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in the public interest; and Mr. W. E. Forster denied that any public meeting had been stopped in Ireland except when there was fair reason to expect that a breach of the peace or danger to individuals would ensue. Apparently from inanition the debate suddenly collapsed, and the amendment having been negatived by 173 to 34, the Address in answer to the Queen's Speech was, after eleven nights of discussion, formally agreed to. The Report was at once brought up, and, deviating from the usual custom of deferring its consideration until the next day, it was taken at once. After a debate raised by Sir Wilfrid Lawson's amendment, referred to in a subsequent chapter, it was agreed to without further impediment.

But if the action of the Ministry had been hindered in the House of Commons, their policy had been generally supported by the public and in the press. On the first announcement of the intention to introduce a Peace Preservation Bill and an Arms Bill, the Daily Telegraph alone, among the London papers, found in it cause for rejoicing, but by degrees nearly all, without distinction of party, recognised the duties of the Government. In Ireland the more sober organs of opinion deplored the spectacle of the most Liberal Ministry ever in power resorting to the practice of their Whig or Tory predecessors; whilst provincial opinion was somewhat divided, Newcastle, Manchester, Bradford, and South Wales opposing the idea of coercive measures preceding remedial ones; but Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, and the south-western districts called loudly for the restoration of order, a demand in which the Scotch press almost unanimously concurred.



Protection of Property Bill-Obstruction in the House of Commons and its Treatment-The New Rules of Debate-The Speaker's Dictatorship-Urgency --The Revolt of the Home Rulers-Preservation of Life Bill.

THE House of Commons was still engaged in discussing the Address when the House of Lords, through two of its members, sitting on different sides of the House, expressed a desire to hasten the passing of some measure for the maintenance of order in Ireland, by proposing its initiation in that assembly. Earl Fortescue, in support of his proposal, cited the precedents of Earl Grey, in 1833, and of the Earl of St. Germans in 1846; but Earl Granville, whilst expressing his thanks for the proffered assistance, reminded his hearers that Lord St. Germans's Bill, after having been debated for four months by the Commons, was rejected. Earl Redesdale, on the other hand, believed that the only remedy for the system of obstruction which endangered Parliamentary government was an act of" constitutional despotism." He would like to see a message from the Crown explaining the state of affairs in Ireland as regards life and property, and announcing that a Bill for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act would be at once introduced

in both Houses of Parliament simultaneously. After a single reading in each House, he proposed that Government should, pending its further discussion, act upon it, trusting to a Bill of Indemnity. The Lord Chancellor, however, pointed out that such a course would involve the Government in an almost endless contest with the law and judges of the land, and he deprecated strongly the idea of a Government attempting to enforce law and order by setting at naught the very principles on which both are founded. After a few remarks from two Irish peers the subject dropped, and the Government, without further criticism, wore allowed to pursue their own course of action, and for many months subsequently the House of Commons monopolised the whole discussion of Irish wrongs and their remedies.

No speaker for the Treasury Bench had in the course of the long discussion on the Address given any clue as to the measures which the Executive were about to propose. The Ministry and their critics seemed content to confine their arguments to the respective claims of coercion and remedy, for precedence. When, therefore, Mr. Forster rose to ask for leave to bring in the first of his two measures of protection, there was complete ignorance on all sides as to the shape his Bill would take. On the one hand it was asserted that he would simply ask for a renewal of the Peace Preservation Act, brought in by his own colleague and predecessor in office, Lord Hartington, in 1870, which had remained in force during the term of Lord Beaconsfield's administration. By this Act the Lord Lieutenant had power to arrest only two classes of persons: "strangers" unable to give a satisfactory account of themselves, and persons found out at night under suspicious eircumstances. On the other hand it was confidently asserted that the Bill would be based upon the Westmeath Act of 1871, which conferred upon the Lord Lieutenant permission to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act in specific districts, under certain restrictions, Others again, especially among the Radical supporters of the Government, expressed the hope that Mr. Forster would be able to dispense with powers so stringent or so vague as those demanded and exercised by his predecessors. The speech in which, to a crowded and earnestly attentive House, the Chief Secretary explained the principal features of his Bill, showed how well he had kept his own counsel, and how completely all the forecasts of its contents went astray. By way of preface, Mr. Forster gave a sketch of the condition of Ireland, and its progress in lawlessnes through the preceding autumn and winter, until the number of agrarian outrages in 1880 had exceeded, by 600, the total of any single year since 1844, although in the interval the population had fallen from eight to five millions. The total number of outrages returned for the year 1880 was 2,590. Of these, however, threatening letters, as Mr. Forster was subsequently obliged to admit, formed the larger portion. But even with every reduction there had been in 1880, 1,253 outrages, of which two-thirds took place

in the last three months of the year. Outrages on property, such as incendiary fires, torturing of cattle, cardings, and other personal attacks and assaults, had followed Land League meetings, and seemed to be the means by which that body enforced its unwritten laws. Personal insecurity had, in consequence of the Land League, increased so rapidly, that no less than 153 people were attended, day and night, by two constables each, and 1,149 others were watched over by the police. Tenants were the objects of outrage as well as their landlords, if it was suspected they had paid their rent, or any part of it in excess of Griffith's valuation. Mr. Forster gave numerous cases in which the Land League had intervened and, he added, that the Government were satisfied that the area over which it exercised its terrorism was daily extending. The serving of processes was as impossible as the collection of rent, and the shopkeepers were there as unable to obtain justice as the landlords. "In Ireland," continued the Chief Secretary, "the Land League law is supreme, and there is a real reign of terror over the whole country. No man dares take a farm from which another person has been ejected, nor work for a man who pays his rent, or who refuses to join the Land League. They did not dare to claim compensation for outrages committed upon them; to prosecute the persons who committed such outrages, if in the first moment of anger they had given information; or to convict such offenders if they should happen to be on juries before whom they were brought. The fact is, that those who defy the existing law are safe, while those who keep it-the honest men, in short-are in danger. After all, all law rests on the power to punish its infraction. There being no such power in Ireland at the present time, I am forced to acknowledge that to a great extent the ordinary law of the country is powerless; but the unwritten law is powerful, because punishment is sure to follow its infraction. Take away this power to punish for infraction of the unwritten law, and it will become an empty form. The men who have planned and perpetrated the outrages to which I have referred are the men without whose help the speeches of the hon. members for the city of Cork, for Tipperary, and for Cavan would be mere harmless exhortations and vapouring. It is these men who have struck terror into the hearts of the districts in which their operations have been carried on, and we must strike terror into them in order that outrage may be stopped, persons and property may be protected, and liberty may be secured. We must arrest these criminals. We cannot do it now, because these criminals have made themselves safe by the enormity of their crimes and the power which those crimes have enabled them to acquire. They knew that they would be perfectly foolish to fear the law when no man dared to appear and give evidence against them. Did not the police know the names of these village tyrants? Of course the police knew them, and they themselves were perfectly aware of the fact. These men may, I think, be divided into three categories.

There are first those who remain of the old Riband and other secret societies of former days; in the second place there are a large number of Fenians who have taken advantage of the present state of affairs, not so much as caring about the land as in order to promote their own particular views in regard to the political situation in Ireland; and in the third, there are a large number of men who are the mauvais sujets of their neighbourhood. So it not infrequently happens that the most powerful man in a particular district is a contemptible, dissolute ruffian and blackguard, who, his character being known by all his neighbours, is shunned by them all, but who, nevertheless, acts as the powerful and active policeman for the execution of the unwritten law. To what, then, are we driven? Simply to this, to take power to arrest these men and keep them in prison in order that they may be prevented from tyrannising over their neighbours."

The remedy for this state of things proposed by the Govern ment was exceedingly summary. The Lord Lieutenant was to have power to issue a warrant for the arrest of any person whom he might reasonably suspect of treasonable or agrarian offences; the prisoner would be treated as unconvicted, but might be detained without trial until September 30, 1882. Such offences as " Boycotting" could not, it had been found, be declared illegal; nor was it thought advisable to increase the extent of summary juris diction, as any such change in the law might give rise to prolonged discussion, and for similar reasons the Arms Bill had been separated from the Protection Bill, because the need of passing the Protec tion Bill was urgent and peremptory. Mr. Forster wound up in the following words a long and eloquent speech, which had been atten tively listened to, and, although it occasionally produced passionate cheers from both the Ministerial and Conservative benches, the vague and dictatorial powers demanded by the Bill checked any display of enthusiasm in its favour amongst the independent Liberals. No doubt it is a great disappointment to us to have to bring forward this Bill, seeing that we did without it in the early part of the year; but remember it is agitation which has made disarming far more necessary than it was then. If we are to blame, for what are we to blame? That we had more hope of the Irish people-more hope from those who seem to have their confidence than we ought to have had. This has been to me a most painful duty; I never expected that I should have to discharge it. If I had thought that this duty would devolve on the Irish Secretary, I would never have held the office; if I could have foreseen that this would be the result of twenty years of Parliamentary life, I would have left Parliament rather than have undertaken it. But I never was more clear than I am now that it is my duty; I never was more clear that the man responsible, as I am, for the administration of the government of Ireland, ought no longer to have any part or share in any Government which does not fulfil its first duty-the protection of person and property and the security of liberty."

On Dr. Lyons devolved the task of moving the amendment, to which not only the Home Rulers, but the bulk of the Irish party adhered without hesitation. He asked the Government to reconsider the determination of which Mr. Forster's motion was the expression, and to postpone the introduction of the Coercion Bill until their remedial measures were introduced. He protested, in the name of his countrymen, against such a Bill becoming law until a preliminary inquiry should prove its need, and he upbraided the Executive with not preserving peace by means of the existing laws. The amendment was seconded by Mr. Givan, who exposed the evils and hardships which the existing Land Laws threw upon Irish tenants and cottiers; and Mr. Dillon next rose, and in a quiet but earnest speech, which was listened to with marked attention, stated the case of the Irish people against their rulers. The liberties of Ireland were, he asserted, about to be voted away on the evidence of spies and informers. The Land League, he maintained, had steadily discouraged outrages and threatening letters; and the Bill, if passed, would not break down the League, but would render it more powerful. In answer to Mr. Forster's touching description of the terrorism exercised by the Land League, he declared that if the proposed Bill were carried, 10,000 Irish families would be cast on to the road-side, homeless, and without hope. Then might be expected despair, revenge, and crimes committed by men threatened with a fate to which an Irish farmer preferred death. He protested against the whole force of England being used to support one small class of the Irishmen against ninetenths of the nation; and he prophesied that any attempt to preserve landlord domination by the help of the army, would end in failure. If the Government would pass an Act suspending evictions in Ireland there would be no need of a Coercion Bill. parties would rest on their arms; outrages would cease, and peace would descend on the distracted land. If the Bill were passed, it was not only the people, but the priesthood of Ireland which the Government would have to encounter. The Archbishop of Cashel would place himself at the head of the League, and in its ranks would be found not only half the priests of the Roman Catholic Church, but a vast number of the Presbyterian ministers of Ulster. The strength of the League lay in the weakness of English rule; that weakness arose from the fact that English rule in Ireland was based on an entire disregard of Irish feeling. If the Irish people could be polled, three-fourths would vote in favour of annexation to the United States, in preference to continuing in union with England.


Mr. Bradlaugh followed on the same side, urging that the Government had wholly failed to make out a case for exceptional legislation, and that its complaint that there was a sympathy with lawlessness only showed that the Irish people had come by experience to think that the Government gave them no protection, and that the law afforded them no remedy. In England special

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