HC Deb 05 December 1837 vol 39 cc630-87
Colonel Verner rose and said: The indulgence of this House has always been manifested towards any one of its Members who had anything of a personal nature to complain of. Encouraged by this generous and always conceded indulgence, I come forward reluctantly to trespass upon its time and crave its attention, while I endeavour to relieve myself from the temporary stigma cast upon my character and conduct, which, if merited, would render me unworthy of addressing you from this place, and unfit me for the high honour conferred upon me y those whom I represent here. Inadequate as I am to the task, and embarrassed as I feel, I am obliged thus early to force myself upon the kind consideration of the House, in order that it may be enabled to judge whether I am deserving the imputation made, and the punishment inflicted, without a trial; and whether I shall be able to vindicate myself before it and those friends who are eagerly and anxiously waiting the result, as well as the public. I cannot expect to make any impression by force of language or powers of oratory. My defence is a simple statement of facts, supported by incontrovertible documents. My crime and that of my family is a steady and undeviating attachment to, and support of, our invaluable constitution in church and state. Throughout a long life of public service I have never swerved from these principles; and I am bold to say that, even at the risk of incurring the still stronger censure of the Irish government and its advisers, I do not think I ever shall. I am fully sensible of the awkwardness of my position, but I hope my friends will find that the few topics to which I shall advert will not add to it. Sir, I need hardly remind the House that I have been lately deprived by the Irish government, of the deputy-lieutenancy of the county of Tyrone, and of the commission of the peace for that county, an office which I had held for upwards of three-and-thirty years; the reason assigned by the Government for that deprivation being, that I had proposed, to a number of my friends whom I entertained, by special invitation, at dinner, after my late election, as a toast, “The Battle of the Diamond.” The public papers have dealt so largely with the subject that it would be but affectation in me, humble individual as I am, were I to imply that any hon. Member was ignorant either of my alleged offence, or of the punishment with which the Irish Government has been induced to visit it. I shall leave untouched what might be said of my performance of my magisterial duties, the offence for which I was dismissed from them being avowedly unconnected with them. I shall state some facts to the House, and leave hon. Members to draw their own conclusions from them. I feel I owe it to myself and to the guests I entertained, and for whose acceptance I proposed the toast, indignantly to repel the character which—in their ignorance, or from some unexplained cause—the Government has been pleased to give to that toast. The toast was not a new one—was not one given at my table for the first time—but one which had for nearly half a century been proposed and cheered in very many of the convivial meetings in that part of the country. It was a local toast, but one well known in the county of Armagh and the adjoining counties, and which had been current, uncensured, and unrebuked, from September, 1795, up to August last. I am therefore bound, not merely for the credit of myself, or of my friends who were assembled at my table, but for the credit of all belonging to the county I have the honour to represent who have so often pledged that toast, to show to the House and to inform the Government of Ireland of the true character and qualities of those whom they have inconsiderately and unwarrantably designated as a “lawless and disgraceful mob.” Happily I shall be able to do this very shortly, by reference to documents, to which I shall beg the attention of the House, and from public records. But, before I enter into an explanation of the circumstances out of which the toast arose, and the sense in which I proposed, it, I think I ought to read so much of the correspondence that took place between the Government and myself as will be necessary to make my statements intelligible to the House. And here I must observe, that this is not a question of orange and green, of Protestant and Roman Catholic, but it is a question between the unpaid independent magistracy of Ireland on the one hand, and an unconstitutional and tyrannical exercise of the executive authority on the other. I shall now proceed to read the letter of Mr. Secretary Drummond—the first communication I had upon the subject:— “Dublin Castle, August 22,1837.” “Sir—It appearing in The Newry Telegraph, of the 10th instant, that at an election dinner given by you on the 7th one of the toasts was ‘The Battle of the Diamond,’ I am directed by his Excellency, now that the elections are all terminated, to desire that you will inform him whether it can be possible that you were thus a party to the commemoration of a lawless and most disgraceful conflict, in which much of the blood of your fellow-subjects was spilt, and the immediate consequence of which was, as testified at the time by all the leading men and magistrates of your county, to place that part of the country at the mercy of an ungovernable mob. I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,” “T. DRUMMOND.” “To Lieut.-Colonel Verner, Churchill, Moy.” This is the letter which I received from Mr. Drummond, and I submit it to the judgment of the House; and I ask, is it a letter such as ought to have been written? Is it a letter to which a calm answer could be returned? I shall make no further comment upon it now. The letter of the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, which I shall presently read, will supply the best comment upon it. I shall now read my answer:— “Carlton Club, London, Aug. 29, 1837.” “Sir,—I have received a letter, dated August 22, bearing your signature, and inquiring of me, by the direction of his Excellency, ‘whether it is possible that I was a party to the commemoration of a lawless and most disgraceful conflict, in which much of the blood of my fellow-subjects was spilt, and the immediate consequence of which was, as testified at the time by all the leading men and magistrates of your county, to place that part of the country at the mercy of an ungovernable mob?'” “I am disposed to think that, when you put a question in a form like this, you can hardly expect, on cool reflection, that I should condescend to answer it—at least, I would imagine you could expect no other answer than one which I hold superfluous, namely, that I am not capable of being a party to the commemoration of anything ‘lawless and disgraceful.’ I would request, if I am ever again to be favoured by a question which you are directed to propose, that it may be expressed in terms better calculated to invite an answer, and more likely, also, to be understood. I must say that your letter does not appear to me very intelligible,” “His Excellency seems to assume that the appearance of a statement in a public newspaper authorises a call upon me to contradict or confirm it. I do not feel myself at liberty to do either. I had the honour to entertain several of my friends at dinner on the day to which your letter refers. I am bold to affirm, that at that entertainment nothing took place which loyal and honourable men would hesitate to avow most frankly: But I speak, I am confident, the sentiments of my friends, and of every gentleman whose freedom is not restrained by official station, when I say that a question like this in your letter ought not to be proposed to me, and that I am bound to decline replying to it.” I pass over a few sentences, in which I complain of some slanderous observations made in a paper, the supposed organ of the Castle of Dublin, and I come to a paragraph to which I would beg the attention of the House, as it has been tortured by the most perverse ingenuity into a meaning which I defy any straightforward intellect to give it:— “Upon the various misrepresentations, unintentional I have no doubt, which your letter contains, I have no desire to comment. I feel it necessary only to assure you that, of all the conflicts, and they are, unhappily, numerous, which took place at any of the various places called by the name of ‘Diamond,’ in the county of Armagh, there is none to which your description is, in the least degree, applicable.” I disclaim for the conflict which I commemorated, and for every other of the same name and nature, the opprobrious character which the Irish Government of the present day have been taught to affix to it. I now come to the letter of the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, who, it will appear, had received my reply to Mr. Secretary Drummond’s letter, and submitted it to the Lord-Lieutenant. The noble Lord says: “Dublin Castle, Sept. 5, 1837.” “Sir,—I have had the honour of submitting to the Lord-Lieutenant your letter of the 29th ult.” “His Excellency regrets that you should have had any difficulty in understanding the letter addressed to you on the 22d of August, But for such an assurance, his Excellency would not have supposed the unsatisfactory nature of your answer could, in any degree, have been ascribed to that cause.” “As a magistrate, appointed to administer justice between her Majesty’s Protestant and Roman Catholic subjects, his Excellency desired that you should be called upon to state whether, at an election dinner, of which an account appeared at length in a public paper, you had proposed, or been a party to the proposal of, a toast commemorative of a sanguinary feud between the Protestants and Roman Catholics of Armagh. By whom, or to whom, that dinner was given—on what occasion, or in what place—his Excellency considers a matter of comparative indifference; but, as head of the executive government in Ireland, it concerns him to know whether you and other gentlemen in the commission held up such an event as that known by the name of ‘The Battle of the Diamond,’ as one deserving of being commemorated.” “You profess yourself unable to recognise the conflict alluded to under the above title, by reason of the many such conflicts which have unhappily occurred in the county of Armagh, at places called by the name of the Diamond.” I ask the noble Lord where, or in what form of words, I have professed myself unable to recognise the conflict alluded to? I say boldly my letter contains no one expression which can excuse the noble Lord for his most singular misconceptions of my meaning. I shall again read the passage in my letter which the noble Lord has so unaccountably failed to understand. “I feel it necessary only to assure you, that of all the conflicts which took place at any of the various places called Diamond, in the county Armagh, there is none to which your description is, in the least degree, applicable.” These were my words—surely they are not capable of being perverted into anything which can justify the noble Lord’s representation of them. I did not say that I was unable to recognise “the Battle of the Diamond,” as I have been taunted with doing, in consequence of the many occurrences to which the name could be applied; but I will tell the noble Lord in what I could not recognise it—in the unfaithful and exaggerated picture which official personages in the castle of Dublin thought proper to call a representation of it. As the noble Lord’s letter is a long one, I pass over some passages of it, in which an effort was made to form an analogy between a toast given in private for the reception of persons, all of whom profess the same opinions, and a procession with arms, flags, banners, and symbols calculated to produce irritation upon the part of an unfriendly and excited population. The noble Lord continues.— “It is the invariable practice, when any representation is made to Government affecting the character or usefulness of a magistrate or other public officer, for whose appointment or continuance the executive government is responsible, to communicate such representation to him before any proceedings are taken thereon, that he may have an opportunity of explaining or disavowing the statements made to his prejudice. That course was followed in the present instance, and his Excellency conceives that he had a right to expect a distinct and unequivocal avowal or disavowal of your having been a party to the proceeding in question, or a satisfactory explanation that the nature and tendency of the proceeding did not deserve the character imputed to it!” The noble Lord describes the course invariably adopted by the Government when addressing an inquiry to a gentleman holding the commission of the peace. Two questions, he says, are addressed to them. The first—Has a certain act imputed to them been committed? The second—Have they any explanation to offer? This was not the course pursued towards me. I was told an act was highly criminal, and then asked had I committed it? These are the words:—”I am directed by his Excellency to desire that you will inform him whether it can he possible that you were a party to the commemoration of a lawless and disgraceful conflict,” &c. To which I replied—”I am not capable of being a party to the commemoration of any thing law-less and disgraceful.” This is my answer: it does not appear to have given the noble Lord satisfaction. I can only say it would have been far more gratifying to me to have had an opportunity of framing my answer differently, but I could not, after the fullest consideration, reply in any other spirit. Had I said, “Yes,” I admitted that I was guilty of commemorating what was “lawless and disgraceful.” Had I said “No,” I should appear to equivocate, as if I had denied the fact of the toast, when I only meant to deny the description given to it by the noble Lord at the head of the Irish Government. This manifesto of the noble Lord did not appear to me at the time to require any answer from me. The greater part of it consisted, as I have already said, of a laboured effort to draw an analogy between a private party and a public procession, and in an endeavour to pervert my meaning, as if I was myself ignorant what battle of the Diamond I intended proposing; and it ended by-telling me that “his Excellency deemed it expedient to recommend to the Lord Chancellor that I should not be included in the new commission of the peace about to be issued;” and also directed that my name should be omitted from the revised list of deputy lieutenants for the county Tyrone. Had I supposed for one moment that this letter required any reply from me, I should not have been so deficient in courtesy to the noble Lord as not to have given it an immediate answer. This was conclusive. I shall now proceed with my statement. The noble Lord may recollect the state of England sufficiently well at the period to which I have alluded to render it unnecessary for me to remind him what it was. Struggling against the designs of foreign and domestic enemies, engaged in an expensive war, suffering under a scarcity of grain, and an accumulation of taxes, her people excited by dangerous associations, the very life of the King attempted, she was unable to give to Ireland that military assistance which “secret and treasonable associations of dangerous extent and malignity” from within, and a threatened invasion from without, imperatively called for. For the state of Ireland I shall refer the noble Lord to documents ready at his hands of a public nature and indisputable evidence; or if the noble Lord would prefer the authority of writers not favourable to Protestant or Conservative principles as to the state of Armagh in the year 1795, he will find the facts proved in the trial of Jackson—he will find them noticed in the memoirs of Wolfe Tone, and confessed by M’Irwin and Emmett. However, the noble Lord will find in the speeches of the Lord-Lieutenant to both Houses of Parliament, in the year 1796′, that there existed then in Ireland “secret and treasonable associations of dangerous extent and malignity;” and it was “the scene of insurrection and of outrage;” and that the King had been obliged to direct an addition to be made to the regular forces in Ireland by troops sent from Great Britain. The noble Lord will find in an Act of the same year that during the year 1795 “several parts of Ireland were disturbed by treasonable insurrections of persons assuming the name of Defenders;” in another, that “traitorous insurrections had arisen, principally promoted and supported by persons associating under the pretended obligation of oaths unlawfully administered;” in a third, that “it was necessary, in order to deter men from entering into conspiracies to murder, to increase the punishment of persons convicted of such horrid crimes;” and in a fourth, that “tumultuous risings had of late happened in Ireland, and that the persons engaged therein had practised various secret contrivances for being supplied with and keeping arms and ammunition,” This shows to the noble Lord, on the one hand, a secret, extensive, armed, and organised confederacy, pillaging, destroying, burning, murdering—and, on the other, a government willing, perhaps, but unable—few troops, no police, no yeomanry. In this state of things was it “lawless and disgraceful”—was it deserving of blame and stigma—for the well-disposed to take up arms on behalf of “the security of property and the preservation of tranquillity and good order?” The Lord-Lieutenant of the present day, at his ease, and with England and its whole army at his back, may say so; but so did not say the Lord-Lieutenant of that day. In his address to both Houses of Parliament he says:— “At a time when the ambitious projects of our enemies have threatened to interrupt the happiness and prosperity of his people by making a descent on this kingdom and Great Britain, his Majesty has been graciously pleased to direct an addition to be made to the regular troops in this kingdom by troops sent from Great Britain, the greater part of which is already arrived; and, in pursuance of his Majesty’s commands, I have also encouraged the loyalty and zealous disposition which has generously displayed itself to associate in arms for the better security of property and the preservation of tranquillity and good order.” This announcement, made by the Government in the month of October, followed the first institution of the yeomanry, which had taken place during the recess. My father, in his own county, where he resided, Armagh, and in the adjoining county, Tyrone, where he also possessed property, with his brother magistrates, entered into resolutions, to which I request the attention of the House. “Whereas we have observed with much concern that great pains have been taken, in many parts of this country, to excite discontent among his Majesty’s faithful subjects, thereby to alienate their affections from his person and Government, and to induce them to be willing to change our excellent free constitution for the system of anarchy and confusion which is now threatening desolation over other parts of the world.” “And whereas we have reason to believe that such miscreants have carried their wickedness so far as to hold treasonable correspondence with the French, with whom his Majesty is now at open war, to invite them to invade this kingdom, and, as an encouragement, have held out the following audacious falsehood, viz., that his Majesty’s subjects in this kingdom are ready to rebel against him, and to adopt their principles; and that a few, seduced by the emissaries of the French, through the management of a desperate and traitorous society, have bound themselves by oaths to be ready in furtherance of their purposes in case of invasion, either to join them, or to rise and take possession of our country and the property of its peaceable inhabitants:” “Now we, whose names are hereunto subscribed, sincerely attached to our most excellent constitution, sensible of the benefits we enjoy under the mild Government of our most gracious Sovereign, and of the present prosperous state of the country—prosperous to a degree heretofore unexampled—where wealth and comfort are sure to follow honest industry—unwilling to put at hazard these solid advantages—and abhorrent of the machinations of a set of desperate adventurers, who, without property themselves, aim at that of others, and hope to rise in wealth and consequence in a general confusion,” “Resolve,—That we will, at the hazard of our lives and fortunes, support and defend our gracious King George the Third against all foreign and domestic enemies.” “That we will discourage and oppose all treasonable and seditious practices, and resist all attempts to disturb the peace of the country; and further, should his Majesty, in his wisdom, require such exertion, that we will embody ourselves for his defence and for the protection of our lives and properties, and enrol ourselves under such officers as he shall commission, and with their assistance, and under their command, will train and discipline ourselves, so as to be able to render him the more effectual service, and frustrate the hopes of the traitors and banditti who vainly rely upon finding the country naked and defenceless, should the regular troops be drawn off to oppose an invading enemy.” These resolutions were unanimously approved of, and warmly recommended to be adopted in the different towns and parishes throughout the country by the magistrates, whose names were affixed to them, at the quarter sessions held at Dungannon on the 15th of July, 1796, viz.:—
|Castle Stuart,||James Verner,|
|James Stuart,||T. Caulfield,|
|James Richardson,||W. J. Armstrong,|
|T. Knox,||Edward Evans,|
|John Staples,||A. Stewart,|
|Robert Lowry,||T. Foresythe,|
|T. K. Hannyngton,||Samuel Strean.|
In this spirit, and acting upon these resolutions, my father presented himself to the Lord-Lieutenant at the head of a list of several hundred men, of whom some of the first yeomanry corps were formed. I need hardly add, that amongst them were many of that small but gallant band who, at the battle of the Diamond, associated themselves upon the side of the King and his Government for “the security of property, and the preservation of tranquillity and good order.” The “ungovernable mob,” including my old friend, who favoured me with his company at my dinner, and whose name I coupled with the toast, were, “under his Majesty’s authority,” enrolled in yeomanry corps, and gallantly, faithfully, and fearlessly did their duly to their King and to their country as soldiers, I ask the noble Lord were the yeomanry of Armagh an “ungovernable mob” when the French invaded Ireland? Were they an “ungovernable mob” when the rebellion of 1798 broke out? Were they an “ungovernable mob” in the rebellion of 1803? When (he Lord Chief Justice (Lord Kilwarden) was butchered in the streets of Dublin, did England look upon the yeomanry of Ireland as an “ungovernable mob,” when both Houses of Parliament, upon two occasions, passed a unanimous vote of thanks to them for the services they had rendered to their country? And were those in whose honour I proposed the toast an “ungovernable mob,” and was their conduct “lawless and disgraceful” from the day they took up arms voluntarily, the 21st of September, 1795, until they laid them down to be replaced by new ones under a Whig Government in 1831? I must now beg leave to call the attention of the noble Lord to a very few short testimonials, in order to let his Lordship see the opinions entertained by the Government and those in authority at that period of the “ungovernable mob” who constituted the yeomanry of Ireland. Upon the 16th of January, 1797, I find the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland addressing both Houses of Parliament in these terms:— “I have beheld with pleasure the zeal and alacrity of his Majesty’s regular military forces, and the prompt and honourable exertions of the yeomanry corps, whose decided utility has been so abundantly displayed. I have not failed to represent, to his Majesty this meritorious conduct of his faithful subjects in Ireland, and am expressly commanded to convey them his cordial acknowledgment and thanks.”
Again, upon the 18th of March, in the same year, the Lord-Lieutenant. thus addresses the. House of Commons:— “The dangerous and daring outrages committed in many parts of the province of Ulster, evidently perpetrated with a view to supersede the laws and prevent the administration of justice, by an organized system of murder and robbery, have lately increased to so daring a degree in some parts of that province as to bid defiance to the exertions of the civil power, and to endanger the lives and properties of his Majesty’s subjects in that part of the kingdom,” “These outrages are encouraged and supported by treasonable associations to overturn our happy constitution. Threats have been held out against the lives of all persons who shall venture to disavow such their treasonable intentions. The frequent treasonable assemblages of persons, and their proceeding by threats and force to disarm the peaceable inhabitants; their endeavours to collect great quantities of arms in obscure hiding-places; their assembling by night to exercise in the practice of arms; their intimidation, accompanied by the most horrid murders, to prevent his Majesty’s faithful subjects from joining the yeomanry troops; their having seized on some of his Majesty’s justices of the peace, and threatening with murder any who should have the spirit to stand forth in support of the laws, which threats have been recently exemplified; their attacks on the military, by firing on them in the execution of their duty; have so totally bid defiance to the ordinary exertions of civil power, that I found myself obliged, by every tie of duty to his Majesty, and of regard to the welfare of his faithful subjects, to provide for the public safely by the most effectual and immediate application of the military force entrusted to me.” “I have accordingly ordered the General commanding in that province to dispose of and employ those troops under his command, with the assistance and co-operation of the Yeomanry, to suppress these outrages, &c.” “I have the satisfaction of informing you that by the firm and temperate conduct of the general, and the troops under him, and the zealous co-operation of the yeomanry corps, a very considerable number of arms has been taken,” &c. &c.”
On the 17th of May, in the same year, I find a proclamation by the Lord-Lieutenant and Council in Dublin, to this effect: “That there exists within this kingdom a seditious and traitorous conspiracy, by a number of persons styling themselves United Irishmen.” “That they have frequently assembled in large armed bodies, and plundered of arms the houses of many of his Majesty’s loyal subjects in different parts of the kingdom, and cut down and carried away great numbers of trees, where with to make handles for pikes and other offensive weapons to arm their treacherous associates, and have audaciously attempted to disarm the district yeomanry corps enrolled under his Majesty’s commission for the defence of the realm.” “We do hereby strictly charge and command all our officers, civil and military, and ail other of his Majesty’s loving subjects, to use their utmost endeavours to discover all pikes, pike-heads, concealed guns and swords, offensive weapons, or ammunition of any kind whatsoever.” “And we do hereby strictly charge and command all officers, civil and military, and all other his Majesty’s faithful subjects, to be aiding and assisting in suppressing all treacherous, tumultuous, and unlawful assemblies, and in bringing to punishment all persons disturbing or attempting to disturb the public peace.”
On the 3rd of July in the same year, the Lord-Lieutenant, on proroguing Parliament, in his speech n both Houses, expresses his approbation of the yeomanry. He says: “The powers with which you entrusted me by the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act have enabled me to bring to light and to disconcert the formidable and secret conspiracy which had been formed for the total overthrow of your establishments, the destruction of property, and the dissolution of government. This conspiracy has been so fully unfolded by your wisdom, that it con no longer spread itself under the insidious pretence which it had artfully assumed of improving the constitution.” “I cannot too often repeat my full sense of your wisdom in the establishment of district corps. I have the most satisfactory accounts of their improvement in discipline as well as of their exertions in quelling and preventing insurrection; and I have myself witnessed the unexampled exertions, good conduct, and military appearance of the corps of the metropolis, whose unceasing and unvaried vigilance at a most important crisis, checked, every attempt to produce confusion by riot and tumult at the same time that it destroyed the hopes of our enemies, and restored confidence to the country in general.”
The noble Lord concluded his speech in these words; I shall make no comment upon them:— “We have a common and a sacred cause to defend—the independence and constitution of Great Britain and Ireland, from which both kingdoms have derived innumerable blessings under his Majesty’s auspicious reign. They were purchased by the dearest blood of your ancestors, in a crisis not less formidable than the present. I trust we shall not fail to imitate their great example, and that we shall be enabled, by similar courage and continued firmness, to transmit to our posterity inviolate that invaluable inheritance which their valour rescued and their perseverance preserved.”
Notwithstanding the impatience of some hon. Gentlemen opposite who seem unwilling to hear me, I must trespass further upon the attention of the House and the noble Lord by reading two or three circulars issued about that period. The first is dated “Dublin Castle, August 25, 1797,” and is marked “Circular:”— “SIR,—His Excellency has directed me to express, in the strongest terms the very high sense he entertains of the exertions which have been so conspicuously and so universally displayed by the district corps in preserving the tranquillity of their several districts.” “W. ELLIOTT ‘.”
The next is dated. “Dublin Castle, December 18, 1797,” and is also marked “Circular:”— “SIR,—I have his Excellency’s particular injunctions to convey in the warmest terms to yourself and to the officers and privates under your command his high approbation of the zeal which you have manifested by your regular and assiduous attention to your military duty, and which is no less honourable to yourselves than it has been conducive to the protection and security of your country.” “PELHAM.”
To the letter I am now about to read, I would beg the attention of the House, because it is addressed to Captain Atkinson, a gentleman who resided not more than half a mile from where the “Battle of the Diamond” was fought, and who commanded the Crawthhill Corps of Yeomanry, the greater part of whom had been engaged in that conflict:— “Armagh, Sept. 5, 1793.” “SIR,—I am desired by Major-general Goldie to know from you what number of loyal men you can bring forward, in case of necessity, to join your corps, and act under the yeomanry standing orders as supernumerary men, and for whom you think you can be responsible.” “H. ARCHDALE, M.B.” “Directed to Captain Atkinson, &c.”
The next is dated the. 31st of October, 1800, and is from Dublin Castle, marked “Circular”:— “SIR,—His Excellency is desirous of taking this opportunity to express the high degree of satisfaction with which he has witnessed the loyalty, zeal, and spirit universally displayed 646 by the yeomanry of this country—whose exertions have already so materially contributed to its security, and which he is persuaded will ever be in readiness to maintain the blessings of peace, by the promotion of good order amongst all his Majesty’s subjects.” “CHARLES KNIGHT.”
I have already informed the House that, upon two occasions, a vote of thanks to the yeomanry of Ireland passed both Houses of Parliament. Upon one of those occasions it was accompanied by an order of the House, which I shall read:— “That there be laid before it a return of all corps, &c, in order that such return may be entered on the Journals of the House, and the patriotic example of such voluntary exertions be transmitted to posterity. “J. LEY.”
I shall trouble the House with but one more document upon this subject, and I introduce it in order to let the House see that the services of the yeomanry of Ireland were not merely nominal, or that the thanks they received and the House bestowed upon them were for a mere profession of service. It is dated Dublin Castle, August 24, 1798:— “SIR,—I have the honour to acquaint you that on the 13th of September inst., a Board will be held at the Royal Hospital, for the admission of such yeomen as have been disabled in active service. “CASTLEREAGH.”
The battle of the Diamond took place before I was of sufficient age to take part in it, but I have a full recollection of the state of the country at that period, and I knew the course of life, the character and the loyal and constitutional principles of the gallant and respectable Gentleman who at my table represented them who took the side of “good order” and of the King at the battle of the Diamond, and the who tenor of his life and character, and those principles, forbade me to believe that he would have been a participator in anything “lawless and disgraceful.” It might be supposed that in bringing that Gentleman thus forward I was subjecting him to the vindictiveness of the Government, and putting him in the way of punishment. I shall, therefore, refer the noble Lord, who does not seem to be deeply read in the narratives of those times, to an Act of Parliament, which will show him that those who took part in the endeavour to preserve the peace of the country in those days-ran no risk, and which bears most materially upon the battle of the Diamond. It is the 36th George the 3d chap. 6, passed early in the year 1796, a few months after the affair of the Diamond. It says:—
“Whereas, during the year 1795, several parts of the kingdom were disturbed by treasonable insurrections of persons assuming the name of Defenders, and the lives and properties of many peaceable an i faithful subjects destroyed, and several of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace and other officers and persons, in order to preserve the public peace, the lives and properties of his Majesty’s faithful subjects, and to suppress and put an end to such transactions, have apprehended several criminals, &c., and without due authority have sent other accused and suspected persons out of the kingdom, and also seized arms, and entered into the houses and possessions of several persons, and done other acts not justifiable by law, but which were yet so much for the public service, and so necessary for the suppression of such insurrections, and for the preservation of the public peace, that the persons by whom they were transacted, ought to be indemnified. Be it therefore enacted,” &c.”
This is the law the Parliament thought proper to enact a few months after the battle of the Diamond, for the protection of those who had come forward upon that and similar occasions “to preserve the public peace, the lives and properties of his Majesty’s faithful subjects;” and yet, Sir, in violation of that law, and in the face of that Act of Parliament, the Government in Ireland have denounced me for commemorating what the Legislature of that day pronounced to be “so much for the public service, so necessary for the suppression of insurrection, and for the preservation of the public peace.” I have stated enough to show that the “battle of the Diamond” was an event which could not have been disapproved of by the then Government, and that the conduct of those who took part in it was hut little likely to call forth the censure of those in authority. From what I have stated it is plain that to describe as “lawless and disgraceful” the conduct of the loyalists of the Diamond is to rebuke the Government and the Legislature of that day; it is to pass a censure upon the several Governments who permitted such a frequent delinquent to the same extent for so many years to continue to hold the commission of the peace—to sanction my appointment as a deputy-lieutenant—to allow me to be advanced in the honorable profession to which I belong, and even in the yeomanry to pass through the several gradations of rank, from carrying a musket as a private to having the command of a corps, I have thought it becoming in me to say thus much, and to say it in this place, as a defence against the insult and attempted degradation, which coming from the high quarter it did, was not to be defended at a public meeting, a dinner-table, or through the medium of the public press. I conceive I owed it to the dignity of this House, of which I have the honour to be a Member, and to the preservation of my own character, to stand up in my place and say that I am not a commemorator of anything that is “lawless and disgraceful.” I regret that I have been obliged to trespass upon the House at such length, and cannot conclude without expressing my high sense of the obligation I am under for its patient hearing. I cannot, however, sit down without making one remark in addition to what I have already said, because it conveys to my mind this pleasing reflection, that I am, at the end of three and thirty years, during which time I held the office of a magistrate, deprived of the commission of the peace as unworthy any longer to be permitted to hold it; the alleged offence for which I am dismissed is wholly unconnected with the performance of my duty as a magistrate. Were the state of Ireland again, which God forbid, such as it was in 1795, and were there arrayed on the one side secret associations, traitors, and rebels, and on the other zealous persons who, to preserve the peace, had assembled in arms, I should not hesitate which side to take, certain that though in the estimation of the advisers of the present Irish Government I acted “lawlessly and disgracefully,” the wise, and just, and good, would say, that my conduct, though not perhaps in strict accordance with law, was so necessary, and so much for the public good, that it deserved no blame. I have now no hesitation in assuring the House that I had not the remotest intention of proposing as a toast “The Battle of the Diamond.” It was not upon my list of toasts, and it was not until after at least two-thirds of those who honoured me with their company at dinner had left the house, and I was about to retire myself, that the toast was given—when, observing a gentleman in the room who was at the Diamond conflict, and whose name I had heard coupled for so many years with that event, I did out of compliment to him propose the toast, never intending the slightest offence, or supposing it could be made the subject of animadversion. Now, with regard to the public press, I think it. only fair to tell the House that there was no reporter present. A respectable gentleman of the county, connected with the press was amongst my guests. But he came because he was specially invited, the same as any other gentleman. But as the noble Lord and the Under Secretary have so pointedly alluded to the newspaper report, I conceive I have an equal right to do so, and what do I find? “The Battle of the Diamond” was the very last toast given, followed immediately by this observation: “At this period (half-past twelve) Colonel Verner retired.” I could not, then, have remained only for the purpose of giving that toast. In giving this candid and true explanation, and which I would have given at the first had it been required, of me in less unbecoming terms, I beg I may not be understood as intending, by the admission thus made, to convey the impression that I consider the toast one, the commemoration of which ought to, be objected to by any loyal subject hut as one, like many others, which has been willfully perverted and misrepresented. The hon. and gallant Gentleman concluded by moving for “a copy of the correspondence between her Majesty’s Government in Ireland and Colonel Verner, with respect to his removal from the offices of deputy-lieutenant and justice of the peace for the county of Tyrone.”
Viscount Morpeth said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman had himself intimated, and indeed his speech of this evening had made further provision that sufficient publicity was already attached to these transactions; and he might also observe that some vacancies which met his eyes in the benches opposite seemed to say that there were others who entertained this opinion. He had no objection to the production of the papers for which the hon. and gallant. Gentleman had moved; but he hoped he should be allowed to make a few comments on the observations with which the hon. and gallant Gentleman had accompanied his motion. In the first place, however, he begged to declare that at the present moment, as well as at the period of the transaction itself, he experienced sincere regret at having been put in a situation in which he felt himself called on to act in a manner that might seem ungracious and harsh towards a Gentleman for whose personal honour and whose conduct in all the relations of private life he had always been led to form a high estimate. So much as to what was merely personal between them. He would now address himself to the question itself. As regarded the Battle of the Diamond, the hon. and gallant Gentleman objected to the terms of the letter originally written to him by the Under Secretary, Mr. Drummond, wherein that gentleman asked him whether he had given the objectionable toast, and whether he had assisted at the dinner. If, however, the House compared the letter written by Mr. Drummond with the reply to that letter written by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, he thought it would not suffer by the contrast in point of courtesy, and general propriety of style. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman contended that the Battle of the Diamond having been described in the letter as “a lawless and disgraceful conflict,” on being asked if he had given the toast, he was called on to admit he had been guilty of an act that was discreditable to himself. Now, in his, (Lord Morpeth’s) opinion, the hon. and gallant Gentleman was bound to afford the information required of him as to the simple matter of fact, whatever might have been his individual opinion on the subject. He thought they had a right to expect that when the representative of the Sovereign demanded an explanation of a Gentleman holding the commission of the peace, his answer would be explicit, with some appearance of deference, and that at least it would be addressed to the point at issue, instead of deviating into matters contained in The Dublin Evening Post, which the hon. and gallant Gentleman called the organ of the Irish Government; but he begged to assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that for no opinion or expression in that journal was the Government in any way responsible. The hon. and gallant Gentleman complained of the use made of certain expressions in his letter in allusion to the conflicts that had taken place in the neighbourhood of the Diamond. He was glad to find that the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not intend to raise any doubt on that subject, because when he spoke of all the conflicts—and of numbers having unhappily taken place in the county of Armagh—it did seem as if he wished to distract attention, by the multiplicity of these transactions, from what Colonel Blacker called that “great day, the 21st of September.” But if it were true that in the same neighbourhood many similar conflicts had taken place, (the only material point for the hon. and gallant Member being that a battle had been ‘fought, that blood had been shed), then surely the case of the Government against the hon. and gallant Gentleman was greatly aggravated. He would carry the House as quickly as he could over the historical facts, but he would ask whether he had not received some provocation from the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to enter a little into details? For some time previously to the Battle of the Diamond, the adjacent country had been the seem: of repeated conflicts between the two parties, one of them composed of what were called the “Peep-of-day boys,” consisting of Protestants and chiefly, he believed, Presbyterians, and the other consisting of Roman Catholics. The most painful excesses were the result of their respective hostilities. Now, he was not curious to dispute the fact, that in the actual affray, which went by the name of “The Battle of the Diamond,” the defenders or the Roman Catholic party for that day were not the aggressors. But assuming that it was quite clear they were the aggressors, it appeared equally plain that they were the sole sufferers. What was the account given by Colonel Blacker, an early witness of the transaction? In his examination before the Orange Lodge Committee, he was asked the following questions, and gave the following answers:— “What did you see at the Diamond?—When I got up I saw the Defenders making off in one direction, and the filing had nearly teased, I may say had ceased except a dropping shot or two, and I saw a number of dead bodies.” “Can you slate about the number?—No: they were conveying them away on cars in different directions, so that I could not make an exact calculation.” “Were there fifty?—No; if there were thirty killed, that was the outside.” “Were there any Protestants killed?—Not that I could hear of.” Impute what they would to the Roman Catholics, talk as they might of their bad faith and treachery, say what they would of the provocation, he asked whether the blood that had been shed was not sufficient to expiate, and the intervening period of forty years sufficient to obliterate, these unhappy proceedings? “Satis jam pridem sanguine nostro” “Laomedoiuæ luimus perjuria Trojæ.” Was such a result as that which he had described a fitting object for commemoration at moments of convivial relaxation, to give the plea its best colour, in the neighbourhood, and among the descendants., or even the remnant of the sufferers, nay worse, the inflictors of that tragic retribution. But it was said that the Battle of the Diamond put an end to the insurrection, and secured the peaceful administration of the law in the province of Ulster. Documents of all kinds had been referred to with a view of showing such an effect; even the orderly-book of a regiment had been brought into court to afford, proof of this. After the numerous quotations read through by the hon. and gallant Member, he should refer to a few scattered materials from the history of the same period, more especially after part of a speech which an hon. and learned Gentleman opposite—he meant the learned Sergeant—had been pleased to address to his constituents at Bandon. Mr. Sergeant Jackson there stated:— “There has been gross misconception (the letter of Colonel Verner shows it) respecting the event which it commemorated. The individual who dictated that letter was ignorant of the history of the country. An aged and veteran general officer has slated the true history of the transaction, and it would appear to have been a gallant and successful resistance by a body of Protestants to an attack by a body of Defenders.” The House would see that the points against which he had to contend were, first, that the Battle of the Diamond put an end to the insecurity of Ulster and the disturbances of Armagh, and next, that it was a contest between traitors on the one hand, and loyal and faithful subjects on the other. It would be seen how history bore witness to this statement of the case. The Battle of the Diamond took place on the 21st of September, 1795, and the state of the county of Armagh, a short time afterwards, was described as follows at the “FIRST MEETING OF THE MAGISTRATES OF THE COUNTY OF ARMAGH, OCT. 19, 1795.” “Whereas the peace of this county has been, and continues to be, disturbed by mobs of riotous and disorderly persons, who assemble in considerable bodies, attack the houses of well-disposed inhabitants, and rob them of arms, money, and other matters of properly.” “SECOND MEETING, OCT. 26, 1795.” “As we find that bodies of armed men still continue to parade through different parts of this country, both by day and night, committing great outrages, and disturbing the peaceable inhabitants.” “Resolutions signed and subscriptions entered into, by” “GOSFORD,” “WILLIAM ARMAGH, the Primate,” “CHARLEMONT,” “CAPEL MOLYNEUX,” “W. BROWNLOW,” “H. HAMLTON, Dean of Armagh, after Bishop of Ossory,” “W. BISSETT, after Bishop of Raphoe,” “JAMES VERNER (it is stated), &c, &c, &c.” The next extract he should read was, from the Earl of Gosford’s address, as chairman of the Quarter Sessions of the county of Armagh, on the 21st December, 1795. Lord Gosford said— “Gentlemen,—It is no secret that a persecution, accompanied with all the circumstances of ferocious cruelly which have, in all ages, distinguished the dreadful calamity, is now raging in this county. Neither age nor sex, nor even acknowledged innocence, as to any guilt in the late disturbances, is sufficient to excite mercy, much less to afford protection. The only crime which the wretched objects of this ruthless persecution are charged with is a crime, indeed, of easy proof; it is simply a profession of the Roman Catholic faith, or an intimate connexion with a. person professing that faith. A lawless banditti have constituted themselves judges of this new species of delinquency, and the sentence they have pronounced is equally concise and terrible; ’tis nothing less than a confiscation of all property, and an immediate banishment. It would be extremely painful, and surely unnecessary, to detail the horrors that attend the execution of so wide and tremendous a proscription—a proscription that certainly exceeds in the comparative number of those it consigns to ruin and misery every example that ancient or modern history can supply; for where have we heard, or in what history of human cruelties have we read, of more than half the inhabitants of a populous country, deprived at one Mow, of the means as well as the fruits of their industry, and driven, in the midst of an inclement season, to seek a shelter for themselves and their helpless families, where chance may guide them.”” Such was this noble Earl’s opinion of the state of the country two or three months after the battle of the Diamond, such was the description he gave of the situation in which this illustrious conflict placed it. Similar language was used in the Irish Parliament, as to the condition of the county of Armagh in the winter of 1795. Some resolutions were moved on this subject by the Attorney-General of that day, which led to a length, tiled debate. In quoting from the speeches then used, he should, as much as possible, refer to those who entertained opposite views to himself on political subjects. But he should, in the first place, quote the language of Mr. Grattan, and he felt that no apology was necessary for him for repeating the glowing and eloquent language of that distinguished, man. Mr. Grattan said: “Of these outrages, he had received the most dreadful accounts; that their object was the extermination of all the Catholics of that county. It was a persecution conceived in the bitterness of bigotry, carried on with the most ferocious barbarity, by a banditti who, being of the religion of the state, had committed with the greatest audacity and confidence the most horrid murders, and had proceeded from robbery and massacre to extermination: that they had repealed, by their own authority, all the laws lately passed in favour of the Catholics, and had established in the place of those laws, the inquisition of a mob resembling Lord George Gordon’s fanatics, equaling them in outrage, and surpassing far in perseverance and success; that their modes of outrage were as various as they were atrocious. They sometimes forced, by terror, the masters of families, to dismiss their Catholic servants: they sometimes forced landlords, by terror, to dismiss their Catholic tenantry. They seized, as deserters, numbers of Catholic weavers, sent them to the county gaol, transmitted them to Dublin, where they remained in close prison until some lawyers, from compassion, pleaded their cause and had procured their enlargement, nothing appearing against them of any kind whatsoever. Those insurgents, who called themselves Orange boys, or Protestant boys, that is, a banditti of murderers, committing massacre in the name of God, and exercising despotic power, in the name of Liberty.” But lest any one should distrust the authority of Mr. Grattan, and the pregnant and fervid terms in which he embodied his sentiments, in this same debate, he was followed on the same side by Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald, then, as now, knight of Kerry, to whose calmer corroboration he would next refer. Mr. Fitzgerald said:— “He could not reconcile it to himself to remain silent at the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Grattan) of the outrages which had occurred in the county of Armagh, He was sorry to say, he must subscribe to it in its fullest” extent. He lamented that, in that picture which the right hon. Gentleman had drawn, he could trace no exaggeration. ft was, he feared, the melancholy truth that numbers of the unoffending and peaceable inhabitants of that county had been expelled from their habitations and their property by the violence of a bigoted sect; that there existed in that county, a furious and unrelenting persecution of a particular denomination of his Majesty’s loyal subjects. Idle and nugatory would be good dispositions on the part of the Government as long as they continue to be counteracted by those who must be employed to carry them into effect. It is lamentably the fact, that in the county of Armagh, multitudes of families are driven from their homes, the victims of a dreadful persecution, while the magistracy rest, in a kind of lethargy, supinely indifferent to this outrageous violation of justice. He deplored that the magistracy should be so blind to the danger which they were suffering to grow. He trembled at the pernicious effect of mixing any religious prejudices with the distractions which already agitated the kingdom. There was no man so ignorant, but must be aware of the poisonous acrimony which religion adds to any contest in which it shall mingle; nor can any man, in the utmost scope of speculation, calculate the honors to which that conduct may give birth, which would infuse into the agitations of this country a spirit of bigoted religious animosity. A reform in the conduct of the magistracy is the remedy for the peculiar evil alluded to, and no legislative act, no exertion on the part of Government, would have any effect unless that magistracy would concur in the impartial administration of its laws,” Whether such was the case at present he would leave to Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald to determine, who, no doubt, entertained the same opinions now that he formerly so eloquently expressed. This Gentleman was followed by Mr. William Smith, who afterwards tilled the high situation of Baron of his Majesty’s Exchequer in Ireland, and in quoting that gentleman’s opinion he could not help calling to mind the high homage to the ability and talents of that gentleman, and to the impartiality with which he administered justice in that country, which was showered at one time from the Leaches opposite. They, no doubt, would receive with respect the opinion expressed by him as to the state of Armagh at this period. Mr. William Smith said:— “He was persuaded that Government would never prefer one treason to another, or use less severity towards the bigotry and excess of Break-of-day-Boys than towards the equally abominable outrages of Defenders. He bad heard it insinuated, on both sides of the House, that though Defenderism might call for the extraordinary interposition of the Legislature, yet the opposite class of insurgents might be left to the vigilance of Armagh magistrates, and to the ordinary efficacy of the law, as already established. To such a doctrine he must express entire dissent. He viewed both species of offence with equal abhorrence, and thought the Legislature ought to meet them with equal indignation.” The scene next shifted to the special assizes of the county of Armagh, at which more than 100 prisoners were tried for capital offences. Mr. Attorney-General Wolfe, who, by a singular coincidence of name, bore the office at the time, (may the parallel extend to all but the closing scene!) was sent down to prosecute on the part of the Crown. The assizes that he alluded to were held in the spring of 1796. In addition to the two judges, Downes and Smith, Sergeant Stanley was sent down specially to assist as a judge in the Crown Court, and tried prisoners alternately with Baron Smith. The Attorney-General (Wolfe) came down to conduct the prosecution. The Attorney-General said:— “That by order of the Government, who were determined to exert their power to the utmost, in order to restore and preserve the peace of the country, he was come down to prosecute, and he would have it understood that, in the exercise of this his indispensable duty, he would steadily pursue his instructions, which were to prosecute all men charged with crimes; of whatever religious profession they might be—of whatever description—whether in high or in low life—he would bring them to the bar of public justice. What has recently been the situation of Armagh? Man against man; societies formed for the illegal purpose of opposing each other by open force and hostility. The honest and peaceable inhabitant could find neither safety nor repose. In the field and in the house he found himself in danger; he could not retire to his bed without apprehension of violation to his house or injury to his person. Was there a father of a family secure in his children? He did not know the moment that his son was destined to the halter or the assassin’s dagger. There was neither security for age nor youth, for sex nor for industry.” Such was the strong language of the Attorney-General of that day; and he did not think that an incorrect description of the Battle of the Diamond was given by Mr. Secretary Drummond when he called it a lawless scene of outrage. The Attorney-General went on to say:— “Acts had been committed shocking to human nature; cruelties that would disgrace savages had been perpetrated in the county of Armagh. Perhaps these acts had been exaggerated on both sides; but, taking them on the mildest representation, they called for the immediate interference of law and exertions of justice. With whom those enormities commenced he considered as immaterial, for both parties were aggressors against the law, and both must suffer; however, when the law was satisfied, it would then become a national object, a duty incumbent on every man who loved his country, to inculcate on the minds of all parties forgiveness and oblivion.” The law was satisfied—numerous trials took place—and there were several capital convictions, and many executions. After the close of the assizes congratulatory addresses were presented by the grand jury, to the Attorney-General, for the impartiality and ability which he had manifested, and also to the high-sheriff for his impartial conduct in the selection of jurors. Thanks were also voted to the Lord-Lieutenant for the vigour which he had displayed in the administration of the law, and for the timely aid which he had afforded, by which the outrages of these marauders were effectually put down. The law was thus satisfied; but he would ask whether Lord Kilwarden would have thought it consistent with the duty incumbent on every man who loved his country, of inculcating on the minds of all parties forgiveness and oblivion, after the settlement of the disturbances, and the putting a stop to the commission of the outrages which had disgraced the country, to give, to be in the habit of giving, a toast commemorative of that bloody scene which he had described, and thus keep this unhappy circumstance festering in the minds of the population? During the subsequent Session of Parliament the attention of the House of Commons was again called to the state of the county of Armagh. Several gentlemen, with whose opinions he would not trouble the House, took part in the debate, and amongst others Mr. Archdall, Mr. Corry, Mr. Bushe, and Sir Hercules Langrishe. Mr. Archdall said:— “The disturbances were such as every man laments, and no man would justify; but where after all they were only the disturbances of individuals among themselves, great in their extent and melancholy in their circumstances, but originating only in private and personal antipathies. Those individuals were the adverse parties of Puritans and Papists; that is, certain obstinate Roman Catholics on the one side, and various sectaries, perhaps more obstinate still, under the name of Presbyterians, on the other. From the unhappy temper of the times, which seems so prevalent every where, could it be a matter of wonder that in the north such combustible materials should kindle a warmth, especially when contiguous to each other in the same neighbourhood, and blaze into outrage without what the right honourable Gentleman was pleased to call the cruel connivance of the government? But how did this connivance appear? Had assistance ever been asked, and had it been withheld? No. Had means of prevention ever been pointed out, and had they been neglected? No. Had any culpable magistrates ever been particularised, and had they been protected? No. If any magistrate shall be hereafter sentenced as culpable, will he not be punished? Yes; certainly and exemplarily.” He regretted that it had been the painful duty of the present Government to fulfil the prediction of Mr. Archdall. Again, on the 1st of December, 1796, a proclamation was issued against certain disturbances in Armagh, which described the state of that country in nearly similar terms to those he had just read. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said, that he would refer to history as to the state of the county of Armagh, and undoubtedly the hon. Member had referred to certain statements, but not to such as bore on the state of that county at the period in question. By the quotations he had just read he had supplied the defect. He had not entered into the conduct of the yeomanry of Armagh, whether or not they had done their duty, or whether to those who had opposed foreign invasion and resisted rebellion a debt of gratitude was not owing by the country. He had, however, showed that the parties who at the period of the Battle of the Diamond disturbed the county of Armagh and the neighbouring districts were equally censurable—that both the parties that divided the county, and excited it by their religious rancour and bitter feelings, were equally to blame, and ought equally to be stigmatised. The hon. Gentleman referred to the 37th of George 3rd; but that Act appeared to be for the protection of the people who fled from the county of Armagh, who notoriously were not the Peep-of-day-boys, but the Defenders; industrious and peaceable persons. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the Indemnity Act of Lord Carhampton; but it was not necessary at this time of day to attach much importance to that document. Thus much, however, he would say with reference to passing that Indemnity Bill, that however necessary and expedient it might be for the Parliament to pass that Act, it was one thing to indemnify and another to commemorate acts of lawlessness and violence. Such was the state of things which he had endeavoured to bring under the attention of the House in a continued series; and he had referred for his authority to the evidence of magistrates, law officers of the Crown, Lord-Lieutenants of counties. Members of Parliament, Mini- 659 sters of State, Judges, and Viceroys, His proposition was, and the motive for the letter that was sent to the hon. and gallant Gentleman was, and his defence of the Government was then as now, that it was not a state of things which it was wise or discreet, he did not say humane and merciful, for he believed that the error was not in the intention, but in the judgment of the hon. Gentleman; hut that it was not wise or discreet to make it an object of commemoration and approval, nay of imitation on the part of those whose duty it was to protect the innocent and to punish the disturbers of the peace in the midst of a sensitive and excited population. The hon. Gentleman said, that it had been customary to give the toast during the last forty years. He was sorry to hear that such was the case; but he could say thus much, that it had only recently, for the first time, been brought under the notice of the Irish Government, and he hoped that the Government had taken such steps as to prevent the repetition. The fact of such a toast having been given was brought under the notice of the Government by persons of high rank and character, who directed the attention of the authorities to the account of the Armagh election that appeared in a local newspaper. After describing the scene that took place at the election, and the proceedings at the hustings, (I presume these were not to be accounted private,) with the speeches of the several proposers and the candidates, there appeared in large letters the words “The Dinner,” at which entertainment this toast was given. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that this was a private party. I’ do not question that the hon. Gentleman invited all the guests or paid the whole bill. This fact was not disputed; but it appeared, though no reporter was present, that there was a gentleman present who was connected with a newspaper, and of course he considered himself authorised to publish what took place. The hon. Gentleman referred to what he was pleased to call the conversation that took place at the dinner table; but he for his part must contend that any thing less in a conversational tone he had never read; for the hon. Member, as well as other gentlemen, made extremely long speeches, and they all concluded with toasts, and among others given was the “Battle of the Diamond.” The hon. Gentleman said the toast was given without premeditation, when most of the party had withdrawn. Now, he had no hesitation in saying, if the hon. and gallant Gentleman had stated this, and had shown any disposition to palliate or explain what appeared to the Government to be a matter calling for explanation, the gallant Member would not have had reason to complain of the matter being too rigorously or enviously sifted. The Government had showed this to be the case in the conduct they had pursued towards other gentlemen who Mere magistrates and who were pre-sent at the dinner in question. They had felt themselves justified in calling upon the hon. Gentleman to offer an explanation of that which appeared to them to be offensive and ominous in the proceeding. He regretted much that the answer of the hon. and gallant Gentleman left them no discretion on the subject. He begged the House to recollect that toasts at public dinners had not always been considered matters of trifling importance by the party opposite. It was known to all those who heard him that a person of much higher rank and station than the hon. Gentleman, namely, the Duke of Norfolk, was turned out of the situation which he held of Lord-Lieutenant of Yorkshire, for giving as a toast “The sovereignty of the people.” He did not intend to revive any question upon the propriety of the toast, nor, on the other hand, upon the act of rigour with which it was met by the Government. He must say, however, that the toast of “The sovereignty of the people” at any rate admitted of an interpretation compatible with the sentiment of all lovers of a limited monarchy, such as existed in this country; at all events it embodied no sentiment of ill-will, it gloated on no images of carnage. George 4th, on his return from his visit to Ireland, dictated a letter in which he strongly condemned the continued use of party toasts, and he was understood principally to refer to the well-known instance of the “Glorious memory.” He might object to this toast on the other side of the water; though in this country he could hardly be inclined to object to any thing commemorative of one whom he on this side of the water must ever consider as a hero and a deliverer. But this was not the case on the other side of the water; for there it was offensive to the great body of the people, and was considered to involve an attack upon their religious feelings. The memory, however, of King William was a very different toast from that of “The Battle of the Diamond.” The former toast was commemorative of a victory fought by the lawful Sovereign with the concurrence of the Parliament of the realm, and not of a scene of lawless conflict, where man was set against man, and neighbour against neighbour, and by which disturbance and desolation were spread throughout the country. The hon. and gallant Member appealed to his conduct while he had acted as a magistrate, and to the thirty-three years, during which he had held the commission. He had already borne testimony to the personal character of the hon. and gallant Gentleman; but he begged to remind him, that his public character had already before been brought into question for conduct in his own neighbourhood in 1831, when a number of houses were wrecked at Maghera, in the county of Armagh. Mr. Servant Perrin was sent down to make inquiry, and he (Lord Morpeth) would only read the concluding expression of the report of that hon. and learned Gentleman:— “I am further of opinion, that Colonel Verner appears not to have performed his duty as a magistrate at Verner’s-bridge, in order to disperse (as he was bound and required by law), the persons there tumultuously and unlawfully assembled, and compel them to depart to their habitations; that he did net take the measures and precautions proper for that purpose, which he was empowered and required by law to take, and which the result evinces to have been necessary for the preservation of the peace, and the threatened breach thereof; and that he is liable to be prosecuted at suit of the Crown by information for such (as it appears to me) criminal neglect of his duty.” He might be tempted to feel surprise that the unpleasant duty which they had performed, had been reserved for the Government of the Earl of Mulgrave. He would not proceed to rip up old sores. [Mr. Shaw: You are doing so now.] Yes, it became necessary when the conduct of the Government had been attacked in the way in which it had been by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. He had a right to show what had been the previous conduct of that hon. and gallant Member himself, when the propriety of his being retained in the commission was the direct point at issue. He had a right to show that, although the painful duty which they had performed had been reserved to the present Government, still the previous conduct of the hon. and gallant Member had not escaped the observation of former Governments. He was bound to say, however, that without reference to any other matter of debate, the toast of the battle of the Diamond was quite sufficient to justify the Government in railing for the explanation which they had called for from the hon. and gallant Gentleman; but he refused to give any explanation, and appeared to sneer at the Government when explanation was demanded from him. He could quite feel, from the party feelings and lifelong habits which appeared to belong to the hon. and gallant Member, that there was nothing even in the circumstance of his giving this toast which the hon. and gallant Member considered contrary to his own sense of honour and duty, and incompatible with his entertaining feelings of kindness and humanity, when unwarped and left to their own direction; but there was every thing to make him believe that his Roman Catholic neighbours and clients, could not have poured out their complaints to him with any feeling of security in his freedom as a magistrate, from partial and prepossessed dispositions towards them, entertained no doubt unwittingly by him, but still not the less deeply because insensibly pervading his views, and colouring his conduct. He thought that a magistrate who had given such a toast, when his attention was called to the subject in his cooler moments, and who refused to condescend either to retract, excuse, or explain, had given grounds for such, a feeling, and therefore, he was perfectly prepared to leave the conduct of the Government in the hands of the House and of the country.
Mr. Colquhoun could not but think the conduct of the Government towards the hon. and gallant Member afforded a strange contrast to their proceedings in other cases. He was ready to admit that the toast of “the Battle of the Diamond” was an ill-advised toast, and that it had even been somewhat uncalled for; but did it therefore follow that the hon. and gallant Member should, in consequence of having given it at a public dinner, without the slightest hesitation he dismissed by the Irish Government from the commission of the peace? Such treatment, at all events, savoured somewhat of sharp practice. It showed certainly a very vigilant inspection by the Irish Government of the conduct of the Irish magistracy—that they were not determined to rip up old sores, or make grievances by reviving and exacerbating of religious animosity. What, then, had been their conduct on other occasions? He believed the hon. and learned Member for Dublin still held the commission of the peace. To quote a precisely analogous case, he would take that of a dinner and a toast given, not at midnight when the chairman was about to leave the room, but publicly, prominently, as the main toast of the evening, and received with the most vociferous cheering. He quoted the very words used by the hon. and learned Member, “An unqualified repeal of the legislative union.” It was unnecessary for him to recal the importance of that subject to the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having discussed it for six mortal hours, and impressed it with all his talent and eloquence on the recollection of the House; but according to the authoritative declaration of a noble Lord, then the leader of the Government in that House, the repeal of the legislative union was to be resisted even at the hazard and expense of the awful bloodshed of a civil war. Was that hon. and learned Gentleman to escape all inquiry, even from Government, after giving such a toast, while the hon. and gallant Member was visited with such condign punishment? But to take a case still more analogous,—for the hon. and learned Member supplied him with many,—the hon. and learned Member was reported to have delivered a speech in Carlow, it had indeed been contradicted by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and to that extent he was intitled to the advantage of his contradiction, but it was sufficient for his purpose that the hon. and learned Gentleman had been reported to have delivered the speech to which he now referred. The report was in these words—”Men of Carlow, are you ready? I am the last man to recommend the shedding of one drop of blood, but we have tried every means of obtaining our just rights, and they have failed; we have no means left but what I have hitherto deprecated—the shedding of blood, and blood must be shed.” Such were the expressions which the hon. and learned Member had contradicted, no doubt, but which still were reported in the Irish newspapers to have been uttered by him, and which he (Mr. Colquhoun) had seen copied into the French papers as the ever-memorable word? of the distinguished Member for the City of Dublin. Did those expressions call forth an equally prompt letter from Mr. Under-Secretary Drummond? The Speech came one month, the explanation and contradiction halted and lagged a little behind. Was the denunciation of the Government against the shedding of blood equally emphatic with the language used in the case of the Battle of the Diamond? He was curious to see the correspondence which had taken place on that occasion; the careful and elaborate epistle of the noble Lord opposite, and the answer if any, of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The noble Lord and the Irish Government were most vigilant of all their officers, of all justices of the peace, and all official stipendiary magistrates, under their most pure and unblemished administration. And certainly, taking the prompt visitation on the hon. and gallant Member as a sample of their proceedings, it must be confessed they appeared perfect purists in Government. What had been their mode of dealing with another Gentleman, as stipendiary magistrate in Ireland, Mr. Duff, who told a Committee of that House, in 1835, that he had advised the magistrates, in 1831, to plant a gun in the streets of Dungarvan, and sweep away, by an indiscriminate massacre, a great number of the citizens? Such was the advice he declared he gave to the magistrates of Dungarvan, and which they had bravely rejected. When a sub-inspector he laid hands on a free citizen,—Mr. Delany,—who was about to preach in a chapel, and arrested him in most scandalous violation of all public decency and popular lights; and when the case was brought before Lord Mulgrave, what did Lord Mulgrave do? Did he dismiss Mr. Duff? He reprimanded and promoted him. He was at that time a sub-inspector and a stipendiary magistrate, under the watchful, vigilant, prompt, and just Government of the enlightened Earl Mulgrave. On the 12th of July, 1837, a day of peculiar excitement, that Gentleman, justly obnoxious to the Protestants of Dungarvan, marked alike by the reprobation of the magistrates and the people, who knew what he desired, was sent down to Dungarvan, as the conciliator, the harbinger of peace, by Lord Mulgrave. There was another case—exhibiting another proof of the even-handed justice of Lord Mulgrave—the case of Mr. Gore Jones, formerly a violent Orangeman, and, as extremes frequently met in the same person, now a violent liberal. Mr. Gore Jones was selected by the Irish Government as a stipendiary magistrate. Mr. Gore Jones brought a charge before the committee, in 1835, against the magistrates of Deny and Antrim, stigmatising them as violent Orangemen and perverters of justice. The magistrates of Antrim denounced the statement as a calumnious and deliberate falsehood. The noble Lord had called on Jones to vindicate himself before the tribunals of the country. He accordingly brought an action for libel against the magistrates of Antrim and Derry, when the jury, after a patient investigation, returned a verdict for the defendants thereby proving that Jones had vented in the Committee of the House of Commons a calumnious libel and a deliberate falsehood against a large portion of the bench of Irish magistrates. Was that Gentleman’s conduct inquired into? Did he receive letters from Mr. Under-Secretary Drummond? Was he reprimanded and dismissed? On the contrary; he still retained his situation as stipendiary magistrate. There were many other cases to which he might allude, but there was one in particular in which the noble Lord himself acted a most conspicuous part, which occurred in September, 1836, and to which he must for a moment allude. A most disgraceful attack was made in September, 1836, by the priestmen, as they were called, for the purpose of interrupting Mr. Nolan, who was preaching in the parish church of Tuam; and a very furious riot was the consequence. The curate and Mr. Nolan went to the bench of magistrates; but, instead of receiving justice from them, they were told by one, named Kirwan, that they, forsooth, having ventured to preach the Gospel in the parish church of Tuam, were the abettors of the riot which had been occasioned solely and entirely by the intrusion of scandalous and mischievous men. But not satisfied with that reception, they carried the. case to the noble Lord; and what did he say? Why, that “as Mr. Kirwan had expressed his ‘regret,’ his excellency does not feel himself called on to pursue the matter further;” and then, having been appealed to, he went on to use the following most extraordinary expressions:—”His excellency can conceive that a magistrate might have seen reason to regret that the placards in which the preaching of Nolan was announced were drawn up in terms necessarily offensive to the religious opinions of a large majority of the people; “the terms being that a sermon was to be preached in the parish church of Tuam, on the Romish doctrines. Most offensive certainly; so offensive that a magistrate from the bench when appealed to by an unoffending clergyman must repel him from the court, and deny him justice, while the high executive took no steps to find out the miscreants concerned in this flagitious outrage, but threw its shield over the offender, the noble Lord lolling at his ease in Dublin Castle, contenting himself with saying that the magistrate had expressed his “regret” on the matter. Within the last four months a deputy-lieutenant of the county of Sligo had preferred charges, which Lord Mulgrave himself had declared were destitute of all truth, against a respectable magistrate, Major Brown. Had any step been taken to visit him with punishment? There had been no such proceeding, and yet they were to hear of the even-handed justice dealt out by Earl Mulgrave. Captain Vignolles attempted at the time of the election to quell a most disgraceful riot in Carlow, and appealed to the chief constable, Gleeson, for his assistance. Gleeson refused; he would not assist in seizing the offender and keeping the peace. The only offence charged against Captain Vignolles was, that he had been a little too active, a little too vigorous—that in a most violent riot he had kid hands on the offender, and what sentence had been passed upon him? Captain Gleeson refused to discharge his duty as chief constable, and swore at his superior officer, and yet he received no more censure than Captain Vignolles. Earl Mulgrave said, “Captain Vignolles seemed a little too eager to resort to force, which generally indicates an absence of moral influence.” “Moral influence!” When a bludgeoned mob was using every species of violence, and brick-bats were flying in the streets of Carlow, Captain Vignolles was to pour the oil of his “moral influence” on so sanguinary a mob. Really this correspondence of the noble Earl afforded a lesson in moral philosophy which was worthy of the age in which he lived, and merited the approbation of all enlightened statesmen. At the battle of the Diamond the contest had been between two parties, both inflamed by religious animosity, Presbyterians on the one side and Roman Catholics on the other; the object then was, as appeared from the testimony of Wolfe Tone, to unite both with those rebellious associations of the time; and, in 1795, Armagh became like a field of battle. What happened? The Protestants of the Church of England came forward to assist the Presbyterians, whom the Roman Catholics had challenged to fight at the Diamond. A truce was entered into, which had been scandalously and perfidiously broken by the Roman Catholic party, when the Protestants were obliged, the danger having become so serious, to make common cause and attempt to put down the insurrection; and what had been the result? Had not peace been maintained ever since? Had any battle been fought since in the province of Ulster? By the Association of the Church of England Protestants peace had been carried into Ulster, and without the aid of coercion bills and insurrection acts, had still been maintained. He did not stand there as the defender of the toast which had been complained of, he should not have been a party to it, but he was also bound to say, that the Government which visited the hon. and gallant Member with such stern promptitude of punishment was bound to visit equal infliction upon the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, who had given a much more atrocious toast, as well as those other individuals to whom he had alluded, as having been guilty of much more scandalous offences than the hon. and gallant Member.
Mr. O’Connell I am glad, I am exceedingly glad, to have the opportunity of discovering the precise spot in this House which the hon. Member dignifies with his presence. He has had a journey through Ireland, and he has brought home with him a great many stories, and a budget full—I will not say of blunders—but of mistakes; mistakes, too, of the most curious kind. A small one is, that Delany ever was a priest; it is another that his friend Delany is a respectable person; for that respectable person now lies in one of her Majesty’ gaols, convicted of an atrocious assault. His excuse, indeed, is that the spirit overcame him. Yes, it was the spirit of pot-teen. Then there is, too, the notion of the hon. Member that he is acquainted with historical facts! He says that Ulster was quiet the moment that the Protestants united with the Presbyterians! Did he never hear of the battle of Antrim? Does he know that in that battle Lord O’Neill lost his life? Does he know that Antrim is in Ulster. Now, that happpened in the year 1798, and there then is his defence for peace being preserved in the north from 1797. Does he know that there was a battle fought in Down by the rebels? Did he ever hear that there was a committee of United Irishmen established in Belfast. Oh! but then said the hon. Member they were Presbyterians. What? Is he for throwing the Presbyterians overboard? I thought that some of his constituents were Presbyterians. Oh! they do some bad jobs sometimes. Here, then, is the denouncer of the Presbyterians? Let it sound through the streets of Kilmarnock—let the people be told what their Representative thinks of them. “If it were not for those Presbyterians all would be quiet—it was they who really did all the mischief.” I rejoice at beholding the advocate which these Presbyterians have sent into this House. Then he gave us the story of Mr. Nolan, a priest, and of other highly respectable persons—respectable and fit enough perhaps, in his opinion, to be Presbyterians; although not considered quite fit to belong to the religion which they originally professed. In his journey through Ireland he appears to me to have picked up weeds, and cherished them as if they were flowers. But then the hon. Member quoted a speech which he made for me. That was the amount of his assertion respecting it. Now if a man in Ireland were to say to another, “Sir I beg to quote this as your speech, though I know you did not make it,” he would be laughed at, and I conceive he would deserve to be laughed at. But here is another of his facts; he says Mr. Drummond did not write to me respecting that speech. Now I tell him that the first intimation I ever had of that speech having been made for me, was by a letter that I received from Mr. Drummond. I was in Dublin when I received that letter. I got it at my house, and the moment I read it I asked for liberty to see Mr. Drummond. I did see him, and I then said to him, “Good heaven! who told you that I ever made such a speech?” “Oh!” he replied, “it was stated in The Evening Mail of last night.” I said to him, I was then going to a public meeting, and I would, if he wished it, contradict that; speech. Now, I never said a word in contradiction of that speech, but others did. The high-sheriff of the county, who was present at the dinner where the speech was said to be delivered, contradicted it. The late Roman Catholic bishop, Doctor Nolan, who is since dead, contradicted it. Mr. Houghton, and one or two other magistrates who were present, contradicted it. Their statement was published in the newspapers, and by their signatures they attested the utter falsehood that I ever made such a speech. There happened, too, to be the reporters of the Dublin morning papers present; there was, too, a reporter from The Morning Advertiser at the dinner, and the moment he saw such a statement attributed to me, that gentleman came forward and stated distinctly, upon referring to his report, that there never was a grosser falsehood than the imputation of such words to me. I really never should have contradicted the speech, nor paid any attention to its contradiction, if my attention had not been called to it by Mr. Drummond. There was another speech said to be mine, and made in the public streets in Carlow. That was quoted in the House of Lords by the Bishop of Exeter. Now, I never contradicted that speech from that day to this, and yet it was equally false with the other, with this difference, that it was ridiculously false, not atrociously false, like the calumny in question. It is really not worth my while to contradict all the calumnies that are uttered against me. I could not have time to do any thing else if I took the trouble of refuting all the calumnies that are published respecting me. I have been calumniated in Ireland, in England, and in Scotland; and when I have replied to my calumniators I have been met with a total silence. The hon. Member says I gave the repeal of the union as a toast. Well, to be sure I did; and did I not make a motion in this House for the repeal of the union. But although the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh gave the toast of the Battle of the Diamond, he did not move in this House to raise a monument to the heroes of that battle. I was heard in this House for five hours, and I am sorry the hon. Member for Kilmarnock was not present. Oh! I understood the hint about the extremes; and if the hon. Member will but come to my part of the country, we will receive him with as much hospitality as our means afford, and I should not despair of hearing him himself giving a toast advocating the repeal of the union. Whoever has hopped across the channel of politics, like the hon. Member, would not object to give such a substantial good toast as that. It may be a bad measure, and a majority of the Members of this House deemed it so; but it is fully a question on which every man has a right to give his opinion, and I had one English Member to support my motion. It may be a foolish proposition, but it is not a sanguinary one. There is no raising up of old feuds or of old discords, nor no gloating over the shedding of human blood; It did not animate any old resentments, it did not, in the name of Christian charity, seek to perpetuate hatred and revenge.
The gallant Colonel may pull out again as long a budget as he has just concluded, he will only procure cheers from those who were dumb enough whilst the noble Lord was making his magnificent reply. I never witnessed a more exemplary silence than that which reigned on the opposite benches during the castigation, which the speech of the noble Lord gave them. I do not regret that I made a motion for the repeal of the union, though when I made it I did not know that I should ever see such a Chief Governor of Ireland as the Earl of Mulgrave, or such a Chief Secretary as the noble Lord, who, instead of hunting the small deer of society, had pulled down the chief stag of the forest. Yes, a stag of ten antlers,—and who had taught the lordly dominator of the forest of Maghera, that he was bound, as well as the meanest peasant on his domains, and that he must expect punishment and dismissal if he ventured to set a pernicious example.
Mr. Litton Sir, as one connected by residence and many other ties, with the county of Tyrone, I feel myself called upon to enter my protest at once against the version given by the noble Lord to the transactions which have taken place between him and my hon. and gallant Friend. I tell the noble Lord that such a version will not be received by the country. I tell him that there is but one sentiment pervading the mind of every independent gentleman and magistrate in Ireland respecting this transaction, and that is, a sentiment of distrust and alarm. Of alarm, because they deem that the conduct of the Irish Government has been an infringement of their privileges as magistrates, and of distrust, because they believe that the act of the Irish Government, in Col. Verner’s case, has been a party act, directed and instigated by a faction, to which the Government scarcely deny they are compelled to yield obedience. Sir, with respect to the history of the Battle of the Diamond, I must totally dissent from the historical reminiscences of the noble Lord. He has culled from newspapers the speeches of Members of Parliament of that day, and from them has taken an account of the transaction favourable to his views; but he has, he must permit me to say, studiously avoided reference to every thing that deserves the name of history upon the subject. I refer him for a history of that dangerous conspiracy, in which the Defenders were actors, to the writings of that able but unfortunate man, Theobald Woulf Tone, who had himself been a party in forming the conspiracy, and who was a principal leader of it. How does he describe the Defenders? As a party bound by a solemn oath to the separation of Ireland from England—bound to separate from the monarchy of England, and to bear allegiance to France; and one of whose oaths was, in the words of their leader, “to be faithful to the united kingdom of Prance and Ireland.” A body which the same individual described as ready to rise to a man the moment a landing of French troops was effected. Now, Sir, such being the history of the body who were the aggressors at the Battle of the Diamond, I say that the noble Lord has no right to apply to that battle the epithet of a disgraceful conflict. A band of rebels and traitors was bravely and successfully resisted by a body of brave and loyal men—then, as they are to this day, firmly attached to England and to British connection. But suppose that it was a conflict of the nature described by the noble Lord, (whose statement. I maintain is collected from scraps and shreds of newspapers, not from any authentic sources)—still the toast was one given at a private dinner—a dinner from which all were excluded save the friends, and relatives, and supporters of my gallant Friend—and I say that the Irish Government has on this occasion adopted a system of espionage, of prying into the social circle, which I trust every English Gentleman, no matter what his politics may be, will join with me in deprecating and condemning. But even if the fact were otherwise, if the toast was given with open doors, has any answer been given by the sitting Member for Dublin, or by the noble Lord to the charge which, (not we), but the entire country makes against the Government respecting him. I say, the conduct of the Government in his case, has convinced the Irish public that impartial justice is not administered by that Government. The hon. Member for Dublin says, he has given as a toast the repeal of the union—that he will do it—and let him do it. But I ask, is it right or proper that a magistrate and a Member of this House should be permitted, in the midst of an excited population, with thousands of the lowest classes around him, to make speeches which the press carry to millions of a similar description, in which he calls on his deluded countrymen to “agitate, agitate, agitate,” for a repeal of the union—and in which he calls on “the young blood of Ireland to arise as one man, and to agitate to the last for a repeal of the union, “which the present Government has declared, and every thinking man must know, must lead, if effected, to a dismemberment of the empire; and still they allow him to hold the commission of the peace. But, Sir, there is another subject to which I would wish to call the attention of the noble Lord opposite. I ask him how can he allow the Member for Dublin to hold the commission of the peace, knowing that the hon. and learned Gentleman did, last year, in the Irish association declare, “that he had not advised the people against the payment of tithes, but that he would rather permit the bed to be dragged from under him, and his body thrown into jail than pay one farthing of tithe.” If the noble Lord wished to know the date of his speech, it was made in January, 1836, and is reported in The Evening Post of the 14th of that month. Such, Sir, was the language used by the learned Member for Dublin. Thus did he talk to the country of the “blood-stained tithes,” blood-stained, I say, by himself.
Mr. O’Connell I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. Member is out of order in imputing to me a share in tithe conflicts.
The Speaker thought the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Litton) was out of order.
Mr. Litton Oh, there is no Gentleman in this House who will, I am sure, imagine that I meant to say the learned Gentleman was ever present at a tithe conflict—he takes too good care of himself for that.
Mr. O’Connell The hon. Member knows he is safe in insulting me, but I submit, Mr. Speaker, that he is out of order in accusing me of having instigated tithe conflicts.
Mr. Litton And I repeat the charge. Can any man assert that the learned Member has not instigated tithe resistance?
The Speaker again intimated to Mr. Litton that he was out of order.
Mr. Litton I shall always bow with cheerfulness and respect to the opinion of the chair; but I tell the hon. Member that I come here to do my duty, and, therefore, will not by threats or intimidation be prevented from taking that course which I conscientiously believe to be my duty. When misrepresentations are made I think it my duty to correct them, and for this reason I have endeavoured to give a true version of these transactions. I shall now read the actual words used by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and then leave the matter to the opinion of the chair. [Mr. Litton repeated his quotation.] And this was said amidst tremendous cheering from the excited thousands by whom he was surrounded. Thus did he pour forth the language of excitement to his followers against the payment of a legal and just demand, which the clergy have an undoubted right to, and which, with the assistance of the law, they will obtain. And what has been the consequence? The country has been deluged with blood. There is no man who wishes to see the tithe question equitably settled more than I do; but while the law stands, I ask, should the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland permit a man to hold the commission of the peace, to openly excite the people to a breach of the law, and to resistance to an undoubted right. Gentlemen on the other side may cheer—they would rather not hear such matters detailed; but as long as I am borne out by fact, I care little for their cheers. I ask the noble Lord once more—I ask of the Irish Government how can they justify themselves to the country for dismissing my gallant Friend, and yet retaining in the commission of the peace the learned Member for Dublin? I ask him can an Irish clergyman of the Established Church go before that Lord-Lieutenant in a tithe case, and hope for impartial justice? Sir, I throw back the polite words of the noble Lord—I tell him, if he wishes to give the country an impression of his justice, he has no choice but to dismiss from the commission of the peace the hon. Member for Dublin—the gallant Colonel has been dismissed after a period of active and efficient services of thirty-three years—he has been dismissed for a magisterial offence—and it was one as nothing, when compared with the magisterial offences of the Member for Dublin—you have dismissed the one, retain the other, and no man in the country will believe that impartial justice is administered by her Majesty’s Government in Ireland.
Major Macnamara said, that some opinion might be formed of the state of the law at the time of the “Battle of the Diamond “—a period at which he had himself been on military duty in the county of Armagh—from the fact of there having been written on the church doors,” To Hell and Connaught with every Papist,” &c, on a certain day.
Mr. Shaw rose principally for the purpose of referring to a letter which he had received within the last few days from a clergyman of the county of Wexford, in Ireland, relating to a transaction which had recently occurred there, and in respect of which he wished the House and the public to contrast the conduct of the Irish Government with that which they had pursued towards his hon. and gallant Friend in the case then under the consideration of the House. The letter was from the Rev. Dr. Elrington, of Templeshambo, in the county of Wexford. It stated, that early in the present year a man employed by him to serve law subpoenas for composition rent, had been brutally attacked and nearly killed close to Mr. Ellington’s house, to which he was brought with difficulty, and attended by a surgeon for a fortnight. Soon after, an anti-tithe meeting was held in the immediate neighbourhood of Mr. Ellington’s house, and presided over by a magistrate of that county—but the circumstance to which he (Mr. Shaw) more immediately desired to draw the attention of the House was—that on Sunday, the 5th of last month, another anti-tithe meeting was held in the same parish, and presided over by the same magistrate. Resolutions were passed, to levy half a year’s tithe throughout the parish, for the purpose of resisting the legal demand of the clergyman; and he would read to the House a copy of the advertisement under which the meeting was assembled; it was as follows:—”Great Anti-Tithe Meeting, to be holden at Ballindaggin, on Sunday, the 5th instant. It is requested that all those who do not wish to remain slaves to the oppressive and bloodstained impost, tithe, will attend, and register their names with their friends, in the cause of civil and religious liberty. The demon of persecution is let loose on the industrious inhabitants of Ballindaggin. The Ellingtons are abroad. ‘To your tents, O Israel.’ “These were plain and intelligible hints in Ireland. Now he did not know what this magistrate might have to allege in his defence, nor then pronounce an opinion whether that magistrate ought or ought not to have been dismissed—but this he did know, that in point of fact such a notice as he had read had been given of an anti-tithe meeting—that the meeting was held in pursuance of it—that a resolution was passed to collect money to resist the payment of a legal due—that at that meeting a magistrate of the county was the chairman—that the facts and circumstances were reported to the Government, and that the magistrate still continued in the commission of the peace—while that same Government, boasting of their impartiality, had dismissed his hon. and gallant Friend, after three-and-thirty years’ service as a magistrate, during which time an imputation had not been cast against his public or his private character; a man of high station, of ample fortune, of independent usefulness in the county where he resided—and he lamented there were too few such residents in Ireland—and under what circumstances? Why, the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, did not himself know the facts of the case till that night.
Lord Morpeth Why did not the gallant Colonel explain them in his answer to Mr. Drummond?
Mr. Shaw Because the letter of Mr. Drummond was couched in such terms, that in the answer to it no man of spirit and independent feeling could have condescended to enter into an explanation hut what were the facts, as his hon. and gallant Friend had stated that night? His hon. and gallant Friend, at a dinner given to his private friends, not having intended to give the toast in question (the expediency or propriety of the toast itself he was not then discussing), not having had it upon his list of toasts—but at a late hour, when the principal part of the company had retired, there being present an old Gentleman who had been engaged in that battle of self-defence and necessity, on the part of the Protestants—and the opposite party being (he aggressors, as admitted by the noble Lord (Lord Morpeth,) his hon. and gallant Friend, as a compliment to that old gentleman, gave his health coupled with the battle of the Diamond, at which he had distinguished himself by his personal bravery. Colonel Verner was removed; the Wexford magistrate (to say nothing of hundreds of similar cases) continues. And this then was adduced as a proof of that equal and impartial justice to Ireland—that holding of an even balance between contending parties, which they were told, forsooth! distinguished the present Irish Government from all others that had ever administered the affairs of that country. The noble Lord (Lord Morpeth) in his speech had certainly committed plagiarisms very largely from speeches made in the Irish Parliament. Those speeches no doubt expressed in very glowing terms, the party sentiments of the individuals who made them, in a warm party debate. And it was competent to the noble Lord now to quote them as expressing his own, but to rely upon them as historical proof, or in the nature of a judicial opinion in reference to the events in question, or the characters of the parties adverse to the speakers, which they described the noble Lord might well, twenty years hence, cite the violent speeches made in the present day by the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Dublin (Mr. O’Connell,) or of the son of that distinguished man to whom the noble Lord had referred, Mr. Grattan, the hon. Member for Meath as true and just descriptions of the character and conduct of the Irish clergy or the Irish Protestants of this time. The noble Lord had noticed a cheer of his during the noble Lord’s speech as meant to express dissent from the line the noble Lord was taking at the moment; it certainly was so meant; and he must say that he considered it inconsistent with the good taste and the good feeling usually displayed by the noble Lord even to his political opponents, to have referred upon the present occasion—to have “ripped up,” in the words of the noble Lord himself, an old complaint of many years’ standing against his hon. and gallant Friend, connected with some proceeding at Maghera, and reported upon by Mr. now Judge Perrin, By the noble Lord’s own statement that case was known for many years to the Government. If it had been a sufficient cause in itself for the removal of his gallant Friend why had it not been acted upon? If it had been considered by the Government necessary to throw it into the scale as a make-weight with the present matter why was not that stated in Mr. Drummond’s letter, or in any way made a part of the charge against which his hon. and gallant Friend was to defend himself, when he received notice of his intended dismissal? But, above all, these opportunities being passed by, was it becoming in the noble Lord to use it that night, to bolster up the present case against his hon. and gallant Friend, after he without any notice that that was to be any portion of the alleged offence from which he was to discharge himself—and not till after his hon. and gallant Friend had made his statement in his own defence against the only charge of which he was apprised; and he was bound to say, that his hon. and gallant Friend had made that statement in a candid, manly, and straightforward manner that did him infinite honour. Among other observations of the noble Lord’s there was one with respect to which he was entirely at issue with the noble Lord. The noble Lord boasted that amongst the effects he calculated upon from the step taken by the Government in the dismissal of the hon. and gallant Colonel, was the discontinuance of the toast in question for the future. Now he was convinced that the very reverse would be the consequence; for himself, he declared that up to the moment he read the official letter of Mr. Drummond on the subject, he never in his life had heard of the toast of “the Battle of the Diamond.” His hon. and gallant Friend said it had been well known in the county of Armagh. But he believed it was wholly unknown out of that immediate district; but since it had been brought into notoriety by the Irish Government, it was heard in every place and every shape; it was now celebrated in verse as well as prose it was set to music, and made the subject of ballads and of songs throughout the country. One couplet of one of those he recollected, and he believed it would be rendered perfectly prophetical by the course the noble Lord and the Irish Government had pursued. So far from the toast of the “Battle of the Diamond” being on that account discontinued, he had no doubt that in the words of the song to which he referred— “Still it shall be in Ireland” “A toast for ever more”—” The noble Lord might have spared the taunt that many of those who usually sat on his (Mr. Shaw’s) side of the House, were absent on that occasion. The fact was, there was a very considerable number of them present; but their attendance was entirely spontaneous. His hon. and gallant Friend, intending no division, he was persuaded, asked no single Member on his side to attend, desiring simply to lay the plain facts of his case before the public. But if he was not much misinformed, the noble Lord had no such reliance on the intrinsic merits of the facts which were to sustain the Government; for although the noble Lord had never meant to refuse the papers, he still was anxious for a full bench of cheerers, and had sent forth a treasury summons that morning to all the adherents of the Government to attend “on the motion of Colonel Verner.” In conclusion, he had only to observe that the question was not whether the toast was better to be given or omitted—not one of criticism upon the correspondence which had ensued upon it between his hon. and gallant Friend and the Irish Government—but, under all the circumstances of the case, he considered, and he believed the public would think with him, that the removal of his hon. and gallant Friend from the deputy lieutenantship and magistracy of his county was an unworthy—he was going to say a paltry—act on the part of the Irish Government.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer would have been satisfied to have left this question to the House, with the speech of the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, but for one observation which had fallen from an hon. Member, and he must say, he thought in bad taste, as to the conduct of the officers of Government, When the hon. and gallant Colonel put any portion of his conduct in issue, he put the whole of it in issue, and the whole question was before the House. With respect to the suggestion that it was unjust to refer to past transactions, in which the hon. and gallant Colonel was concerned, he would ask, whether it was not also unjust or cruel to refer to other acts committed by another hon. Member long ago, and which were not acts done by him in his capacity of a magistrate? He thought, that the hon. and gallant Colonel had suffered enough from the castigation he received on a former occasion. He almost fancied he heard the hon. and gallant Member exclaim, “el tu Brute!” Oh, it was the most unkindest cut of all! He had never known, in the course of Parliamentary discussion, an hon. Gentleman attempt to make a blow at his political opponent; and instead of doing that, inflicting so deadly a wound on his political friend. But that was not all. He must confess, that the hon. and gallant Officer, who, from his personal and military character, ought to be better able than his learned Friends to enter the lists, was, on this occasion, little indebted to his Friends. Not one of them had attempted to justify him; not one had justified the Battle of the Diamond, or the course which the hon. and gallant Member had taken on the occasion of the toast being proposed. They all had recourse to the memorable tu quoque argument; they did not defend the hon. and gallant Colonel, but they said that others had been equally guilty, without receiving equal punishment. Now, assuming the fact to be true (for he would not attempt to controvert them at that hour of the night), but assuming the facts alleged to be perfectly true, that Mr. A. here, or Mr. B. there, or some other person at Ballybeg, had been guilty of an offence—an offence which he had never heard of. He had then heard of it for the first time; but, assuming that this anonymous person at Bally beg had committed an offence, was that to justify the hon. and gallant Colonel? He owned he almost sympathised in the situation of the hon. and gallant Colonel: it was too bad, after the severe infliction to which he had been subjected in the eloquent speech of his noble Friend, that he should be again subjected to the almost equally severe infliction of his Friends. He must say, that that there might be something in the argument, if they could establish an analogy; but he almost regretted the situation in which the hon. and gallant Colonel had been placed by the line of argument taken by his hon. Friends on this occasion. Of the Friends of the hon. and gallant Colonel, the Ministers had no cause to complain; on the contrary, he thanked the hon. and gallant Officers from the bottom of his heart, for the discussions they had done him the favour to introduce before Parliament, on Irish affairs. They were by far the most generous opponents he had ever met with. They had exhibited a degree of chivalry of which modern times had afforded no example. And why? Because, in their consideration for their opponents, they had been willing and ready to sacrifice themselves. This, he must admit, was to be expected from their country; it was left to the chivalry, or perhaps to another characteristic which belonged to the country to which they in common belonged, that there should be found Gentlemen willing to make a sacrifice of themselves for the sake of their political opponents. Therefore, as far as he was concerned, he most respectfully and most sincerely, to both the hon. and gallant Officers, returned his most profound and reverential acknowledgments. But he thought, that in other respects, they had cause of complaint. The hon. Gentlemen opposite introduced debates, but they would come to no division. Why not bring forward a motion to justify the toast of the “Battle of the Diamond.” Why not endeavour, by a division, to justify the course taken with respect to the conduct of Mr. Blake. An hon. and gallant Officer, in the course of the debate on that occasion, had referred to the charges brought against that individual, but he sought to keep out of sight the recommendation of the tribunal before whom the charge was tried. They were loud in their charges in other places; why not redeem their pledges, and place them upon a substantial issue upon which the sense of Parliament could be pronounced, and upon which the judgment of the people might also be called for? He would say one word with respect to this unfortunate toast. He believed, with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Shaw), that the discussions which it had produced, were calculated to raise the toast into an importance which it ought never to have met with. Upon whom ought the fault to lie? Was it upon those who discharged an always painful duty—painful from the personal considerations and feelings of those concerned—a duty in strict accordance with the obligations which they owed to the public, or upon those who endeavoured rashly, he might venture to say wickedly, not in the sense of any moral offence, but a carelessness, recklessness, wickedness, in scattering firebrands amongst inflammable materials—individuals who went back to history, not to seek lessons of moral instruction to lead them to avoid danger and escape crime, but who ransacked history for the purpose of exasperating party feeling, and exciting a rancorous spirit of hatred and revenge. He considered it no greater offence in the barbarian to poison wells under the idea that he was performing the office of legitimate warfare. He should think, that he had but ill discharged his duty if he sat down without saying a word on the character of the tranquillity of Ireland. No ties that connected him with a British constituency, much as he valued and greatly as he respected them, could ever absorb the earlier ties of the country of his birth. He had lately visited that country. He had there performed the duties of magistrate at times, when the impartial exercise of those duties required strong interference. But he had never been remiss in the discharge of those duties. In that capacity, he would take upon himself to say, after a residence in Ireland which enabled him to judge of the condition of the country, in the capacity of a witness, that he felt bound to give the most perfect and complete testimony that could be rendered to the tranquillity of that country, and to the peace, order, growing good feeling, and respect for the law which exhibited itself there. The columns of local and party newspapers had been raked to furnish a catalogue of disgraceful crimes; but where was there a great and thickly-populated country in which crimes of great magnitude and of the worst character were not to be found? But crime was diminishing in Ireland, as might be seen on reference to the returns made under the Government of Lord Talbot, and various others. As an instance of the way in which the long catalogue of crime was made up, he could state that during the course of the last year a Bill was passed to impose a severe penalty upon drunkenness in Ireland; and in one county 400 persons had been convicted of drunken ness. Cut the convictions were made a charge against the Government; they went to swell the catalogue of convictions, and to prove that Ireland was far from being in a state of tranquillity, and the increase of the commitments for this crime had actually been brought as a charge against the present Government in Ireland. He was not surprised that the hon. Members opposite were not enamoured of the present discussion. He was exceedingly sorry that this sorry discussion was not to be followed by as sorry a division, and that the House would not be able more emphatically to mark its opinion of the resuscitated Battle of the Diamond.
Colonel Perceval said, it was quite impossible for him to remain silent after what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman. He never had heard a speech more full of ungenerous declamation, and he could not congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his good taste in comparing to a barbarian the gallant Gentleman who had given the toast of the battle of the Diamond. Such an imputation was ungenerous, he would say unmanly. Nor could be congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the discrimination which led him to point out the company who drank the toast as inflammable firebrands, and made him blind to the dreadful consequences of the turbulent agitation set on foot by hon. Members on his own side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman could see plainly the smallest speck, nay, even imaginary specks, on the character of any hon. Gentleman who sat opposite to him, but was blind to the faults or the crimes of those who gave him their support, however dearly he might purchase it. When the right hon. Gentleman talked of the paucity of numbers on that (the Opposition) side of the House, compared with those on his side, he seemed to have forgotten the note issued from the Treasury that morning. With regard to the insinuation that he had pressed harshly the charge against Lieutenant Blake, he had understood from the noble Lord, the Secretary at War (Lord Howick,) and from the Judge Advocate-General (Mr. Fergusson,) that government would not object to the production of the papers for which he moved. Government, however, had refused to grant them, and obliged him to go into the case at some length, so that if any cruelty had been shewn, it must be laid at the door of Ministers. He exceedingly regretted that he had not read the recommendation to mercy agreed to by the court-martial that sat on Lieutenant Blake, but all the papers relating to his case were in the hands of the Secretary-at-War, who might have read it had he thought proper. But the right hon. Gentleman would find, on reading that recommendation to mercy, how far he had merited the censure lavished on him by the right hon. Gentleman, with the view of diverting the attention of the House from the subject before it. The right hon. Gentleman forgot that he offered to read it to the House, and he would find in the document itself some excuse for not doing so. It was the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to have read the recommendation before attempting to pass on him a censure which he conscientiously felt he had not deserved—Having said so much, and having endeavoured to throw the imputations cast on him on those to whom they were more justly applicable, he should only say, that the noble Lord, the secretary for Ireland, had been forced to admit the appointment of Lieutenant Blake to have been wrong. That case, he could assure the House, was not brought forward by him from personal feelings, but from a desire to show the partiality and injustice of the administration. One word as to the battle of the Diamond. He had never heard of it before he read the letter of Mr. Under-Secretary Drummond, who was, he thought, greatly to blame for the phraseology he had used. He was sorry that it should be added to the list of party toasts current in Ireland, or that it should contribute to perpetuate those unkind feelings which no man was more anxious than himself to abate.
Mr. John Ellis said, that it was with great sincerity he assured the House that there were certain circumstances which compelled him to forego any feeling of reluctance that he might have otherwise entertained to add to the length of this debate, and which induced him to offer a few observations upon the subject matter then under its consideration. During the late general election, and on his way through Newry, it happened that he became, for the first time, acquainted with the hon. and gallant Member for the county Armagh, and was then and in that place earnestly and verbally invited by him to meet at dinner in Armagh, on the Monday following, some of the hon. and gallant Member’s friends, whom he said he should entertain on that day. Now, the House would observe, that nothing could be more private than the invitation which he received, having been invited accidentally, verbally, and by the host himself; not, be it remarked, in the name of a committee, given in the form of a circular and inclosing a list of toasts, as he believed was the usual way adopted for the furtherance of any great public entertainment; but he was asked in the same way and in no other than every day produces in the common interchanges of civility in private and domestic life. He had been given to understand that all the guests of the hon. and gallant Member had been similarly invited. The dinner was given, not at a public hotel, as represented in that elaborate epistle of the noble Lord opposite, but at some rooms hired for that purpose. And though his opinion might not be deemed of much weight when put in opposition with that of the noble Lord opposite, still he would venture to remind the noble Lord that it was a broad rule of the English law, that when a person hired a room it was virtually his own, under such circumstances, to enjoy in as ample a manner the advantages of private independence as he might in any House of which he was in the enjoyment of a lease, and if this was the law as applied to rooms hired in a public hotel, it applied with greater force in granting immunity to the occupier of rooms which did not belong to a public hotel from the curse of domiciliary espionage. When “The Battle of the Diamond” was proposed, he (Mr. Ellis), in common with many other Members of that House, knew no more of the historical incidents connected with it than he did of the Emperor of China. But had he thought that the room wherein he was then sitting was open to the public, or not being open to the public, was infested by Government spies—he would have refused to pledge the toast until he had been made acquainted with its real character. But, believing that the English Government would scorn to become the patrons of eavesdroppers, he felt sufficient confidence in the honour of the hon. and gallant Member that he would not be called upon to pledge an exceptionable toast.
Colonel Verner said, that it was not his intention to occupy much of their time by a reply. The noble Lord had stated, that he had been unable to give the Irish Government a satisfactory answer; but this was not the ease, as he should have felt happy to have given the Irish Government the explanation which he had that night given to that House. He was absent when Mr. Drummond’s letter was received; but even if he had seen it at the moment, it was such a letter as, on consideration, he should have found it wholly impossible to comply with. He had acted for thirty-three years as a magistrate, both in his own county and in the county of Armagh, and he would defy the noble Lord, or any one else, to show a single instance in which he had acted unjustly towards either Roman Catholic or any one else. He had many Roman Catholic tenants, and he did not think any of them would be found to say that he had ever in his life acted harshly towards any of them. With respect to the observations which had been made about the toast of “The Buttle of the Diamond,” all he could say was that he should be greatly obliged to the Government if they would institute proceedings against him on that ground, because he well knew he would be acquitted on it. He was conscious he had always discharged his duty uprightly and honestly, but (said the hon. and gallant Officer) I must be permitted to say, that the language used towards me by the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was not only uncalled for but wholly undeserved. I am obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Sligo, for the manly way in which he has stood up to defend me; but when the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, charges me with “scattering firebrands to excite an inflammable population, and poisoning wells,” I feel myself called upon to repel such a charge with the indignation which it deserves, and there is no language which the rules of the House will admit me to use, which I do not use in giving it my flat contradiction and denial. Sir, there is no word which the English language supplies which I do not intend to use to express my indignant and just contradiction and denial, and I repel the charge of my having “scattered firebrands or poisoned wells,” utterly, and declare that I never did any thing of the kind in the whole course of my life, nor do I believe any one who knows me would believe me capable of such conduct. I repeat, Sir, that there is no word of the English language which I do not use to repel the charge brought against me by the right hon. Gentleman.—[Cries of Order and Chair.]
The Speaker said, that the hon. and gallant Member must feel that he was bound to confine himself to that language which was fit and proper to be addressed to the House itself, and, therefore, when the hon. and gallant Member said that he would use language that was fit for a Member to use towards the House, but that be would leave it to the imagination of any hon. Member to supply oilier terms than those that were fit and proper to be used, the hon. and gallant Member must feel that he was exceeding the limit which was permitted to Members in the use of language in that House.
Colonel Verner expressed a hope that he had not made use of any language which was unbecoming in him to use towards the House.
The Speaker observed, that the hon. and gallant Member must know that language used by any hon. Member which was not fit to be addressed to another was an offence, not only to the individual, but to the House. He hoped the hon. and gallant Member would at once say, that he intended by what had fallen from him to limit himself to the use of those expressions which were proper to be addressed to the House itself.
Colonel Verner said, he was very ready and willing to make any apology in his power to the House, but he must say, that he considered the language used by the right hon. Gentleman was an insult to him, and he also conceived that it was an insult to the House.
Mr. Robert Steuart said, that after what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member he scarcely felt that he had any right to interfere in this matter; yet as no other hon. Member had risen, he thought he should not be acting improperly by declaring it to be his opinion that his right hon. Friend beside him might as well at once state that in the expression he used he did not mean to say anything personally offensive to the hon. and gallant Member; again, that hon. and gallant Member stating that he also, in the language he had used, did not mean to say anything personally offensive to his right hon. Friend.
Viscount Morpeth was quite sure that his right hon. Friend did not use any language which he was not justified in using. He conceived that his right hon. Friend had been misunderstood by the hon. and gallant Officer. What his right hon. Friend had said was, that the moral effect of the conduct of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was like scattering firebrands among an excited population. That he conceived was entirely within the fair scope of Parliamentary debate, and therefore his right, hon. Friend, not having used language calculated to insult any, had nothing to explain.
Sir Robert Bateson said, that it not only struck him, but many Friends near him, that the language used by the right hon. Gentleman was most personally offensive. It was certainly harsh language, and he must also say offensive: he hoped, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman would at least tell his gallant Friend that be did not mean it in that sense in which it had been understood by him and his Friends around him.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, he should be happy to repeat that which he actually did say, and then submit himself to the judgment of the House, and the deliberate judgment of the hon. and gallant Officer, having nothing to explain, and still less anything to retract. In the course of his speech he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) observed, by way of a general proposition, that those who quoted history, not for the purpose of extracting useful lessons from its pages, but for the purpose of exasperating the feelings and exciting the animosities of party by making their guilty deeds subjects of commendation and praise, were like those who poisoned wells or scattered firebrands among inflammable materials. That was what he had stated, and what he would repeat. If be thought he had said anything that was calculated, he would not say to insult the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but to give him a moment’s pain, or had used language which was unbecoming in one Gentleman to use towards another, he should be perfectly ready to recant, to explain, to apologise in any way in which any Gentleman could explain, retract, or apologise. But he had no self-reproach in that respect; he felt upon his honour that he had given no just cause of offence, and, therefore, he had no explanation to give, no retraction to make.
After a pause,
The Speaker rose, and expressed a hope that the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Verner,) must now be entirely satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman had no intention of saying anything that could be offensive.
After another pause,
Mr. Jackson said, he trusted that his gallant Friend would feel quite satisfied after what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman. No Gentleman could expect more from another than saying he did not mean any personal offence.
Colonel Verner said, he should be sorry not to express himself perfectly satisfied with the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, after the observation of his hon. and learned Friend; but he could not avoid saying that the language used by the right hon. Gentleman was language to which he had not been accustomed, and appearing to come directly from the right hon. Gentleman to himself, was such as he ought not to suffer under.
Motion agreed to.
Source: UK Parliament