Page images

their places implied a charge; the Right Hon. Gentleman who followed him, did not contend for the principle to that extent; and indeed if that were so, there was an end to the position already laid down, That the safety of the realm depended on the constitutional right of the Crown to nominate and dismiss its servants at pleasure—and there would be a necessity to inquire into the cause of every dismission. The Right Hon. Gentleman could not but see how very prolific a skid for inquiry would be opened. Tin. Learned Gentleman who moved the question, had stated the case of a Noble Admiral (Lord Hood) %y the Learned Gentleman would be able to form a judgment of the expediency of such inquiries, and decide more justly upon that right, when he recollected that the gallant Lord Rodney, in the most interesting and critical period of a very ruinous and exhausting war, and in the very moment of victory, was recalled by the minister of that day *, without any cause assigned, and no such inquiry was called for or thought to be necessary. [ Here, on thesuggestion os the Members behind him, Air. Pitt corrected himself, and said] Yes, an inquiry was called for, and the Right Hon. Gentleman himself resisted it; and, what was more, while he professed that he had himself advised the change, moved for the thanks of the House to be given to the Noble Admiral! If then, in such very extraordinary circumstances, an Admiral, who was a solitary instance of successful valour, in a most calamitous war, was recalled by the very minister who moved the thanks of the House to him, was it possible to fay that any stigma could attach to dismission without inquiry? And with the utmost respect for Lord Fitzwilliam, he conceived that there was nothing in the cafe of a Lord Lieutenant being dismissed, more than that of the dismission of a military oilicer, or any other servant of the Crown. Besides, he put it to the reflection of the House to determine whether there might not be a cause for removal without a crime. Could it not happen that there might exist a difference of opinion on some case of transcendent importance, though the parties differing retained the most cordial affection for, and good opinion of each other?

Would the House, he demanded, suppose any thing moro in recalling a Lord Lieutenant, during a session of Parliament, than in withdrawing a Secretary of State pending a negotiation for peace? Certainly not—Yet did the House forget that the Right Hon. Gentleman resigned his office, on a mere matter of difference of opinion, just at the end of the War, in * most important moment of negotiation—on a difference in

• Mr. Fox himself.


opinion with one Member of Administration respecting the independence of America? A minister (Mr. Fox), whose talents and political character made his assistance in the highest degree important, abandoned his office in the most difficult crisis, though he was conscious that his doing so would lead to -the dissolution of an union formed on grounds of public necessity—yet there was no inquiry into that: And when a Noble Duke (the Duke of Leeds), in the midst of a preparation for a war with Russia, resigned the situation he held, he did not feel himself bound to ask an inquiry—nor difl other Gentlemen, though extremely hostile to the war with Russia, make •it the foundation os inquiry. Taking these facts as they ■were, he applied them to the cafe before the House, and said, <hat there was not that difference between the cafes of Lord Fitzwilliam and the Noble Duke, or that of the Right Hon. Gentleman, that could make him more an object of inquiry; nor was it any disparagement to apply the same principles to him that applied to them. But it was stated, for the purpose of shewing that his Lordship's cafe was out of the ordinary course, that he had been encouraged by his Majesty's ministers on this side of the water, to hold out to the Catholics of Ireland the expectation of emancipation, which was afterwards opposed by them. Taking it for argument sake to be true, it might arise from a difference os opinion, which did not necessarily imply a crime on either side; and if that difference did exist between them, how could they act in concert for the 'service of the British empire?

A construction had been put on some words which had fallen from him on a former night, utterly different from what he could have imagined or then said.—On occasion os a motion for an inquiry into the state of the nation, the state of Ireland had been introduced into discussion, and he, in answer, stated as his opinion, that the agitation of that subject, in a British House of Parliament, was hurtful on the very fame grounds as he should then contend, namely, that it was injudicious, if riot highly improper, to anticipate the business of the Irish Parliament on the one hand, or to assume the right of canvassing their determinations on the other—he that night stated the . ills that would probably arise from inquiry, -and said, that if any mischief happened in Iieland, no part of it could be attributed to his Majesty's ministers on this side of the water. The House would judge whether Gentlemen in this cafe had given his words fairly and candidly; but if they determined, with the Hon. Gentleman who made the motion, that there must be guilt, because there was a dismission, they must go farther, and say with him, that there was no just reason against

2 inquiry inquiry in any cale—that there was no cafe in which the public diiciolure of th<- councils of Government could be dangerous, or else that it was right to sacrifice public duty to the delicacy o( private reputation—more than this he would not fay.

As to the point of justice to Lord Fitzwilliam, why did the Hon. Gentleman confine it to him? Whv, in the matter of justice, did he .-.-parate his Lordship from the rest, of his Majesty's ministers? The plea of justice applied to [hem as well as him. If his Lordship had slated to the Public all that he had to say for himself, ainl they had any thing more favourable to say of themselves, it was not his Lordship, but they, that suffered, if they suppressed it: But however aggrieved, his Lordship asVeil as they should submit to the lot of public men, and sacrifice » private to public interest.

On the grounds pf public policy, the Chancellor of the Exchequer deprecated the introduction in that House, of the points on which the motion of the night was grounded: They were points on which there was a vast difference of opinion in the country to which they belonged, and^wbere they arose. As to the Catholics in question, he would not state all the delicate political points on the great frame of the civil and ccclefiastica.1 constitutions of Ireland, involved in it; but would suppose any one of them, and put to the consideration of the House the propriety of the discussion of it. To make the inquiry answer any purpose, they must enter into and examine all the opinions on those points. He would suppose that examination to come on while the same question was pending in the Parliament of Ireland, would it be right to treat that independent Parliament in that manner? to select the very moment of their deliberation to tread over the same grounds, and examine the fame question?

If the question was the fame, it was a wound to their independence; and if the inquiry only led to the fame result, there was nothing gained to the Public : But if, on the contrary, the House was to decide differently, the discussion and decision would be an impeachment of the independence of the Parliament of Ireland, and encourage discontent in that country.

Fortunately, however, no such risk could be run; no such discussion could take place here, for that great and delicate question had already been decided by the Irish Parliament. Thus, what good could the agitation of the question do? He would suppose for argument sake, that the British Parliament decided in opposition to the Irish Parliament. What would be the situation of his Majesty's ministers, if on every question depending in Ireland, the Parliament of Great Britain proiiounced judgment, and in any of them, a contrary judgment, •what would be their stnte to advise his Majesty to reject as King of England that which as King of Ireland he might feeL himself engaged to give his assent to? Did those who wish the House to adopt this mode, think to promote the harmony and cement the connexion between that country and this, by introducing measures so pregnant with confusion and discord i With regard to the arrangements of office in Ireland, how were they to be examined here? The Gentlemen there might be represented on one hand as quarrelling for power, avarice, or ambition, and on the other, as most likely to conciliate and preserve amity between the two nations; but who were to be the judges of so very important a question? Not the Parliament of England; certainly not; but that of Ireland, who were familiar with them, who had the means of examining, and the right to decide; who were judges in point of power, and witnesses in point of fact: Whereas here we had neither power to make a decision effectual, nor means to make an inquiry complete.

Some names had been mentioned (those in particular of Lord •Fitzgibbon, Mr. Beresford, Mr. Wolfe, Mr. Toler, and Mr. Cooke), all of whom carried with them the testimony of successive Governments for talents, integrity, and fidelity. That however was not a subject, to the examination of which, a British House of Parliament was competent.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer concluded with declaring, that as he thought the House should not entertain the motion at all, he should vote for the Order of the Day.

Mr. M. Robinson spoke for the original motion.

Lord Milton (late Secretary to Earl Fitzwilliam, when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) said, the cause of the recal of Earl Fitzwilliam was a dereliction by ministers here of all that had been agreed upon before he set out for Ireland. It was perfectly understood, that every thing expected by the Roman Catholics was to be granted at such time as might appear most conducive to the general tranquillity and harmony of the two countries, ef which the Earl was to be the judge. With the complete persuasion that this was so understood, the Earl entered upon she Government of Ireland and whether the difference that soon after appeared arose from his mistake, or frotn their change of opinion, ministers never sent him the least intimation of either, although they had full time to do so, till the application of the Catholics had received such countenance as could not be retracted with honour. The eternal blame of this business must attach to ministers, as the Lord Lieutenant had written to his Majesty's ministers on the 27th of January, and did not receive, an answer until the 14th of February

solfollowing, during which time he was never once undeceived. That Earl Fitzwilliam was highly popular in Ireland, he should be wanting in proper feeling not to declare; but he was bound also to declare that his popularity was not so much owing to the opinion entertained of his personal character, greatly as that was respected, as to the hopes conceived by the people of Ireland, from the appointment of the Duke of Portland to the high station he now filled in his Majesty's service, and the sending for Mr. Ponsonby and Mr. Grattan soon after to this country. The Irish nation complained of being deceived, of King treated with duplicity. On the part of Earl F::zwi!liam, he claimed an inquiry, that he might either be exempted from suspicion, or censured if blameable; for even mistake in affairs of such importance would be blameable. He would affirm, however, that.Earl Fitzwilliam was not to blame, but that ministers here were culpable as far as respected the difference upon measures. With respect to the removal os Mr. Bercosord, Mr. Wolfe, and Mr. Tolcr from office in Irelind, cither effected or intended, it was a change wished for by the people of Ireland, and must have been expected by ministers here. They perfectly well knew of Earl Fitzwilliam's intention, and ought to have stated their objections before he went over, which they never did. The removals in his own (the Secretary's) office he judged necessary for the public service. Mr. Hamilton was satisfied, Mr. Coote was not. The persons appointed to succeed them had done their duty with diligence and ability > and one of them had been continued in ollicc. Earl Fitzwilliam had no objection to carrying the motion to any extent ministers might wish ; they themselves were the judges of state secrecy, and of how far it would be fit to carry it. The dismission of former Lord Lieutenants had been referred to as parallel cafes. They had been dismissal by new ministers with whom they had no political connexion; Earl Fitzwilliam had been dismissed by his colleagues—that wounded to the quick. He would not fay who were those colleagues—He would not trust himself upon that subject.

Mr. (Ordc) Pawlet contended, that the insinuations which had been thrown out in the course of the debate respecting the supposed corruption which prevailed in the Government of Ireland, were without foundation ; from the situation which he had the honour of filling in that country, he was enabled, with a considerable degree of. accuracy, to decide upon this point, and he affirmed, the reverse of that assertion would upon an inquiry be found to be the case. He alluded to Mr. Bercsfordand the several other Gentlemen who had been mentioned,


« PreviousContinue »