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state of public bankruptcy, and Ire- earl's motion were, contents 20, land nearly in rebellion.'
non-contents 72. The earl of Darnley again af. The general state of Ireland was, firmed there never was a period on the 23d of March, brought be. when the Irish showed more loyalty; fore the house of commons by Mr. and all representations of their Fox. He began his speech with being disaffected towards govern- observing, that in the year 1782 ment were without foundation. very great discontents existed in
The earl of Moira concluded Ireland, and it appeared to bim inthe debate by a few observations: dispensably necessary, that every it was known that after the catho- thing should be done on the part lics had been led to expect relief, a of the government to appease them. member of the house of commons of With this view, he himself proposed Ireland started up in a debate, and the recognition of the complete in. pronounced on their hopes an abso- dependence of that country: it was lute interdiction. Another member not of consequence whether that in the other house of parliament pro- recognition was a boon or a right; nonnced one, sweeping condemna- but having been the person who țion on the north of Ireland. The proposed the act, he considered poble lord and himself differed with himself bound to follow up the respect to the state of the couptry. principle of it, which was to make He alleged there were great and Ireland free and independent, and, alarming discontents there : his above all, to adopt such measures lordship had declared the mass of as should admit her to all the adthe people were contented: now, vantages of that independence, and as the veracity of one could not be restore that cordial affection between tried against the other, the only the two countries, so requisite mode of decision was to refer to to the prosperity of both. facts. Was not a whole county The parliament of Great Britain exposed to invasion, and that a man was now called upon to inquire bow ritime one, disarmed on its being it had happened that those concesalleged to be in a state of insurrec- sions had not produced the salution? Had not many persons been tary consequences which might accused of bigh freason? And have been expected from them; when all ranks surrounded those and it was the duty of every meni. who were accused, protesting they ber of that house, and his own in were innocent, but marked out as particular, to direct the attention victims of the vengeance of go- of the British legislature to the prevernment-when a general assem- sent state of the sister kingdom. bly in Dublin resolved and declared Jreland, he said, was in a state of it to be their firm persuasion disturbance; and, though a variety that Ireland would be lost if there of circumstances had concurred was not a change in the executive to produce this state, there were government-were these proofs of two or three leading points to the general satisfaction of the mass which he proposed chiefly to confine of the people? Yet these were the his observations. These were, how facts, their lordships were to judge far, in consequence of our conconcerning the accuracy of the re- cessions, Ireland had in fact presentation. The numbers on the and in substance enjoyed the ad.
vantages of an independent legisla- ' ment and of the British cabinet. ture and whether in that form of Mr. l'ox then observed, that, at a free constitution which they ob- the time of his majesty's unfortu. tained, the people possessed that nate indisposition, the legislature political weight to which they were of Ireland took a decided part: entitled ? It had been generally cal- the parliament censured the lorda culated, that five-sixths of the inha- lieutenant for his conduct, and exbitants of Ireland were Roman ca pressed a decided opinion on the tholics ; several of the grievances state of public affairs : immediateunder which they laboured had ap- ly after this, however, and during parently been removed. But if the administration of the same lieu. upon inquiry it should be found tenant, a great accession of influ. that the mode in which these grants ence was gained by the crown, and had been made, and the acts of the the parliament was prevailed upon executive power by which they to unsay all they had said, and to were accompanied, bad produced retract every opinion they had the severe t persecutions of a politic given. It was matter of notoriety, cal nature ; it would appear that that a regular system was then dethe catholics had not been redressed, vised for enslaving Ireland ; and and in point of right and real pos- this plan of corruption was followsession had been worse off than be. ed up by suitable measures. Mr. fore.
Fox affirmed, it had been offered These were the principal, but to be proved by men of tne first not the only points involved in the character and talents, (and when inquiry. There were others, un- he mentioned Mr. Grattan, it was conuected with the catholics: the enough) that it had been the sysinhabitants of the north had been , tem of government, by the sale of considered by some in a less favour. peerages, to raise a purse to purable light, and their complaints chase the representation of the peohad been heard with a less favour ple of Ireland. The manner in able ear: their discontents had arisen which these events were considered from the pressure of a war in in that country was this: You which they had no interest, from have granted us, said the people, the distresses entailed thereby upon a legislature certainly independent their trade and commerce; and of your parliament, but dependent from the abuses which they con. on your executive government. ceived to e: ist in the consiitution The concession, therefore, they by which they were governed. viewed not as a blessing, but an inThey complained that it did not sult. When earl Fizwilliam went resemble that of Great Britain; to Ireland in the capacity of lordthey had not a legislature in which lieutenant, it was understood that the people were even virtually re. he left London with the approbapresented, and they enjoyed as little tion of ministers in favour of the political liberty as those who lived complete emancipation of the caunder monarchies in which the prin- tholics; and though no such 'vote ciples of freedom were unknown: ever passed the legislature, no doubt the advantages which the form of a was entertained that the measure free constitution seemed to promise, would take effect, and would have had been counteracted by the in- experienced the firm support of duence of the executive govern. parliament: but after he hopes which had been raised, after the that the prejudices of the Ro. known preparation of parliament man catholics and the dissenters to vote, he was suddenly dismissed, would prevent them from forming the system reversed, and the ques- a union; but was this likely to be tion, which a few weeks before prevented when we were daily dewould have been carried with claring so many districts out of the unanimity, was rejected by a vast king's peace, and in a state of dismajority. Was not this a proof turbance; and, instead of concilibeyond a thousand arguments, that ating the minds of the catholics, the measure of 1782 had been ren- were telling them, that they had dered inefficacious, that Ireland in nothing more to expect ? An ople fact had gained nothing, and was nion had gone forth that the cathoin a state of degradation beyond lics had no substantial grievances to any former period ? Here Mr. Fox complain of, and the presbyterians strongly expressed his abhorrence of less; that the catholics can vote for that diabolical maxim, by which members of parliament, and are Ireland was to be regulated-di- not distinguished from the provide et impera-and of that policy testants but by being excluded which weakly and wickedly sought from the high office of state, and to separate the higher from the from being members themselves. lower ranks of catholics. At the It is objected, continued Mr. Fox, same time our proceedings, he said, that it is not civil liberty which were such, as to convince them all they wish, but power and emoluthat our concessions were extorted, mont which they pursue. And why that the hostile mind still existed should they not? To ask çivil liberagainst them, and they continued ty without political power, would to be inarked out as victims of the be to ask the possession of a right most cruel proscriptions. Suspi. for which they could have no se. cions were insinuated against men curity. Is it improper that any of the first respectability, of consi- people who contribute só largely derable property and of undoubted to the support of governinent as loyalty ; numbers were taken up the catholics do, should be desirous for high treason ; and when acquit- to share the emolument it bestows, ted, it was proved no grounds of as a compensation for what they just accusation could ever have sacrifice? They are men, and are been entertained against them. The to be governed. The expense of remedies applied tended to foment maintaining all govornments is the evil : the authority of the law's considerable, and that of Ireland was superseded; those whom it is certainly no model of economy would have been impossible to but justice and candour will alconvict were transported in great low that the catholics ought to numbers without trial; an act called share in its advantages when they the Insurrection-act was passed contribute to its support. He to enable government to pursue then proceeded to make some rethose violent measures, and the marks on the discontents of the lapse of a very short time had dissenters: they considered their showed them the consequence of grievances, he said, to consist in the such conduct, and the fallacy of abuses of government which they such reasonings ! of the English constitution and the monstrate that they enjoyed the political principles on which it is blessings of a free constitution by foanded. "Were they unreasonable martial law? Never! The history when they complained of not hav- of their country proved that, though ing the advantage of even virtual repeatedly subdued, it could not be representation. To suppose that a kept in awe by force. The chalarge, industrious, and intelligent racter of the people of the north body of men could be governed had been severely stigmatized as against the principles they had im- men of the old leaven. They were bibed, and the prejudices by which indeed of those who rescued their they were guided, was absurd. We country from the tyranny of were now precisely at the point in Charles I. and James II ; they were which we stood in 1774 with Ame- of that leaven which asserted and rica; and though the distance, and defended the principles of liberty its population extending over an which fermented, when kneaded immense tract of country, were together, the freedom of the British disadvantages peculiar to that con- constitution. If these principles test, he remembered when this were carried to excess, it was an circumstance was stated as an ad- excess to which he openly professed vantage, as it would prevent sud- himself partial; the opposition den collections of people. He re- they had suffered was some apolomembered also at that period the gy. The mode now adopted was expression of the American “ war," this: it was necessary there should wbich he was the first person in be a certificate from the magistrates that house to use, was treated with to declare a county out of the the utmost ridicule; and to call king's peace; many of these ma. some riots at Boston by that name gistrates were Englishmen, and ofwas regarded as absurdity. Some ficers of the fencible corps. Were might treat the idea of a war with the people to be told that these Ireland with the same contempt, men were acting only in a civil caand he sincerely hoped experience pacity? Several of the principal inwould not decide so triumphantly habitants of Belfast were arrested ;' in his favour as on the former oc- and the law was in such a state, casion. But when he saw, as in that men might be kept in prison the present instance, a government without trial. desirous to decide by force against The people of the north, attachthe will of a majority, he clearly ed to these men, were determined saw the danger of a civil war. Ire- that they should not suffer in their land was in that state which one property ; they worked for them well acquainted with the subject for nothing ; they reaped their hardefined to be despotism; “where vests, to show their good will to the executive power was every the arrested parties, or their detestthing, and the rights of the people ation of the conduct of governnothing." Suppose we were to ment. This, however, was con. succeed in disarming the whole of strued to be a heinous offence; the the north of Ireland, they must be people were dispersed by the milikept in subjection by force. Could tary; and when some of them were · we convince them by the bayonet killed, the persons who attended that their principles were false, their bodies to the grave were their pretensions unjust; and de- deemed criminal, and this act of
humanity regarded as an act against most sacred ties. Rigour had been the state. What must be the effect already attempted; let conciliation of such measures ? Was it not like- be tried before the last appeal is ly to influence even to insurrection hazarded. Let the whole people those who before had preferred mo- of Ireland enjoy the same pripcinarchy, and to induee the most ples, the same system, the same Boyal to question the excellence of operation of government, and all & monarchical state, on witnessing classes an equal chance of emolu. these consequences from its abuses? ment. In other words, let the If the Irish were subdued (Mr. Fox whole Irish government be regusaid), it would be necessary to keep lated by Irish notions, and Irish up a large military force : or sup- prejudices; and the more she is posing they would submit,' we under them, the more will she be could not trust them ; submission bound to English interests. to laws which they detested could Mr. Fox touched next upon the last no longer than our force, and removal of earl Fitzwilliam : he their impotency. Was it the way asked those who best knew the to persuade the cati otics to assist country, whether the day of his de. us, to refuse all their demands? parture was not a day of sorrow? An application had been made, not The catholic petition was rejected, from the peasantry but the nobi- and the present distracted state of lity, a strong and urgent applica- Ireland tiad been produced by the tion to the government to grauit hopes of the people being disapthe remainder of their requests: pointed, and by the cup of enjoy. it had been unsuccessful. For him. inent and liberty having been sudself, he professed he knew of no way denly dashed from their lips. He of governing mankind but by con- concluded bis speech by moving ciliating them; and what could we an address to his majesty','" that he lose by such methods ? If reland, would be pleased to take into conby conceding to all her wishes, was sideration the disturbed state of Ire. governed, would she be less useful land, and to adopt such lenient to Great Britain ? What was she measures, as might appear best cal. now ? Liitle more than a diversion culated to restore tranquillity, and for the enemy. Even if we could conciliate affection." retain her by force, what should Sir Francis Burdett seconded the we do in all future wars? In the motion : he described pathetically first place, secure her from insurrec- the present situation of Ireland; its tion, which would be no easy mat- fields desolated, its prisons overflow: ter whilst she considered herself ing with the victims of oppression ! aggrieved. The consequences of He lamented the contrast between a war with her were dreadful to a profligate extravagant govern. contemplate; public horrors would ment, and an enslaved impoverishbe so increased by the laceration ed' people. One person, he said, of private feelings, as to spread whom he knew to be as incapable universal misery through both of treason to his country, as he countries. The connexion was was capable of every thing great, so interwoven between the indivi- generous, and noble for the good of duals of each, that no rupture his country, was now immured could happen without wounding within the walls of Dublin castle; the most tender friendship and the -a man wbose private virtues