Part of Monday and all Thursday evening were consumed in
debating Lord Hartington's motion for a Select Committee to inquire into the secret societies of Westmeath and the neighbour- ing counties. Lord Hartington himself proposed this committee with so miserable an air of what he himself called "painful dis- may," or, as Mr. Disraeli afterwards put it, so completely "in the sheet of a penitent, and holding the taper of remorse," that he gave the impression of performing a task imposed upon him against his will. This may, however, be erroneous, as he certainly protested in what the Tories took to be a rather meaning manner that we had had "quite enough of hasty legislation," and appeared to think legislation after the report of a committee less likely to be hasty than legislation matured in the Cabinet. The best reply to the demand for special inquiry was given by Dr. Ball on Thursday night, who pointed out that though Westmeath is more overridden by secret societies than other counties, there is a good deal of the same sort of secret social dictation and violence elsewhere, and that prompt action is needed, which should be applicable to any county in which these attempts to rule by terror are made.