Imatges de pÓgina

will come to this fecond adjustment with a temper which I am afraid, Sir, will augur not tranquillity but difquietude, not prosperity but calamity, not the fuppreffion of treason, but the extenfion and increase of plots to multiply and enfanguine its horrors. I am aware that there is fomething informal in my taking up the matter in this ftage, when the ufual course has been to return his Majesty our thanks for his communication. But much as I refpect your forms, Sir, I own to you thofe are things, and this is a queftion, which I cannot permit myself lightly to difcufs, and which ought not be shrunk from on light grounds. I am aware that the ground I ftand upon is at once ticklifh and dangerous; that my motives are liable both to mifinterpretation and misapprehenfion; that a licentious few, and an ignorant many, will diftort, or not perceive the grounds of my arguments, and the ufe I am defirous to make of them: But there are topics, on the difcuffion of which a man must not wholly confult the degree of fafety to his reputation among the unreflecting portions of mankind-on which he muft forget what he owes to his own dignity, if fearful of the infidious mifinterpretations of his fentiments, or the more infidious misrepresentations of his motives, he shrink from the fubject, and fail to do that which is peremptorily his duty. I feel that to be filent on the prefent occafion were to act from terror in a way unworthy of the majefty of truth; unbecoming a man enamoured of free discussion, unlike the friend and fupporter of general liberty. I cannot do this. My country has claims upon me which I am not more proud to acknowledge than ready to liquidate, to the full measure of my ability. Is there any man who can wish to do less or have the whole fyftem of human connection and the economy of human paffions been changed and perverted with thofe changes in the political world, from which fome men derive rank and emolument by the prostitution of integrity and all the virtues.

"But, Sir, there was a time when I fhould have been told that to agitate any question in this House relative to the affairs of Ireland were to trench upon the rights of the Irish Parliament. That the independence of one legislature was not to be infringed upon by the difcuffion of questions which belonged to it exclufively to difcufs upon and to decide. That we could not agitate the affairs of Ireland in any manner without grofsly infulting the dignity, and making a queftion of the conftitutional competence of the Parlia ment of that country to legiflate for themfelves. That, in 402


fhort, it would be to aroufe and inflame that quick spirit. of independence, which the fifter kingdom knew how to express, and had ever appeared both able and ready to infufe, into a system of ardent intrepid oppofition to every kind of ulterior domination. But furely, when now the question is the independence of the Parliament of Ireland, when it is attempted to introduce measures which have in their iffues not merely the independence but the existence of this Parliament, Honourable Gentlemen will not refort to that argument. Probably I fhall be told, that I ought not to draw into difcuffion topics that in their very nature tend to excite difcontent, by being clofely interwoven with the events of a recent period of distraction and danger; that I cannot dwell long on thefe topics without relapfing in warmth; that I am liable to use inflammatory language; that in particular I ought to confider the prefent state of Ireland before I effay the difcuffion of fuch intricate and delicate interefts as those embraced by the King's Meffage. The Right Honourable Gentleman oppofite to me, ought to have done all this, he ought to have confidered the state of Ireland before he introduced in this Houfe, as the chief fervant of the crown, a fubject that, to be met fairly at any time requires much previous preparation, and which at this moment is to put every thing to hazard. Sir, I can fee the poffible danger of adding to the difcontents of the people of Ireland. An intriguing, ambitious enemy, may take advantage of the crifis, and defperate factious fpirits at home may feize upon it as an opportunity favourable to the fuccefs of their wild and vifionary projects. But thefe dangers are only to be apprehended from the innovation of the rights of the people of Ireland, as forming an inde pendent nation; and he who merely feeks to arrest the arm of the invader, to check his spirit of aggreffion and ufurpation, fo far from juftly incurring reproach, is in fairnefs entitled to the praise of honourable and virtuous enterprize. I fhall fpeak out manfully on an occafion which eminently invites every friend to conftitutional liberty to the utmost exertion of his powers. The prefent moment is our's, the next may be the enemy's, I am perfectly ready, however, to give credit to Minifters for purity of intention. On my word, I think they would not propofe here a measure which they believed would ultimately caufe a feparation of this country from Ireland. With them, I fay, it is neceffary to the happiness of the Empire, that it is effentially a fource of wealth and power to continue that connection with


Ireland. It is a connexion which as much as any man I with ever to preferve, and I do not think it neceffary to claim the indulgence of the Right Honourable Gentleman and the House, when I declare I believe I am equally averfe as they are to fedition and revolt adopted in the fifter kingdom; that I equally abhor and deteft the conduct of an ambitious and rapacious foe in the whole career of its acts of unjust and unprovoked aggreffion of the rights of the weak or unfufpecting, or indolent ftates. But am I, therefore, to vote for measures which but too ftrongly exprefs the character of that fyftem which this enemy had fo wickedly and flagrantly purfued? God forbid! Perhaps we are to be told, that the enemy ftill perfeveres in his intention of invading Ireland, and, if that were poffible, to fever from the empire one of its most useful and ornamental branches. That he lays in wait for an opportunity to carry decifively into effect these his ambitious views. I do not, Sir, at all doubt, but that France now anxiously looks on eager to come in for a fhare of the plunder of the liberties of Ireland. The enemy with whom we have to contend is as vigilant as dextrous, and it is in the conftitution of his fyftem of univerfal pillage, and the indifcriminate abuse of every maxim of honourable policy, on all occafions to profit by the diftreffes of the agitations of other powers. To invite and encourage France, it was enough that his Majefty's Minifters fhould have brought forward the prefent measure. There have been nations, who after afferting by their arms their independence, have by their improvident ufe of victory fown the feeds of future degradation and ruin too deep and too diffufive ever to be able again to refift their enemies. So true is it, that external dangers will unite communities, while the moment of triumph ufhers in all thofe recollections of jealousy, of diftruft, of uneafinefs at the measures of a Government or a Minifter, which had lain dormant in the hour of united exertion. I have told you, Sir, that I do not doubt but that France waits with impatience for an opportunity effectually to ftrike her long meditated blow against Ireland. She has manifefted this fpirit from time to time, and I must affume it as a fair ground of argument against the present measure, that its tendency is rather to encourage the enemy than drive them from their fettled purpose. Not only do I believe that they have agreed on fome new expedition and attack, but have increased their exertions from the time the fcheme of Union was first agi tated by Minifters.-But I fhall be told this measure will have

have the effect of defeating the enemy, by fhewing them how vain it will be in future to attempt any thing against united Ireland. Now I had hoped that our fplendid naval victories, that the difcovery of the plots, the poffeffion of the papers, the difcomfiture of the projects of the internal and external enemies of Ireland, would have satisfied the minds of all that no new project of invasion can be carried into effect. Sir, I do fay, it is the conduct of Minifters towards the Irish nation from which only we can have any reafon to apprehend danger. By dividing the native and conftitutional defenders of Ireland, they fow among them the feeds of treafon, and encourage the attempts of the enemy on that unfortunate country. The Right Honourable Gentleman yesterday, not with much good temper, faid, that unless I had given notice of my intention, no one could have expected that I could have entertained any fuch defign. I mentioned an Union, though the Meffage does not contain fuch a word. But, Sir, I hope on thefe great, and as he very properly faid, tranfcendently important queftions, the Right Honourable Gentleman will not entrench himself behind a quibble or technical objection. He knows that an Union with Ireland is the object propofed; he knows that the refolutions are drawn and settled; that the terms are fixed; that a Gentleman, who holds the fame refpectable fituation in Ireland, which you, Sir, fill in this country with fuch credit to yourself, and fuch advantage to the nation, that that Gentleman has avowed the plan. The Right Honourable Gentleman knows-and I grieve to fee the name of Cornwallis used for fo little a purpose-the Right Hon. Gentleman knows, I fay, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland has been dismissed for differing in opinion with refpect to the plan. Sir, I repeat, the Minifter knows that an Union with Ireland is his object.

"But, however, if that fhould be attempted to be controverted, the amendment which I fhall move, would let me completely into the question.

"It is not my intention to go generally into the fubject of the Union, but to treat of it only as connected with this question. Sir, I fay, do not attempt at this moment to carry the point of an Union. It must be the wish of every perfon in this Houfe, and out of it, that the strictest connection, and the strongest links, fhould bind the two countries together. My fecond propofition would be, that an Union, obtained under the prefent circumstances, that is, without the fenfe of the nation being manifefted in favour of it, or to speak more


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plainly, an Union carried by furprife, by intrigue, by fraud,
by corruption, or by intimidation, would leave both coun-,
tries, with refpect to the perpetuating the connexion between
them, in a worse situation than they are at prefent. And now
I come to my third propofition: and here I would ask any
one, and I beg him to answer me this question-Is it poffible,
under the prefent circumstances, that the Irish can act as a
free and independent people? Can the free fenfe of Ireland
be manifefted under the prefent crifis? I hope we shall not
hear it contended, that we are beft qualified to judge what is
for the intereft of Ireland. Those then, who, looking at the
importance of clofe connexion, of joint effort and vigour,
agree with me in thinking, that to prefs fuch a propofition as
that in contemplation would lead to difunion and to weak-
nefs, will concur in oppofing the progrefs of the measure at
prefent. It will not be told me, I hope, that Ireland must
be tricked and cheated into her good-that the Union once
made, we shall convince her that he ought to have confented
to it! That, I truft, will not be argued. If any Gentleman
then tells me that an Union is to be fo carried, and that such
an Union would tend to a feparation of the two countries,
such person must agree with me that this is not the time.
But if Gentlemen are of a different opinion; if they think
that there is no need to be over nice; that the Union should
be obtained by following the advice of a pamphleteer, that
we should recollect the game played off by the volunteers of
Ireland, to take advantage of Great Britain, and that we
fhould recollect it with a vindictive fpirit, and, as he terms
it, play the fame game against them. I fay, Sir, if there is
a man in the Houfe capable of maintaining that detestable
doctrine, what, I ask him, would be the future ftate of Ire-
land? With refpect to the confpiracies which happily have
been defeated, I own they were fuch as ought to be carefully
guarded against, and I deplore as much as many, that the
means of combining infurrection were fo various and me-
lancholy. There might have been much of the cause of
revolt concealing under the measures of the Government;
but if the Irifh fhould at any future period awake from the
flumbers of that floth which the flavery of Union is to oc-
cafion, how are they to be replied to if they should fay,
"You offered us your afliftance against domeftic and fo
reign enemies, we accepted of it, and gave you affection
and gratitude, and the irreproachable pledge of all the fup-
port in our power in return. You then took advantage with
your 40,000 troops; you inflicted an Union upon us; you


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