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suddenly called away just on the eve of the great European war which, if any individual efforts could have availed any thing, his, ahove those of any man, would have been calculated to avert. On the other side of the House Lord Cairns resumed his place as leader of the Conservative party in the Lords, which, it will be remembered, he had resigned. His success in the post had been doubtful, as could scarcely fail to be the case with the immediate successor of the late Lord Derby. The general verdict was that he was too much of the lawyer and too little of the lord; he Wanted the lightness of touch so essential to the work, and his subtlety was rather that of the forum than the senate—unsuited to encounters with so consummate a master of his art as Lord Granville. But, nevertheless, it had been found impossible to supply Lord Cairns' place. Lord Salisbury —omnium consensu capax imperii—whose brief tenure of office in the Indian department had shown him to be as well skilled in administration as in debate, was disqualified by the differences which notoriously separated him from his party, especially from Mr. Disraeli, its acknowledged chief. The new Lord Derby felt himself unprepared and unequal to succeed at once to all his father's honours, and once more the great Conservative lawyer was found to be, as lawyers have been found more than once, the chief reliance of his party. His health, however, was such that he was forced almost immediately to abdicate his functions for a time, and though he was in his place when Parliament met, it was with the intention of starting for Mentone directly afterwards. The Duke of Richmond subsequently took his place. Lord Derby was absent through indisposition when the House assembled, and the muster on both sides was therefore singularly incomplete.
The Royal Speech was delivered from the throne by the Lord Chancellor, and was in the following terms :— "My Lords and Gentlemen,—
"We have it in command from her Majesty again to invite you to resume your arduous duties, and to express the regret of her Majesty that recent indisposition has prevented her from meeting you in person, as had been her intention, at a period of remarkable public interest.
"The friendly sentiments which are entertained in all quarters towards this country, and which her Majesty cordially reciprocates, the growing disposition to resort to the good offices of allies in cases of international difference, and the conciliatory spirit in which several such cases have recently been treated and determined, encourage her Majesty's confidence in the continued maintenance of the general tranquillity.
"Papers will be laid before you with reference to recent occurrences in New Zealand.
"Gentlemen of the House of Commons,—
"The Estimates for the services of the approaching financial year are in a forward state of preparation. Framed with a view, in the first place, to the effective maintenance of the Public Establishments, they will impose a diminished charge upon the subjects of Her Majesty.
"The condition of the Revenue has answered to the expectations which were formed during the past session.
"Her Majesty trusts that you will be disposed to carry to its completion the inquiry which you last year instituted into the mode of conducting Parliamentary and Municipal Elections, and thus to prepare the materials of useful and early legislation. "My Lord* and Gentlemen,—
"It will be proposed to you to amend the laws respecting the occupation and acquisition of land in Ireland, in a manner adapted to the peculiar circumstances of that country, and calculated, as her Majesty believes, to bring about improved relations between the several classes concerned in Irish agriculture, which collectively constitute the great bulk of the people. These provisions, when matured by your impartiality aud wisdom, as her Majesty trusts, will tend to inspire among persons with whom such sentiments may still be wanting, that steady confidence in the law and that desire to render assistance in its effective administration which mark her subjects in general; and thus will aid in consolidating the fabric of the Empire.
"We are further directed by her Majesty to state that many other subjects of public importance appear to demand your care; and among these especially to inform you that a Bill has been prepared for the enlargement, on a comprehensive scale, of the means of National Education.
"In fulfilment of an engagement to the Government of the United States, a Bill will be proposed to you for the purpose of defining the status of subjects or citizens of foreign countries who may desire naturalization, and of aiding them in the attainment of that object.
"You will further be invited to consider Bills, prepared in compliance with the Report of the Commission on Courts of Judicature, for the improvement of the constitution and procedure of the Superior Tribunals of both original and appellate jurisdiction.
"The question of religious tests in the Universities and Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge has been under discussion for many years. Her Majesty recommends such a legislative settlement of this question as may contribute to extend the usefulness of these great institutions, and to heighten the respect with which they are justly regarded.
"Bills have been prepared for extending the incidence of rating, and for placing the collection of the large sums locally raised for various purposes on a simple and uniform footing.
"Her Majesty has likewise to recommend that you should undertake the amendment of the laws which regulate the grant of licences for the sale of fermented and spirituous liquors.
"Measures will also be brought under your consideration for facilitating the transfer of land, for regulating the succession to real property in case of intestacy, for amending the laws as to the disabilities of members of Trade Combinations, and for both consolidating and improving the body of statutes which relate to merchant shipping.
"While commending to you these weighty matters of legislation, her Majesty commands us to add that the recent extension of agrarian crime in several parts of Ireland, with its train of accompanying evils, has filled her Majesty with painful concern.
"The Executive Government has employed freely the means at its command for the prevention of outrage, and a partial improvement may be observed; but although the number of offences, within this class of crime, has been by no means so great as at some former periods, the indisposition to give evidence in aid of the administration of justice has been alike remarkable and injurious.
"For the removal of such evils her Majesty places her main reliance on the permanent operation of wise and necessary changes in the law. Yet She will not hesitate to recommend to you the adoption of special provisions, should such a policy appear during the course of the session to be required by the paramount interest of peace and order.
"Upon these and all other subjects her Majesty devoutly prays that your labours may be constantly attended by the blessing of Almighty God."
This Speech promised work enough for a single Session. The ten different measures recommended were nearly all measures of the gravest importance, though the prominence of the two great questions of the hour threw others into the shade, even one of such popular interest as that affecting the disabilities of members of trade combinations.
The address was proposed and seconded, in the House of Lords, by the Marquis of Huntly and the Earl of Fingall; in the House of Commons, by Captain Egerton and Sir Charles Dilke. The principal topic of debate in both Houses was the condition of Ireland, on which Lord Cairns, heading, on the part of the Opposition, what on this occasion was not a very strong attack, dwelt at some length, after first expressing his regret that the Speech contained no allusion to the state of the colonies, or to the distress prevalent at home,— touching upon the paragraphs relating to naturalization, the improvement of judicature, and the transfer of land,—and expressing his hope that the session might not pass over without the passing of a large and comprehensive measure for the improvement of education. The speaker prefaced his remarks on the subject of Ireland by some amusing criticisms on the composition of the Royal Speech, and drawing an imaginary picture of its composition by the Cabinet.
He then proceeded to call attention to the official statistics of the state of crime in Ireland. From these he gathered that in 1868 the number of agrarian outrages specially reported had been less than in any of the last twenty years, except 1866 and 1867, but that in the first half of 1869 no less than 169 such outrages had been reported, amounting to double the number in the same half of 1868, and four times the number in 1866. He then added, "My Lords, important as the statistics on the subject are, the statistics it appears to me by no means represent the whole extent and gravity of the position. I have looked at the annals of what I may call the delicto, majora for the year 1869. I have not seen the catalogue for the beginning of the present year, but they have not been infrequent—I have put aside all minor offences, threatening letters, threatening visits, disturbances without loss of life, and I find that, taking greater offences alone, such as murder, mutilation, burglarious entry into houses and abstraction of arms, riots attended with loss of life, the number of offences in the reports for 1869 amounts to fifty-nine, and out of those there were no less than eighteen assassinations."
The explanation given by Mr. Forster, that this resulted from the efforts of the Fenian agitators to prevent the passing of measures which might pacify the country, Lord Cairns described as "without foundation both as regards its facts and its reasoning. My Lords," he proceeded to say, "I think we may find a good deal much nearer home that will assist us in explaining this point. We may find a good deal both in the declarations and conduct of the Government which will go far to account for the state of agitation that at this moment prevails in Ireland. My Lords, the agitation is a land agitation. We know, as a matter of history, that at all times and in all countries there is no kind of agitation which ever has been so serious or so difficult to deal with as an agitation on the subject of land. ... I ask what have been the announcements of her Majesty's Ministers during the fourteen months in which this subject has been exciting the minds of the people? What have been the representations made by them of the measures they desire to introduce on this subject? We all remember the Prime Minister's statement. He said there was the great and evil tree in Ireland with its three branches—the Church, the Land, and Education—he and those associated with him were banded together to overthrow the system of Protestant ascendancy which was represented by that tree—a few strokes more and that tree would be prostrate on the ground. And we remember at the same time two other declarations from the same quarter—Ireland must be governed according to Irish ideas; and the chief reason why, in the year 1866, when the present Prime Minister was before in office, he did not address himself to the question of the Irish Church was that he was at that time ignorant of the extent and intensity of Feniauism. Now, my Lords, from these three declarations I ask you what must have been the view entertained by the peasants and population of Ireland. Here, they would naturally say, we have a Minister who holds the opinion that the Church, Land, and Education are all branches of the same tree; he desires to overthrow that tree, and hopes to accomplish it; if he overthrows that tree, he will overthrow the branches. He ha« already overthrown the Church. He is willing to govern Ireland according to Irish ideas, but he could not be made to take the first step for the overthrow of one of these branches until he became aware of the extent and intensity of Fenianism. What then must we, the people of Ireland, do? Surely, they would say, the way to induce him to take the step which he is willing on pressure to take, is by agitation, and if necessary by means more forcible than agitation. But, my Lords, let us turn to another and very important Member of her Majesty's Government—I refer to Mr. Bright. What has he said? That, in his opinion, there never could and never ought to be any contentment in Ireland until the population were placed in greater numbers in possession of the soil of their country. At a later period he has told the Irish people that Government were prepared to offer them free land. Now I do not understand what the Government may mean by the expression 'free land/ but I ask, what would an Irish peasant understand by ' free land'? What is a 'free house' or a 'free garden' to a peasant? And would not the Irish people believe that Mr. Bright is of opinion that the population of Ireland should be placed in possession of the soil of the country, and that to this end they would be offered land for which they would not have to pay? Again, the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, speaking of certain hypothetical acts supposed about to be perpetrated by landlords, characterized them as 'felonious acts.' What has been the consequence? The words have rung from one end of Ireland to the other; it has been repeated over and over again, and the peasants have been taught to believe that the landlords of Ireland are ' felonious' or 'felons/ and I observe that the ingenious argument has been made use of in that country that, as according to law it is legal to resist felony to the last extremity, ergo it is allowable to resist the landlords of Ireland to the last extremity, though that should be death. These are literally, so far as I know, the only declarations made by the Government as to the views they entertain with regard to legislation on this subject during the last fourteen months of agitation and excitement."
Passing from the expressions to the conduct of Government, the speaker expressed his conviction that the first duty of a Government, and the object for which a Government exists, is the repression of outrages and the enforcement of security for property and life; and that, therefore, in his opinion, the Government had, during the last twelve months, abdicated their office in Ireland. It was the duty of the Government, if sufficient powers should be wanting to deal with Ireland, to ask for further powers, greater even, if need be, than the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Appealing to the opinion of foreigners on the question, which Lord Salisbury in the debates on the Irish Church in the previous year had called the " foreign friend argument," Lord Cairns asked if there was a country in Europe in which intelligent men were not filled with amazement at the manner in which Ireland was being governed ?" And I want to know," he added, "what prospects there are for the future? I