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IRELAND AND THE MINISTERIAL MEASURES.
It is unnecessary to remind our not only allowed to pursue its sedireaders, that on more than one occa- tious course in peace, but its leader sion we pointed out to the late so-called was flattered and courted in the Conservative administration the dan- senate, until, imboldened by the subgers to which they were exposing the serviency of his opponents, and pressed country, and the misfortunes which on by the impatience of his followers, were sure to arise from the fatal policy he assumed such a menacing position, which they had adopted for the as compelled the interference of the government of Ireland. We told constituted authorities. He was conthem on those occasions, that the lax demned, imprisoned, released, and manner in which the laws were admi- permitted again to talk his treason nistered, and the indecisive conduct and boast his triumph to an ignorant of the Executive, would lead to the and excitable people, who witnessed state of things which we then fore- his success without being able to saw, and which all parties now appreciate the causes to which it was deplore. We warned them, that attributable. While the feelings of tampering with the incipient evil, the people were being acted upon by instead of boldly striking at its root, the orators of Conciliation Hall, would advance its growth instead of the English press accomplished the diminishing its power; and that the triumph of agrarian outrage by the welfare of all classes imperatively course which, with few exceptions, demanded at their hands the repres- was adopted by the leading organs of sion not only of crime itself, but of public opinion. The unfounded statethose causes to which the origin of ments of the demagogues, both lay crime was clearly traceable. Un- and clerical, were adopted with avihappily our advice was unheeded. dity, and commented on with surThe Peel government persevered in passing ability. In every instance the same course which its Whig the falsehood of those premeditated predecessors had pursued, aug- lies was subsequently established, but mented the obstacles which impeded that did not prevent the adoption of the due administration of the laws, every future tale, even though emaand retarded the pacification of the nating from the same polluted source. country by the culpable lenity which The strictures based on those unmarked their proceedings against truths were assiduously copied into those who perpetrated crime, as well the Irish papers ; and, palliating as as towards those, still more criminal, they did the crimes of the peasantry, who countenanced and abetted its by the ridicule, contempt, and detestacommission.
tion which they excited against the The law which empowered the owners of the land, they tended not Crown to challenge improper jurors, only to provoke and encourage the rendered a dead letter by the Whigs peasantry to resistance of the law, in order to conciliate Mr O'Connell, but the effect produced by their simuwas allowed so to remain by the lated horrors on the public mind tied Tories; and thus accomplices of the up the hands of the Executive, and criminals in the dock became arbiters rendered the acquiescence of Parliaof their associates' fate in the jury- ment, in such measures as might be box; and it is unnecessary to say necessary for the preservation of the how much the impunity procured by public peace, a thing scarcely to be this means tended to increase the expected or hoped for, even had the audacity of the violators of the law, administration the good sense or the and to deter the mass of the people manliness to determine on demanding from having recourse to the tribunals them. The writers in the English of the country for justice and protec. press denounced the landlords, under tion.
all circumstances, and for all manner An association openly aiming at of causes. If one of them dispossessed the dismemberment of the empire was some of his tenantry who held por
VOL. LXIII.-NO. CCCLXXXVII.
tions of the soil too small to afford mitting attacks of the English press them support, even though given for led the peasantry to look with distrust nothing, in order that the holdings of and hatred on the class above them, the others should be enlarged to such the system of gratuitous relief and a size as would enable them to live remuneration without labour, which in comfort, he was denounced as an Sir Robert Peel was forced to adopt, exterminator, even though he largely in order to evince his own conviction remunerated, and then at his own as to the truth of his statements in expense sent the dispossessed to the House of Commons, told with countries where land was abundant fearful effect on the morals of the peoand labour remunerative, and to ple ; for if it was no crime to destroy which the most affluent of their a tyrant, so it was considered no disneighbours were every day voluntarily grace to beg instead of to earn ; and emigrating. If, deterred by the abuse men who a few months before would of the press and the denunciations have blushed at the thoughts of receivof the priest, he allowed them to ing public relief, were seen daily continue in the same state of misery seeking for their rations, although they and destitution in which he found had cows, horses, and sheep, and in them, he was represented as heedless many instances profitable employand unfeeling, and the poverty of his ment, which they abandoned to obtain tenantry (which, though willing, he gratuitous support. With a feeble dared not remedy) was made an article and apathetic government, and with a of dittay against him. If he en- powerful and talented press advocatdeavoured to enforce his rents, he was ing their cause, influencing public a tyrant. If he allowed them (as did opinion in their favour, and attributing Mr Ormsby Gore,) from mistaken with success to the misconduct of compassion, to run ten and twelve years others the misery and destitution in arrear, he was pronounced to be fairly assignable to their own indo“ culpably negligent." In fact, no lence and dishonesty, it is not much to matter what he did, he was wrong; be wondered at, that the Irish peaand in their desire to convict the Irish santry should have become still more proprietors, the press acted on the reckless and inattentive than they principle of the Cork juror—" If he were before. When the principal prodid not murder the man, my Lord, he tection which the law provided for the stole my gray mare."
due administration of justice was withTo the many internal causes which drawn, it is not surprising that they tended to aggravate the evils of should have become still more turbuIreland, another, and one arising lent and criminal; and with the fierce from circumstances of an extraneous denunciations of the lay and clerical nature, was added. The British demagogues ringing in the ears of an minister determined to abolish the excitable and ignorant people, we corn laws—to shelter himself against cannot marvel at the scenes of horror the attacks of his betrayed followers, and the deeds of death now enacting and to enlist public sympathy in in their degraded country. And yet his support. He fabricated an Irish even the appalling catalogue laid befamine a year before that scourge fore Parliament, gives but a faint idea actually visited the land; and, to of the fearful state of society in Ireprove the sincerity of his convictions land. It is but a list of the "faits: and the truth of his statements, he accomplis;' and cannot depict the conhad recourse to the establishment of dition of those unhappy men who food depots at the public expense, “ live in death,” who know their and to the system of public works, doom has been sealed, whose execuwhich effectually demoralised the bulk tion is openly spoken of as a thing of the population ; and the perni- certain to occur, who have no procious consequences of these measures, tection but God's mercy to rely on, although now fully admitted, are yet and who are so circumstanced, in many far from having arrived at that por instances, as not to have the means tentous magnitude which they are of fleeing from a country which has daily threatening to assume.
become the charnel-house of their While those continued and unre- class. And who can paint the feelings
of the wives and families of those un- enforcing his views on the apathetic fortunates? We ourselves know in- feelings of her Majesty's advisers. stances of their sufferings which But we have been disappointed, and would harrow the soul of any person either the present lord lieutenant is possessed of the smallest portion of not so competent for the performance humanity.
of 'the arduous duties attached to his But the other day, the wife of a office as we had supposed, or his exclergyman, as amiable and charitable ertions are paralysed and his counsels a man as lives, drove into a neighbour are rejected by the imbecile adminising town, and in the shop of a trades- tration to whose control he is subman heard an expression of regret ject. that certain gentlemen in the neigh- The condition of Ireland is admitted bourhood were so soon to be mur- by all parties to be such as no civilised dered, and amongst others, her own country ever before presented; and husband, whose charities and attention what are the remedies propounded for to the poor she vainly hoped would its amelioration ? Simply this, that have secured his safety. Hurrying two hundred additional police should home, she found he had gone to attend be employed—that the carrying of one of his congregation, to whose sick arms, or their possession by a certain bed he had been summoned. Dis- class of persons, in certain districts tracted by her apprehensions, she where crime has previously prevailed, went to an adjacent police station, should be a misdemeanour, and that and sent two of the men in the direc- the expenses of the proceedings to tion her husband had taken. He re. enforce those enactments should be turned alive-her precaution had saved levied on the inhabitants of the dis.. him,—but when she learned from his turbed districts. But Sir George lips that the call was but a snare to Grey, while he read his list of horbring him within reach of his assas- rors, was most cautious lest he should sins, the shock overpowered a weak offend the feelings of (what the memconstitution ; she fell in a fit, and ber for Cork termed) “the most died entreating with her last breath endearing and religious people on the merey for the father of her children face of the earth," by implicating from the assassins, by whom in her more than four or five counties in the delirium she fancied him to be sur- conspiracy which he denounced ; and rounded. She left a large and helpless too tenacious of the constitutional family, whose only protection is a privileges of the Irish assassins to broken-hearted and a doomed man; propose their general disarmament, and yet there are to be found in the or the violation of the sanctity of Senate those who protect the system their homes by the efficient remedy to which this amiable woman has of nocturnal domiciliary visits. No: fallen a victim, by refusing to support those visits are only to be paid by day, even the paltry measure introduced when the parties suspected of the vioby the government for its suppres- lation of the law may have full notice sion.
of the approach of the constabulary, We had hoped, when parliament and, as a consequence, full time to was summoned at an unusual season remove the arms of which they may to deliberate upon the state of Ire- be possessed; and they are only to be land, and when the condition of that made in search of arms, and not at country was so strongly alluded to all as a means of deterring “ the enin the speech from the throne, that dearing” people from leaving their effectual measures would have been homes at night, to perpetrate the resorted to for the suppression of crime, murders which they now accomplish by and for the protection of the lives day. Another clause is added, on the and properties of the well-disposed efficacy of which Sir George Grey seems . portion of the Irish people. We did to place great reliance, but which is hope that the clear-sightedness and of so ludicrous a nature that we scarcely decision of Lord Clarendon had pre- know how to notice it seriously. vailed ; that at last a man was found “The justices and constables shall capable of threading his way through have the power to call on all perthe maze of Irish difficulties, and of sons between the ages of sixteen and
sixty, residing or living in the dis- repression, at once, with the feelings of trict, to assist in the search for and an Englishman, declared,—" that he pursuit of the persons charged with would order the sheriff to call out the the commission of crime; and thus," posse comitatûs.” “By my sowl," triumphantly exclaims the Home interposed Chief Baron O'Grady, in Minister, “it will be the duty of every his broad Munster brogue, “my Lord person to join in such pursuit, and Chancellor, that's just what we want do his utmost to assist in discovering to avoid !-'the posse's' out already : and apprehending the offender; and may be you could give us some meany person refusing to assist in such thod of getting them to stay at home.” pursuit and search, would be guilty And so it will be with “the posse of a misdemeanour, and would be of Sir George Grey, if ever called out; liable to be imprisoned with or with- they will prove an encumbrance inout hard labour for any term not ex- stead of an assistance to the officers ceeding two years." There is an old of justice. But what a lamentable adage that one man may take a state of ignorance as to the state of horse to the water, but twenty can't Ireland does the proposal of those most make him drink ;" and so it will be absurd remedies indicate, on the part found in reference to the operation of of our present rulers ! Every one at this most sapient enactment. The all acquainted with the country, justice or the constable may call out knows that the assassin is never the lieges, but can they induce or selected from the inhabitants of theimcompel them to guide them to the haunt mediate neighbourhood where the crime of the murderer? “Not a bit of it;"- is to be committed ; and yet, by this they will join most willingly in the enactment, only the persons resident pursuit, but it will certainly be to in such districts are to be disarmed, mislead the pursuers; and, as the or deprived of the right of openly police force is generally found sufficient carrying arms. And thus, by residing to vindicate the law, if they can only beyond or by stepping over the ditch arrive when the crime is being perpe- which bounds the proscribed locality, trated, they will not summon any the murderer may assert his right of assistance except in those cases bearing arms, and defy the police to where the outrage has been committed deprive him of his gun; or, by altering previous to their arrival; and in such his position so as to avoid the forinstances, the culprits will have had bidden ground, he may coolly wait full time to escape, and the witnesses the advent of his victim without the of the deed, ample opportunities of slightest danger of molestation. “On arranging their plans for his protec- the very day that Major Mahon was tion. We assure Sir George he will murdered," continues Sir George find that this clause, all-powerful as Grey, “two persons were seen lurkhe hopes its operation to prove for ing about, who it was strongly susthe repression of crime, will remain a pected were the murderers. There dead-letter on the statute-book; for was, indeed, no moral doubt that they 110 magistrate, who is acquainted were the persons by whom the fatal with the feelings of the people, would act was committed. Now, if the police be so silly as to expect efficient sup- had been armed with the powers port or correct information from them; which were sought for by this bill, and no officer who understood his those persons might have been arduty, would hamper himself with a rested; the fatal weapons would have mob of assistants, whose undoubted been taken from them, and they object it would be to deceive and would have been amenable to the law thwart him in its discharge. A story is for a misdemeanour, in carrying arms told, that, during Lord Anglesey's ad- contrary to the provisions of this act, ministration, when Whiteboy offences or for having arms concealed for the were prevalent in the South of Ire- purpose of carrying them to effect a land, a Cabinet Council was sum- murderous object." Now we deny moned, at which the then Chancellor, the Right Honourable Baronet's con(Sir Anthony Hart,) having been clusions. This enactment could not called upon to give his opinion as to have prevented the assassination of the best remedy to be adopted for their Major Mahon, for his murderers had
only to choose a locality where it of most estimable persons; and now would not be in operation. Neither they unblushingly come to parliament will it at all affect the commission of to ask the enactment of a measure other meditated murders; for there is which they must well know will prove now organised (and we give the in- but a mockery and a delusion, as a formation to her Majesty's govern- substitute for the efficient law which ment, if they are not already in their factious opposition blotted from possession of it,) a new society,* who the statute book. Have those men have regular hired assassins in their hearts to feel or consciences to be pay, for the purpose of pursuing, smitten ?—if so, what must their sufwherever they may be found, the de- ferings be at the record of each nounced persons who have fled successive murder, which adds another the country and escaped their ven- victim to those already sacrificed by geance, This may appear incredi- their fatal and unprincipled policy. ble; but it is well known and While those provisions of the proopenly spoken of in the disturbed posed law, to which we have already districts. One of those bravos, the alluded, are utterly inefficient and other day, in Dublin, entered the valueless for the repression of crime, office of a marked man, who is there is another clause in the bill agent to an English gentleman, a which inflicts a positive and unmerited large proprietor in a western county; injustice. The proclaimed district is he inquired for the person of whom to pay the expense of the additional he was in search, but who was police force, necessary for its pacififortunately absent. Suspicion having cation. Now, the gentry and large been excited by his contradictory farmers, who are the victims of the replies to questions
system sought to be repressed, and put to him touching his business, not its supporters, will be the persons and from the well known fact that upon whom this heavy charge must the gentleman he desired to see principally fall. The guilty have was denounced, he was given into little or no land, and, consequently, custody, and on his person was will be exempt from the increased found a case of loaded pistols. Now, taxation; and thus the pockets of there can be no doubt that this man the peaceable and well-disposed will meditated murder; yet he walked be picked, although their persons may off with his arms, and we should be not be protected. We do not underglad to learn how this enactment, stand why government, which is even though it were on the statute bound to protect the lives and probook, could have interfered with his perties of its subjects, should mulct proceedings. Galway, from whence those whose safety is their peculiar he came, might be proclaimed, but it charge, because additional expense is is not possible that Dublin, where he rendered necessary to root out crime, parposed to commit the deed, should generated and fostered by its own ever come under its operation. We incompetency or neglect. But this admit that a general and stringent is an administration of political Arms act would have afforded, both in economists, and the loyal and peacethis and Major Mahon's case, probable able portion of the Irish nation need protection, and possibly might have not expect ordinary security without saved many other victims from a pre- the payment of an extraordinary mature and bloody death. And price for it, upon the same principle whose fault is it that such is not in that the struggling English trader existence? Whose but that of the could only obtain monetary assisadministration of which the Home tance, at a rate of interest too Secretary is an influential member? usurious to leave the aid useful. To overthrow a hostile government, No wonder that Mr John O'Connell and obtain the reins of power for should express his “ agreeable disthemselves, they sacrificed the peace appointment at the measures proof Ireland and the lives of multitudes posed,” when, in common with the
* “ The Mary Ann Greens.”