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demanded from the other members of the House. The case seemed to him, he said, to depend entirely on the construction to be given to the 22 George II. cap. 46. There had been a contrary decision of the House of Commons, in the case of Mr. Archdale a Quaker, in the reign of William III., and subsequently to the passing of the 7th and 8th William III. Mr. Archdale had expressed his willingness to make his declaration of fidelity, if it would be accepted in place of the oath; but the House would not receive it, and, as he declined to take the oath, declared that he was not entitled to sit. The words of the 7th and 8th William III. were so strong, that he would have voted against this resolution in Mr. Archdale's case. But if any doubts could have existed then, they had been entirely removed by the 22nd George II. That statute proceeded on the recital of doubts having arisen whether the Affirmation allowed to be made by Quakers under the 8th George I. could be allowed in any case where an Act of Parliament required an oath, unless such Act expressly allowed the declaration or Affirmation, instead of an oath. On this recital, the statute enacted, "That in all cases wherein, by any Act or Acts of Parliament now in force, or hereafter to be made, an oath is or shall be allowed, authorized, directed, or required, the solemn Affirmation or declaration of any of the people called Quakers, in the form prescribed, by the said Act made in the 8th year of his late Majesty's reign, shall be allowed and taken instead of such oath, although no particular or express provision be made for that purpose in such Act
or Acts;" and further, "the said solemn Affirmation or declaration so made as aforesaid, shall be adjudged and taken, and is hereby enacted and declared to be of the same force and effect, to all intents and purposes, in all courts of justice and other places, where by law an oath is, or shall be allowed, authorized, directed, or required, as if such Quaker had taken an oath in the usual form." Now, this enactment was so universally applicable to all cases in which oaths were administered, that he was certain the gentleman now applying to take his seat, might, if balloted on an election committee, act as a member of such committee; taking, instead of the oath, his solemn Affirmation or declaration. It was true sir William Blackstone had said, that, "a statute which treats of things or persons of an inferior rank cannot, by any general words be extended to those of a superior.” That doctrine was quite correct where general words only were employed in the statute; but, in the present instance, the words of the statute were express and particular, declaring the Affirmation of a Quaker to have the same force and effect as an oath in all courts of justice and other places where by law an oath could be required. There could be no doubt that the two Houses of Parliament were superior to all other courts in their privileges and rights, and that these could not be limited by implication. But it was notoriously the practice of the other House, when acting not in its judicial, but in its legislative capacity, and deciding on the expediency or inexpediency of a proposed law, to examine Quakers on their solemn Affirmation. They did it con
stantly in the case both of Divorce Bills and of Inclosure Bills. On the same principle he thought it was the bounden duty of the House to admit Mr. Pease to make his declaration at the table, in lieu of taking the oath required from other members.-The Solicitor General agreed in these views. Originally by the common law, every person duly elected, was entitled to his seat without taking any oath. Oaths were first required by the 5th of Elizabeth, cap. 1.
But as that statute, and the other statutes imposing oaths, were infringements on the common law, and were besides, penal statutes, they must be literally and strictly construed; whereas the remedial laws, relaxing such provisions, and so far restoring the common-law right, were to be liberally construed. It was clear that at the time of passing the 7th and 8th William III., Quakers could not sit in Parliament, having been excluded, along with all other dissenters, by the 30th Charles II.; but under the Act of William they would have been admissible, if its provisions, as they ought to have been, had been construed liberally. In a case which occurrred shortly after the passing of the Act, Chief Justice Holt had held, that in all cases where an oath was required, the Affirmation of a Quaker could be taken, under
the exceptions contained in the Act itself, viz. evidence in criminal trials, and oaths to be taken by persons appointed to offices under the government. In another case in the reign of George III., Lord Mansfield had said, that he could not even start a doubt, the point was so clear. But, at all events, the Act of George II. had removed every doubt. It was true, that superior courts, or persons of superior rank, were not to be concluded by Acts of Parliament which merely mentioned courts or persons of an inferior order; and it was likewise true, as a maxim of law, that the King was not bound by an Act of Parliament, unless he was expressly mentioned in it; but then the King was bound by an Act in which the legislature plainly intended to include the King. Now it was evident, that the legislature, in passing the 22nd George II., intended to put Quakers on the same footing in England, with all other dissenters, except Catholics; and this being the case, the Act ought to be construed in accordance with the intention of the legislature in passing it.
No member expressed an opposite opinion; and the motion to allow Mr. Pease to make his solemn Affirmation, in place of taking the oath, was agreed to unanimously.
Bill for the Suppression of Disturbances in Ireland introduced into the House of Lords-Explanation of its provisions, and, description of the state of Ireland, by Earl Grey-The Bill passes the Lords without opposition-In the Commons, the first reading of the Bill met by an Amendment for a fortnight's delay-Debate of six days-Speeches of Lord Althorp-Mr. Grote-Mr. Stanley-Sir Robert Peel-Mr. O'Connell - Division on the first reading-Amendment that the Bill was unnecessary, moved against the second reading, and lost-Opposi tion to the Bill going into Committee-Proceedings and discussions in the Committee, and alterations introduced into the Bill---Bill passed— Discussions in the House of Peers on the alterations made in the BillBill for changing the place of trial for offences in Ireland-Application of the Coercion Act-Mr. Stanley resigns the office of Secretary for Ireland, and is made Secretary for the Colonies.
had obtained leave to bring in a bill to amend the grand jury laws of Ireland.
THE HE first important subjects for the consideration of parliament were those measures for the more effective government of The bill for the suppression of Ireland which had already produced disturbances in Ireland, or, as it so much warm debate. The Irish was commonly called, the Coermembers, and some English mem-cion Bill, was introduced into the bers, had not concealed their desire to get rid of the church establishment in Ireland, as being the heaviest of all the grievances under which that part of the empire laboured. Ministers, too, while pressing Parliament to arm the government with extraordinary powers, had declared their intention to remove evils, and more especially to deal with the church. Before they proceeded even to introduce the bill for putting down disturbances in Ireland, lord Althorp had opened, in the House of Commons, the measures which he meant to propose in regard to the church; and before the former had come down from the Lords to the lower House, the Irish secretary
House of Lords by earl Grey, and read a first time, on the 15th February. His lordship stated that ministers proposed such a bill, without applying for a committee to inquire into the circumstances which rendered it necessary, because the evils to be redressed were so great and so notorious as to render inquiry superfluous. It was not with a secret conspiracy, directing its concealed attacks against the government, that they had to do -it was not by covert measures that they were assailed-it was not the secret seeds of mischief against which they had to provide. The further powers which government demanded, were called for in order to repress a system of as
sociation which proceeded openly under an organization, and was avowedly directed to the accomplishment of objects that destroyed the peace and safety of the community, and threatened the unity and integrity of the empire-to put down combinations formed in defiance of the law to defeat armed bodies that violated the rights of property, inflicted death for purposes of terror or vengeance, and rendered the law nugatory by deterring prosecutors and witnesses, and intimidating jurors. The association newly formed in Ireland, under the title of the Irish Volunteers, avowedly had for its object the repeal of the union. Neither past experience, nor the present aspect of affairs, furnished any well-grounded expectation that a mere redress of grievances would restore peace to Ireland. No one had been more sanguine than himself in hoping that emancipation would have produced tranquillity, and that Parliament would have been allowed to pursue its course of further amelioration undisturbed by popular violence. But he had been grievously disappointed. To allow such a pause did not suit the views of the promoters of agitation; the sweets of power had been tasted by the popular leaders; the slow work of redress did not answer their wishes or purposes; from that moment, agitation was renewed, and the state of Ireland had become, and now was, worse, perhaps, than at any former period. Nay, this new body of Irish Volunteers threatened consequences still more alarming. Its organization was to extend over the whole country. There was a central association in Dublin, and for every parish in Ireland were to be appointed three pacificators, one of
whose duties was to enlist and enrol the neighbouring population, farmers and labourers, in associations which should be under the direction of the central association. The declared objects of the society were, pacification, the maintenance of the peace, the holding meetings simultaneously with the quarter sessions, superseding the necessity of police. That the Volunteers were to be ultimately armed, though at present unarmed, was acknowledged; but they were not to be armed till the law of the land permitted it-till the association became, by the influence of moral and physical agency, a power superior to the government itself, and could establish, as a proof of revolutionary success, a national guard similar to that of a neighbouring country. This was the association, and its action depended on the breath of a single man. A Mr. Steele, a person actively employed by these Volunteers, had professed himself "an instrument in the hands of the great liberator and pacificator of his country. No man can be a pacificator, unless he be a fierce popular agitator, and has the approbation of Daniel O'Connell. I told the men of Clare, that if such a crisis were to arrive, in consequence of any atrocious act of the government, like that of Camden and Castlereagh, in 1798, and if O'Connell should command us to have recourse to arms, blood, and convulsion, instead of our usual constitutional warfare, in that case, I would not order the Clare men to go into Cratloe-wood to cut down trees for pike-handles, but I would first send them to cut down the trees on my own domain, and would not myself be idle, nor a mere looker on, in the conflict." Such an association could not be
suffered to exist, and to extend itself throughout so many ramifications, without an abandonment of the security, the safety, and the power, on the maintenance of which government must depend for its well-being. To put down this association, therefore, and associations like it, was one of the first objects of the intended bill.
The other provisions would be directed to repress disturbances, for, in many parts of Ireland, a state of things existed little short of actual rebellion. Bodies of men were collected and arrayed by signals, evidently directed by a system of organization in which many were combined, and they were conducted in a manner that had hitherto set at defiance all the exertions of law and government. He would not say how far these disturbances and the association of Volunteers or its measures were connected as cause and effect; but there certainly was a remarkable coincidence between them; and persons forming such an association, and taking advantage of its meetings to make violent and inflammatory harangues, ought not to be surprised if further discontented feelings and disturbances were grafted on their proceedings. If the police force was denounced as cruel, arbitrary, and unconstitutional, was it wonderful, that attacks on the police, and death, should follow? But whatever was the cause, the condition of a great part of the country was notorious. The disturbers did not proceed merely against tithes. They prescribed the terms on which land should be let; and any who disobeyed their orders were subject to have their property destroyed, or to be put to death. They dictated what persons should employ
and be employed, forbidding labourers to work for obnoxious masters, and preventing a master from employing such as were not obedient to their orders. They enforced their commands by acts of cruelty and outrage-by spoliation-murder-attacks on houses in the dead of night-by dragging the inmates from their beds, and so maltreating them, that death often ensued, or by inflicting evils scarcely less than death. These persons assembled by signals, made concerte movements, watched the route of the military, and, by information received, so avoided them that they could not be put down by the army. It would, therefore, be one object of the act to prevent meetings of people by night.
But a still more material object was, to restore the authority of the law. The ordinary tribunals had been rendered almost powerless, for one of the chief causes which exposed persons to persecution and injury was, the having assisted in any manner in prosecutions for such offences; witnesses and jurors were equally terrified into silence. In one instance, the master of a female servant was ordered to dismiss her, because her mother had given evidence against a person brought to trial for a capital crime; and similar cases were of almost daily occurrence. A letter had been forwarded to the lord-lieutenant, dated Cashel, Jan. 29, from a chief constable of police, giving an account of a murder "which had just been perpetrated in that neighbourhood by five armed men, who went to the house of Patrick Lalor, a man of nearly 70 years of age, and shot him through the body. He had been ordered to give up some ground which he held, but disobeyed the mandate."