Page images
PDF
EPUB

therefore, for so much, makes the Act of Parliament a delusion.

We, therefore, with all due deference to legal authority, when it shall keep itself within the bounds of law and decorum, have republished our resolutions, and beg leave to add, that the act of the Council, to which we do acknowledge the Lord Chancellor, and we are sorry to see it, has put his hand, is an arbitrary act—imposing on the city, as far as it can have effect, an illegal magistrate, and depriving the common council of Dublin of a right they derive under Act of Parliament.

The author of the speech puts a question-Who most invade the laws, the Lord Lieutenant and Council, or they who appeal to the Whig Club? Since we are called upon, we answer, the Lord Lieutenant and Council. The Lord Lieutenant and Council, says the author of the speech, who send the matter to a legal decision? They do so, we allow it. They oblige the party, by an arbitrary act, to seek redress at law, as any man who commits a violence on another

may be said to send the matter to a legal decision. But we never heard it pleaded as a proof of the defendant's regard for the law, that he had, by an assault on the plaintiff, sent the matter to a legal decision. This puerile interrogatory is calculated to move our scorn.

We confess we have not forced the citizens to such a tribunal, for we have not injured them ; but so far from dissuading from seeking legal redress, we are ready to assist the City in demanding it.

We associated to preserve the laws and constitution against the attacks of the present administration, who invaded both, and who were pronounced to have done so by Parliament. We associated when the privileges of both Houses had been questioned. When the Minister was exhorted by his unconstitutional adviser to insult the legislature ;-when the two Houses pronounced that Minister and his advisers to be arbitrary and unconstitutional men ; --when a number of new places, pensions, and salaries were created, for the purpose of corrupting Parliament; when peerages were sold for procuring money to be expended in the purchase of seats for the dependents of the Castle, in the assembly of the people ;-when the liberty of the press, and the personal liberty of the subject, by holding him to arbitrary and excessive bail, were attacked; -when we had a Minister ready to screen such attack

CHÁP. I.]
THE WHIG CLUB.

19 from Parliamentary inquiry ;-when a Place Bill, a Pension Bill, and every other constitutional bill made necessary by the corruption of the present Ministers, were rejected by their influence :—when these things took place, we assembled—we assembled when the nation was told (by authority) that in order to defeat the opposition of the aristocracy in Parliament, the Minister had, in the Government of the Marquis of Townshend, expended half a million, and that in order to defeat the present aristocracy, must expend another half-million, which was to inform us, that the nation had been by his Majesty's Ministers bought and sold, and must be bought and sold again.

We appeal to the people of England, whether, if they were informed by a great officer of state that their country had been bought and sold for half a million, and must be so again, to carry the Minister triumphantly through Parliament; whether they would not, like us, have associated in common defence : and if the people of this country, being once possessed of this alarming and dreadful secret, have gone no further than bearing their humble testimony against Ministers, it is because the people are not as rash as those Ministers, either in their conduct or declaration.

That we have been charged by the author of the speech with the crime of looking to power, we make no assertion. Instead of assertion we set forth the following measures, to which we are all pledged :

A Place Bill, a Pension Bill, a Bill to repeal or modify the City Police Bill, a Bill to restrain the Minister from arbitrarily extending the Country Police, a Responsibility Bill, a Bill to disqualify the dependent Officers of the Revenue from voting for Members of Parliament. We are pledged to disallow the corrupt charges of the Marquis of Buckingham and his successor. We are pledged against the sale of peerages, and for the liberty of the press, and the personal liberty of the subject against arbitrary and illegal bail. We are pledged to the principles whereon the late Parliament addressed his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to take on hinself the Regency, and against the assertions and principles that advanced and maintained, in the appointment of a Regent, the authority of the Parliament of another country, and would have denied to the Irish Crown its legislative power, and of course its imperial dignity. We are pledged against an Union; we are pledged against the memorable Propositions; and we are

now

pledged to oppose the misconstruction or the alteration of the Act of the 33rd of Geo. II., wbereby the Commons of this city have a peremptory right of rejection, which peremptory right we will support. If anything is here omitted, it will be found in our original declaration; and we have already appointed a committee to procure copies of the bills already mentioned, that the country may, if she pleases, adopt them, or at least may know how far and how specifically we are embarked in her interest. We have no personal animosity; but should any of the Ministers of the Crown attempt to trample on the people, we are ready to defend them. We conclude

Resolved, That the affectionate and respectful thanks of this body be returned to the Earl of Moira and the Earl of Charlemont, for their spirited and dignified avowal of the part which they have taken in our deliberations and resolutions; and for the truly patriotic regard which their Lordships have shewn for the invaded privileges of their fellow-citizens, and for their zealous support of the law of the land.

Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to sit during the vacation, to correspond with the members of this and other societies, and to prepare such measures as may be rendered necessary to defend our principles and our character; with a power to assemble this club on any emergency, to submit said measures to them for their consideration, on giving due notice.

(Signed) HENRY GRATTAN, Pro Sec. All these proceedings of the Chancellor served only to rouse the spirit of the citizens. They immediately assembled, and appointed some of the ablest of their body to examine into the case of the Lord Mayor, and adopted at a full meeting the report given in the Appendix,* which correctly details the measures taken by the Government, and sets forth the complaints of the people ; it is a very important public document.

Mr. Conolly being absent, the office of Secretary to the Whig Club was filled by Mr. Grattan, who occasionally discharged its duties, until Mr.

* See Appendix, No. I.

Yours,

CHAP. 1.]
MR. M'CAN.

21 Ross MʻÇan was appointed. This individual was the friend and confidential agent of Mr. Grattan. His name will appear hereafter connected with some important occurrences. He was a publicspirited, and tender-hearted man, a faithful and an honest Irishman, and warmly attached to Mr. Grattan,—of whom, however, he used humorously to observe that “ he was the best patriot, but the worst patron.” The following letters shew the intimacy that subsisted between them. MR. GRATTAN TO MR. MʻCAN.

Friday Night. MR. M-CAN-If you don't come on Sunday, I'll make a motion in the Club that Ogilvie* be appointed Secretary in your place, with all the great profits, salaries, and emoluments annexed to that wealthy place !! Be so good as not to write a miserable lame apology, but come.

H. GRATTAN. Let me know how Lord Charlemont is. I don't think he was well the other day. SAME TO SAME.

Tinnehinch. DEAR M'CAN,—You promise to come to see me often; but you break your promise. That is the only instance in which you appear to have become a courtier. Yours truly,

H. GRATTAN. Mr. Day was now appointed Chairman of Sessions for the county of Dublin, and on the occasion Mr. Grattan wrote to him in the following jocose style :

MR. GRATTAN TO MR. DAY. MY DEAR Day, T'innehinch, 13th July, 1790. You are an ass. Were you engaged to your Kilmainham friends — dinner in haste before your host was hanged by your own decree? I suppose you get many dinners of this sort:-“ Mr. O'Murder's compliments to Justice Dayhopes for his company the day before he is hanged—any time after will be too late." Will you come on Sunday, and fix a party with Broome and me to the mountain ?

H. GRATTAN. * Mr. Ogilvie, who was married to the Duchess of Leinster.

Yours ever,

MR. DAY TO MR. GRATTAN.

Merrion Square, 15th July, 1790. My Dear GRATTAN, I don't see, because I prefer my Lord Westmoreland's company to yours, that I must therefore be an ass. You may call that good reasoning; but a logician would say it was a non sequitur. Had I, indeed, been apprised in time that the “phrenzy rolling eye” of Napper* was to be at the board, I might have been an ass between two bundles of hay,—divided between the representative of his Majesty, and the representative of the majesty of the people. If I can escape out of Kilmainham, you may expect me on Sunday, and of the mountain party. Ever yours,

ROBERT Day. The resolutions of the Whig Club embraced the principal point that the members of the opposition bad long contended for in Parliament, and they received very general circulation. They appeared under the title of “Whig Vindication,” and gave rise to several pamphlets in reply. They were submitted to Mr. Grattan, as appears from the letters to Mr. M'Can and Mr. Berwick. The latter was chaplain to the Earl of Moira, and connected with Mr. Grattan by intermarriage with the daughter of his early acquaintance and relative, Mr. Bermingham. He was a public-spirited, liberal-minded individual, possessed a great sense of humour and a charming temper. He was an excellent classical scholar, and the author of

* This was James Napper Tandy, who, before this period had taken a very active part in politics, and who took a more active and unfortunate one afterwards. He had been elected master of the corporation of merchants, and had rendered himself popular by his efforts on behalf of the citizens of Dublin, on the election of the Lord Mayor, and was invited by the Lord-Lieutenant.

+ Since these pages have gone to press, this excellent and humane man has ceased to exist. He died at his seat near Dublin, at the age of 98. I saw him shortly before his death, in full possession of his faculties. He was reading a manuscript volume of English History that he had compiled, and on turning to the part relating to Jeffries, he broke out into xpressions of horror at such a man polluting the bench of justice,-“ that monster in a human form!It would have been well if such had been the sentiments of some of the former judges in Ireland.

« PreviousContinue »