« ForrigeFortsett »
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 satisfactoiy 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 cducacation 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 .intemperance 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 foundation 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 Akkbica — Policy of die British Government respecting it—Cases in which tfie interests of this country were affected —Debates in Parliament on International Late and Neutral Rights— Detention of Britislt Subjects in Vie Stales by the Federal Autfiorities— Inquiry made on this subject in the House of Lords by J Mid 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 wldressed to Ministers in both Houses on this subject, and their answers—Remarks of Mr. Bright Oh the conduct of our Government in tlie Trent affair—Lord Palmerston justifies their measures. Blockade of the Southern Ports—Mr. Gregory brings fonrard a Motion in tfie 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. HorsfaU on the Law applicable <J Neutral Commerce in Time of War—Speeches of the Attorney-General, Sir G. Lewis, Mr. Thomas Baring, Mr. Lindsay, the Lord Adcoco.lt, Sir S. Northcote, Lord H. Vane, Mr. Massey, Mr. Bright, the SolicitorGeneral, Mr. Walpole, Lord Palmerston, and Mr. Disraeli; Mr. HorrfuU withdraws his motion. Violent Proclamation of the Federal General Duller 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 Vie contending parties in A merica is discussed in the House of Commons on the motion of Mr. Lindsay—His Speech—Speeclies of Mr. Taylor, Lord A. Tempest, Mr. W. Forster, Mr. Whiteside, Mr. Gregory, Mr. S. Fitzgerald, and Lord Pulmerston—Xo result follows from the Motion. Supply of Cotton for English Manufactures—Mr. J. B. Smith calls aVention to the means of increasing the supply fiom India —He complains of the backwardness of the Government in this respect —Speeches of Mr. Smollett, Mr. Turner, Sir C. Wood, Mr. Baelty, Mr. Finlay, and other Memf-ers. 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 i* both Houses on the subject—The Government resole*
to extend the powers given by the Poor Laws for raising funds by rates in aid—Mr. Villiers brings in a Bill for this purpose, proposing to extend 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 afterwards 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 Malmesbury, 1he Duke of Newcastle, Lord Kingsdown, lard Egerton, and Lord Overstone take part, and becomes law.
THE 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 affected 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 impaired and almost prostrated by the stoppage of our commerce with the cotton-growing States, and which filled all minds in England with anxious forebodings, 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 Carnarvon 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 oountrymen were condemned. In one of the four small casemates of Fort Lafayette, 11 feet by 34, and lighted only by small embrasures, there were confined, only a few weeks ago, no less than ^3 political 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 bona fidt British subjects, and an Irish navvy who had gone to Harper's Ferry in 1800 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 bad furnished a precedent as late as 18-18. 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 noblo Earl there might have been unnecessary suspicion and some ill-treatment, but lie could nut 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 Romanut" 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 ns a precedent the suspension of the hatieas corpus in Ireland in 1848, but he (the Earl of Derby) defied him to show any liriti-h or American precedent, when the condition, not of release, but of trial, wa*. 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 heard that Mr. Mason had publicly stated that so inefficiently was it maintained, that no less than 600 or 700 ships had broken it since its institution. If this was true, it was impossible that such an illegal blockade should much longer be respected. Lord Mahnesbury added a few words, expressive of his distrust of the efficacy in time of war of the principle contained in the Declaration of 1850.
Earl Russell said, Admiral Milne had been instructed early in the contest to furnish all the information asked for by the noble Earl, and it would shortly be laid before the House. As to the assertion that 700 vessels had evaded the blockade, he had asked Mr. Mason what their aggregate tonnage was, but that gentleman was unable to give any answer. Although there were but seven large ports under blockade, they were connected by numerous creeks with other smaller one-. and many small vessels, with small cargoes, mighthave escaped. On the one hand was the danger of enduring an illegal blockade, and on the other, that of incurring, without the strongest cause, a dispute with the United States; and he hoped that their Lordships would wait for further evidence before they proceeded to discuss the question.
The intelligence that the Northern States Government had sent out an expedition in order to fill up with stones the harbour of Charleston having been received in this country with much disapprobation, Earl Stanhope inquired of the Government whether the report was correct; and if so, whether our Government, in concert with that of France,
would be willing to take any steps on the subject?
Earl Russell said he hoped the rumour was untrue. The destruction of Charleston harbour would be a most barbarous act, as it could only be looked upon as a commercial port. The American Government, in reply to representations on the subject, had stated the ships had been sunk in aid of the blockade, and not with a view to the destruction of the harbour. The French Government had taken the same view as that of Her Majesty, and had remonstrated against any act which might lead to the destruction of the harbour.
The affair of the Trent steamvessel, which had so nearly produced a rupture between our Government and that of the United States, was about the same time referred to in the House of Commons by Mr. Bright, who took occasion to express his own opinion upon the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in reference to that affair. Mr. Bright said he felt compelled to make a few observations on the great inconsistency between the despatches of the Foreign Office and the preparations of certain other departments with regard to our recent transaction with America. "It is not customary in ordinary life for a person to send a messenger with a polite message to a friend, or neighbour, or acquaintance, and at the same time to send a man of portentous strength, wielding a gigantic club, and making every kind of ferocious gesticulation, and still to ^profess that all this is done in the most friendly and courteous manner." Such, however, had been the conduct of our