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MANY of the ideas in the following pages may doubtless appear extraordinary, and some of them, to cautious men, too hardy. To the first, it may be answered, that, until the present, no occasion has happened where such a question could arise, as I venture to investigate. Since the lately acknowledged independence of Ireland, this is the first time when our assistance to Britain has become necessary, and the question of right had better be settled in the outset. To the last, I shall only submit, that it is not whether the ideas are hardy, but whether they are true, that is of importance to this Kingdom. If the reason of my countrymen be convinced, I have no doubt of their spirit.
MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN : The Minister of England has formally announced the probability of a rupture with Spain ; the British nation is arming with all possible energy and despatch ; and, from the Land's End to the Orkneys, nothing is to be heard but dreadful note of preparation ; ships are equipped, press warrants are granted, beating orders issued, and a million raised; all parties unite in one great principle—the support of the national honor, and pulling down Spanish pride; and hope and glowing expectation kindle the native valor of England; the British lion has lashed himself into a fury, and woe to the unlucky Spaniard whom he may seize in his gripe.
But this is not all ; the Minister of England, in the overflowing of his benevolence to this happy Isle, has been graciously pleased to allow us an opportunity of following the noble beast in the course of glory and of profit; so that we may, from his leavings, glean up sufficient of honor and wealth to emblazon and enrich us till time shall be no more. Press warrants are granted, and beating orders issued here, too, and the youth of Hibernia have no more to do but to take the King's money first, as earnest, and the riches of Spain follow of course.
I know the ardent valor of my countrymen, ever impatient of peace and prompt for battle, heightened and inflamed as it now is by the eloquence of the sergeant and the music of his drum, will strongly impel them, more majorum, to brandish the cudgel first, and discuss the merits after; a very common process among them. But you, my Lords and Gentlemen, will, I trust, look
a little deeper into things; with all the spirit of our rustics, you will show that you are just and prudent, as well as valiant. Now is the instant for consideration, before the Rubicon be
passed; and the example which Cæsar shewed, the bravest of you need not blush to follow.
It is universally expected, that, at your meeting, the Secretary will come forward, to acquaint you that his Majesty is preparing for war with Spain, and hopes for your concurrence to carry it on, so as to procure the blessings of an honorable peace. This message he will endeavor to have answered by an address, offering, very frankly, our lives and fortunes to the disposal of the British Minister, in the approaching contest; and, that this may not appear mere profession, the popular apprehension is, that it will be followed up by a vote of credit for three hundred thousand pounds, as our quota of the expense; a sum of a magnitude very alarming to the finances of this country. But it is not the magnitude of the grant which is the great object; it is the consequence of it, involving a question between the two countries of no less importance than this: “ Whether “ Ireland be, of right, bound to support a war, declared by the “King of Great Britain, on motives and interests purely Bri
tish ?" If it appear that she is, it is our duty to submit to the necessity, however inconvenient; if it appear that she is not so bound, but may grant or withhold her assistance to England, then it will be for your wisdoms to consider whether war be for her interest or not. If it be, you will doubtless take the necessary steps to carry it on with spirit and effect; if it be not, you will make arrangements to obtain and secure a safe and honorable neutrality.
The present is a question of too much importance to both countries, to be left unsettled; but though it be of great weight and moment indeed, I do not apprehend it to be of great difficulty. The matter of right lies in a nutshell, turning on two principles which no man will, I hope, pretend to deny: First, That the Crown of Ireland is an imperial crown, and her legislature separate and independent; and, secondly, that the prerogative of the Crown, and the constitution and powers of Parliament, are the same here as in Great Britain.
It is, undoubtedly, the King's royal prerogative to declare war against any power it may please him to quarrel with ; and