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counties, such as Cork, Tipperary, Waterford, | perty, and religion," and justly characDublin, is alarming, and it is day by day spread- terizes it as a conspiracy- I will not say dising more and more through every part of the country. But the most dangerous feature in the countenanced but reprobated by every one present movement is the attempt to seduce the who had anything to lose, and who has troops. Are we to allow these agents to go on any regard for authority and religion, instilling their poison into our armed force, upon irrespective of creed or class. That is a which our security mainly depends ?”
most satisfactory consideration for us in These attempts, as I have said before, dealing with this conspiracy. It shows have been successful to only a very limited that it is no social or political injustice and partial extent, but such as they are which has given rise to this conspiracy. they will, I fear, implicate certain persons The truth is, it is a conspiracy which emain consequences to them of the most nates from abroad. Its centre is in Ameserious character. The letter proceeds to rica, whence its agents and leaders have say
to this country who are endea. “I feel confident that the suspension of the vouring by combined action to stir up Habeas Corpus Act will have a most salutary the people to insurrection for the pureffect. It is remarkable that our reports show that the Fenian leaders are saying that there is no
pose of wresting Ireland from the British time to lose, as if they delay the Act will be sus
Crown. pended. I trust that the Cabinet will not think Let me allude to that great meeting me an alarmist. I have watched every symptom which was held lately in Dublin, comprising here for many months, and it is my deliberate con
men of different politics and different viction that no time should now be lost in suspending the Act. I cannot be responsible for the creeds—some supporters of the general safety of the country if power is not forthwith policy of Government, others its oppogiven to the government to seize the leaders. nents—but all uniting together in the With that power I hope still to avert serious expression of their alarm at the present mischief. I most earnestly urge that the BiN state of things, and all pledging themselves for the suspension be brought in without delay.”
as loyal subjects of the Crown to give Sir, upon the receipt of that letter, I com- every assistance to the Government, in municated at once with the noble Lord at the putting down the conspiracy, and in rehead of the Government, and asked that a storing peace and security in Ireland. Cabinet Council should be immediately sum- Sir, the disastrous consequences which moned. It was summoned, and took this must follow from such a state of things as letter into consideration. We felt it to be now exists, should it remain unchecked, our imperative duty-a duty from which are too obvious to require me to dwell on we could not shrink-immediately to lay them. It must paralyze industry ; must these facts before the House of Commons, deter capital from coming into the counand to invite them to concur in granting try; must check every development of those powers which the Lord Lieutenant its resources ; and prevent every pracand his advisers, and Her Majesty's ticable improvement in its condition. It Government deem absolutely essential for is most important, therefore, for the inthe safety of the country.
terests of the country, that the conSir, there is one consideration of a very spiracy should be checked. All I ask satisfactory nature connected with this mat- this House to do is to judge for themter. This conspiracy differs from other selves whether, from what I have stated, conspiracies which have existed in Ireland and from their own knowledge of the facts, in this—that it embraces within its sphere, it is not notorious and patent that a conI believe, no persons of any position or in- spiracy, dangerous to the peace and defluence in the country-I mean, of course, structive to the interests of Ireland, exists no persons who, from their position among in that country ; whether the Government their countrymen, are entitled to any just have zealously, and energetically exerted influence. I think the paragraph in the the powers at present vested in them Queen's Speech most justly describes this by the law in endeavouring to check conspiracy. It is one not for a repeal of this conspiracy; and then, if that be so, the Union, retaining the connection of Ire- whether I have not made a sufficient case land with the British Crown, or any legis- to justify me in coming to Parliament and lative change, but one the avowed object of asking for additional powers by which this which is to wrest Ireland from the British conspiracy may be put down. If the Crown, and transfer it in subjection to some House is satisfied that there is good foreign Power. That Speech describes it cause for the proposals I have made, let As "a conspiracy against authority, pro- me add one word more. I trust hon.
Sir George Grey
Members will feel that it is important that Motion made, and Question proposed, the powers asked for should be placed in “ That leave be given to bring in a Bill to em. the hands of the Government with the power the Lord Lieutenant or other Chief Goverleast possible delay, because the object in tain, for a limited time, such persons as he or
nor or Governors of Ireland to apprehend and de. view might be defeated by delay. The they shall suspect of conspiring against Her Ma. Government make this proposal upon their jesty's Person and Government.”—(Sir G. Grey.) own responsibility; and it is now for the MR. DISRAELI: Sir, I listened with House of Commons, looking to the great much concern to the notice given by the interests at stake and to the important ob- right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of ject to be attained, to decide whether they State yesterday, and I have heard his will share with the Government the respon- narrative this morning with unaffected sibility of giving to the Government of anxiety. For a Government to come forIreland the power asked for, to enable it ward to suspend the most precious constito deal effectually with this evil. I trust tutional right of the people is an act which hon. Members will feel I have made out a requires on their part the greatest coursufficient case for the proposal of the Go- age; and if a Parliament concede such vernment. No Government, as I have a measure it is obvious that it must be already said, ought lightly to make such done with the utmost reluctance. I, there. à proposal ; no man ought individually fore, cannot agree with some expressions to support it unless convinced of its ne- of opinion that I have listened to—that cessity; and no House of Commons Her Majesty's Ministers should be blamed should-and I am none would because they have hesitated in comlightly, and on insufficient grounds, place ing forward to make this proposition. such power in the hands of the Govern. If, indeed, this were the occasion on which ment. I trust, however, that if the House to criticise the conduct of Her Majesty's feels it essential, with a view to the Government with regard to their adminissecurity of Ireland, it will arm the Go-tration of Irish affairs, I would rather myself vernment with the power requisite to coun. have touched upon the delay, the hesitation, teract and suppress as wicked a conspiracy and the want of prescience and energy as was ever conceived, audaciously pro- which have been exhibited by Her Majesty's moted by men who know how to keep Government with respect to these matters within the limits of the law and not expose on preceding occasions. For example, it was themselves to its penalties, and thus to only last year that an act was repealed protect Ireland from the disasters and under which Her Majesty's Ministers might horrors of insurrection. It is not with a have obtained all the powers that are now view to punishment, but with a view to necessary, without having recourse to Parprevention, that this power is asked for. liament, under the pressure of the extreme The effect of its being exercised with the circumstances which now exist.
The discretion upon which we can rely, will Members of the present House, who were be to frustrate the mad attempt to stir up Members of the last Parliament, will recol. insurrection. It will afford the most effec- lect that an Act-an antiquated Act of Partual check - indeed, the only effectual liament - called the Rapparee Act was check-upon the proceedings of the emis- repealed during the last Session. That was saries of sedition and treason in Ireland. an Act of the reign of Queen Anne. I We propose to limit the operation of the believe there was no objection from any Bill to six months, ending on the 1st of party in this House to concede the repeal of September, & period which we hope will an Act which was entirely obsolete, and be sufficient to accomplish the object in which was totally unworthy of this country. view ; and Parliament will have an op- But during the passing of that Act-a clause portunity before it separates to consider from a comparatively modern Act of Parliawhether it is necessary—which, I trust, ment-I believe the 50 Geo. III, which it will not be-to leave that power in was inserted during the progress of the the hands of the Government for a longer Bill, was also repealed. Under that clause period. Sir, I have now to move that I believe the Government of the Queen leave be given to bring in a Bill to em- possessed, and might have exercised, all power the Lord Lieutenant or other Chief those powers which are necessary, without Governor or Governors of Ireland to ap- the necessity of coming forward to ask, I prehend and detain for a limited time such admit with due reason, this infraction of persons ns he or they shall suspect of con-' the Constitution of the realm. I consider spiring against Her Majesty's Person and that Parliament is entitled to some further Government.
explanation on this point from Her Majesty's
Ministers. We are told, and told justiy, country was obliged to appeal to Parby Her Majesty's Government that these liament to sanction a similar violation of insurrectionary movements in Ireland have the Constitution. If, on that occasion, been greatly stimulated and precipitated by when I consented to support the appeal the termination of the struggle in America of the Government I had believed that the -by the conclusion of the civil war in that menaced insurrection in Ireland was occacountry. The repealed clause in the Act sioned by any misgovernment of that of George III. empowered the government country-although I admit that even under of Ireland to arrest all vagrant strangers such circumstances a consent to the prowho had no ostensible home, who could position of the Ministry might have been give no satisfactory account of themselves, necessary—still, in giving that assent I and could allege no legitimate occupation. should have coupled with it an expression The Bill for the repeal of the Act, and of of my hope that Her Majesty's Ministers the clause in question, was before Parlia. would have taken into consideration meament for a considerable period during the sures of a remedial character. But upon last Session. The conclusion of the Ame that occasion, as upon this, it was perfectly rican civil war was pretty certain early in clear that the state of affairs in Ireland the spring. Wilmington was taken in was not produced by any domestic or inApril. The evacuation of Richmond fol- ternal cause. It is not now produced by any lowed shortly afterwards. The attention agrarian cause, because it is well known of Government ought to have been given, that the most influential class among the and confessedly was given, to the Fenian agricultural population, just referred to by movement long before these events took the Secretary of State, has, with great place; and it is a circumstance which re. reluctance, sanctioned these movements, quires ample explanation why the Govern. or connected itself with them. It is not ment permitted such an important provision a movement produced by any religious to be repealed when they were duly cogni- grievances ; on the contrary, it is unzant of the disturbed and menacing condition doubtedly the truth that the Roman Caof Ireland. Surely, when we are told that tholic priesthood of Ireland has opposed and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland has given discouraged by all its means and powers anch unbroken and anxious attention and this disposition and these movements on vigilance to the affairs of that country, it the part of the disaffected, opposing revoluis not unreasonable for Parliament to tionary principles as they always have done, expect that the Lord Lieutenant and his and as becomes the priesthood of an anAdvisers, and Her Majesty's Ministers in cient and authoritative Church. And no this country, should not allow changes in the one can hold for a moment that this is a laws that regulate the condition of affairs movement occasioned
occasioned by the ordinary in Ireland to take place unnoticed, when, political passions which influence a free by their negligence, such ious conse- country. It is not to obtain increased quences might be produced. Had this privileges, and it is not to secure denied clause to which I have referred not been rights. It is, on the contrary, so far as repealed, if the interpretation I put upon it political influences can affect men, an be correct, these dangers, now imminent, attempt upon the majesty of England. It could never have arisen, and much of the is not directed against the predominance of danger and injury to which Ireland has a party. It is not directed against the already been subjected might have been authority of any particular institution or prevented without infringing the rights of establishment; but it aims at the Throne orderly and loyal men. But, although I of England and the greatness of her have thought it necessary to advert for a Empire. Under these circumstances, I canmoment to a point of great interest to the not hesitate to give a complete supcountry at present, and which requires a due port to the proposition of the Government. explanation from Her Majesty's Govern- Whether the preceding policy of the Government, I have now to look upon the existing ment did encourage such a state of affairs state of affairs in Ireland, and I have to ask as now exists in Ireland is a legitimate myself what is our duty under present cir- subject for future Parliamentary question cumstances. So far as I am concerned I and investigation; but all that the House has cannot hesitate upon this subject; and I, for to consider now is, whether the statement one, shall follow exactly the course which of the present condition of Ireland made I pursued in the year 1848 under similar by the Secretary of State, is a correct circumstances when, by an unhappy des- one. Who can doubt it? Who can doubt tiny, the present First Minister of the these facts which are known in their genc
ral character to all of us ? Her Majesty's | vernment of which he is a Member, has Government asks us to legislate upon called us together on an unusual day and events and circumstances of which we our. at an unusual hour, to consider a proposiselves are the competent judges. They tion of the greatest magnitude, and which do not come here as in old days with a we are informed is one of extreme urgency. conspiracy in a green bag to startle the If it be so, I bope it will not be understood country by sudden revelations into violent that we are here merely to carry out the
They have given us a statement behests of the Administration ; and that we of the condition of a portion of Her are to be permitted, if we choose, to observe Majesty's dominions of which we, from upon this measure, and if possible to say our own experience, are competent judges. something which may mitigate the apparent I do not for one moment question the harshness of the course which the Governauthenticity of the statement made by the ment feels itself compelled to pursue. It Secretary of State, and I cannot for a is now more than twenty-two years since I moment hesitate as to the course I shall was first permitted to take my seat in this pursue with regard to it. But if the House. During that time I have on many House consent, as I hope it will—and con. occasions, with great favour, been allowed sent unanimously-to this oposition ; if to address it, but I declare that during the we are prepared to give the Ministry whole of that period I have never risen to with respect to this, and to all arrange-speak here under so strong a feeling, as a ments connected with this subject, a unani- Member of the House, of shame and of mous and unwavering support, I would humiliation, as that by which I feel myself impress also upon the House the immense oppressed at this moment. The Secretary importance of the utmost promptitude of of State proposes as the right hon. Genaction. It is not merely that prompti- tleman himself has said--to deprive no intude of action may prevent immediate considerable portion of the subjects of the and future calamity and mischief, but Queen-our countrymen, within the United if Parliament be unanimous in support- Kingdom-of the commonest, of the most ing Her Majesty's Ministers in this pro- precious, and of the most sacred right of position, and prompt in carrying the the English Constitution, the right to their measure into effect, there is a propor- personal freedom. From the statement of tionately better chance of diminishing the the Secretary of State it is clear that this period during which this exceptional state is not asked to be done, or required to be of affairs is to continue. It is therefore in done, with reference only to a small section the interest of the liberty of Ireland itself; of the Irish people. He has pamod great it is in favour of its freedom and the con- counties, wide districts, whole provinces, tinuance of its privileges ; that I say it is over which this alleged and undoubted disour duty and our policy if we consent, as affection bas spread, and has proposed that I doubt not we shall consent to the mea-five or six millions of the inhabitants of the sure of the Government, that we should United Kingdom shall suffer the loss of that support those regulations by which the right of personal freedom that is guaranpassage of this measure shall be carried teed to all Her Majesty's subjects by the without a moment's delay. I trust that constitution of these realms. Now, I do the House will, by its cordial and unani- not believe that the Secretary of State has mous support of the Government, show to overstated his case for the purpose of inEurope that we are resolved to maintain ducing the House to consent to his prothe Majesty of the Crown of England, and position. I believe that if the majority of that the people of this country-prepared the people of Ireland, counted fairly out, as they are on all occasions to legislate had their will, and if they had the power, for their fellow-subjects in Ireland in a they would upmoor the island from its fastspirit of conciliation and of justice—are enings in the deep, and move it at least resolved that no foreign conspiracy shall 2,000 miles to the West. And I believe, deprive Her Majesty of one of the most further, that if by conspiracy, or insurrecvaluable portions of her dominions. tion, or by that open agitation to which
MR. BRIGHT: I owe an apology to alone I ever would give any favour or the Irish Members for stepping in to make consent, they could shake off the authoan observation to the House on this ques. rity, I will not say of the English Crown, tion. My strong interest in the affairs of but of the Imperial Parliament, they their country, ever since I came into Par- would gladly do so. An hon. Member liament, will be my sufficient excuse. The from Ireland a few nights ago referred Secretary of State, on the part of the Go-'to the character of the Irish people. lle said, and I believe it is true, that there is I land. One of them was the measure of 1829, no Christian nation with which we are ac- for the emancipation of the Catholics and quainted amongst the people of which crime to permit them to have seats in this House. of the ordinary character, as we reckon it But that measure, so just, so essential, and in this country, is so rare as it is amongst which, of course, is not ever to be recalled, his countrymen. He might have said, also, was a measure which the chief Minister of that there is no people-whatever they may the day, a great soldier, and a great judge of be at home-more industrious than his military matters, admitted was passed in the countrymen in every other country but face of the menace of, and only because of, their own.
He might have said more ; the danger of civil war. The other two that they are a people of a cheerful and measures to which I have referred are the joyous temperament. He might have said measure for the relief of the poor, and the more than this—that they are singularly measure for the sale of the incumbered es. grateful for kindnesses shown to them, and tates; and those measures were introduced that of all the people of our race they are to the House and passed through the House filled with the strongest sentiment of vene- in the emergency of a famine more severe ration. And yet, with such materials, and than any that has desolated any Christian with such a people, after centuries of go- country of the world within the last 400 vernment-after sixty-five years of govern- years. Except on these two emergencies ment by this House-you have them em-I appeal to every Irish Member, and to bittered against your rule, and anxious every English Member who has paid any only to throw off the authority of the Crown attention to the matter, whether the stateand Queen of these realms. Now, this is ment is not true that this Parliament bas not a single occasion we are discussing. done nothing for the people of Ireland. This is merely an access of the complaint And, more than that, their complaints Ireland has been suffering under during have been met-complaints of their sufferthe lifetime of the oldest man in this House, ings have been met - often by denial, often of chronic insurrection. No man can deny by insult, often by contempt. And within this. I dare say a large number of the the last few years we have heard from Members of this House bad, at the time to this very Treasury Bench observations with which the right hon. Member for Bucking- regard to Ireland which no friend of Irehamshire referred, heard the same speech land or of England, and no Minister of on the same subject, from the same Minis- the Crown, ought to have uttered with ter to whom we have listened to-day. [Sir regard to that country.
Twice in my G. Grey: No!] I certainly thought I heard Parliamentary life this thing has been the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary done—at least, by the close of this day of State for the Home Department make will have been done and measures of rea speech before on the same question, but pression-measures for the suspension of he was a Minister of the Government on the civil rights of the Irish people—have whose behalf a similar speech was made on been brought into Parliament and passed the occasion referred to, and no doubt con- with extreme and unusual rapidity. I curred in every word that was uttered by his have not risen to blame the Secretary of Colleague. Sixty-five years ago this coun- State, or to blame his colleagues for the try undertook to govern Ireland. I will say act of to-day. There may be circumstances nothing of the manner in which that duty to justify a proposition of this kind, and I was brought upon us-except this—that am not here to deny that these circumit was by proceedings disgraceful and cor- stances now exist ; but what I complain of rupt to the last degree. I will say nothing is this : there is no statesmanship merely of the pretences under which it was brought in acts of force and acts of repression. about but this— that the English Parlia- And more than that, I have not observed ment and people, and the Irish people, too, since I have been in Parliament anything were told, if you once get rid of the Irish on this Irish question that approaches to Parliament it will dethrone* for ever Irish the dignity of statesmanship. There has factions, and with a united Parliament we been, I admit, an improved administration shall become a united, and stronger, and in Ireland. There have been Lord-Lieuhappier people. Now, during these sixty- tenants anxious to be just, and there is five years—and on this point I ask for the one there now who is probably as anxious attention of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. to do justice as any man.
We have obDisraeli) who has just spoken—there are served generally in the recent trials a betonly three considerable measures which Par. ter tone and temper than were ever witliament has passed in the interests of Ire. ' nessed under similar circumstances in Ire