowed by the organ
of ordinary legal and constitutional tribunals the conspiracy; and yet the House is now of the country, and, as I trust, in accord asked to say by implication that the ex. ance with the facts. For this temperate ex. istence of that conspiracy is to be traced pression of an undoubted fact contained in to grave causes which it is the duty of the Speech, the hon. Member for Tralee Her Majesty's Government to examine into proposes to substitute the paragraph which and remove. In like manner it was declared he has submitted to the House; and to that the only hope for Ireland lay in an substitute for an undoubted fact, as to the entire revolution, which would restore the existence of the conspiracy, another matter land to its rightful owners, and “root out which it appears to me is not at all robbers from the land.” I am quoting now germane to the subject_namely, that the very words of articles which have been wide-spread disaffection exists in Ireland, established in proof upon the occasions when the result of grave causes which it is the these conspirators were convicted. Findduty of Her Majesty's Government to exa- ing this to be the line taken, can anybody mine into and remove. I do not stand believe, or will this House be induced to here to deny that it is the duty of Her give their assent to the proposition now Majesty's Ministers to examine into and before them, that the conspiracy was caused remove, if they can, any cause or causes of by the pressure of unjust laws upon Iredisaffection, whether existing in Ireland land ? Surely the hon. Member must have or in any other part of the United King- forgotten that the conspiracy is not condom; and I am certain I express their senti- fined to Ireland, but extends in immense ments when I say that it is their anxious ramifications to those of the Irish race now wish and desire favourably to consider and sharing in the benefits of the Constitution entertain any reasonable proposition that of the United States, and to some even, I might be put forward for the removal of regret to say, among the Irish domiciled any real grievance affecting Ireland. The in this country and now enjoying the beneconsideration of such grievances, moreover, fits of English rule uncontaminated by the would not be in the slightest degree pre- administration of the law as it is supposed judiced as far as they were concerned by to exist in Ireland. Its influence has even the existence of this conspiracy, calculated shown itself among the persons allowed to though it might well be to prejudice the compete in the labour-market with Englishminds of the English nation and of the men, and to participate in the advantages English House of Commons against the and achievements growing out of the alcountry where that conspiracy had taken most boundless expenditure of capital in root. But for the House to accede to the the busy hives of industry. Knowing well Amendment of the hon. Member for the true character of this conspiracy, I Tralee would, I think, be a most dan- believe that any attempt to extenuate or gerous thing; for its adoptiou would carry palliate its guilt by suggesting grievances, with it this consequence, if ingrafted on out of which it might possibly have sprung, the statement in the Address with regard will be construed into sympathy with the to the Fenian conspiracy, that this con- designs of the conspirators, and I feel sure spiracy resulted from those grave causes the House of Commons will not commit which it was the duty of Her Majesty's itself to any declaration that can be supMinisters to examine into and remove. posed to express sympathy or to be capable