Imatges de pÓgina
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to have for its object the effecting the peace and tranquillity of a nation, the fpeech of the right honourable gentleman had one very eligible feature, as it was fraught with a confiderable degree of pleasantry and good humour. But this good humour and pleasantry might be affumed, for the purpose of deceiving the House into an opinion, that the queftion was not of that ferious and important nature, which it ought, in his opinion, to be viewed in. The right honourable gentleman had very facetiously, in leaning over the table, favoured the Houfe with the recitals of feveral predictions of a Lord Belhaven, in one of which he fays, that Mother Caledonia was ftabbed by Julius Cæfar. Now, faid he, Lord Belhaven night have remembered that Julius Cæfar was ftabbed by Brutus : and fuppofing that Mother Caledonia was about to be stabbed by her fons, he might have confined her affaffination to the stabbing of Julius Cæfar; but that he could predict that Mother Caledonia would be ftabbed by Julius Cæfar, was truly prepofterous. From this inaccuracy, he thought he might fairly infer, that there was not much truth in the ftatements of the right honourable gentleman, relative to the Manifefto of the Pretender. The right honourable gentleman had faid, that he had been obliged to ftrike out a part of it, which promifed a repeal of the Union. On his afking him across the table, if it was true? The right honourable gentleman had anfwered, he had read it fomewhere. Now, faid Mr. Sheridan, I have been frequently credibly informed, that the fact was exactly the reverse. However, be this as it may, faid he, Ireland may receive all these benefits without a Union; and to prove this, he had only to appeal to the rapid and incalculable growth of the prosperity of the Irish commerce fhe had gained her political independence. The right honourable gentleman had afferted, that the majority of the Irish Parliament was trifling, as it amounted only to five; but he contended, that when the nature of that majority, confifting of the men it was composed of, contrafted with the minority, composed of placemen, it was a prodigious and weighty majority indeed. He then proceeded to notice what had fallen from Mr. Dundas relative to the motion made by Mr. George Ponsonby, and denied the right honourable gentleman's inference, that it was rejected. He contended that it was only withdrawn, and that upon the argument of, "Why prefs it at this moment, when it may be entirely useless? The English Minifter will never think of preffing this bufinefs, after he knows the decifion of the Irish Parliament; for the prefent, therefore, do not urge the question." On this, faid Mr. Sheridan, the motion was withdrawn; but when the intention of the Minister comes to be known, I have no doubt but it will be

immediately refumed. I now come, faid Mr. Sheridan, to a point which I cannot avoid taking notice of on the present occafion-I mean the competency of the Irish Parliament to difcufs the matter. The right honourable gentleman oppofite to me has talked of "a fovereignty in abeyance in the people," and denied it on the ground that, if it was allowed, all the acts paffed by the Parliament, fuch as the Septennial Act, the Act of Union, &c. &c. are nullities-that you, Sir, fitting in that chair, are a ufurper; that we are all ufurpers who hold feats in this House. Sir, I deny this doctrine; I fay there is a fovereignty in abeyance in the people; and if there is not, I contend that the prefent family on the throne are ufurpers The practice of the Revolution clearly fhews the force of the argument. When King James the Second abdicated the Crown, the Parliament did not proceed to do any act of itself for fettling the Crown, but exprefsly called a Convention, which the Lord Mayor of London and fifty Commoners were invited to attend. All the Members who had fat in the Parliament of Charles the Second were alfo fummoned; and every step which could be taken in the then preffing exigency of affairs, was actually taken to fhew that the appointment to the Crown was in the People, and in them only." Mr. Sheridan urged this part of the argument with great force and ability in feveral points of view, which the lateness of the hour, abridged by the length of the former part of the debate, will not allow us to touch upon. He concluded by giving his hearty negative to the Speaker's leaving the chair. What we have already given is, indeed, a mere abridged outline; and we are forry the fame caufe will oblige us to be more brief with the fpeeches of thofe gentlemen who are to follow.

Mr. SECRETARY AT WAR did not intend to enter into all the topics in difcuffion. He thought the honourable gentleman oppofite to him had all along proceeded on a mistake, and appeared to imagine that Union was fought for the advantage of England and not of Ireland. It was propofed, however, because it was advantagcous to Ireland immediately, and to fay the most, its advantages to England were remote and relative, fearce of any commercial confequence at all. Confidering this, the felt fome impatience at the manner it was difcuffed in Ireland, and no very great complacency for the oppofers of the measure in this country. He did not know what England had to with from fuch a connection, for the commanded already all the commerce of the world, and amply poffelfed the means of defence. As to the conftitutional question, that it was an innovation, he was one of those who never was an

enemy to the maxim of Mending what was wrong in the fyftems of polity, provided the time was fuited to the enterprize. If Ireland was in a state politically to require amelioration, it was right that fomething should be done to correct whatever was vicious in her fyftem. He believed Union would do this. It was the only mea-. fure which, to his mind, fuggefted an adequate remedy to fo great and fo growing an evil, and it fhould have his fupport on other general but just grounds. What in fact was the nature of the contr&? It was a bargain, a confolidation of interefts by which Ireland was to benefit great commercial immunities, in which England had much to lofe and nothing to gain, and Ireland had much to gain and very little to lose. He maintained that the diforders of Ireland grew chiefly out of the Conftitution of Ireland established for near a century and a half; and it was impoffible that a Government agitated as that of the fifter kingdom had been, a Government diftorted in every limb, could enjoy health or long furvive those difeases, fome flow, fome acute-which were fickly of aspect, which had made her feeble of heart. For a long time the turbulence of the people knew no restraint from authority, and their ferofity was without a corrective from reason. The Government was fituated as it were in a garrifoned town, and regarding the people with jealoufy, the people in their turn regarded the government as an ufurpation or worfe. But the feeds of the mischief were in the Conftitution itself, for it contained not a principle by which the ignorance of the people could be removed, or their ferofity fuppreffed. The country, indeed might well be compared to a wolf, which it was neither fafe to hold by the ears, or fafe to let go. The proximate immediate evil was, however, French principles;

-That leperous distillment

"Which holds fuch enmity to the blood of man."

It had withered the aged, had vitiated the youthful, had polluted the fources of thought, and given to the whole fyftem of manners and of morals a malignity of character, a grofsnefs and laffitude, which had rendered the obligations between men little elfe than nugatory, and had introduced, inftead of religion, infidelity; infead of allegiance, difaffection; inftead of loyalty, a luft for treafons. It had been remarked by fome ancient writers, that the Demagogues confidered the people a Sea that might be agitated by a breath. Now the Propagandifts of France appeared to have proceeded on fome fuch principle in Ireland. They there found a people light and unreflecting, where it was eafy to practife the arts of a political feduction. They made that plea of national delufion, which they have ever fince kept in a state of agitation and reftiefsnefs. Mr. Windham

FEB. 7.]

next vindicated the Government of Great Britain from the charge of corruption, and maintained, that the cure of the diforders with which Ireland was convulfed, could only be effectually found in the improvement of the manners of the lower, orders of the people, by the introduction of British customs and British commerce, which, in his opinion, the Union bid fairer to do than any other means that could poffibly be devised. The only queftion was, "Is a Union of the two countries defirable or not?" He took a view of the fituation of the Catholics, and faid, that they were a tolerated body to a great degree, but there must be an established religion, if fociety was to be "Where," faid Mr. Windham, kept wholesome and found. "you have RELIGION, at least you have not PURE JACOBINISM; but those who are completely jacobinized, are loft--they have fufBut fuch tained a loss of substance which no physician can restore. who have not yet been wholly depraved, fuch who retain fome of the early principles and honourable and revered prejudices of a Chriftian education, may in time be restored to foundness and health." Having urged the arguments of Mr. Dundas respecting the Catholics, he next took up the queftion of time, and faid, that in the prefent circumftances of the country fomething must be done, and what was wanted was fome measure by which we could fecure the tranquillity of Ireland. It could not be intended to force a Union, for this would defeat the end of it. But when the time should arrive that it would be poffible to appeal from Philip drunk to Philip fober; from an Irish Parliament intoxicated with pride and paffion, to an Irish Parliament fobered by reflection and tempered by wisdom, the propofitions of his right honourable friend would, he had no doubt, meet with the general approbation of the Irish Parliament and People. With refpect to intimidation, that The honourable could not be intimidation which left a choice. gentleman wished the difcuffion might be deferred till paffion should fubfide, and prejudice be corrected; but, while the caufes of irritation remained, was not this putting it off ad græcas calendas? One honourable gentleman thought it impoffible that the Irish could give a free affent to the meafure in the prefent fituation of their country; but did the honourable gentleman not know that where there is a power to diffent, there is alfo freedom of affent, and the Parliament of Ireland having rejected the propofition, or rather declined at all to enter into the difcuffion, at least fuch was the fact with refpect to one branch of the Legiflature, it proved that the people, by their representatives, might as cafily have given a free affent He concurred in opinion with his right as expreffed their diffent. honourable friend, Mr. Dundas, refpecting the general effect of the 5 B VOL. VII.

Union of England with Scotland, obferving that though with the revolutions which commercial affairs had of late years experienced, Scotland would neceffarily have grown into fome importance as a trading nation, yet the advantages derived by her from the clofeness of her connection, were fuch as fhe could in no other way have acquired. He faw nothing difrefpectful in the language which had been held of the Irish Parliament, and although it certainly might be faid that the propofitions of his right honourable friend would. reach the Irish public through the medium of speeches and pamphlets, he thought it politic and refpectful folemnly to record the opinion of the Parliament of Great Britain of the present state of the connection between the two countries, and of the means by which the troubles that agitate the one are to be allayed, and the remedy which the other, in her folicitude for a fifter kingdom, feeks to apply to the disease. He would not then enter upon the difcuffion which the honourable gentleman (Mr. Sheridan) had agitated towards the clofe of his fpeech. It was concerning a queftion of general abstract principles of Government, and he thought it enough to say that he most completely concurred in opinion with his right honourable friend, that the people have no political right to change the government, or to refift it, whatever might be the moral right which a people would be allowed fpeculatively to poffefs. The right of refiftance was not a right acknowledged by or known to the British Conftitution. He concluded with expreffing himself decidedly for the motion..

Mr. TIERNEY. Sir, I never in my life rose to speak upon any question with more uneafinefs than I do upon the prefent. I never thought the right honourable gentleman would have brought forward a measure like this without having examined, in the first instance, whether or not it was likely to be acceptable; nor did I. think, after what has paffed, that he would have perfevered in the measure. He has, however, thought proper to perfevere, and he must take the confequences. Sir, I expect an answer to this ques tion, which I think decifive upon the fubject: What advantages can be gained by a Union, which cannot be obtained without it? am clearly of opinion that thefe refolutions would produce the fame effect if they were fent over without Parliament being pledged I was furprised to hear gentlemen declare they would not ufe any disrespectful language to that country, when one of them compared it to the Bahama Islands, and the other to a wolf. But it is faid that we abufed the Irifh Parliament; if gentlemen allude to the statement of there being 116 placemen in it, that affertion was made in the Parliament of Ireland. Sir, this is a question of

to them.

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