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land as one country, and the people of each bound and connected by the same objects, the prosperity of the whole. The noble marquis had dwelt upon one argument to induce their lordships to agree to the proposed redress, which, he confessed, did not strike him in the same light it did the noble lord ; that was the possibility or probability of resistance, in case this country should not think it expedient to enter into a consideration of the subject matter at present. That was an argument ill founded, that should never operate upon his conduct, as a peer of parliament. He hoped that their lordships would be induced to act upon principles of justice and humanity, from motives of affection and sound policy, and not from threats of resistance or compulsion on our part. But he would speak to the fact from his own knowledge; he believed, as the truest test of their affection, the Irish were no less remarkable for their patience and endurance than for their loyalty. He knew them well in every possible light they could be viewed, either politically or individually ; and he could affirm from his own actual knowledge, that no provocation (such as had been alleged by the noble marquis) could drive them to any act of violence, tending to a separation or resistance to this country: but if relief were not speelily given to Ireland, there was another motive more serious, and an event much more probable than resistance, which, he feared, would be the consequence of cold indifference and neglect on our part; and that was, the people of Ireland emigrating to America, which would inevitably be the consequence. He had often taken the liberty to press that consideration on the house, and he was extremely sorry to find, that his early information respecting Washington's army had proved so fatally true, and that we had been in part baffled in our attempts to subdue our rebellious colonies, by the great number of Irish emigrants, who, driven by poverty and oppression from their native country, were compelled to enlist in the rebel army. He concluded with saying, that he agreed entirely in principle with the noble marquis: but that as to the motion, so far as it related to the form in which it was drawn up, he should reserve his ultimate opinion till a farther progress should be made in the debate, and until he heard the opinions of others of his majesty's confidential servants. Marquis of Rockingham rose to explain some matters relative to the independent corps and companies then in arms in Ireland. He said, they amounted to upwards of ten thousand men, all acting under illegal powers, under a kind of supposition that all government was at an end. This was one unanswerable proof to shew the neglect of ministers in the performance of their duty. Why were not those men embodied in the king's name? Why was not there a constitutional militia raised to answer the same purpose? In fine, why were not the gentlemen and yeomanry of Ireland put into some form, or under some regulation, which might subject them to a legal or constitutional control ? He was no less satisfied than the noble viscount of the zeal, loyalty, and fidelity of the people of Ireland. He was ready to go as far as the noble lord in every degree of confidence which prudence and sound policy would warrant, but no farther. He remembered the American war commenced in addresses and petitions; that when those were turned a deaf ear to, they were followed with non-importation agreements. He remembered, that when bills of pains and penalties were enacting in that house, a syllable would not be heard which seemed to tend to measures of lenity. The bill was brought in a hurry, passed in a hurry, and we run in a hurry headlong
to our ruin. To engage therefore for what Ireland might bear with patience, or draw the line exactly upon what particular occasion or period of oppression she might resist, was a language which fatal experience had warned thein sufficiently, he believed, not to put too great a reliance upon. After speaking for some time in this strain, he called upon ministers to speak out, and recommended most warmly the necessity of giving Ireland speedy and effectual relief. We had lost the
greatest part of America; we were fighting with a powerful enemy for all our distant possessions; Scotland was in a state little short of actual rebellion, and Ireland was united as one man against us, not to purchase a single shilling's worth of British property. Earl Gower proposed a kind of compromise. He moved, to omit that part of the recital of the noble marquis's motion, which stated the existing grievances Ireland labours under, and the neglect imputed to administration, in not taking measures for their removal. His lordship pressed very warmly the impropriety and danger of coming to too hasty or precipitate a vote upon a question of such importance. The very cure proposed would, in his opinion, rather serve to increase than remove the disorder, which had been so fully and ably described. It ought to be seriously considered, that holding out false hopes or creating ill-founded expectations, which could not be gratified, would in the end promote those evils, which it was the duty of parliament to prevent. He could never subscribe to the opinion that adopting to the extent contended for, or agreeing to the claims of Ireland, would be the means of preventing rebellion : on the contrary, he feared it might produce the very reverse ; if not in Ireland, possibly nearer home. The kingdom was to be consulted. The great body of British manufacturers had rights and claims of their own, which they would not readily part with, and though the arguments used by noble lords might seem specious and plausible, he begged their lordships to consi. der, that perhaps the very measures which might promise to prevent a rebellion in Ireland might prove the cause of an actual rebellion in England. He spoke very fully on the motion, said there was no proof of several of the matters contained in the motion, and if there were, it did not appear that the distresses which Ireland felt were owing to the government of Great Britain, or the restrictions laid upon the Irish trade. If that part of the motion which took the facts as proved, and the inferences flowing from them, as self-evident, were omitted, he was ready to meet the noble marquis, and adopt the other part of his lord. ship's proposition ; for at present there was no evidence before the house, that the affairs of that country had been neglected, nor was the house in possession of any documents respecting the existence of grievances there, sufficient to induce them to come to the proposed vote. Earl of Bristol replied, that he believed there was not a noble lord present who entertained the shadow of a doubt, that those grievances stated by the noble marquis really existed. He delivered himself very favourably in behalf of Ireland, and said he looked upon them to be the most oppressed and injured people under the sun. Duke of Manches. ter declared himself of the same opinion; and said, he could never think of giving up the ground of the motion; for, what was it, if the people in Ireland were not labouring under the greatest national distress? And how could that be true, if ministers had not neglected their duty, by forbearing to grant them any species of relief? His grace urged the necessity of doing something effectual, and the doing it speedily, and that for the following important reasons. It was no secret, that France in. tended, in the course of the ensuing summer, to make an attempt on either or perhaps both kingdoms. He was well in. formed, that the first attempt would be made on Ireland. He had it, he said, from the best authority, that France would not appear as an enemy on the coasts of that kingdom, to commit hostilities, but to offer her alliance, friendship and protection, in assisting her to throw off the yoke laid upon the Irish nation by Great Britain: in short, she meant to hold out independency and a free trade. The mischievous policy of that ambitious people was no longer to appear as conquerors come to enslave, but as friends to succour and relieve ; no longer as the foes, but the friends of human kind, come to vindicate the rights of injured and oppressed nations. This was her policy respecting America, and this he feared would be her policy respecting Ire. land; and he had good reason already to believe, that overtures of that nature had been thrown out, and that several French emissaries had been in that kingdom, in order to sound the dispositions of the people. This was the invasion and conquest of Ireland, which he feared, and which it was their lordship's business to adopt the most specdy and effectual measures to prevent. His grace therefore conjured and intreated ministers to interfere in time, and do every thing in their power to prevent France from acting so insidious a part, by removing those evils, the existence of which could only have given rise to so deeplaid a scheme of policy and ambition. He was as well as his noble friend (Grafton) glad to see ministers shew any disposition to relent. He was fully persuaded of the necessity of convincing Ireland, that we were candid, and meant at length to be serious; but he nevertheless was of opinion, that a subject of such transcendent importance, involving in it such a variety of interests and objects, ought not to be lightly taken up, nor hastily decided on.
Earl Gower's motion being at length framed, it was suggested that the original motion should be first withdrawn. (A cry of withdraw, withdraw.) "His lordship’s motion was then read, after a few words from the Marquis of Rockingham, to shew the propriety of retaining that part of his motion respecting the distresses of Ireland, and was as follows: “ That an humble address be presented to his majesty that he “ will be pleased to take into his gracious consideration, the dis" tressed and impoverished state of the loyal and well-deserving
people of Ireland, and to direct an account to be laid before
parliament of such particulars relative to the trade and manu“ factures of Ireland, as may enable the national wisdom to pur“ sue methods for promoting the common strength, wealth, and
commerce of his majesty's subjects in both kingdoms.” The Duke of Grafton said, though he liked the address as first moved better than as it stood amended, he would be ready to accept of it, sooner than run the risque of having a negative put upon it; for though it took no retrospective view, it looked forward to what he believed was the universal wish of every noble lord present; it pointed to redress, and for the sake of unanimity' he was ready, for one, to adopt it. Marquis of Rockingham said, so far as the new motion pointed to future redress, he heartily coincided with the noble duke ; but however willing he might be to submit to the prevailing sense of the house, so strongly manifested on the present occasion, he could see no reason against declaring, as an act of justice, and the best pledge of our being in earnest, that the affairs of Ireland had been ne. glected. Earl of Shelburne recommended great caution, and deliberation ; and put in his claim thus early to be understood as not pledging himself to support any measure, which might in its consequences put the Irish upon a better footing than the British manufacturer. The Duke of Richmond, in a very able speech, endeavoured to shew, that all local distinctions were the creatures of prejudice and selfishness. He said, that Ireland and England were in fact the same nation and people ;
that any distinction made in favour of the latter, was a species of injustice to the former. A great, a loyal, and a brave people, were not to be ruined, beggared or oppressed, because Manchester thought this, or this or that country were alarmed. All those petty motives must cease to operate, nor be permitted to influence our public councils, which ought never to lose sight of justice and sound policy. His noble friend (Duke of Grafton) had talked of an union. He was for an union, but not an union of legislature, but an union of hearts, hands, of affections, and interests, as had been well pointed by his other noble friend, who made the motion. This was his opinion, and he should ever prefer such a connection to any other which might give offence to the people, or be effected by means, however well intended, that would lie open to many objections.
A kind of conversation now succeeded, in which the Duke of Richmond said, he had no objection to the motion, provided it were fully understood on every side of the house, and candidly declared, that immediate measures of relief would be adopted; and that it was not merely thrown in the way to stop any effectua! proceedings.
Earl Gower protested, so far as he could answer, he meant to act with candour. It was his wish, and it now became his particular duty; but it was impossible for him to speak with any degree of precision. It was a subject of great delicacy, called for great consideration, and he thought whatever might be done, it would not be prudent or politic to hold out to Ireland any promise, which might be received as restraining the wisdom and deliberation of parliament.
The amended motion was put and carried nem. con.
No. LXVI. a.
LETTER FROM MR. FRANCIS DOBBS TO LORD NORTÉ.
FROM what has fallen from your lordship in regard to Ireland, I conceive you are greatly misinformed, as to the ideas of the people at large. It is of the utmost conse