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propositions should be tried, because something was necesa sary to be done; but he was clearly in an error respecting the nature of the present negociation. The honourable gentleman considered it as differing from the treaty with Scotland which forms the union, as that treaty could not be altered ; because, said he, one of the parties who framed it is no more, meaning the Scottish parliament. He imagined that the present propositions could be altered, because both, the parliaments who agreed to them will still remain. In this Mr. Fox begged leave to observe, the honourable gentleman had totally misunderstood the fact. The propositions, when agreed to by the British and Irish parliament, would form a solemn treaty, which neither country could afterwards alter or infringe, without a direct violation of good faith. And in this he held the language and idea of the chancellor of the exchequer; and in this, and in this only, he agreed with him. However detrimental the propositions, therefore, might hereafter be found to either country, that country could not redress herself; for such was the nature of the treaty. Did they not therefore demand the most deliberate investigation ?
The alterations that the propositions had already undergone, were standing proofs, that no dependence ought to be placed in the wisdom of those who originally offered them to parliament. After the declaration made by the minister, upon his first laying those propositions before parliament, that they must stand or fall together, his mortification could not be smal), to find himself forced to submit to alterations, in order to preserve that majority from which he had received so many proofs of acquiescence to his measures. Supported as the right honourable gentleman often had boasted he was, yet he had certainly been disappointed in the present business: he had not found the present House of Commons pliant enough entirely to forget their duty to their country: he had been forced to admit amendments; but, whether with a view to benefit this or that country, or only to maintain the station he now filled, the public must be left to judge. That the minister had solemnly declared, he would admit no alteration in the original propositions, was a fact. Had he kept his word? No: but by acting as he had done, it was plain his confidence in the support of the present House of Commons began to abate. And there was little doubt, but as they receded from the minister's confidence, they would rise in the good opinion of the public. · For, perhaps, a more general and better-founded alarm had never spread itself all over the kingdom than had been excited by these propositions.
The people had been very slow in their apprehensions of the present ministry. From the present parliament, undoubt
edly, the people had a right to expect the strongest exertions, and the most unremitting care for the general good. The majority had been sent to parliament under the most popular approbation, though founded in delusion, that ever had marked a general election. Yet, of the ministry, the people had shewn by the petitions that crowded the table, that they had not now that confidence they once had, and that they were seriously alarmed for the safety of their trade and manufactures, and in a degree that no minister had ever dared to expose them to before. Little, indeed, could the people suspect, that the same man who had made himself popular by a clamorous support of a charter which had been abused, would, when in power, have attempted to hurry propositions through the House, that entirely gave up for ever the power of renewing that very charter! For no man would pretend to say, it would have been doing less, if the minister had been able to pass the original propositions. But with what astonishment must the people behold him engaged in a business, by which so many manufactories must be exposed to ruin; and which, at one blow, swept away the means of existence to thousands of the manufacturers of Great Britain! That these were facts, the petitions upon the table proved. And petitions from a more numerous or more respectable body of men (however neglected and insulted by ministers) had never been presented to this House before.
Much, though ill-founded, reliance was placed on the amendments that had been nade. But were they adequate to remove the evils with which the propositions were loaded ? No. Had the petitions ceased to come in since the amendments had been adopted ? No. Had ministry been able to get any one set of manufacturers in the kingdom to approve of the propositions, notwithstanding the amendments? No. They had not been able to obtain one paper of approbation to lay upon that table, which groaned with the mass of petitions against the propositions ? Was the conduct of the ministry sanctioned by any one set of men in the kingdom, who had appeared in the business? No. Was not every man in a state of alarm who had the least sense of the danger of the propositions ? Certainly. That this fourth proposition contained in it subject of serious alarm to the manufacturers of Great Britain was fully established.
But let us see how Ireland would be affected. Would she only be benefited ? Was there nothing prejudicial to her interests contained in this proposition? Undoubtedly yes : for it was made a part of it, that she must relinquish her legislative independence, and adopt again in future, laws made by the British parliament. To take a more direct view of this proposition, it would be found, that where the ministry had
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not displayed their imbecility, they had been insidious; where they had not been insidious, they had been treacherous; and by one or other or all these, had they been directed in their prosecution of this very proposition now before the committee.
'His honourable friend behind him, (Mr. Sheridan,) had clearly established the insidious conduct of ministers in not having laid this proposition before the Irish parliament with the others; particularly, as by it, Ireland bound herself to resign her legislative independence. If it should be pretended, that there was no insidious intention in not carrying this proposition before that parliament, it became a proof of their imbecility in not having done so; because it was deemed essential: and therefore it proved that ministry had not been capable of finishing and compleating their system to lay before Ireland. If it should be pretended that there was no 'meaning in the clause which bound the Irish to adopt the British acts of parliament, and that Ireland would not be bound by it, then must the whole be treachery to this country.
As a proof of the imbecility of ministers, and how distant this negociation was from the estimation due to a well-digested plan, Mr. Fox observed, that very early in that evening's de bate the right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer had informed them, that one of the alterations, called amendments, in this fourth proposition, was made in consequence of some gestures he perceived on that side of the House when the proposition was read in the committee the last time of meeting.
Could a stronger picture be given how little administration was able to rely upon their own deliberations, than was conveyed in this declaration of the minister? That nothing permanent or beneficial to either country could be expected from the councils of those who framed the propositions, Mr. Fox said he well knew. But that such a mark should be set upon them by the minister as this, that he had adopted an alteration barely upon perceiving a gesture on that side of the House, was an acknowledgement how little they could depend on their own judgments beyond what he could have looked for. ... What could the people think of the whole system, when a gesture was the avowed cause, by the minister, of an alteration in one of the Irish propositions, which was declared essential towards carrying into effect the present settlement, and formed one of the most important branches of that system which was to give content to Ireland, and mutual happiness to both kingdoms! That very system, which the same minister told them must stand or fall together, we now found, by the same minister, was become so weak in their own eyes, that a gesture was a sufficient reason to make an alteration in it. Such was the consistency and firmness of the present administration!
But, notwithstanding this gesticulated alteration, the original evil still remained. Like every other alteration made in what was in itself radically bad, every amendment, as they were called, only shewed the original deformity of the propositions in stronger and stronger colours. This fourth propo, sition, as it now stood, could never be agreed to. The first and second part were incompatible, and it was impossible that both countries could agree to it. In the first part Ireland was promised a participation of our trade. This must afford, at first sight, a fruitful prospect to her. But what were the terms upon which she was to attain this participation? Why, by binding herself to adopt such British acts of parliament, hereafter to be made, as Great Britain should think fit to send there. Would Ireland agree to this with her eyes open ? And would the Irish not discover the surrender demanded of them on the first perusal of the proposition? Undoubtedly they would; for to suppose they would not, would be estimating them a nation of idiots. However detrimental an unlimited participation of our trade might be to our manufacturers, yet the benefit to Ireland must be remote. And Ireland, by this proposition, in surrendering her legislative independence, gave up a certain good for an uncertain benefit. If a man were to set about framing a proposition that could contain matter most objectionable to both countries, he could not frame one more completely so than this fourth proposition; seeing that the advantages held out by the first part of it are overbalanced by the demand of a surrender of the legislative power of Ireland. Hereafter Ireland would have no power to consult her own interests, but must adopt the British acts of parliament; and having once agreed to the propositions, she from that time would have no alternative, but must adopt the laws framed here, and sent to her. Was it imagined the people of Ireland would not see through this farce as a favour? Would not the mind of an Irishman revolt now at the idea of keeping up the form of a parliament, who must register those laws which should hereafter be sent to Ireland ? They would have no alternative, nor could they call one of those laws into question, or debate even upon their merits : having agreed to accept these propositions, they would be bound for ever to obey this condition.
An attempt had been made by the opposite side of the House to assert, that whatever the consequences might be to Ireland, she would have no right to complain, because the propositions originated in her own parliament. With respect to the fourth proposition, this argument, mean as it certainly was, could not be applied, as it did not originate in Ireland. But as to laying any stress upon the propositions
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coming from Ireland officially, it was well known and generally admitted that they sprang originally from the ministry here. Therefore there could be no advantage taken against Ireland on account of the propositions coming from her parliament. - To impose upon a people under any pretence, but particularly at the same moment you are telling them of granting them advantages which they did not possess before, could only be attempted by the worst of men, and the most profligate of ministers. Even if such a trick could be successful, would any man pretend to say that an imposition was the most likely way to heal the disquietude of the people of Ireland ? Did any man pretend to say that a system built upon such principles was capable of establishing any thing like an harmonious or permanent understanding between the two countries? He must be a visionary in politics indeed, who could entertain an idea so absurd. In order to illustrate this position, Mr. Fox begged leave to suppose a case, that we were carrying on a negociation with any foreign power that was friendly towards us: and that the minister of this country had induced that power to prefer such and such proposals to our parliament. When they found that they had been trepanned into an imposition, was it to be imagined they would abide by it, merely because they had been seduced by our minister to be the proposers of it? Undoubtedly they would not: and indeed, so far from thinking themselves bound to abide by it under such circumstances, their pride and interest would feel doubly wounded, and the treachery of such a minister would operate with double force to make them reject it more firmly and with greater resentment.
As Ireland by this proposition must be obliged to adopt whatever laws Great Britain in her wisdom should see fit to make for the regulation of that trade which Ireland was to share, was it not the most obvious thing in the world, that, having that power, the British parliament would abandon the interest of this country, if, in framing her laws, they were not particularly attentive to the particular interests of Great Britain? No man could doubt it. Yet if we were even to allow that this should not happen, and that it never did happen, still, such was the natural jealousy of human nature, such the apprehension naturally raised by giving power to others, that suspicion would unavoidably rise, and the natural consequences of such suspicion must follow. : The chief aim of Ireland in all her late endeavours was to obtain an independent parliament, and she was now possessed of a legislature independent of Great Britain. Was it to be imagined that, under the idea of getting a participation of our trade, she would relinquish that power? It would,
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