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which their partiality had brought me, and to appear at feasts and rejoicings, in the midst of the grief and calamity of my warm friends, my zealous supporters, my generous benefactors. This is a true, unvarnished, undisguised state of the affair. You will judge of it.
This is the only one of the charges in which I am personally concerned. As to the other matters objected against me, which in their turn I shall mention to you, remember once more I do not mean to extenuate or excuse. Why should I, when the things charged are among those upon which I found all my reputation? What would be left to me, if I myself was the man, who softened, and blended, and diluted, and weakened, all the distinguishing colours of my life, so as to leave nothing distinct and determinate in
whole conduct ?
It has been said, and it is the second charge, that in the questions of the Irish trade, I did not consult the interest of my constituents; or, to speak out strongly, that I rather acted as a native of Ireland, than as an English member of parliament.
I certainly have very warm, good wishes for the place of my birth. But the sphere of my
my true country. It was, as a man attached to your interests, and zealous for the conservation of your power and dignity, that I acted on that
occasion, and on all occasions. You were involved in the American war. A new world of policy was opened, to which it was necessary we should conform, whether we would or not; and my only thought was how to conform to our situation in such a manner as to unite to this kingdom, in prosperity and in affection, whatever remained of the empire. I was true to my old, standing, invariable principle, that all things, which came from Great Britain, should issue as a gift of her bounty and beneficence, rather than as claims recovered against a struggling litigant; or at least, that if your beneficence obtained no credit in your concessions, yet that they should appear the salutary provisions of your wisdom and foresight; not as things wrung from you with your
blood by the cruel gripe of a rigid necessity. The first concessions, by being (much against my will) mangled and stripped of the parts which were necessary to make out their just correspondence and connexion in trade, were of no use.
The next year a feeble attempt was made to bring the thing into better shape. This attempt (countenanced by the minister) on the very first appearance of some popular uneasiness, , was, after a considerable progress through the house, thrown out by him.
What was the consequence? The whole kingdom of Ireland was instantly in a flame. Threatened by foreigners, and, as they thought, insulted
by England, they resolved at once to resist the power of France, and to cast off
As for us, we were able neither to protect nor to restrain them. Forty thousand men were raised and disciplined without commission from the crown. Two illegal armies were seen with banners displayed at the same time and in the same country. No executive magistrate, no judicature, in Ireland, would acknowledge the legality of the army which bore the king's commission; and no law, or appearance of law, authorized the army commissioned by itself. In this unexampled state of things, which the least errour, the least trespass on the right or left, would have hurried down the precipice into an abyss of blood and confusion, the people of Ireland demand a freedom of trade with arms in their hands. They interdict all commerce between the two nations. They deny all new supply in the house of commons, although in time of war. They stint the trust of the old revenue, given for two years to all the king's predecessors, to six months. The British parliament, in a former session, frightened into a limited concession by the menaces of Ireland, frightened out of it by the menaces of England, were now frightened back again, and made an universal surrender of all that had been thought the peculiar, reserved, uncommunicable rights of England ;-the exclusive commerce of America, of Africa, of the West
Indies all the enumerations of the acts of navigationall the manufactures-iron, glass, even the last pledge of jealousy and pride, the interest hid in the secret of our hearts, the inveterate prejudice moulded into the constitution of our frame, even the sacred fleece itself, all went together. No reserve; no exception; no debate; no discussion. A sudden light broke in upon us all. It broke in, not through well-contrived and well-disposed windows, but through flaws and breaches; through the yawning chasms of our ruin. We were taught wisdom by humiliation. No town in England presumed to have a prejudice; or dared to mutter a petition. What was worse, the whole parliament of England, which retained authority for nothing but surrenders, was despoiled of every shadow of its superintendence. It was, without any qualification, denied in theory, as it had been trampled upon in practice. This scene of shame and disgrace has, in a manner whilst I am speaking, ended by the perpetual establishment of a military power in the dominions of this crown, without consent of the British legislature *, contrary to the policy of the constitution, contrary to the declaration of right: and by this your liberties are swept away along with your supreme authority--and both, linked together from the
beginning, beginning, have, I am afraid, both together perished,
* Irish perpetual mutiny act.
What! gentlemen, was I not to foresee, or foreseeing, was I not to endeavour to save you from all these multiplied mischiefs and disgraces? Would the little, silly, canvass prattle of obeying instructions, and having no opinions but yours, and such idle senseless tales, which amuse the vacant ears of unthinking men, have saved you from “ the pelting of that pitiless storm,” to which the loose improvidence, the cowardly rashness, of those who dare not look danger in the face, so as to provide against it in time, and therefore throw themselves headlong into the midst of it, have exposed this degraded nation, beatên down and prostrate on the earth, unsheltered, unarmed, unresisting ? Was I an Irishman on that day, that I boldly withstood our pride ? or on the day that I hung down my head, and wept in shame and silence over the humiliation of Great Britain ? I became unpopular in England for the one, and in Ireland for the other. What then? What obligation lay on me to be popular? I was bound to serve both kingdoms. To be pleased with my service, was their affair, not mine.
I was an Irishman in the Irish business, just as much as I was an American, when, on the same principles, I wished you to concede to America, at a time when she prayed concession at our feet. B b 2