« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
ing people in many places became ill-affected towards us on this account. For the ministers proceeded in your affairs just as they did with regard to those of America. They always represented you as a parcel of blockheads, without sense, or even feeling; that all your words were only the echo of faction here; and (as you have seen above) that you had not understanding enough to know that your trade was cramped by restrictive acts of the British Parliament, unless we had, for factious purposes, given you the information. They were so far from giving the least intimation of the measures which have since taken place, that those who were supposed the best to know their intentions declared them impossible in the actual state of the two kingdoms, and spoke of nothing but an act of union, as the only way that could be found of giving freedom of trade to Ireland, consistently with the interests of this kingdom. Even when the session opened, Lord North declared that he did not know what remedy to apply to a disease of the cause of which he was ignorant; and ministry not being then entirely resolved how far they should submit to your energy, they, by anticipation, set the above author or some of his associates to fill the newspapers with invectives against us, as distressing the minister by extravagant demands in favor of Ireland.
I need not inform you, that everything they asserted of the steps taken in Ireland, as the result of our machinations, was utterly false and groundless. For myself, I seriously protest to you, that I neither wrote a word or received a line upon any matter relative to the trade of Ireland, or to the politics of it, from the beginning of the last session to the day that I was honored with your letter. It would be an af.
front to the talents in the Irish Parliament to say one word more.
What was done in Ireland during that period, in and out of Parliament, never will be forgotten. You raised an army new in its kind and adequate to its purposes. It effected its end without its exertion. It was not under the authority of law, most certainly, but it derived from an authority still higher; and as they say of faith, that it is not contrary to reason, but above it, so this army did not so much contradict the spirit of the law as supersede it. What you did in the legislative body is above all praise. By your proceeding with regard to the supplies, you revived the grand use and characteristic benefit of Parliament, which was on the point of being entirely lost amongst us. These sentiments I never concealed, and never shall; and Mr. Fox expressed them with his usual power, when he spoke on the subject.
All this is very honorable to you. But in what light must we see it? How are we to consider your armament without commission from the crown, when some of the first people in this kingdom have been refused arms, at the time they did not only not reject, but solicited the king's commissions? Here to arm and embody would be represented as little less than high treason, if done on private authority : with you it receives the thanks of a Privy Counsellor of Great Britain, who obeys the Irish House of Lords in that point with pleasure, and is made Secretary of State, the moment he lands here, for his reward. You shortened the credit given to the crown to six months; you hung up the public credit of your kingdom by a thread; you refused to raise any taxes, whilst you confessed the public debt and public exigencies to
be great and urgent beyond example. You certainly acted in a great style, and on sound and invincible principles. But if we in the opposition, which fills Ireland with such loyal horrors, had even attempted, what we never did even attempt, the smallest delay or the smallest limitation of supply, in order to a constitutional coercion of the crown, we should have been decried by all the court and Tory mouths of this kingdom, as a desperate faction, aiming at the direct ruin of the country, and to surrender it bound hand and foot to a foreign enemy. By actually doing what we never ventured to attempt, you have paid your court with such address, and have won so much favor with his Majesty and his cabinet, that they have, of their special grace and mere motion, raised you to new titles, and, for the first time, in a speech from the throne, complimented you with the appellation of “ faithful and loyal,” — and, in order to insult our low-spirited and degenerate obedience, have thrown these epithets and your resistance together in our teeth! What do you think were the feelings of every man who looks upon Parliament in an higher light than that of a market-overt for legalizing a base traffic of votes and pensions, when he saw you employ such means of coercion to the crown, in order to coerce our Parliament through that medium ? How much his Majesty is pleased with his part of the civility must be left to his own taste. But as to us, you declared to the world that you knew that the way of bringing us to reason was to apply yourselves to the true source of all our opinions and the only motive to all our conduct! Now, it seems, you think yourselves affronted, because a few of us express some indignation at the minister who has thought fit to strip us stark naked, and expose the true state of our poxed and pestilential habit to the world! Think or say what you will in Ireland, I shall ever think it a crime hardly to be expiated by his blood. He might, and ought, by a longer continuance or by an earlier meeting of this Parliament, to have given us the credit of some wisdom in foreseeing and anticipating an approaching force. So far from it, Lord Gower, coming out of his own cabinet, declares that one principal cause of his resignation was his not being able to prevail on the present minister to give any sort of application to this business. Even on the late meeting of Parliament, nothing determinate could be drawn from him, or from any of his associates, until you had actually passed the short money bill, — which measure they flattered themselves, and assured others, you would never come up to. Disappointed in their expectation at [of?] seeing the siege raised, they surrendered at discretion.
Judge, my dear Sir, of our surprise at finding your censure directed against those whose only crime was in accusing the ministers of not having prevented your demands by our graces, of not having given you the natural advantages of your country in the most ample, the most early, and the most liberal manner, and for not having given away authority in such a manner as to insure friendship. That you should make the panegyric of the ministers is what I expected; because, in praising their bounty, you paid a just compliment to your own force. But that you should rail at us, either individually or collectively, is what I can scarcely think a natural proceeding. I can easily conceive that gentlemen might grow frightened at what they had done, - that they might im
agine they had undertaken a business above their direction, - that, having obtained a state of independence for their country, they meant to take the deserted helm into their own hands, and supply by their very real abilities the total inefficacy of the nominal government. All these might be real, and might be very justifiable motives for their reconciling themselves cordially to the present court system. But I do not so well discover the reasons that could induce them, at the first feeble dawning of life in this country, to do all in their power to cast a cloud over it, and to prevent the least hope of our effecting the necessary reformations which are aimed at in our Constitution and in our national economy.
But, it seems, I was silent at the passing the resolutions. Why, what had I to say ? If I had thought them too much, I should have been accused of an endeavor to inflame England. If I should represent them as too little, I should have been charged with a design of fomenting the discontents of Ireland into actual rebellion. The Treasury bench represented that the affair was a matter of state: they represented it truly. I therefore only asked whether they knew these propositions to be such as would satisfy Ireland; for if they were so, they would satisfy me. This did not indicate that I thought them too ample. In this our silence (however dishonorable to Parliament) there was one advantage, - that the whole passed, as far as it is gone, with complete unanimity, and so quickly that there was no time left to excite any opposition to it out of doors. In the West India business, reasoning on what had lately passed in the Parliament of Ireland, and on the mode in which it was opened here, I thought I saw much matter of