NEWS OF THE WEEK.
LITTLE may be done for Ireland in Parliament, but to compensate for this much is talked about it Ireland was the predominating theme at the beginning of the session; and, to judge by the pro- portion it occupies in the reported speeches of this week, it is to be the predominating theme to the end. The speeches, however, on Mr. WYSE'S motion in the House of Commons respecting the State trials—for debate or discussion they can scarcely be called—look like the garrulity of men talking copiously from habit about a sub- Hject of which they are in reality tired. It was not merely that the House listened to the speeches of the Irish Members languidly and listlessly, or that Ministers and their partisans scarcely thought them worth the trouble of a reply : for the first time on record, the Irish patriots were so damped 1)y this reception as to stop before all of them had had their say The total failure °fib. ViTY8es motion to arrest attention was not altogether owing to the narrow ground he occupied: The question upon which the supporters of the motion mainly dwelt—the circumstances under which the Jury was se- lected—is not unworthy of attention, and has never yet been probed to the bottom. A strong case of suspicion against the mode of selecting the Jury was originally produced, which was met by very plausible explanations : but even in this last discussion, averments are made, by Mr. Moans' Jona O'Coxisam., which, supposing them to be correct, would tend to disturb the con- viction produced by the explanatiod formerly made. These statements are not, however, of a kind to produce convic- tion—they merely excite scepticism ,o4ssprevious conclusions. All this shows that the question has never been searchingly examined and satisfactorily settled. Nor will 's it be denied that so important a matter as the constitution of Juries is wor- thy of a thorough scrutiny. But; admitting all this, it is evident that no immediate result, but rejection, could come of a motion for inquiry on the 15th of July. There was a plain impropriety—however ingeniously Mr. SEISM might discri- minate between the " law" and the " fact "—in making it at the very time when the Judges in the House of Lords, after a patient hearing of counsel, were deliberating upon their judgment in the case. Independently of this consideration, it was not to be ex- pected that just at the close of a session, while business of all kinds is thrown overboard, right and left, the House of Commons was to grapple with a large and intricate new question. Nor was there any palliation of so unreasonable a demand in the ur- gency of the case. This inquiry into the manner of constituting the Jury is only of importance for the future : upon the essential jus- tice of the conviction of Mr. O'Cornsam, and his associates it has no bearing. It is not pretended that the facts relied on by the coun- sel for the Crown have not been proved: it is not understood that the law laid down by the Bench was incorrect, or that it was by, the Jury incorrectly applied to the facts established in evidence. Even the Whigs, though they have a conventional way of speaking against the trials in public, themselves confess when not speaking for effect, that any English Jury, sitting upon the same case in England, would have pronounced the same verdict. One of their highest legal authorities, to whom the appeal was made, whe- ther such would not have been the verdict of ninety-nine out of every hundred impartial Englishmen, replied—" Ninety-nine out of every hundred ay, nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand." What Mr. O'ConwaLL's friends say has been denied him, means a particular chance of escape—the chance, which might have fallen here or anywhere as well as in Ireland, of a partisan of his own on the Jury, who might have stood out and rendered a verdict impossible. The other Irish topics which have this week engaged the atten- tion of Parliament are—the reappointment of Mr. O'Dazscom to the Magistracy, the Unlawful Oaths Bill, and a complaint of Lord MOVITCASIIIII. against the Mention-Commissioners. The defence for the reappointment of Mr. O'llatscoLL is but a lame one. It in fact amounts to no more than this—that a great many respectable people sympathize with his mortification, and, believing that he will take warning, wish to see hint restored to the local bench. The extent of this friendly feeling is so far creditable
to Mr. O'Datscou„ that it shows he can scarcely be a malicious
man or a corrupt judge : and it might have been entitled to some weight before his dismissal. But it is not a sufficient reason for reinstating, after dismissal, a man who evidently does not possess a sufficient control over his temper to act with decorum on the bench, and whose years and infirmities (reasons assigned by Sir EDWARD SUDDEN for superseding him) must, moreover, incapacitate him for the discharge of laborious duty. Mr. Motu O'FERRALL'S attempt to obstruct the passing of the Unlawful Oaths Bill gave rise to a discussion on the use and abuse of spies ; in which Sir ROBERT PEEL and the Attorney-Ge- neral vied with Mr. Sum and the O'CONNOR DON in the expression of the most proper sentiments on the subject. The propriety of employing official spies appeared to be generally given up : offers from volunteer spies—traders in information at their own risk—appeared on all hands to be con- sidered too tempting to be rejected. And yet, in a country where lax views of veracity and fidelity prevail—the only country in which secret associations and unlawful oaths are likely to abound—there will be sufficient encouragement even for these free-traders in treachery. The spy, the informer, is a necessary product of the same soil as the secret associator. It is not to be expected that his revelations will be disregarded. Safety against his machinations is only to be found in the publicity of judicial investigations—in the necessity of convincing a jury, by additional and unsuspected testimony, that his revelations are true.
Lord MousTeasuEis timid and hesitating, though bitter attack upon the Education Commissioners, arose front the Board's inter- ference with a school endowed by this Lord's ancestors at Maisel, for which a grant of public money h4.-10eht obtained in 1839- The case resembles that of a chapel supported for years by the libere contributions of an Unitarian congregation, and claimed by Ortlitdox Dissenters on the ground of some tiny endowment be- queathed to it by some " orthodox" individual of the olden time. Lord MouNTeasum. appears to have been anxious to play in his ovrn individual person the game that has been played by the Orthodox Dissenters* as an united body.
The quwstio vexata of the Dissenters' Chapels Bill has been finally settled in the House of Lords. The debate on the Bishop of LONDON'S opposition to the Commons' amendments could hardly elicit new views of the merits of the case ; but it drew from the Earl of RODEN a very true remark on the altered position of the House and its organ Lord LYNDHURST, when the latter could pro- pose and the former sanction a measure so hostile to those prin- ciples of religious exclusiveness of which the Peers and Prelates used to be regarded as the especial champions. Mr. DUNCOMBE'S motion respecting his own appearance before the Post-office Committee, as a witness, was pregnant with new illustrations of the old maxim that one error is the parent of many—that men who once take up an indefensible position in morals get worse and worse by the necessity of pertinaciously adhering to it. It is a received notion, that when a Committee of inquiry is nominated by the Legislature, the object is to get at the truth. The practical corollary from this positiorr, upon which the House of Commons has generally acted, is that the Member moving for inquiry, as thereby evincing the greatest acquaintance with the subject, or the greatest interest in it, is the first person who ought to be put upon the Committee. This rule of action was violated in the case of Mr. DUNCOMBE : he comes forward now and shows by example that his exclusion will neces- sarily obstruct a thorough investigation of the alleged system of Post-office espionage. But the proposal that he should be added to the Committee, if not allowed to assist its investigations, is over- ruled, because the House of Commons, having once determined otherwise, cannot reverse its own decision in the same session.
[No ? so soon after the Sugar-duties !] The consequence will be, that the report of the Committee, from which so im- portant a Member has been excluded—for no reason that can be conjectured except to gratify the personal feelings of Ministers— cannot satisfy the public. It will be said that the Member who would most thoroughly have probed the matter in question was excluded, and the Committee composed of able (it is true) and ho- nourable men, but of men inclined on the one hand to cast a veil over the naughtiness of the Tories, and on the other over the
• A correspondent some weeks ago took us to task for using the phrase " orthodox Dissenters" ; to which he maintained no Dissenters could h.! en- titled. We declined the theological controversy, as out of our line; but we observe that in the House of Lords this week, the Bishop of NORWICH speaks of "orthodox Dissenters," and the Bishop of LONDON still more emphatocally declares, that from 1695 to 1700 " the Presbyterians were universally orthodo= in their doctrines." naughtiness of the Whigs—who in this instance are equally on their trial. Ministers have got the House of Commons into a false po- sition by an inconsiderate vote, and now keep it there by a form. This is not creditable ; and the less so when viewed in connexion with the transparent shuffle by which Sir ROBERT PEEL tried to evade the charge of inconsistency in excluding lawyers from the Commons Committee on the Post-office and placing lawyers on the Lords Committee. Sir ROBERT said, that he, a Member of the House of Commons, was not responsible for what the House of Lords might do : but he, the Minister who nominated a Committee in the House of Commons, is responsible for the principle upon which his col- lettgites nominate a Committee for the same inquiry in the House of Lords.
Lord PALMERSTON'S motion on slave-trade matters is chiefly re- markable as having afforded him an opportunity of adding a new character to the many he has performed in the course of a long public life. His speech was a good one, albeit it bears too visible Marks of having been composed only to be delivered ; for nothing came of it but a harmless motion for harmless papers, which were afforded with the utmost readiness by the Government. But the fine speech is remarkably out of date. Thirty or forty years ago, it would have won for the speaker canonization at the Exeter Hall of that time : it would have been first on the list of prize- essays against the Slave-trade. But now, the work to be done by such speeches has been done ; and Exeter Hall itself— at least the Anti-Slavery section thereof—is in the agonies of disso- lution ; as Lord STANLEY has discovered, though Lord PALMERSTON has not. Sir ROBERT PEEL responded sympathetically to Lord STANLEY, giving back groan for groan about the enormities of the slave-trade. Sir ROBERT had " crammed " for the occasion less carefully than Lord PALMERSTON, and was naturally inclined to be a little more sanguine as to the efficacy of his own little last modification of the slave-trade-suppression system : these were the only features of difference between the rival orators. They cannot be said on this occasion to have had a fencing-match ; their object was only " tirer lea honneurs."
The Poor-law Amendment Bill has occupied a good deal of the time of the Commons during the week. It has met with no serious obstruction in Committee ; but it has been narrowly watched, and discussed in a business-like manner and with a considerate spirit. This is creditable to the House, as an indication of a growing inte- rest in the concerns of the poor.