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men, what would he have said? The riots in Hyde Park took place and people were wounded. [“ Question!”]
There was no cry of “ Question” when the right honorable gentleman was defaming me and others, and went over land and sea and over years to find charges against us.
It is quite to the question. I want to say to him and the House that it is impossible in any movement to hold the leaders responsible for every idle word and act said and done by their followers. Of this movement Mr. Beales was the leader, and when the right honorable gentleman and his friends came into power did they repudiate Mr. Beales? They made him a county court judge. Did they at any time, while these proceedings were going on, repudiate the language of any man? No.
There was a newspaper in London at the time, of which the right honorable gentleman sitting near him [Mr. John Bright] knew something, in which a writer, not now living, had once called on the people, if a certain thing were not done, to destroy the House of Lords, and to strew the Thames with the wreck of their painted chamber. I ask the right honorable gentleman, who took in that paper, whether he read it or not? [Cries of “ Morning Star.”]
Yes, the “Morning Star.” [Mr. W. E. Forster.--"I was not a shareholder.”] The matter was brought to the notice of this House by an honorable member, and I am not aware that the right honorable gentleman said one single word in condemnation of that language. And remember, Mr. Speaker, that the time of the Hyde Park riots was not a time of peace. We have leard, again and again, that things may be allowed in time of peace; but that was not a time of peace. Those were dangerous times. Troops were kept in readiness—the air was full of danger. During the whole of that time the right honorable gentleman never said, as far as I know, one word to dissociate himself or any of his friends from those acts or words.
I should like to ask the right honorable gentleman another question. Did he never hear at that time that a famous continental leader of revolution was over in London and was in negotiation with some of the men concerned in these affairs with the hope of assisting them in a democratic revolution! [Mr. W. E. Forster.—“No."]
He never heard of it? He never read any of the papers published at that time? He never read histories published since that time! Over and over again-in newspapers, magazines, and books—has the story of the foreign incendiary been told, and the right honorable gentleman never heard of it or read of it; and yet he supposes I read every copy of the “ Irish World!”
I think I have sufficiently shown that the right honorable gentleman ought to be cautious how he makes charges against us of sympathy with assassination, or of having assisted or connived at crimes, and how he lays down the theory that a man is bound to know what is done by everybody else who is concerned with him in any popular movement. I will tell the right honorable gentleman and the House how outrages grew up in Ireland of late. The Land League was formed with the full and deliberate intent of drawing agitation above the surface.
That was its motive. Its purpose was to maintain publio platforms on which agitation might go on openly and in the face of day, by which men would be withdrawn from that terrible system of conspiracy which has been the bane and curse of Ireland for so many years. That was the motive of the Land League. I saw that was its distinct purpose, and it was muoceeding so manifestly in the purpose that I joined the League. The right honorable gentleman expects that every one has read every letter written by every one else. I should ask him if he did me the favor of reading a letter of mine which was published in all the papers in England in reference to my joining the Land League? (Mr. W. E. Forster.
He did not. He only reads the “ Irish World,” and I did not write to the “ Irish World” to explain my intentions. In that letter I stated concisely and clearly my reasons for believing the Land League would do good, and why I thought it was the duty of every patriotic Irishman to join it. I believed it was doing good by helping to close the era of conspiracy. But there came upon Ireland one autumn and one winter three influences of evil together—famine, the House of Lords, and the right honorable gentleman. The country was miserably pinched with hunger. The House of Lords rejected the poor little Compensation for Disturbance bill, which might have stopped for a while the sufferings of the people; and then, to improve the situation, the right honorable gentleman got his law for the arrest of suspicious men, under which he flung the leaders of the people into prison. Then it was that outrages began to increaso. After the arrest of the honorable member for the city of Cork the movement drifted leaderless and hopeless, dropped from the high point to which it had risen in publicity and on the platform, into the seething ferment of the sea of conspiracy. The leaders of the land movement had nearly succeeded in raising Ireland out of conspiracy. That is what I fully and firmly believe, and thus history hereafter will I am certain write it out.
The chief secretary to the lord-lieutenant made a serious mistake when he appealed to us to-night to justify all manner of executions simply on the ground that so many murders had been committed. It is not the theory of this country that for so many murders there shall be so many executions. That is the theory of certain eastern states; but that is happily not yet the theory even in Ireland. Were the murders ten times more in number than the men put on trial for them, I should be at liberty still, if I thought I had reason, to examine into the justice of each trial and the way in which it had been conducted; and if it could be shown that there was anything like systematic jury-packing in even one trial, no matter how many murders had been committed, I should denounce it.
The right honorable gentleman seemed a little hopeful toward the end of his speech when he spoke of the great decrease of outrages, and when there was drawn from him the statement that there was also a decrease of evictions. In searching for the causes which had led to this decrease of outrages, the fact of the decrease of evictions must not be overlooked. The right honorable gentleman then became a little more ominous in saying that he feared that lately evictions had been on the increase. Was it not possible that with the increase of evictions might come an increase of outrages? It must be remembered that there is now no such thing as the right of public meeting or free speech in Ireland. A man may make a speech if he likes at his own risk; but the right honorable gentleman tells us that if he thinks there is anything in the speech which might lead to inflame the feelings of any one, he will prevent or punish the making of such speeches, although he knows the speaker had no evil intention whatever.
There is no free platform in Ireland; no free press--no right to hold a public meeting. There is no way in which the sentiments and grievances of the people can be freely expressed. You are laboring in the dark. You are driving disaffection beneath the surface. You alone will be responsible for the consequences of the terrible and stringent measures you have adopted. As the honorable member for the city of Cork said, there is no longer any probability of the Irish leaders or Irish members of Parliament standing between you and the elements of conspiracy. I do not blame the right honorable gentleman the chief secretary so much for the change that has come about. The responsibility for that change I lay, as I liave already said, on the shoulders of another man. I may say of him, as was said of another famous politician, that it has seldom been within the power of any human cres ture to do so much good as the right honorable gentleman for Bradford bas prevented.