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old one before we acknowledge its independence, yet we must act with some degree of caution before we can give our fiat, even if it be understood to amount to no more than a declaration of opinion. We are not bound, indeed, to be so sure of our ground, as to be able to answer for it that our opinion shall turn out to be true ; but we are bound to take care to have the chances in its favour. The principal to guide us is this :that as the whole of our conduct should be essentially neutral, we ought not to acknowledge the separate and independent existence of any government which is so doubtfully established, that the mere effect of that acknowledgment shall be, to mix parties again in internal squabbles, if not in open hostilities. My honourable and learned friend is aware that, before we can act, information as to matters of fact is necessary. We have taken the means to obtain that information ; but we are not yet in possession of that official intelligence, which will enable us to arrive at a decision. Even with regard to the particular state last alluded to, Columbia, I know what has passed there, only through the same channels of information my honourable and learned friend seems to have consultedI mean the newspapers.
I have seen much that I think must be rather exaggerated, but I have yet no authentic record by which I can correct the public statements.
This is all that I think it consistent with my duty to state to my honourable and learned friend. To every principle laid down in the papers he has read, and on which he has bestowed commendation, the King's Government steadfastly adheres. The progress made since we last had any communication on the subject, is a proof that we have proceeded in the execution of those principles; and as my honourable and learned friend approves of all that is stated in those documents, he must, I apprehend, approve equally of what subsequently occurred.
The House will judge whether it is expedient, in the present state of affairs necessarily partaking of so much uncertainty, to press the discussion beyond the information I have been able to give ; or whether it would not complicate, and perhaps retard, rather than accelerate, the object in view. I have only to add, that the proposal originally made by Spain to this country, to become a party to a congress on the affairs of South America, had been repeated, and again refused by the Government of Great Britain.
O'CONNELL's success as an orator was greater in Ireland than in England, and greater on the platform than in Parliament. But it was everywhere great. He had extraordinary readiness of speech and immense volubility in argument. His fertility of resource never deserted him, and even in the House of Commons, where the sympathy of his audience was against him, he could almost always command a hearing. Abusive as he often was, his genuine eloquence so far refined the coarseness of his vocabulary that it became a picturesque ornament rather than an ugly excrescence.
On the hill-sides of Ireland he was most thoroughly himself. But his forensic training qualified him for debate, and kept him more closely to the point than his rhetorical instincts would otherwise have led him. He was certainly the most eloquent Irishman of his time, and few Members of Parliament, English, Irish, or Scotch, could dispute the palm' with him. Too intensely national to feel at home in this country, he had nevertheless the gift of arresting attention as soon as he rose, and retaining it throughout the longest of his harangues. He was not always lucid. But he was always earnest, and he had a definite, intelligible cause. Repeal of the Union might be good or bad. Nobody doubted what it meant, or questioned O'Connell's sincerity in demanding it. It is curious and significar
It is curious and significant that while he succeeded in obtaining Catholic Emancipation, for which he worked in Ireland, he failed to obtain Repeal, for which he worked in England. His settled policy was to procure it by constitutional agitation, and his monster meetings in Ireland were not intended to be more than passive displays of physical force. He was unable to control Young Ireland, nor could he always lay the spirits that he raised. But his extraordinary powers of eulogy, encouragement, and
invective gave him a preponderance which cannot be ignored in any estimate of oratorical achievement within the United Kingdom. He was a force. The range and compass of his voice were such that he could be heard with equal ease within the walls of Parliament and under the open canopy of Heaven. Notwithstanding the violence of his language he was by disposition genial, and quite prepared to associate on friendly terms with his political opponents. He often seemed to be astonished at the impression he produced, knowing that his malignity was histrionic, and forgetting that the English people are given to be as literal in construction as they are honest in design. When he called the Whigs“ base, bloody, and brutal,” he meant that they were proposing a policy of stringent coercion for Ireland. He lived in such an atmos: phere of sentiment and exaggeration that he could not accurately measure the effect of his words upon a race so unlike his own as that which he addressed on this side of the Channel.
State of Ireland
House of Commons, Feb. 5th, 1833 MR. O'CONNELL said, that it was impossible in his opinion for the representatives of the people to agree to such an Address. He thought it was a bloody and brutal Address. [Laughter.] Yes, in spite of that laugh, he was sure that it was a bloody Address. It was exactly what he expected-a declaration of civil war, and that declaration would be echoed by many a wail and many a lament throughout Ireland. It was such an address as this that was put forth to America when England sent her secretaries there to write her history in blood; but that attempt terminated in the utter disgrace and discomfiture of this country. He repeated that the address proposed was bloody, brutal and unconstitutional ; and when he heard the talk in that House as to the deep interest which it felt for the welfare of Ireland—when he heard the gallant officer and the newly returned member for Leeds speak of the attention which the situation of Ireland would receive in that House-he could not avoid telling them, with indignation, that this brutal
address showed but too plainly what sort of system was intended to be acted on towards that unfortunate country. He called it a brutal Address—for it was nothing else. He had told the right hon. Secretary 1 last session, that his measures would increase the evils of Ireland. He prophesied it at that time, and his prophecy had proved to be a true one. He should now beg that that part of his Majesty's speech at the conclusion of the last Session, which related to Ireland, might be read.
The clerk accordingly read the following passage :
“I have still to lament the continuance of disturbances in Ireland notwithstanding the vigilance and energy displayed by my Government there in the measures which it has taken to repress them. The laws which have been passed, in conformity with my recommendation at the beginning of the Session, with respect to the collection of tithes, are well calculated to lay the foundation of a new system to the completion of which the attention of Parliament, when it again assembles, will of course be directed. To this necessary work my best assistance will be given, by enforcing the execution of the laws, and by promoting the prosperity of a country blessed by Divine Providence with so many natural advantages. As conducive to this object, I must express the satisfaction which I have felt at the measures adopted
for extending generally to my people in that Kingdom the benefits of Education.”
Mr. O'Connell continued : Here Ireland was described as a country "blessed by Divine Providence with so many natural advantages.” It was, indeed, so blessed. Had Scotland, he would ask, so many advantages ? Had even England so many advantages ? How, then, did it happen, when they talked of the natural advantages of Ireland, that that country was in such a wretched state ? He might be sneered at, but he would assert that there never was such a fruitful country presenting such misery; there never was in the history of the world, so poor a people with so rich a Church. How was it that after seven centuries of oppression, there was still to be a call for blood in that country? If Irishmen had had the conducting of Irish affairs, and the country was found in its present state, then the Parliament of England might have reproached them. But such was not the case. The work of evil was perpetrated by others. It was unnecessary to speak of what the noble Lord and the honourable gentleman said the Government meant to do for Ireland. If, after seven centuries, during which Ireland was subject to this country-if
1 Mr. Stanley
after that long lapse of time, a territory so blessed by Providence, and so cursed by man, was still in a state of wretchedness and misery, he threw the blame on those to whom the government had been intrusted. He would tell them that their schemes of domination and of oppression could not succeed ; and he would say that there was but one remedy for the woes of Ireland, and that was—to do justice. He had asked, on a former occasion, why it was that Ireland was plunged into such a wretched situation. But he received no answer. Ohyes, he did. The noble Lord, the member for Devonshire, made a speech at him. The noble Lord emptied on him the phial of his wrath ; but how did that affect him ? He felt it not. He very well knew that there was not a scion of English nobility that did not think himself better than an Irishman ; and because he stated the wrongs of Ireland-because he argued that his country should not be left a spoil to the right hon. Secretary-he was sneered at, and even accused as the author of the evils by which his country was weighed down. Was Ireland, he demanded, more peaceable now, after the measures of the right hon. Secretary, than it was at the time to which he alluded ? Had not crime increased ? Why had it increased ? That was the only subject of inquiry. Originating where it did, and spreading as it had done, these points properly considered would show what sort of care was entertained for the welfare and happiness of Ireland. It was very well to talk of what was meant to be done for that country, but neither he nor those who thought with him would be content with the lip-service and mere professions of any set of men. He asserted that crime had increased. Then came the question, why had it increased ? There were two modes in which it had been accounted for. The noble Lord accounted for it by saying that it was produced by agitation; and it appeared, from the manner in which the statement was cheered, that many gentlemen entertained the same opinion. But the gentlemen on the other side of the House forgot when they thus expressed their hostility to agitation, that it was only last year that they themselves were reproached with the crime of being agitators. Those gentlemen were told that the people of England wanted no such reform as these people contemplated ; that they wanted none of those changes and innovations which ministers proposed and carried ; and the charge