Over the coming weeks and months we are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.
Catch-up with other posts in this series here, or search our library here.
The Disraeli Parliament 1874-1880
Wednesday 29 April 1874
GERMS OF OBSTRUCTION
First Appearance of Major O Gorman,
House discussing question of purchase of Irish railways.
When it was believed the debate had finished, it being close on midnight, Major O’Gorman, newly elected for Waterford, rose from a back seat below the gangway. The Major, who is of gigantic stature and burly to boot, stood a few minutes speechless in full view of the House. A titter rose from the Ministerial benches, which broke forth into a roar of laughter when Major O’Gorman suddenly and angrily cried, “Mr. Speaker!”
When the outburst had partially subsided, the hon. member said he was about to vote against the motion, and could not do it without a word of explanation; the word was that if the English Government got hold of the railways there would not at the end of three weeks be an Irishman in the service of any of the lines. The House laughing again at this hot utterance, he repeated and emphasised his observation by declaring that in three weeks all the Irishmen on the line would be “sent to hell or Connaught.” This brought up the Speaker, and Major O’Gorman having, with considerable difficulty, been made to understand that he must temporarily sit down, the right hon. gentleman reminded him that he had “exceeded the usual licence of Parliamentary debate.” Major O’Gorman showed a disposition to argue the matter with the Speaker, affirming, amid shouts of laughter, that the expression he had made use of was “perfectly well known.” Finally, he “offered his sincere regret” if he had said what he should not have said, though, he added, “it is perfectly historical.”
He then proceeded to observe that he “was not a Hellenist, and need not change his sex and become a Cassandra in order to be able to prophesy that with three weeks of English management the Irish railways would be ruined.” Next he volunteered an anecdote. “It’s not a bad story,” said he; but all the House could make out was a reference to a horse which a Lord Lieutenant was riding with a distinguished man, and was “thrown over his ears.” In conclusion, the Major, whilst declaring “his sincerest respect for that most talented young gentleman who had introduced the motion,” repeated that he would not be able to vote with him, his maxim being, “On all occasions vote against the introduction of Englishmen to Ireland.” Major O’Gorman’s remarks brought the debate to a close, and upon a division the motion was negatived by 241 votes against 56.
Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885
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