Page images

that on his arrival in Ireland he found the government of that kingdom a government of corruption and oppression. He wished the Noble Earl had stated in what that corruption and oppression consisted. He knew of no corruption in his Majesty's government there, any more than in any other government. It was as pure, and not more corrupt than any other; compared with the government of this kingdom, there was as little corruption there as here. And when he had the honour to represent his Majesty in Ireland, it had been the avowed and solicitous object of his Majesty's government to protect, and not to oppress, those who were subject to it. It was curious to observe how miraculously the Noble Earl made this discovery of the state of the government os Ireland, almost as soon as he set foot in the castle of Dublin; let their Lordships consider the date of the Noble Earl's embarkation from this country, the date of his landing in Ireland, of his arrival at the castle, and of this letter, and they would, he doubted not, express some degree of surprise, at the very short period that elapsed between the Noble Earl's embarkation, and his having been enabled to make so round and unqualified an assertion, and to act upon it. The Noble Earl had thought proper to dismiss several of the most faithful and tried servants of his Majesty, and to assign his reasons for it in the letters beforehim. Speaking of Mr. Beresford, the Noble Earl had declared, that "he filled a situation greater than that of the Lord Lieutenant; and when he saw that if he had connected himself with him, it would have been connecting himself with a person under universal heavy suspicions, and subjecting his government to all the opprobrium and unpopularity attendant upon his mal-administration, what was then to be his choice ?— what the decision he had to form? He could not hesitate a moment: He decided at once, not to cloud the dawn of his administration by leaving in such power and authority, so much imputed malversation." What situation it was Mr. Beresford filled, so much greater than that of the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Westmoreland professed he could no understand. During his administration in that kingdom, was not apprised of any parcy which Mr. Beresford could powerfully controul, nor did he believe that either he h' self or his family had acquired such astonishing authority, he held any influence, it was the influence of an active a man of great knowledge of the interests of Ireland, o ability and uncommon application, who was at all tim ous in the service of his King, and the prescrvatio peace and tranquillity of his country. Yet this G so faithful,' so vigilant, so indefatigable in his servi cused of labouring under universal heavy suspici

brium, and unpopularity, attendant upon his mal-adrririistration and his malversation. These were serious words, and serious charges for an unblemished reputation to sustain, and ill-befitting a man who had, like him, conducted himself in his " high office" with so much honour and fidelity, and served the public for nearly forty years together. How did the Noble Earl obtain this information? He landed only on the Sunday, and could not consequently give an audience till the Monday •, aud yet, upon the Wednesday following, he had acquired such a complete and thorough knowledge of Mr. Beresford's unpopularity and malversation, as to determine to dismiss him. Did he make his inquiry at the Custom-house? did he make it at the Revenue Board? or did he content himself with partial information, and exclusively receive this report of Mr. Beresford from his political enemies? Three days was a short time for such investigation, and yet, short as it was, the time the Noble Lord employed was apparently still shorter; for when the Marquis or Waterford left Dublin on the "Wednesday, there was no rumour whatever, nor the most oblique suggestion that his brother was to be discharged. Had the communication of the Noble Earl's intentions been made Jjnown to Lord Waterford, Mr. Beresford would have had the advantage of a brother's advice on so trying an occasion ;-but that was not allowed him. How the Noble Lord could justify ^limself, would have been problematic to decide, if the Noble X>or'd hud not proceeded to justify himself in this manner: He disclaims every idea of personal injury, and imagines he has offered sufficient recompence by a pecuniary compensation. What, is not an attack upon the character of a man in offica an injury? To fay he is under heavy suspicions, to accuse him of mal-administration, malversation, and unpopularity, is this no injury? or can any pecuniary compensation alleviate such charges? Does any person, who knows the honour of the Gentleman and his family in question, suppose for a mor ment that he would be induced to consider a pecuniary compensatiori an adequate satisfaction for his wounded fame and character by imputed malversation? Is his character were, as it is represented, so notoriously bad, it would have been the duty of the Noble Lord to have removed him without giving any compensation j and if, on the other hand, it be so good as it really is, could the Noble Lord imagine, that to deprive a man of his office and his dignity, to deprive him of serving his King and country with the zeal he wishes, and to deprive that King and country 'of such a useful servant, could be 3l°ned for by any pecuniary compensation?

Lord Westmorland next adverted to a still stranger disfovery, a discovery which had not only escaped him, but his

Nobl? Noble predecessor the Marquis (Townfhend). He alluded to what had been alleged against Lord Fitzgibbon, who had been the first object to be assailed, and whose valuable life had been endangered. Who, he asked, stood by England at the time his Majesty's ministers were almost totally deserted? Who was it that had always manifested a sincere solicitude for the unity of the Crown, but Lord Fitzgibbon, that sound lawyer, upright judge, and faithful counsellor?

With regard to the provision for the Attorney General when he retired, which the Noble Earl had said he gave that Gentleman, Lord Westmoreland begged leave to inform their Lordships, that he had taken credit to himself for that reversion being secured to the learned Gentleman; and he would state on what ground he had done it. An- opportunity offered for that able lawyer to have a Chief Justiceship, when he, as Lord Lieutenant, could not part with him, without gTeat detriment to his Majesty's government. He therefore prevented his taking a feat on the Bench •, and having done so, secured a reversion for him, whenever he retired, of 2,300!. per annum, which, as a man of honour, he held himself bound to do.

The next person he noticed, was the King's Solicitor General, who had been the object of resentment of every faction: a gentleman of private estimation, large fortune, and eminent in his public capacity. Whether any of these Gentlemen acted from corruption or not, his Lordship said, he should be proud to compare them in honour, ability, and public character, with any os those Gentlemen the Noble Lord had chosen to succeed them.

He at length came to speak of himself. The Noble Lord had said, that " it was one of his objects, and that a principal one, to bring back consequence and dignity to English government." This was a reflection, Lord Westmoreland said, upon his government: He hoped the Noble Lord did not design to convey such an insinuation personally to him; it was liable to be so construed, but he did not believe the Noble Earl meant it in that wa£. If the consequence and dignity of English government had been lost, how happened it that when he was there he had obtained such universal support? How happened it that he had sound a strong and leagued opposition upon hi3 arrival, which he turned over to the Noble Lord weakened to a degree that ensured silence? How came it to pass, he might ask, that he was able to effect all the great and important objects of his government, and return with reasonable expectations of further instances of his Majesty's gracious favour, when he stood in his presence at St. James's?

Another Gentleman dismissed from his Majesty's service, was Mr, Hamilton, a man who had the merit, not of forty,

but but of fifty years faithful service, to plead in his behalf j a Gentleman of great knowledge of business, well acquainted with the interests of the kingdom, of easy address, aud most captivating manners.

The Noble Lord had confidently asserted, that Ireland was discontented, disunited, and uneasy. How he had learned the distracted and disunited state of the country, was the next object, his Lordship said, to be considered. Had he learned that too from conversation? for he was sure jt could not be by any other means. He found the Parliament unanimous, no seditious meetings, no inflammatory harangues; the people loyal and industrious, an increase of revenue, a flourishing commerce, and a prevailing harmony throughout the kingdom. If the country had been in that distracted state in which it was represented, how came these circumstances to be undeniable? Or why had it not been deemed necessary to keep it checked and awed by an army? Yet the army was removed and though the country was in this distracted state, and the people so disunited, as the Noble Earl had chosen to assert, we never heard of any of those fatal and alarming consequences which usually attend a rebellion.

The Noble Earl, in his Letter, had laid great stress on the large supply which had been granted; and yet, Lord Westmoreland said, the supply of the preceding year had been nearly as much, or, if not quite so, as much at least as the country could spend. Was it for a peculiar set of Gentlemen in office, or for the emancipation of the Catholics, that this extraordinary supply was granted? Every Protestant .Gentleman in the country contributed an equal (hare, and they granted it not for any interested purpose, but because it was wanted; and if three times as much had been wanted, it would have been granted with the fame promptness and good-will. His Lordship was aware, indeed, that an attempt had been made to excite disaffection, by raising a clamour on the score of imaginary grievances; but it was merely an attempt, and it failed.

The Noble Earl> had 'further urged in support of his measures, that he had made the war more popular.—Who said it -bad ever been unpopular in Ireland? The opinion of its necessity was much more strongly impressed there than here, and some reasons were to be assigned for it. The Irish were alarmed, like every other nation, at the cruel and rapacious excesses of the enemy: They suffered no inconvenience from the war, but, on ihe contrary, a progressive advantage; for the exportation of their corn and provisions was much increased; and thereby, as their commerce was not impaired .(for by the good care of the Lords of the Admiralty, not an

enemy's enemy's cruizer was to be seen in the Irish Channel), they gained an increase of revenue also.

Having discussed at some length the merits claimed by the Noble Earl, on account of having procured so large a supply, and decisively refuted that assertion, both by circumstances, dates, and facts, which assigned it to the expectations of the Catholics; his Lordship proceeded to the next question, that of the Catholic emancipation, and how far Lord Fitzwilli;im was authorised to inculcate it: A question which, he said, ought undoubtedly to be spoken of with great reserve, as it was a matter of peculiar delicacy. He was aware that manywere for ft, and probably the gentlemen of property might not chuse, or think it prudent, to stir in opposition to it 5 but no one Gentleman of that description wished it to be agitated. His Lordship confessed he had always considered it as impolitic and inexpedient, nor could it be brought forward in a serious manner, except by Government. It had been a question the preceding summer, who was to rule as Lieutenant? and that question evidently proved, that no fixed opinions had been formed upon that subject. The Catholics had received concessions, for which they were very grateful; and except they had been urged by others they would not have attempted to disturb the public tranquillity. He said he had reason to believe that the Noble Earl had not been authorised, hecause he had acknowledged that he had been directed to keep it off And since his arrival in London, when the matter began to be talked of, as if his Majesty's Cabinet had lent their sanction to the measure, Mr. Pitt told him, when he mentioned die extent to which report said the measure was to be carried, that he was mistaken, for that the Lord Lieutenant had instructions to keep it off for this session. Relative to his own opinion, he observed, the opinion of an individual Cabinet minister was no more than the opinion of any other individual; nor could it prevail any more than the opinion of a Secretary of State for the foreign department could, for a peace with the French republic, without his colleagues. How far he had endeavoured to keep the question off, was easy to be seen: The Catholics were soothed and kindly treated; they were contented with what they had obtained, and did riot ask for mere at presenti

The distinctions the Noble Earl intended- to dbolifh depended on a question more sit to be discussed by lawyers thai! their Lordships. ■'-Did the Noble Earl ever read the'Act of Settlement? If he had, he would find, that any Prince in'thii country who acknowledges the supremacy of the see of Rome, and holds communion with-the Pope, does, ipfo faffo, immediately forfeithis inheritance of the Crown. -By the provisions of I the

« PreviousContinue »