principle of the existing law was broken down, he asked, where could they stop? If once it was declared that there was no reason, on account of affinity, why a man might not marry his deceased wife's sister, on what ground could he be forbidden to marry her mother ? Mr. Ball supported the Bill. He considered that Scripture not only sanctioned, but recommended and encouraged, these marriages. Mr. Monsell opposed the Bill. He agreed that it would be wrong to retain upon the Statute-book a law contrary to the general feeling of the people; but he insisted that in Ireland and in Scotland there was the strongest feeling against this Bill. Mr. Milnes was, he said, bound to answer the question how far he meant to go, - whether he intended to carry out his principle to its logical consequences. If Parliament once adopted this principle, continual attempts would be made to go down the precipice, doing infinite evil to the morals of the nation. Sir W. Jolliffe argued in suport of the measure. He considered that the Act of 1835 was a blot upon the Statute Book, and the proposed change was required on grounds of justice. The Amendment was carried on a division by 148 votes to 116, and so the Bill was lost. The customary annual motion in opposition to the Endowment of Maynooth College was promptly disposed of this year by the House of Commons. Mr. Whalley moved, on the 5th of May, amidst much interruption, that the grant be discontinued, regard being paid to existing vested interests. Mr.

Somers seconded the motion, which was opposed in a short speech by Sir Robert Peel, Secretary for Ireland. The House divided without further debate, when the numbers were—

For the Motion 111 Against it 193 Majority. 82

On the 22nd May the O'Connor Don called the attention of the House of Commons to the state of public education in Ireland. After some remarks upon the model schools and upon the government scheme generally, he directed them more particularly to the Queen's Colleges. He contended that these institutions erred against the principle that the State was not bound to provide for the education of any but the lower classes, except under peculiar circumstances. It had been alleged that the establishment of these Colleges was justified by peculiar circumstances, but this he denied. Their avowed object was said to be to meet the wants of the Roman Catholics and Dissenters in Ireland, who could not receive religious education in Trinity College. In a religious point of view, however, he observed, the Queen's Colleges were not less objectionable to Roman Catholics than Trinity College; so that the Queen's Colleges had failed to meet the object for which they were established. It was said that the result had, on the whole, been satisfactory. He denied, however, that the Colleges had provided an University education to Roman Catholics commensurate with the outlay.

Sir R. Peel observed that this question had been often debated in that House without any other effect than to confirm the principle and policy adopted in Ireland, and it was impossible to contend that the system of teaching had not succeeded. He referred to returns showing the satisfactory results of the national system, and, with respect to the Queen's Colleges (the main point of the O'Connor Don's attack), which it was said had not met the object for which they were established in 1845, he insisted that they had, on the contrary, been pre-eminently successful, and had answered the purpose of those who had founded them. Sir Robert entered into copious details to establish his position, and, in conclusion, expressed regret that some of the Roman Catholic prelates should have condemned the system of mixed education, and stigmatized the Queen's Colleges, striving to narrow the basis of secular instruction. He hoped that the Government and the Legislature would scrupulously maintain that system of combined secular education from the influence of which such beneficial results had flowed, which had led, year by year, to the moral improvement and social advantage of the people of Ireland. Mr. Maguire replied to Sir R. Peel, and controverted some of his statements, denouncing the national system of mixed education as, in many parts of Ireland, a monstrous sham. The whole thing had failed, he said, in every province but one, and there the system did not produce the beneficial results which it had the credit of producing. All that was asked in Ireland was, a national system under which each religious body should have the training of its own children.

Mr. Whiteside animadverted upon the intennperance of language in which some of the speakers had indulged, and upon the attacks made upon the Established Church, contrasting these aberrations from the question with the temper, ability, and moderation with which it had been argued by the O'Connor Don. He disputed some of the remarks made by Sir R. Peel with reference to the University of Dublin, which ought not, he said, to have been dragged into this discussion. With respect to the charter sought for the Roman Catholic University, he remarked that it was not explained how the charter was to be drawn, where the authority was to be lodged, and whether the Crown was to be excluded from all control over it. Mr. Monsell insisted that there existed in Ireland a restriction upon Roman Catholics who desired that their children should have religious instruction without being debarred the means of obtaining academical degrees, which should be opened to all without the sacrifice of conscientious convictions. Mr. Hennessy called attention to the letter recently laid upon the table respecting the founda. tion of additional Scholarships in the second year's course of the Faculty of Arts in the Queen's Colleges, and to the official returns on the subject. The discussion was continued by Mr. P. Urquhart, Mr. Lefroy, Mr. M'Mahon, Mr. Hadfield, Mr. MacDonough, Major O'Reilly, and Mr. More O'Ferrall, who charged the Government with breach of faith in regard to national education in Ireland. The debate then terminated.


THE Civil WAR IN AMERICA–Policy of the British Government respecting it—Cases in which the interests of this country were affected —Debates in Parliament on International Law and Neutral Rights— Detention of British Subjects in the States by the Federal Authorities— Inquiry made on this subject in the House of Lords by Lord Carnarvon, and answer of Earl Russell—Remarks of the Earls of Derby and Malmesbury, and other Peers—Sinking of the Stone Fleet in the Harbour of Charleston—Questions addressed to Ministers in both Houses on this subject, and their answers—I’emarks of Mr. Bright on the conduct of our Government in the Trent affair—Lord Palmerston justifies their measures. Blockade of the Southern Ports—Mr. Gregory brings forward a Motion in the House of Commons on this subject–Speeches of Mr. Bentinck, Mr. W. Forster, Sir J. Fergusson, Mr. Milnes, Mr. Lindsay, Lord R. Cecil, and the Solicitor-General– The Motion is negatived—The same subject mooted in the House of Lords by Lord Campbell–Speech of Earl Russell in answer—Important Discussion on the Motion of Mr. Horsfall on the Law applicable to Neutral Commerce in Time of War Speeches of the Attorney-General, Sir G. Lewis, Mr. Thomas Baring, Mr. Lindsay, the Lord Advocate, Sir S. Northcote, Lord H. Vane, Mr. Massey, Mr. Bright, the SolicitorGeneral, Mr. Walpole, Lord Palmerston, and Mr. Disraeli ; Mr. Horsfall withdraws his Motion, Violent Proclamation of the Federal General Butler at New Orleans. Protestations are made in both Houses against this Document—It is emphatically condemned by Lord Palmerston–The Question of Mediation by England between the contending parties in America is discussed in the House of Commons on the motion of Mr. Lindsay–His Speech—Speeches of Mr. Taylor, Lord A. Tempest, Mr. W. Forster, Mr. Whiteside, Mr. Gregory, Mr. S. Fitzgerald, and Lord Palmerston—No result follows from the Motion. Supply of Cotton for English Manufactures—Mr. J. B. Smith calls attention to the means of increasing the supply from India —He complains of the backwardness of the Government in this respect —Speeches of Mr. Smollett, Mr. Turner, Sir C. Wood, Mr. Bazley, Mr. Finlay, and other Members. Distress in the Cotton Manufacturing Districts—Prospects of severe suffering to the operatives in Lancashire, from the suspension of work, owing to the want of Cotton —Discussions in both Houses on the subject—The Government resolve

to extend the powers given by the Poor Laws for raising funds by rates in aid–Mr. Williers brings in a Bill for this purpose, proposing to eartend the rating in certain cases over adjoining Unions—The Measure undergoes much discussion–It is proposed that borrowing powers on the security of the rates should be given under specified conditions— Debates on this question—The Government at first object, but asterwards yield to the evident opinion of the House of Commons in favour of Loans—The Bill is amended accordingly—It passes through the House of Lords on the 4th of August, after a debate in which Earl Russell, Lord Mahnesbury, the Duke of Newcastle, Lord Kingsdown, Lord Egerton, and Lord Overstone take part, and becomes law.

Th; momentous events which took place this year in the United States of America, of which a full account appears in another part of this volume, naturally excited a lively interest in this country, and were frequently referred to in the debates which took place in Parliament. Her Majesty's Government, indeed, adhering strictly to their declared policy of non-interference between the contending parties, avoided, on their own part, and discouraged, so far as it was in their power to do so, on the part of the Legislature, any expression of opinion on the merits of the contest. Nevertheless, there were many points in which the contact of the civil war across the Atlantic with British interests, and with questions of international rights, was unavoidable ; and it was necessary and proper that with reference to such matters information should be given to Parliament, and the sanction of Parliament should be obtained. Cases in which the maritime interests of this country were af. fected by the blockade of the Southern ports, and which raised dubious questions of international law, could not be passed over in silence by the Legislature; nor could the still more important interests of our cotton

manufactures, which were impair. ed and almost prostrated by the stoppage of our commerce with the cotton-growing States, and which filled all minds in England with anxious forbodings, be disregarded by Parliament. It will be convenient to follow in order the course of these discussions, which the disturbances in America gave rise to, from the commencement of the present Session until its close. On the 11th of February the Earl of Canarvon called the attention of the House of Lords to the detention of British subjects in United States prisons, upon charges of political offences. The noble Lord stated that he was informed that three British subjects were at that moment in prison in the Federal States, where they had been detained for four or five months on secret charges, without a single allegation of any sort being made against them, and without any hope of an inquiry into their cases, unless they consented to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. An enormous number of American citizens were in prison for political offences, and although the House had nothing directly to do with them, a few statistics on the subject were necessary to show the treatment to which our coun

trymen were condemned. In one of the four small casemates of Fort Lafayette, 14 feet by 24, and lighted only by small embrasures, there were confined, only a few weeks ago, no less than 23 politi

cal prisoners, of whom two thirds

were in irons. . There was no possible accommodation for cleanliness or decency; the absence of ventilation at night, when the embrasures were closed, rendered the atmosphere intolerably foul; the water for drinking was extremely bad, and for other purposes salt water only was provided. In prisons of this sort, among others, two Savannah merchants, both bond side British subjects, and an Irish navvy, who had gone to Harper's Ferry in 1860 in search of employment, were confined. The noble Earl concluded by asking whether these facts had come within the knowledge of the Government, and had induced it to take any action in the matter. Earl Russell said the question was one of American constitutional law, with which he had no concern. If, as had been maintained by lawyers, and had been recently asserted by a vote of Congress, the President alone had the power to suspend the habeas corpus, he, of course, had the power of arresting persons on mere suspicion of treason, and we had no grounds of complaint. In fact, we ourselves had furnished a precedent as late as 1848. In the course of the disturbances in Ireland, in that year, the habeas corpus was suspended by Parliament, and two American citizens were arrested by the Secretary of War, and detained without trial, solely by the power vested in the Crown by the Act of Parliament.

He had no doubt that in some of the cases mentioned by the noble Earl there might have been unnecessary suspicion, and some ill-treatment, but he could not venture to say that the detention without trial of persons engaged in treasonable practices was illegal. Lord Lyons had represented the case to Mr. Seward, who had not refused to listen to his complaints, and no hindrances had been placed in the way of the British Consuls who wished for access to the prisoners. The Earl of Derby said that, in this instance, the “civis Romanus.” did not appear to derive much benefit from his citizenship. Though Congress might have virtually affirmed that the President had power to suspend the habeas corpus, the existence of that power had been denied by many of the most learned judges of the States, notwithstanding the somewhat unusual restriction now placed upon the action of the judges. If such power did exist, he could not say that it was a very happy state of law under which to live. Earl Russell had adduced as a precedent the suspension of the habeas corpus in Ireland in 1848, but he (the Earl of Derby) defied him to show any British or American precedent, when the condition, not of release, but of trial, was, that the person arrested should forswear allegiance to his own country. Earl Russell replied that he knew of no case in which the oath had been administered to a British subject. The Earl of Malmesbury asked for some information relative to the exact nature of the blockade of the Southern ports. He had

« ElőzőTovább »