Page images

in the House of Commons of Ireland, but he could not perceive what direct relation it bore to what now was under consideration. The efficient minister, as he was called, was likewise much spoken of; Sir John Blacquiere said this, and Sir John Blacquiere said that; but for his part, what Sir John Blacquiere said one way or the other, was of no great consequence. He knew a Sir John Blacquiere, and had been in conversation with him; but in what way what he said could be made a ground of censure on a British minister, was more than he could reconcile to the relation they really stood in to each other, if they stood in any. He confessed, the measure of paying for 8000 men, when we were to have the service but of 4000, was extremely unæconomical, and he thought very improper: yet if 4000 men could be had upon no better terms, and that it was supposed it might be more proper to send natives than foreigners to America, the measure on that account, and that alone, might be defended.

Lord Irnham. As I am just returned from Ireland, where I have attended closely to the proceedings of that parliament, it may be expected from me to say something on the present question. I shall therefore endeavour to shew the house, whether the honourable gentleman now in my eye, (Mr. Conolly), and a member of that parliament, as well as of this, has given you a true account of the conduct of government there relative to the matter now before you; or whether the representation of it by the gentlemen who oppose the right honourable member's motion, ought most to be relied on. The doubt to be cleared up is, what was really the meaning of government there in the message sent to both houses of parliament? The words of the message have been already read to you, and it has been very ingeniously, though somewhat variously explained by the gentlemen of the treasury bench: but the lord lieutenant's secretary, (who as a noble lord on that bench, and other gentlemen who heard him, and as well as his lordship, have held that office, well know, is always considered as the minister in the Irish'House of Commons), clearly expressed and interpreted the meaning of it; which was, that the Irish parliament should consent to the introducing into the country 4000 foreign Protestants, in consideration of which, they should assure his majesty of their readiness to spare 4000 men of the troops on the Irish establishment for the service of America, to be likewise paid by Great Britain ; and it was expatiated upon by him, and all those who spoke on the side of government, how advantageous such an offer must be, which provided equally for the safety of Ireland, as if their own troops had remained in it, and would moreover bring 80,000l. of English money into the


kingdom. The speech was answered by addresses from both houses....that of the lords immediately to the king; that of the commons to the lord lieutenant; in substance the same as returning thanks for the offer, but refusing the introduction of the foreign troops, proving that they chose to defend their country, even in its present precarious situation, by the exertion of their own efforts, rather than to adopt so unconstitutional and dangerous a measure; which sentiment of theirs certainly did them honour: but at the same time they consented by address, to send to America the 4000 additional troops requested of them, both houses understanding, however, as it is well known) that an act should be passed to legalize the terms of the said 'address, as the crown had precluded itself by act of parliament from the right of sending more than about 3000 men out of that kingdom, which number it had already exceeded. A bill was accordingly brought in, wherein were inserted two clauses calculated to effect that purpose ; but to the astonishment of the public, those causes were thrown out in England: and an act was again passed, barring the crown from the power of sending any more troops abroad than would leave 12,000 inen on the establishment for the defence of Ireland, and consequently the effect of the addresses of both houses was thereby destroyed, whilst at that very time government declared its resolution to send those 4000 men to America, in conformity to the addresses of both houses, and signified, that they did not consider the crown as bound by the act, to which the royal assent has just been given, to keep 12,000 men in that kingdom, under pretence of its not being in the enacting part, though in the preamble of the act; but whoever reads it, will find that compact not only in the preamble, but also so strictly tied to that part of the act which grants the subsidy, (being about 450,0001.) that if the crown be not bound thereby, above two-thirds of the concessions from the crown to the subject by act of parliament since Magna Charta, will fall to the ground, and the crown has forfeited its right to those subsidies. I remember upon this being hinted at by some members of the Irish parliament, too sanguine for government, the law servants of the crown (men of great abilities), avoided the question on that ground. As to the present lord lieutenant of Ireland, of whom many handsome things have been said by gentlemen on both sides of the house, those qualities mentioned, are, I apprehend, relative only to his private character, which merely as such, has, I think, good ingredients in it: but we don't sit here to discuss private characters ; his ministerial and public one is what we are to consider, and I will speak out....the talents and abilities of that minister of the crown are by no means equal to his station. Two millions and a half of people is a trust of too great weight for him to sustain; and he has sufficiently avowed his incapacity to govern them, by delegating all his power to his secretary. To conclude, the measures pursuing there being illegal, must displease the best and soundest part of his majesty's subjects; and though for certain purposes the ministry have this day spoken very advantageously of Ireland, if they go on in acting as they do, they will meet with the united efforts of that country in opposition to their attempts: and then, instead of panegyric, they will call out to this house for restraining and incapacitating bills, to punish that kingdom, as they have done America. Let me therefore recommend to the noble lord now at the helm, to attend whilst it is time, to that alarmed part of his majesty's most affectionate subjects, and to forgive me if I heartily intreat him to apply his utmost care to rectify the errors of government in that kingdom. In the present case now before us, the conduct of administration, relative to the message from Lord Harcourt to the Irish parliament, has been unconstitutional and highly blameable. I am therefore to thank the right honourable gentleman for the motion, and to express my hearty concurrence in it.

Mr. Fox observed, that as the administration of both king-. doms were totally unconnected, so was every individual who composed them. No two of the confidential servants of the crown who spoke agreed in a single sentiment. Some allowed the message to import what was stated in the complaint ; others acceded to a part of it, it manifestly intended: but in this diversity of opinion, there was one thing too curious to pass unnoticed, that was the language used by two or three members of administration, which was describing the minister of the House of Commons in Ireland, and the speaker, under the undefined terms of one Edmond Sexton Perry, and one Sir John Blacquiere.

Mr. Attorney General said, the motion was a party squib, not worth attending to; and that the preamble to an Irish act of parliament did not bind the parliament of Great Britain.

Governor Johnson said, the ministers here throw all the blame upon the ministers in Ireland.

Lord North gave a great encomium of the administration of Ireland since the appointment of the present lord lieutenant ; observing, that no better proof could be given of it, than that it was attended with uncommon success.

Mr. Conolly observed, it was no wonder the government of that kingdom should be attended with success, when 265,000!. had been raised on a ruined impoverished country. (Here he was proceeding to shew how unable the Irish were to bear such a burthen; and to give a detail of the pensions that had been lately granted, the places that had been newly created, and the

various means that had been employed to influence and corrupt the representatives of the people, when he was interrupted by Lord North, as applying to matters not at all relating to the subject of the debate.

Mr. Fox insisted, that the matter stated by his honourable relation was perfectly within order; that it grew directly out of the subject of debate ; and that if his lordship appealed to the success of administration in Ireland, as a proof of the wisdom or mildness of the government there, it was no less fair in argument, than consonant to order, to shew the true causes of that boasted success. (Here the altercation was put an end to, by the question being called for.) The question was put on Mr. Townshend's motion for a committee. The house divided ; for the motion 106, against it 224.

No. LXIX. a.


OF JULY, 1782....PAGE 333.


" FROM a conviction that the present is a critical moment for Ireland, inasmuch as we conceive that “ the question whether we shall be free or an enslaved people “ depends on it; we humbly presume that an address, in“ duced by the purest motives, will not be held presumptuous, " and that every reasonable allowance will be made for us by the “ liberality of our fellow subjects and soldiers, the volunteers of Ulster.

“ The struggles which this loyal nation has lately made to" ward casting off the usurpation of a country which cannot

justly claim a single right to which Ireland is not by charter, “ justice, and nature, equally entitled, have excited the admi“ ration of every state in Europe. But at this period of Irish “ virtue, were we contentedly to sit down with any thing “ short of complete freedom, we should render ourselves odious “ to millions yet unborn, who would tax us with having meanly

" sold an opportunity of rescuing the land from the yoke of “ slavery at such an æra as the revolution of centuries may not " again produce.

" The designs of ambitious men may for a time mislead, but “ cannot long delude a people of that sound plain understanding " by which even the inferior classes of the men of Ulster have “ ever been distinguished. With such men, simple ungarnished “ truths, level to every capacity, must have their weight, and “ will, it is presumed, rouse them to a sense of the dignity and “ independence of their nation.

“ The intention of this address is with all humility to impress “the following great and serious truths :.... That the rights of " this kingdom are not yet secured, nor even acknowledged by “ Britain, partly owing to the delusions of many sincere friends,

to the perfidy of pretended ones, and to an error committed “ through precipitancy by our representatives in the senate. That “ unless a spark of that sacred flame, which but a few days ago

glowed in every breast in Ulster, be again excited ; the glo“rious attempt of this country to procure its emancipation, in“ stead of producing any real permanent good, will too probably “ be the means of depriving us of our rights for ever.

“ Let us then trace the growth and progress of our late spirit, " and let the claims asserted at Dungannon, on the 15th of Fe. “bruary, be the ground-work of our enquiry.

“ The spirit of that great day's proceedings, which was re" echoed from every quarter, may easily be collected from the “ following quotations ..... Your representatives there assembled, “ declared, · That a claim of any body of men other than the • king, lords, and commons of Ireland, to make laws to bind this kingdom, is unconstitutional and a grievance.

'That the ports of this kingdom are by right open to all foreign countries not at war with the king; and that any burden thereupon, or obstruction thereto, save only by the parliament of Ireland is unconstitutional and a grievance.

56 A moment's reflection will shew, that the first of these two “resolves clearly applies to a denial of the pretended right of “ Britain to internal legislation for this country; and the latter “ resolve as decidedly determines with respect to external le“gislation, as our right to a freedom of commerce is its very “ soul and basis.

“ If it appear that these demands of Ireland, which arose “ from your own act, and from which you cannot recede with

out drawing down eternal dishonour on your posterity, have “completely and without equivocation been acceded to, then “ the present discontents and jealousies are groundless and “ should cease ; but if a candid disquisition evinces the contra

ry, the voice of Ireland should again be raised, and rather


« PreviousContinue »