Imatges de pÓgina

the greatest importance, and I really do not fee that the advantages which it holds out are likely to compenfate the danger that may refult from it. Even its strongest advocates only ftate the advantages as probable. Much has been faid of the advantages which this measure holds out to the Catholics: all that you can now give them is, the privilege of holding certain places, and of fitting in Parliament. But the latter would be a very trifling privilege; for fuch is the diftribution of property in that country, that in fifty years, fifty Catholics would not get feats in Parliament. If the Catholics in Ireland correfpond with the Diffenters in England, they will find that they have not much to expect from the tolerating fpirit of the English Parliament. The great argument in favour of this measure is, that it would defeat the hopes of the foreign and domestic enemies of that country. I do not think that it would prevent the attempts of the enemy, nor put an end to intestine troubles; because we now fee that its effects would be to create still greater divifions than exist even at prefent in that unhappy country. I am very forry that the question of Parliamentary Competence has been brought into difcuffion; it is a very nice queftion. It has been said, that there are many instances in which the competence of Parliament has been tried, and the cafe of the Union with Scotland has been alluded to; but that does not appear to me to be in point, for I think the Parliament can do every thing but destroy themfelves, and in the cafe of the Scotch Union the Parliament of England did not deftroy themfelves; and this is, I think, a very obvious diftinction. Much has been faid of the benefits refulting to Scotland from the Union, and the right honourable gentleman has given feveral statements upon that fubject; but though he has proved that Scotland has increased in prosperity; he has not attempted to prove that that profperity has been the confequence of the Union. It is faid something must be done for Ireland; and then we are told that these refolutions are not to be acted upon then I should be glad to be informed what is to be done for Ireland? I have no doubt but that the people of Ireland will treat his refolutions as they have treated his fpecch, viz. that they will paste them up on the walls as arguments against the Union. If this was all, I fhould not mind it; but if you agree to this motion, it will not be the Minifters, but the Parliament of England that is implicated. If you perfevere, every step you take will be looked upon with fufpicion. If you feed over more troops, the object may be mifreprefented. I understand that more troops are to be fent over, and that letters have been fent to the commanders of fome militia regiments to know if they are willing to go to Ire



land, and ftating that the Government of that country must be maintained by force. I fhall be glad to know, Sir, why it is neceffary now to fend more troops to Ireland? Those that are there at prefent were deemed fufficient for its defence, before the defeat of the enemy's last attempt, and before the deftruction of their navy, now that those attempts have been fruftrated, and that navy deftroyed, it cannot furely be neceffary to fend more troops. refpect to the officers of those regiments who volunteered their ferWith vice in Ireland, I do think this will put them in a very hard fituation. I have the highest refpect for their fpirit, and the motives which actuated them, but I am very fure that if the propofition for the Union had been made before they volunteered their fervices, they would at least have paused before they made the offer. Sir, one of the ftrongest reafons which operates in my mind against this measure is, that there is no neceffity which calls for its immediate adoption. I am by no means contending that it is radically a bad measure, or that we ought to abandon it for ever, but I merely wifh to convince the right honourable gentleman and the House, that after the opinion which has been expreffed in the Irish Parliament, and throughout that country, against it, he ought, at least for the prefent, to abflain from preffing it. ble that the Parliament of Ireland may change their opinion upon It is faid, that it is probathis fubject. I am by no means inclined to think fo; but I am fure there is much lefs probability that the people of Ireland should be brought to change an opinion which they have strongly and almost unanimoufly expreffed. Confidering this fubject in another point of view, I cannot but recollect that I ftand here reprefenting commercial people, and I think I should betray their interests, if I pledged myself unneceffarily to refolutions by which they may be ultimately affected. I cannot conceive upon what principle I, as a British Member of Parliament, fhould pledge myself to certain refolutions, when, on the other hand, the Parliament of Ireland refufe to pledge themfelves to any thing. I cannot conceive why we fhould pledge ourselves to give up a part of our Conftitution, while the Parliament of Ireland have declared they will not give up any of theirs. If, however, this measure is to pass, and we are to have thefe Members from Ireland, I fhould wish to fuggeft, as a preliminary measure, that they ought at least to be purified before they come here. I do not mean to refer to any idea of Parliamentary Corruption, but I refer to a statement of Mr. Cook's, who ftates that they are chofen in Ireland merely for the purpofe of keeping out the Catholics. I should be glad to be informed upon what principle it is, that the number of Spiritual Peers is to be in

[ocr errors]

creased in the other House of Parliament? It cannot be faid that the Reverend Bifhops are inattentive to the interefts of the Church, and that we must have some from Ireland, in order to fecure the Proteftant afcendancy. Thefe, however, are points which I fhould not prefs, if the two countries were cordially confidering the queftion of the Union; but at prefent, as Ireland has rejected all confideration of the subject, I do not think it wife that we should pledge ourselves to refolutions which we might find hereafter extremely inconvenient. But, Sir, I am afraid the truth of all this is, that the right honourable gentleman's pride has been hurt. I have heard that he has not yet forgiven the Parliament of Ireland, for their conduct upon the Regency; but all I ask of him is, that we should not be made parties to his refentment. If he is determined to play Guy Faux to the Parliament of Ireland, let him do it, if he pleases, but let us not furnish him with a cloak and dark lanThe right honourable Secretary of State, who had drawn so many arguments from the profperous ftate of Scotland, feemed to have confounded himself with his country, and endeavoured to prove the benefits which had followed to Scotland by a statement of the profperity which had flowed upon himself. Indeed the whole of his argument feemed calculated to perfuade the Irish Parliament to engage in this, as likely to turn out a good fpeculation for themfelves. Sir, I have now ftated a few obfervations with which I meant to the House upon this fubject; deprecating, as I do, He farther progr ́s of this measure, I do implore the right honourAble gentleman and the Houfe not to perfevere in it at prefent. I do not wish to hurt his feelings; on the contrary, I wish the House to reject the confideration of it in any way that may be confidered as not having that effect.


Mr. Secretary DUNDAS explained. He did not say that the Imperial Parliament would be a good field of enterprife and adventure to the Members of the Irish Parliament: what he faid was, that the Imperial Parliament would afford a wider field for the dif play of talent; and that from the magnitude of the interefts which must come into difcuffion in it, the confequence and refpectability of the reprefentatives would be increased. The honourable gentleman muft permit him to fay it was impertinent in him to put words into his mouth he had never used.

Mr. TIERNEY" Does the honourable gentleman mean to call my obfervation impertinent?"

A cry The queftion-the queftion!"


Mr. Tierney-"I confider fuch language unparliamentary; but I must fay, I think the right honourable gentleman would not

have used it, had he reflected for one moment on the nature of it."

Mr. GREY thought his honourable friend had been misled by momentary warmth, and believed Mr. Dundas did not use the expreffion.

Mr. Secretary DUNDAS faid, he used the expreffion; but the honourable gentleman ought to recollect, that expreffions not wholly free from harfhnefs had been used by him in the course of his fpeech, and of all the Members of that Houfe, he thought the honourable gentleman had leaft reafon to be quick in his perception or prompt in complaining of any flight incorrectnefs of expreffion. But the epithet was not, he believed, unparliamentary: it might with perfect propriety, and quite within the rules of the House, be faid at any time, that an argument or expreffion is not pertinent.

Mr. TIERNEY expreffed himself fatisfied with this expla nation.

Mr. SPEAKER faid, that undoubtedly the expreffion, as it had been used, did appear to him to be unparliamentary, but knowing that it would admit of an equivocal interpretation, he thought it best to decline interfering while there remained an opportunity for explanation.

Mr. Wm. GRANT took a concife view of the question. He confidered the arguments of the honourable gentleman oppofite to him to be these three-1. That the prefent is not the proper time, because the free affent of the people of Ireland cannot be obtained to the measure:2. That the project of Union is not only nugatory now, but would be fo at all times, because the Parliament had no power to accede to it and the third, that after what paffed in Ireland the difcuffion is improper and unneceffary; unneceffary, because nothing can be effected by it that can poffibly lead to Conftitutional Union; improper, because it would lead to irritation in the great body of the Irish people. On thefe topics Mr. Grant argued with much ingenunity, and purfuing the opinion of his right honourable friend (Mr. Windham) he contended that a free affent can be given; and as to the competency of the Parliament of Ireland to decide fuch a queftion, it was in fact but the treaty of two independent Parliaments who had a power to do whatever the Conftitution had not forbidden, and that its competency was not more a question than the competency of the electors to whom the queftion muft in fairness first be referred; from them it must go to the people at large, who must be affembled in convention on Salisbury Plain; but even when there affembled, every individual vote must be collected, and a majority must decide the queftion, to be a con

clufive decifion. Gentlemen would fee to what ridiculous lengths their theoretical dogma might be carried, and he must think they faw their fallacy. He concluded with giving his hearty support to the motion.

Mr. W. SMITH fpoke fhortly on the fubject.

The House then divided-For the Speaker's leaving the chair, 149; Against it, 24.

The Houfe then went into a Committee pro forma, when

Mr. Chancellor PITT faid, it would be improper to proceed farther at that late hour, and hoped the Speaker's leaving the chair would not be opposed at any future day, the queftion having been now decided.

Mr. SHERIDAN faid, he would not pledge himself to agree to the Speaker's leaving the chair at any time, as the intelligence from Ireland was of fo alarming a nature, that it would be impolitic to entertain the question at all.

Mr. Chancellor PITT anfwered; that of the Irish Parliament he would fay nothing, but he was confident the Irish people approved the measure; and we understand (ftrangers being excluded), he intimated his determination of perfevering in the project. The Committee on the Union reported progrefs, and afked leave to fit again on Monday, after which the House adjourned,

« AnteriorContinua »