Изображения страниц

sideration of all your acts. If a local legislature shall by oblique means tend to deprive any of the people of this benefit, and shall make it penal to them to follow into England the laws which may affect them, then the English Privy Council will have to decide upon your acts without those lights that may enable them to judge upon what grounds you made them, or how far they ought to be modified, received, or rejected.

To what end is the ultimate appeal in judicature lodged in this kingdom, if men may be disabled from following their suits here, and may be taxed into an absolute denial of justice? You observe, my dear Sir, that I do not assert that in all cases two shillings will necessarily cut off this means of correcting legislative and judicial mistakes, and thus amount to a denial of justice. I might, indeed, state cases in which this very quantum of tax would be fully sufficient to defeat this right. But I argue not on the case, but on the principle, and I am sure the principle implies it. They who may restrain may prohibit; they who may impose two shillings may impose ten shillings in the pound; and those who may condition the tax to six months' annual absence may carry that condition to six weeks, or even to six days, and thereby totally defeat the wise means which have been provided for extensive and impartial justice, and for orderly, well-poised, and well-connected government.

What is taxing the resort to and residence in any place, but declaring that your connection with that place is a grievance? Is not such an Irish tax as is now proposed a virtual declaration that England is a foreign country, and a renunciation on your part of the principle of common naturalization, which runs through this whole empire ?

Do you, or does any Irish gentleman, think it a mean privilege, that, the moment he sets his foot upon this ground, he is to all intents and purposes an Englishman? You will not be pleased with a law which by its operation tends to disqualify you from a seat in this Parliament; and if your own virtue or fortune, or if that of your children, should carry you or them to it, should you like to be excluded from the possibility of a peerage in this kingdom ? If in Ireland we lay it down as a maxim, that a residence in Great Britain is a political evil, and to be discouraged by penal taxes, you must necessarily reject all the privileges and benefits which are connected with such a residence.

I can easily conceive that a citizen of Dublin, who looks no further than his counter, may think that Ireland will be repaid for such a loss by any small diminution of taxes, or any increase in the circulation of money that may be laid out in the purchase of claret or groceries in his corporation. In such a man an error of that kind, as it would be natural, would be excusable. But I cannot think that any educated man, any man who looks with an enlightened eye on the interest of Ireland, can believe that it is not highly for the advantage of Ireland, that this Parliament, which, whether right or wrong, whether we will or not, will make some laws to bind Ireland, should always have in it some persons who by connection, by property, or by early prepossessions and affections, are attached to the welfare of that country. I am so clear upon this point, not only from the clear reason of the thing, but from the constant course of my observation, by now having sat eight sessions in Parliament, that I declare it to you as my sincere opinion, that (if you must do either the one or the other) it would be wiser by far, and far better for Ireland, that some new privileges should attend the estates of Irishmen, members of the two Houses here, than that their characters should be stained by penal impositions, and their properties loaded by unequal and unheard-of modes of taxation. I do really trust, that, when the matter comes a little to be considered, a majority of our gentlemen will never consent to establish such a principle of disqualification against themselves and their posterity, and, for the sake of gratifying the schemes of a transitory administration of the cockpit or the castle, or in compliance with the lightest part of the most vulgar and transient popularity, fix so irreparable an injury on the permanent interest of their country.

This law seems, therefore, to me to go directly against the fundamental points of the legislative and judicial constitution of these kingdoms, and against the happy communion of their privileges. But there is another matter in the tax proposed, that contradicts as essentially a very great principle necessary for preserving the union of the various parts of a state; because it does, in effect, discountenance mutual intermarriage and inheritance, things that bind countries more closely together than any laws or constitutions whatsoever. Is it right that a woman who marries into Ireland, and perhaps well purchases her jointure or her dower there, should not after her husband's death have it in her choice to return to her country and her friends without being taxed for it? If an Irish heiress should marry into an English family, and that great property in both countries should thereby come to be united in this common issue, shall the descendant of that marriage abandon his natural connection, his family interests, his public and his private duties, and be compelled to take up his residence in Ireland ? Is there any sense or any justice in it, unless you affirm that there should be no such intermarriage and no such mutual inheritance between the natives? Is there a shadow of reason, that, because a Lord Rockingham, a Duke of Devonshire, a Sir George Savile, possess property in Ireland, which has descended to them without any act of theirs, they should abandon their duty in Parliament, and spend the winters in Dublin ? or, having spent the session in Westminster, must they abandon their seats and all their family interests in Yorkshire and Derbyshire, and pass the rest of the year in Wicklow, in Cork, or Tyrone ?

See what the consequence must be from a municipal legislature considering itself as an unconnected body, and attempting to enforce a partial residence. A man may have property in more parts than two of this empire. He may have property in Jamaica and in North America, as well as in England and Ireland. I know some that have property in all of them. What shall we say to this case ? After the poor distracted citizen of the whole empire has, in compliance with your partial law, removed his family, bid adieu to his connections, and settled himself quietly and snug in a pretty box by the Liffey, he hears that the Parliament of Great Britain is of opinion that all English estates ought to be spent in England, and that they will tax him double, if he does not return. Suppose him then if the nature of the two laws will permit it) providing a flying camp, and dividing his year as well as he can between

[blocks in formation]

England and Ireland, and at the charge of two town houses and two country-houses in both kingdoms; in this situation he receives an account, that a law is transmitted from Jamaica, and another from Pennsylvania, to tax absentees from these provinces, which are impoverished by the European residence of the possessors of their lands. How is he to escape this ricochet cross-firing of so many opposite batteries of police and regulation ? If he attempts to comply, he is likely to be more a citizen of the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea than of any of these countries. The matter is absurd and ridiculous, and, while ever the idea of mutual marriages, inheritances, purchases, and privileges subsist, can never be carried into execution with common sense or common justice.

I do not know how gentlemen of Ireland reconcile such an idea to their own liberties, or to the natural use and enjoyment of their estates. If any of their children should be left in a minority, and a guardian should think, as many do, (it matters not whether properly or no,) that his ward had better be educated in a school or university here than in Ireland, is he sure that he can justify the bringing a tax of ten per cent, perhaps twenty, on his pupil's estate, by giving what in his opinion is the best education in general, or the best for that pupil's particular character and circumstances ? Can he justify his sending him to travel, a necessary part of the higher style of education, and, notwithstanding what some narrow writers have said, of great benefit to all countries, but very particularly so to Ireland ? Suppose a guardian, under the authority or pretence of such a tax of police, had prevented our dear friend, Lord Charlemont, from going abroad, would he have lost no

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »