Annotated proof of Sir Robert Peel's speech on 'Suppressing Disturbance in Ireland', 1833

There was growing unrest in Ireland in the 1830s due to the payments, or tithes, that the mainly Catholic people had to pay to the Protestant state church, the Church of Ireland. The unrest escalated into violence in some areas and the conflicts became known as the Tithe War. Peel made a speech in the House of Commons about the violence in 1833 and this is a version he later edited for publication.


Copyright National Library of Scotland

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ation of law, and the force of moral re-
straints on crime, being almost extin-
tinguished, shall we reject at once this
measure as unworthy of consideration?
You are asked how this measure can
supply the defect of evidence? You are
told that it is evidence, and evidence only,
that is now wanted, and it is enquired, ; of you
in a tone of triumph, will you convict Do you mean to
without the proofs of guilt; and, if not, how
do you mean to procure themthose proofs? I answer,
bBy restoring confidence. Range yourselves
on the side of order; lend the weight of
your authority to the law; and from that
hour you will instil confidence into the peace-
able and well-disposed, and strike terror into
the coward hearts (for they are cowards)
of the nightly assassins. Then will men
breathe a new atmosphere. The position Then will the
of the friends of order and of its enemies
will be reversed; and those who suffer will then
then come forth with voluntary testimony
to aid the law, which gives them redress
for past injury, and ensures them from re- protects
newed wrong. But if you shrink from your
duty, — if you pause for a fortnight, — if
you cover your irresolution under the flimsy veil
of requiring further time to consider, then
take these consequences: — The contagion
of depravity will rapidly extend; the places
yet healthy will be infected; the whole
land will become a moral wilderness, in
which every principle of government will
be subverted, and every rule of justice re-
versed, — in which there will be no punish-
ment except for innocence, and no security
except for triumphant guilt.

March 7. 1833