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declares, th«, to attain the much wifhcd-for end of a secure peace, it is absolutely necessnry to curtail and destroy the arbitrary ptoceedings and maxims of the English maritime power; an object, in the attainment of which all ntlier maritime powers, and even all nations in general, arc become much, interested.
Such are, in part, the dargerous combinations, and alarming designs, to which our fatal civil commotions have afforded too substantial a being.
The justifying memorial of the Iciog of Great Britain, in answer to the French manifesto, compleatcd the circle of those formal appeals to mankind, which the etiquette of modern courts has lifhcd, as a fort of preludes
the opening of t! ose real scenes war and deduction, which they are preparing to exhibit. They usually trumpet forth the godlike attributes of justice, equity, mercy, and, above all, that universal benevolence and tenderness to mankind, with which their respective courts or sovereigns are supposed to be infinitely endued; and deplore, in the most pathetic llrain, those very evils which they are bringing; on, and those miseries which tliey arc exerting their uunoB powers to inflict. If they produce liule, or no effect, it is, however, generally as much as is expected from them; and, how
er small the (bare ot credit which ihey obtain with the public, it is, almost to a certainty, as much as they deserve.
In this state of danger from our foreign enemies, the empire f'ecm«d convulsed in almost all its parts, aud on the point of being farther
rent, by internal dissatisfaction and discontent. !n Ireland, affairs seemed approaching fast to a crisis. It was nor to be expected that a country dependent on Great Britain, and much limited in the use of its natural advantages, should not be affected by the causes and consequences of the American war. The sagacious in that kingdom could not avoid perceiving in the present combination of circumstances an advantage, which was to be now improved, or given up for ever.
A new state of public and private distress, along with a strong fense of recent affronts, (as they were now considered) were the powerful agents, which combined with several ethers of a. subordinate degree, produced this revolution in the temper and disposition of the people of Ireland. We have on former occasions, and particularly in our last volume, taken notice of some of these matters. Habitual restraint seems in length of time to become so much a pan of our nature, that it requires some new exertion, or an application to* some render or untried part,. in order to excite any very uneasy sensation, or at least any particular degree of resentment. The restrictions on the commerce and manufactures of Ireland, might have been passed over for some ages to come, with perhaps even lels difficulty than they had been endured tor near a century past, if a temporary distress had not quickened their apprehensions.
Of all the evils of which they complained, the three yean embargo on the only staple export of that, kingdom, seemed the moll immediately mischievous; aed heir?] 3 ing ing considered, from the concessions to America, as particularly insulting, Was accordingly the most highly resented by the people. Qne of the public wrjters of that country says—" That it. was sent as a curse, and operated as apestilence." It was likewise, along with its penicious tendency and effects, charged with being not only unconstitutional, but directly illegal; and a gentleman of the Irish House of Commons only failed in bringing the question of legality to a .final decision in a court of law, by the unexpected death of a custom-house officer, who, from the seizure of a cargo fitted out on the purpose,
had generally prevailed, during the present reign, had continually enhanced every article of the public expenditure, until the whole was swelled to its preseqt enormous and ruinous state; fa? exceeding the standing revenues of the kingdom, and still much farther all past example of expence. Thus, instead of a full; exchequer, as heretofore, which might happily afford encouragement to the cultivation and improvement of the' country, and to arts and industry among the people, the great object and labour now of every session cf parliament, was the multiplication of taxes, *nd the making some farther
was rendered defendant in thr suit accumulation to' that national debt, which the former instituted. Hut which had been contracted undr»
what aggravated every circarnstr.ncc relative to this business to the highest possible degree, was the national contempt, which it was supposed to convey. For it being considered merely as a government job, and calculated only (as they said, without reserve, both in parliament and out) to raise immense fortunes for, a few English and Scotch adherents to the British ministry, nothing could exceed their indignation at the reflection, that the interests of the kingdom should be sacrificed, and a whole nation reduced to distress, only (as they asserted) to favour the rapacity of a set of contractors.
The public distresses, they said, kept pace with the private, and proceeded from similar causes. Whilst the means of supply were cut off by upjust restriction, a corrupt and profuse system of government, which, they pretended, had been early adopted, and
thjs ruinous system.
Some other real or suppos© matters of irrigation, or causes of jealousy, as they excited discontent, suspicion, or apprehension, served likewise to render the sense of immediate grievance or distress still more insupportable in^ that country, she doctrines of taxation without representation, and of unconditional submission, which were extended to America, were urged, not unplausibly, as matter of apprehension and alarm to Ireland; and it was openly said, that the chains forged for the colonies, would, in cafe of success, afford a mode for the fetters which would soon after be made fitting to themselves. Some strong and very unprofitable language ■ used in the British parliament, served very much to increase this apprehension and jealouly, in drawing parallels between the constitutions of Ireland itnd the colonies, and deriving argument: for the sub1 mission
mission of the latter, from the restraints lo which the former had been subject.
Still, however, the hopes of some considerable enlargement of their commerce, which were repeatedly held oat in parliament, operated wonderfully in soothing dHcoment, and in preserving the temper, and fortifying the patience of the people. Thus all public business, for a considerable time, was still carriedon smoothly; !fd the compliance and obsequious. ress ot their parliament with respect to all the proposals and mea sores of government, continued to be as conspicuously displayed as
But when the people of Ireland sound that little effectual was done in consequence of these declarations, and that little attended with much discontent and opposition from many of the trading parts of Great Britain, the hopes of redress became daily more faint, and the acquiescence, and good temper founded upon them, were proportionally exhausted. They observed that when a bill, which, although of no vast consequence, would have afforded some alleviation to their distresses, had been nearly carried through in the Britilh House of Commons, the minister himself, who they had been taught to consider as a friend, March 18th. «me in person, armed at all points, to ''*" defeat this their only
and last hope. The two bills which were afterwards passed in the fame session, for permitting the cultivation of tobacco, and encouraging that of hemp, in Ire'"id, instead of affording satisfaction, or promoting harmony, pro
duced a directly contrary effect; being considered as nothing less than mockeries, and as insults offered to their distress.
In this manner, tilings were represented and felt in Ireland; and when the attempt to keep parliament sitting for the purpose of settling some plan for their satisfaction was defeated, the flame, which had for some time been smothered, broke out with great violence.
Associations against the purchase and use of British manufactures, and for the encouragement, in every possible degree, of their own, had already taken place in some parts of that country; but seemed to be kept back as a matter of consideration, and a final resort in cafe of extremity, hy the greater part of the kingdom. All reserve upon this subject was now at an end; associations became universal; and the non-importa-; tion, and non-consumption agreements, included th<: usual penalties* or denunciations of vengeance, not only against violators, but against those importers or fellers ot tbe prohibited commodities who had not acceded to the gene, ral compact. By this means they computed, that, even in the present weak state of their manufactures, they would save a lull million sterling, which went annually to Great Britain. This great saving would, they said, afford compensation or redress for many of their grievances and distresses; and,' what was no small object of satisfaction with them, would be the means of pulling down and punishing the pride and ingratitude of Manchester and Glasgow j towns whjch had been constant
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nd immense gainers in the Irifli trade, and which had notwithstanding, they complained, been the foremost, the loudest, and the molt effective, in opposing and defeating every measure of redress or relief which h:)d ever been proposed in savour of that kingdom.
But the turn of affairs, and perhaps the suture fortune of Ireland, were to depend on associations of a more effective, if not more dangerous nature, than any which related merely to commercial or domestic regulation. To the accumulation of alarms which we have already seen, had been lately added, the imminent danger of foreign invasion; a measure evidently intended, if not absolutely avowed by France. This situation was the more alarming, as the military force supported by Ireland, had been continually drained of ar.d weakened for the American war.
In order to provide for their defence, they said it must be placed in those who had the best interest in it. The state was unable, or unwilling to defend them effectually; and the mode of defence, which was unequal to their protection, might be ruinous to their liberties. Military associations were renewed j and the spirit of these associations soon became universal in that kingdom. They declared they were intended for the double pur'pose, of defending their safety against foreign enemies, and their rights against, what they called, domestic usurpation. That they were loyal to the king, and affectionate to Great Britain. But : that it was with such loyalty and affection, as consisted with their own liberty and prosperity. In every part of the kingdom were seen to. arise, as
it were by magic, vast bodies of citizens, serving at their own charges, choosing their own officers, trained to great expertness, and obeying with exemplary regularity and steadiness No noble, man, no gentleman, could shew his face in the country, who did' not fall in (and they did universally, and for the most part chearfully concur) with the prevalent disposition of the inferior and middling sorts of their countrymen. Men of great fortunes served in the ranks. All this was done without any fort of. confusion ot disorder whatever. On the contrary, the peace of the country and the obedience to the laws was never1 better provided for. Considering the temper lately prevalent in that country, and ha scenes of interline division, this ought to be considered as one of the most extraordinary revolutions recorded in history.
The numbers, thus trained and armed, have been variously representtd. They were not probably much under thirty thousand men in the very first year; and they have since been very considerably increased; some say to forty, others assert to sixty thousand men, admirably appointed.
Government saw this proceeding with astonishment. It was in vain to offer .the least resistance to the design of a general armament; ncr could it be wished to restrain the spirit so far as regarded a foreign enemy. They wished to regulate this force, and to bring it, if possible, to act under the authority of the crown; buB} after a very few and feeble attempts, which were frustrated" with scorn, it was thought more wife to concur »«
•hat could not be prevented. Government gave out a considerable supply of arms to the volunteers, although far short of what was necessary; and thus this new establishment, so favourable to the rights of citizens, and of an ex« ample so flattering to the suffici cncy of the people at large to provide in an orderly and effectual manner for their own defence, without any positive law, or the interposition of the ordinary magistrate, has been sanctified and - recognized by the state itself.
After having provided for their defence against foreign enemies, the Irish began to look towatds their rights, or claims of rights— and in general declared all authority in the British parliament over t4em to be a gross usurpation. Among others, the Britiih mutiny sct was denied to be valid. This was carried to such a length, that the troops were for some time, in a considerable degree, confined to their respective stations, as scarcely a magistrate could be sound in the kingdom, who would issue billets for their quarters. It required the greatest degree of temper and circumspection in those who governed in Ireland, and in the commanders of the king's forces there, to prevent a collision of two such armies; and k would be invidious to deny them vety great praise for the prudence of their conduct.
This Rate of things was not the work of a party, or of any particular order of men; but was pro doced and upheld by every rank, class, and denomination of the people. The wife and humane conduct of the British legislature, jn relaxing the penal restrictions of the laws against the English
Roman Catholics, was a measure of such obvious utility, that the example was speedily followed by the Irish parliament; who communicated similar benefits to those of that profession in their own country. This measure tended in a great degree to destroy those animosities, which had for so many ages been the source of weakness and distress in that kingdom. The newly restored citizens, who form so vast a majority of the people in Ireland, soon perceived, that as they now possessed a common share in the common interests, so they were equally called upon with all others, to the public defence, and to the support of the public rights. All envy and aversion on the one side, and all distrust and apprehension on the other, appeared to vaviih, and one general principle and spirit to operate upon the whole people.
A free and unlimited commerce with the whole world was the first, the great, and the general object of redress; for which no compensation could be admitted, and without which, no other concessions or advantages, however great or beneficial, could afford satisfaction. This was the sine qua non, from which there was no departure. Such was the state of ..flairs in Ireland, previous to, and during the recess of the British parliament.
During the long course of real or supposed grievances, of ptibiic discontent, or of actual commotion, which.-for several years past, have more or less agitated every other part of the British empire, Scotland alone had the fortune to escape the general contagion; and, feeling the happiness of her own peculiar