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DEBATES OF THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT,
DURING THE SUMMER OF 1816.
STATE OF IRELAND. sion of this ruinous course, by that Sir John NEW PORT.
monstrous act whică, remitting
penalties incurred to highly of It will naturally be asked by an fending districts, sanctioned that impartial inquirer, why Ireland shocking principle, that in the has not been infinitely more im- enormous extent of his offences proved by its long connexion dur-the delinquent should find his best ing six centuries with England?-- security, . why it still has to complain of evils I am astonished that the mini. which were the subject of animad- sters who have, by the disturbed version in the early period of that state of Ireland, justified their connexion? The answer is obvious claim for extended military force, the inference irresistible—it do not themselves propose remehas been misgoverned. No other dial measures: one and one only, cause can been assigned. History has been adverted to education. does not afford a single instance of its superior efficacy, no man of any two countries, so long uni- can think more highly than I do, as ted under the same government, providing largely for future ame. which are not assimilated in man- lioration. But can we look to this hers, customs, and habits. Ireland as a remedy for existing evils? I is the solitary and melancholy ex- may be permitted, too, to say, that ception to this general rule. if by education be intended the ca
Illicit distillation is a source of pacity of reading and writing, I much evil to Ireland, demorali. believe the Irish are not an unzing her people, and encroaching educated people: certainly not as on her scanty resources of taxa- compared with the people of Eng. tion. It is, as I fear, too much pro- land: the reports before the house tected by individuals of rank and prove this. Mr. Newham, in a work power, and largely practised by the containing much useful informaprofessors of exclusive loyalty. No tion, states, from actual inquiry, man, however high in station, that in a district comprising about should be allowed to protect his de- one half of the county of Cork, pendents in a course of disobedi. there were upwards of 300 unenence to law, nor should alleged dowed schools, educating not less loyalty secure any class of the than 22,000 children. community from sharing the bur- Education can however be no thens of the state. Parliament has cure for the political evils of Ire. indeed contributed to the exten- land, unless accompanied by radi
dice or power.
cal reform of the present vicious from the writings of Dean Swift, system;mit has grown out of the he were to attempt to show the accumulated misgovernment of poverty, wretchedness, and cowarmany centuries, and it is the dice of the Irish: if he undertook bounden duty of parliament to in- to prove from the operation of stitute exact inquiry ., into the laws enacted before the reign of causes and effects of that system James I., that the affections of the
-to search it to the bottom, and people had been incessantly, and neither to be allured nor deterred yiolently alienated; if he undertook from the path of duty by preju. to show all those calamities, then,
indeed, he could not much encourSir J. Newport dwelt upon the age the hopes of the right holitigation, difficulty, and delay at- nourable baronet. Without, howtending Irish elections, especially ever, going so far as that, he was where the returning officer had still inclined to think that the difany bias. The difficulty and delay ficulties and evils which encomhe instanced in his own case, passed Ireland, formed a Gordian, where the election was extended knot which could not be cut, and to 15 days, although there were which only the gradual lapse of only 900 voters to poll. But when time could unravel. he had to petition against the re- Before he followed the right turn, the scrutiny continued no honourable baronet through all the less than 76 days in Ireland, and details into which he had entered, 16 days before the committee of the house would probably expect that house, before his claim was from him a statement of what was established. Such a system was, the present condition of Ireland. the house must feel, calculated to Generally speaking, the north of weary out any candidate; and as Ireland was tranquil. No disturthe evils belonging to the system bances prevailed there, except were imposed upon the Irish re- what arose from distillation, and presentatives, by the union, it was
the consequent opposition to the peculiarly the duty of the imperial revenue laws in certain districts. parliament to remove them. Those, however, were neither se
rious nor alarming. The extreme Mr. Peel, Chief Secretary for west of Ireland, also the counties Ireland.
of Mayo, Galway, and Carlow, When the information which he were comparatively tranquil. The (Mr. Peel) intended to move for, same might be said of the south should be produced, it would then of Ireland, of Cork, Wexford, &c. be competent for the house to de- | The east of Ireland was likewise cide what course ought to be pur- generally tranquil. He meant that sued. He did not wish to dis. in those counties no applications courage all expectation of its be- had been made to government for ing possible to apply some remedy extraordinary police. The counto the evils which afflicted Ire- ties in which disturbances actually land. But, if he believed with the prevailed were Tipperary, King's right honourable baronet, that the county, Westmeath, and Limepresent state of tumult and disorrick. The magistrates of King's der had grown out of the abuses county had requested the applica. and'errors of six hundred years of|tion of the insurrection act: but mismanagement; if by quotations they had since petitioned for its
removal, asserting that tranquillity / racter of the lower orders. In difwas perfectly restored. In West- ferent counties different appear. meath and Limerick, a considera- ances were presented. He had ble improvement had taken place, himself been in some, and it was but the insurrection act was still impossible find any where men in force. Since he last addressed more tractable, more obedient to the house, the magistrates of the the laws, or more disposed to pay county of Louth and county of all due deference to their supeCavan, had petitioned the govern- riors. He was ready to declare that ment of Ireland for the application, it was impossible to see them not of the insurrection act, but of without admiring many of their the extraordinary police act. Such qualities. He believed, indeed, that was the general state of Ireland at the character of the Irish people the present moment. There was had been variously misrepresentnothing more difficult than to give ed, in general, not from any delithe house a character of the pre- berate design, but because, in fact, cise nature of the disturbances they were often presented under which now agitated Ireland. In different and singular aspects. former periods of the history of From his observation of them, he that country, tumults and outrage believed, they possessed great fihad subsisted, but they were ge- delity; in their dealings with each nerally to be traced to small and other great honesty; from their comparatively unimportant causes. early marriages, they were in geParticular and local grievances, neral very chaste; and be it told to personal animosities, or heredi. their honour, that certain crimes tary feuds, constituted the princi- which disgrace and degrade more pal sources of them. At other civilised countries were utterly times, grievances of a more dis- unknown to them. He was even tinct and positive nature were al told that the Irish language did leged, such as the high price of not possess a name by which they land, for example, and the pro- could be designated. But in those fessed object of the combinations parts of Ireland, especially in the was to lower it. But the distur-county of Tipperary, their de. bances which now prevailed had pravily was shocking. If any one no precise or definite cause. They should urge that he overstated it, seemed to be the effect of a gene. he was prepared to confute him by ral confederacy in crime--a com- irrefragable documents. He did prehensive conspiracy in guilt-not speak from vague and ambigusystematic opposition to all laws ous rumours. What said the reand municipal institutions. The cords of the courts of justice in records of the courts of justice that county? What would be the would show such a settled and evidence of the twelve men imuniform system of guilt, such panelled to try midnight mur. monstrous and horrible perjuries, derers of an invaluable magistrate as could not, he believed, be found belonging to that county? If he rein the anna.s of any country on the quired proof for what he had asface of the globe, whether civilized serted, he need go no farther. If or uncivilized. He was far from any one would take the trouble to meaning to say that those dread- peruse the minutes of that trial, ful offences arose from the gene- they would be able to form a rally malignant or "depraved cha- thorough idea of the character of the people. They would see their and resembling the magistrate extraordinary fidelity to each other (Mr. Baker) in person, narrowly in a bad cause—the facilities they escaped from falling a sacrifice. afforded to escape punishment Information was conveyed by sigthe readiness they manifested to nals from one party to another. redress the injuries offered to The gentleman to whom he al. any of their party--the difficulty of luded saw several persons on the bringing home conviction to the tops of the houses and hay-ricks, guilty, and the detestation in waiting for the fatal catastrophe. which every one was held who at When the shot was fired, loud all contributed, or was instrumen- cheers were uttered by those who tal in giving effect to the laws were thus waiting, and then they against them. With respect to the all retreated. The plan, therefore, murder of that magistrate, he was had evidently been determined afraid it was too clearly establish- upon months before it was put in ed, from the records of the court execution: and although no less of justice, that it had been plan- than 13,0001. were offered as a rened several weeks before it was ward for apprehending the murcarried into execution. The ma- derers, by the government and by gistrate upon whom the foul deed the resident gentry in the county, was committed, was a most amia- he believed no evidence whatever ble man. He spoke from the opi- was obtained as the result of that nions of others, as he had not the offer: such was their fidelity in a least knowledge of him personally bad cause, and such
was the He was kind, indulgent, and a abominable system of confederacy ready friend to the poor; but at upon which they acted. Not a per. the same time he was a most de- son was found to come forward termined enemy to that terrible and make a voluntary disclosure. system of combination which pre. He would mention one conclusive vailed. In the neighbourhood of proof of the feelings by which they his dwelling, a house had been were actuated. One of the mur. burned down, because the inhabi. derers who was apprehended, and tant of that house had taken land afterwards hanged for his crime, at higher rent than was thought when in prison, expressed a desire a proper equivalent by those mis- to disclose some particulars. His guided men. The magistrate in life was offered as the promised consequence, exerted himself to reward for his confession. He acdiscover the offenders, and by his cordingly communicated a part; indefatigable efforts six of them but he afterwards retracted, at the were apprehended. Upon this, the instigation of his wife, who went remainder determined to murder on her knees to him in the prison, him. On the day fixed for the atro- and implored him to be executed cious act, there were no less than rather than divulge the secret. four different parties stationed on (A laugh, and hear, hear!) The different roads waiting for his ap-house might probably smile at the proach. The murder was com- conjugal affection of the woman, mitted at
some distance from but he could assure them, there Cashel, and the particulars which was as much attachment between he related were derived from a the husband and the wife as could gentleman who happened to be possibly exist between two persons, travelling that road at that time, and the concern which she felt was, lest her husband should for, he thought it would be a most mafeit his character and respecta- terial benefit conferred upon the bility by betraying his friends. He people of Ireland, to extend the actually retracted, in consequence jurisdiction of the assistant barof the persuasions of his wife, and rister from cases of 201. to 501.: he was accordingly executed. certainly should be happy to co
operate in any measure for that MR. PLUNKET.
purpose. From the highest authority it had been stated, that within the
MR. GRATTAN. last fifty years the commerce of With regard to the financial Ireland had doubled, her agricul. distress of Ireland, it was undeniatural produce had increased four- ble that it was almost beyond confold, and her population had tre- ception. Her expenditure had outbled. Thus it appeared that she shot her means, for she had a debt was capable of becoming the of one hundred and fifty millions, dangerous rival, or the powerful burthened with an interest of seven friend of England: a gigantic form millions, while her revenue did was rising at the side of Great not exceed six millions; so that for Britain, and the question now was, the maintenance of her establishwhether it should be converted in- ments she had absolutely nothing. to a friend or an enemy.
Difficult as this situation was, he
did not despair of its being reMR. VESEY FITZGERALD. lieved. He would suggest, there. There was one circumstance fore, such a financial arrangement which had frequently struck him between the two countries as as a grievance pressing upon the would enable both to contribute to lower classes of the farmers in their mutual relief. Thirdly, with Ireland, and that was the difficulty regard to the commercial distresses which they experienced in recover- of Ireland, he acknowledged they ing the debts due to them. By an were great, but he considered act passed in 1796, a power was them as resulting from the sudgiven to the assistant barristers to den and violent change from war try by civil bill, cases of debt to
to peace. On that head, therefore, the amount of 201. Great advan- he was not inclined to despond. As tages had resulted from it.--No- the most effectual means of relievthing fell more severely upon the ing those distresses, Ireland should lower orders of farmers than the receive a constant preference over difficulty of thus obtaining justice, foreigners in the British market. the expenses of which before the Thus it appeared to him that all superior tribunals, were beyond the three branches of difficulty their reach. There could not be a which' he had spoken of might in stronger proof of this, than that time be removed. With respect the number of actions brought to the agitation which existed in amounted to above 30,000, and Ireland, hy a good administration that the number tried did not ex. of the government it might unceed 800: the great expense de questionably be cured. It was of a terred people from prosecuting temporary not of a permanent nathem. The expense of prosecuting ture. It was 'disgraceful, but it was a suit before the assistant barrister an eruption of the skin, and did did not exceed a few shillings, and not proceed from the blood. It