Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAP. XI.] DIVISIONS ON THE UNION.

433 may be introduced, and Mr. Grattan's absence from Parliament during this period may be satisfactorily accounted for.

The speech from the throne was delivered by Lord Cornwallis on the 22nd of January, and contained the following paragraph :

“The unremitting industry with which our enemies persevere in their avowed design of endeavouring to effect a separation of this kingdom from Great Britain, must have engaged your particular attention; and His Majesty commands me to express his anxious hope, that this consideration, joined to the sentiments of mutual affection and common interest, may dispose the Parliaments in both kingdoms to provide the most effectual means of maintaining and improving a connexion essential to their common security, and of consolidating, as far as possible, into one firm, lasting fabric, the strength, the power, and the resources of the British empire.

The address of approval in reply was moved by Lord Tyrone, one of the Beresford family, and was seconded by Mr. Robert Fitzgerald of Cork. This was ably opposed on the debate that lasted twenty-two hours.

Mr. Ponsonby proposed to add to that part of the address in reply to the Viceroy's speech, recommending a Union, these words': “But maintaining the undoubted birthright of the people of Ireland to have a free and independent legislature resident within the kingdom, as it was asserted in the Parliament of this kingdom in 1782, and acknowledged and ratified by his Majesty and the Parliament of Great Britain upon the final adjustment of the discontents and jealousies then prevailing among his Majesty's loyal subjects of this country.”

The numbers on the division were-Ayes, 105—tellers, George Ponsonby and Sir Laurence Parsons; Noes, 106—tellers, Lord Tyrone and Maurice Fitzgerald (Knight of Kerry).

[blocks in formation]

Thus the address was carried only by a majority of one.

On the 24th, on bringing up the address, Mr. Ponsonby got leave from the House, upon motion, to speak a second time to the question, in consequence, no doubt, of Lord Castlereagh's very pointed attack on him. His reply to his antagonist was powerful. The numbers on division were—against the tenth paragraph, (recommending a Union,)remaining part of the address, -Ayes, 104—tellers, Mr. Smith and M'Clelland (made judges after); Noes, 109–tellers, Sir L. Parsons and Denis Bowes Daly. Thus the Minister was defeated by a majority of five.

Mr. Grattan announced this intelligence to Mr. Fox in the following letter :

MR. GRATTAN TO MR. FOX.

Kildare-street, Dublin, 20th Jan. 1799. MY DEAR SIR ;-I enclose the pamphlet written on the Irish Union; it is written with much spirit, by a very worthy man, who is a great admirer of yours, and who wishes to stand well in your opinion, that he may stand well in his own.*

You see by the papers the fate of that question. The Irish Ministry betrayed the worst designs, accompanied with distinguished inability. They threatened—they dismissed—and they bought notoriously and ineffectually, and could only muster 107 on the question of the Address, when they thought themselves most strong, and were finally beaten by a majority of five. In the loss of the question, they have lost their reputation for address; but in the attempt, they have lost the confidence of every party in Ireland. I hear, from no bad authority, they had reckoned on a majority of forty. I was happy at the

Duke of Leinster's conduct—vexed at Conolly's—and ashamed for Yelverton's. I beg to be remembered to Mrs. Fox, and I hope, in a few weeks, to see you at Ann's Hill. I am, with great sincerity, yours,

HENRY GRATTAN. * Mr. Goold, afterwards Sergeant, and now Master in Chancery in Ireland.

CHAP. XI.]

MR. FOX TO MR. GRATTAN.

435

P.S. The Bishop of Down spoke to a Mr. Ball to contradict what he had asserted in an advertisement, in which he attempted to state your sentiments regarding the present measure of an Irish Union. He has, I believe, done it. Mr. Ball being asked on what ground he stated your sentiments, said he had no ground whatever, but he had heard that the Duke of Leinster was for a Union, and he thought you might be of the same opinion.

MR. FOX TO MR. GRATTAN.

St. Ann's Hill, Feb. 4th, 1799. My Dear Sir;-I received, the day before yesterday, your letter, with its enclosure, for which I return you many thanks. The pamphlet is full of spirit, and argument, and proves its author to be no common man.

I am heartily glad of the fate of the Union question in Ireland, as I think it was one of the most unequivocal attempts at establishing the principles, as well as the practice, of despotism, that has been made in our times." Even the French, in their cursed fraternizations, pretend at least that they act in consequence of the desire of the people of the several countries. If you have read the same account that I have of Pitt's speech on Thursday last, you will have seen that he is determined to keep the question alive as long as he is minister; and what security your anti-Unionists can have against it, it is difficult to conceive, while you have a Government who profess openly the intention of watching every opportunity of renewing the attack upon you.

It should be remembered that this is a case where no number of defeats is final; whereas, one victory decides irrecoverably in favour of your enemies. A change of Lord Lieutenant does nothing in this case; and it has occurred to me, that it is possible Pitt may wish to bring on that situation, which, I admit, is the most difficult one that can arise in the system of 1782 ; I mean that of one kingdom wishing to remove a minister which the other may choose to retain; for it will not do to say, that the King may govern Great Britain by one minister, and Ireland by another, since the British Minister must of necessity be the adviser in the nomination of a Lord Lieutenant. It may be refinement, but I think, from his manner of treating the Regency business, he seems to see the weakest part of the system, and would not be sorry to bring it in full view at a

time when he thinks himself (and, perhaps, is) strong at home. I see no other solution of his conduct, for, surely, he cannot think it will smooth things in Ireland to profess openly that he intends to take the first occasion of compassing what appears to be the most offensive to its Parsiament and people.

Mrs. Armstead desires to be remembered to you, and will, as well as myself, be very happy to see you here when you return.

I am glad the paragraph you allude to was contradicted—the truth is, I never was a friend to the Union, as a speculative question, nor should like it even if it were the general wish of Ireland, much less at such a time, and in such circumstances. I am sorry for Conolly, but after he made that speech last summer, I foresaw all the rest.

Yours, ever sincerely, C. J. Fox,

*

The following letters, as they relate to this important subject, are inserted to show the feeling of the writers towards Ireland, and how eagerly the earliest advantage was taken of the insurrection to urge on the Union. Mr. Dundas, then Secretary, writes on the 29th of December, 1798, to the Earl of Mornington (Marquess Wellesley), at that time in India; and after commenting on the affairs of that empire, and the success of the British arms, he adds :

* The most pressing subject now remaining, is the situation of Ireland—all the attempts of treason to invade it have been discomfited either by the surrender of the troops when landed, or by the capture of their feet and troops by the navy, without permitting them to land. Notwithstanding all our exertions at home for our own security, and notwithstanding the appropriation of considerable force to our own distant possessions and the Mediterranean, we have been enabled to send to the assistance of Ireland, within the year, not less than 25,000 troops, consisting partly of regular forces, but chiefly of fencibles and militia regiments, who have volunteered the service. It is now decided that the plan of Union is to be immediately brought forward, and the whole strength of Government applied to carry it through!!"-Yours, &c.,

H, DUNDAS.

CHAP. XI.] M. CORNWALLIS TO LD. MORNINGTON. 437.

Irish news;

MARQUESS CORNWALLIS TO THE EARL OF MORN

INGTON.

Dublin Castle, 18th March, 1799. MY DEAR LORD;-I little thought when we parted, that my first letter to you would have been dated from this place; but my evil stars have determined that I never should enjoy quiet or comfort, and after relieving me from what I then thought a painful task (a second embarkation for India), have driven me into a situation ten times more arduous, and, in every respect, more intolerable.

You have many friends that will send you and as I can say nothing on the melancholy situation of this unhappy country that can afford you satisfaction,* I shall not enter into a detail of our calamities. I am, my dear Lord, very truly yours,

CORNWALLIS. MARQUESS CORNWALLIS TO EARL MORNINGTON.

Phænix Park, 20th Sept. 1799. I wish I could say that things in this island wore as prosperous an aspect as with you; but there still remains too much treason and disaffection on one side, and too much violence on the other. On the whole, however, we are better than we have been; and the idea of a Union proves more popular, and gains ground, both in and out of Parliament.

CORNWALLIS. By some Mr. Grattan was censured for not having at once taken a part against the Union when it was proposed in 1799. Neither the will nor the spirit were deficient; but the scenes he had gone through had so increased his nervous complaint, that he found it impossible to attend to politics-quiet and absence from all exciting subjects were recommended by his physicians as the only cure.

He was not allowed to read of, or to speak on political affairs. Newspapers and books were alike prohibited, and change of scene,

* His brother, Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington), was then in India, and has left a memento of his opinion on the subject of the Union, given too in a very decided manner; for in writing about that period to a friend of his, and an uncle of mine — the Reverend William Elliot after some remarks on the Irish Parliament, he adds,—" There must be no more DEBATING SOCIETIES in Ireland.

† See Marquess Wellesley's Despatches, vol. i.

« PreviousContinue »