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“ Whilst I lamented the lawless outrages and unconstitution. " al proceedings which had taken place since your last proroga
tion, I had the satisfaction to perceive that these excesses
were confined to a few places, and even there condemned. " And I have now the pleasure to observe, that by the salutary
interposition of the laws, the general tranquillity is re-estab* lished.
“ I am to recommend in the king's name to your earnest in
vestigation those objects of trade and commerce between this “ kingdom and Great Britain, which have not yet received their * complete adjustment. In framing a plan with a view to a final “ settlement, you will be sensible that the interest of Great Bri. stain and Ireland ought to be for ever united and inseparable. 16. And his majesty relies on your liberality and wisdom for adopting such an equitable system for the joint benefit of both
countries, and the support of the common interest, as will se* cure mutual satisfaction and permanency."
After the address had been moved and seconded, Lord Ed. ward Fitzgerald said, he would not have had any objection to the address, if it had proceeded in the usual mode, as mere complimentary matter of form; but when it declared an approbation of the firm and moderate measures of his Grace's government, measures in which he could not coincide, he felt himself under the necessity of opposing that part of the address. He therefore moved, that the words " experienced virtue and firmness" should be expunged, and the words, “and whose private vir. “tues entitle him to the esteem and regard of this house,” should be inserted in their room.
Sir Edward Crofton seconded the amendment.
The great objection which the friends of reform had to the words firmness and moderation, arose out of the alleged illegality of the attachments issued in the course of the recess out of the King's Bench. It was asserted on one side, though denied on the other, that the mode of attachment had been adopted because a jury could not be trusted on the occasion. The late prosecutions and attachments were traced up to the ministry, and vehemently inyeighed against by the opposition : they were strenuously defended as legal, moderate, and efficient, by the treasury bench.
On the ensuing day a very warm debate arose out of an amendment proposed by Mr. Flood to the address to his majesty: but he was not supported even by several of the staunchest advocates for reform." Much was said both on the illegality of attachments and parliamentary reform, though neither subject were before the house. The attorney general, (Mr. Fitzgibbon) boldly defended the legality and the necessity of attachments. Mr. Grattan most severely reprobated the convention of delegates, and lamented the change attempted to be introduced into the volunteer corps. The old original volunteers had become respectable, because they represented the property of the nation ; but lately attempts had been made to arm the poverty of the country. He condemned the meeting of the de. legates, and all other excesses, because they prejudiced the reform in parliament, and at the same time they insulted its authority.
His majesty's answer to the addresses, which was communi. cated to the commons on the 4th of February, 1785, spoke a very determined language against the attempts of the delegatest to dictate to, and overawe the parliament.
The session of 1785, in both kingdoms, was unusual for its duration and the close attention, which the arduous subjects of deliberation forced the members to give to their legislative duties. The commercial arrangements between Great Britain and Ireland, exercised the attention of both parliaments upwards of seven months. In the Irish House of Commons, the advocates for reform were not dispirited by the late answer of his majesty, nor by the many vigorous measures adopted by government, from pursuing their favourite object. Upon this ground, Sir Edward Crofton, on the 4th of February, I presented a bill to preserve the freedom of parliament, by ascertaining the qualifications of members to serve in the House of
* Parl. Debates, p. 42.
+ This is the answer of his majesty. " GEORGE R.
“ His majesty has received with great satisfaction, the “ dutiful and loyal address of the House of Commons, and the sentiments “ therein expressed, of their zealous and affectionate attachment to his person " and government, as well as their just sense of the experienced moderation " and firmness of their present chief governor..
“ His majesty has the fullest reliance, that his faithful commons will make “provisions for such supplies as may be suitable to the exigencies of the state, « the interests of his people, and the honourable support of his government.
“ His majesty has observed with great concern the popular disturbances, " that have lately prevailed, from the intemperance and indiscretion of mis. “ guided men; and confides in the constant and strenuous endeavours of his “ faithful commons of Ireland to prevent their pernicious effects; and their “ resolution, to reject and suppress every assumed authority, which may at“ tempt to dictate to the legislature, affords his majesty the highest satisfac“ tion. His majesty is fully persuaded, that a proper degree of attention will“ be shewn in the consideration of such internal regulations as may be neces. * sary for securing the peace and happiness of his subjects in Ireland, as well " as for the settlement of all commercial objects between his kingdom.s, upon « equitable and lasting principles, for the mutual advantage of the different “ parts of the empire: and they may depend upon his most ready concurrence " in the support of such measures as, upon a mature consideration, may appear
to draw closer those ties of interest and affection between the two “ countries, which are so essential to their general happiness and prosperity.
G. R." * 4 Parl. Debates, p. 79.
Commons. The tenor of the bill was to make 5001.
per annum fee simple estate the qualification for a knight of the shire ; and 300l. per annum of like estate that for a citizen or burgess. This would have established too much independence in the house not to be opposed by the Castle interest. The ardent declarations of Mr. Pitt in the British House of Commons on the first day of the session, upon parliamentary reform, on which, he said, he laboured incessantly, and was the object nearest to his heart, buoyed up their confidence, that in Ireland his friend and colleague in that cause, and now the organ of the British minister in Ireland, would not oppose its progress in that kingdom, where it was more wanted, more generally and urgently called for by the people, and could be more easily effected than in Great Britain, whose prime minister had so confidently boasted of his wishes to bring it to bear.* At a time in which most important and final arrangements had been pending for the commercial intercourse between the sister kingdoms, and when it was notorious that a special treaty of commerce had been long in agitation between Great Britain and France; and the treaty for regulating the commerce between her and the United States of both America and Holland, were still in an incomplete state, it appeared necessary, that Ireland should, particularly as she was now an independent kingdom, know how far her commercial interests were affected by those pending treaties with foreign nations : accordingly, Mr. Corry, on the 8th of February, moved the house, that an humble address should be presented to the lord lieutenant, that he would be pleased to lay before his majesty the humble address of that house, that his majesty would graciously condescend to order to be laid before that house copies of the preliminary and provisional articles of peace and commerce, and also the definitive treaties of peace and commerce with foreign states, at and since the conclusion of the last war. This reasonable motion having been instantly opposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Foster) and the secretary of state (Mr. Orde), the house from that time became diffident in the sincerity of government 'to adapt the pending arrangements to the rights, interests, and dignity of that kingdom.*
* Lord Surrey (now Duke of Norfolk) in observing upon the king's speech, mentioned the attachments, that had lately been issued against sheriffs in Ireland, for having convened what he could not but consider as a meeting perfectly legal, and perfectly constitutional; he trusted therefore something was intended to be done on the subject. To assemble, for the purpose of considering of a parliamentary reform, appeared to him to be the last matter that should be proceeded against ; more especially in such an extraordinary way as by attachment. To this, Mr. Pitt said, (17 English Parl. Debates, p. 8) he was not sorry for what the noble lord had said upon that subject: on the contrary, he was extremely glad that a parliamentary reform had been mentioned. Perhaps he did not differ from the noble lord, in thinking that the most practicable mode of accomplishing the object of amending the representation of the people, would have been to bring it explicitly forward in his majesty's speech. Great and wise men had entertained various conceptions of that important matter. He was willing to give it all the fair play, to which the ardent desire of the people, its own momentous consequence, and his sincere inclination entitled it. On this business he laboured incessantly. It was that which, of all others, was the nearest his heart: and at that very early period of the session, to have stated it specifically, was impossible. Much was still to do. His ideas were not matured. It comprehended a great variety of considerations : it related to the essentials or vitals of the constitution; it therefore required the most delicate and unremitted attention ; it was a path which he was determined to tread; but he knew with what tenderness and circumspection it became him to proceed. He hoped, however, in a few days, to be able to name a day, on which he should have the honour of submitting his proposition to the house. It was his aim to propose a specific plan of reform, which, in his judgment, for of that only he spoke, and for that only he pledged himself, as every man would undoubtedly judge in so great and critical a case, according to the best of his own judgement, which he presumed would be an improvement of the constitution, as if it would confer permanency and effect on those principles which constituted its distinguishing excellence. To this measure he pledged himself, but did not feel any obligation to define it at present; nor was he willing to bring it forward too early, lest he might not leave himself sufficient time for digesting what he should think it incumbent on him to lay before the house. But he was anxious to improve his plan with whatever was requisite to render it effectual, and to bring iton with every solemnity which could contribute to its influence and respectability. He should, therefore, choose, that a motion for a call of the house shoud precede 'it, in order that the friends and opposers of the motion might have a fair invitation either to support or contest it.
Previous to the meeting of parliament on the 20th of January, the British cabinet, in concert with commissioners appointed on the part of Ireland, had formed a plan for regulating and finally adjusting the commercial intercourse between the two countries: and on the 7th of February Mr. Orde laid it before the House of Commons, in the form of ten separate resolutions or propositions, which he observed were founded on the words of the unanimous address of that house at the close of the last session recommending a plan for a liberal arrangement of commercial intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland, formed upon the broad basis of reciprocal advantage, as the most effectual means of strengthening the empire at large, and cherishing the common interest and brotherly affection of both kingdoms. The consideration of them was recommended to the house in the king's name, and Mr. Secretary went through them separately with some comment on each: little opposition or even observation
Although the great object of the remaining part of the session were the arrangement of the commercial intercourse between the two countries, yet some other measures occasionally occurred in parliament. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated the national debt then to amount to 2,150,3011. 118. 5 1.4d. The usual number of 15,000 military was voted, though strongly opposed: and Mr. Gardiner's motion for 20,0001. for arrayir the militia, passed by a majority of 139 against 63; though it were strenuously opposed by the remaining friends of the volunteers.
was made by the house upon them in this stage: Mr. Forbes required time to consider and digest them, and warned the house against precipitancy in adopting them. Mr. Brownlow flew out indignantly at the idea of their becoming a tributary nation : he rejected the gift, and hurled it back with scorn; he never would consent to be a slave, or pay
tribute. Such propositions had been formerly made to America, and they had seen the effects. Mr. Flood cautioned the members against going into a debate upon the propositions, as there was then no question before the house. On the 11th and 12th of February the house was in committee upon the resolutions.* They were strongly
• 4 Journ. Lords, p. 550. The following was the form of the original propositions.
" 1st. Resolved, That it is highly important to the general interest of the " British empire, that the trade between Great Britain and Ireland be encour" aged and extended as much as possible ; and for that purpose, that the “ intercourse and commerce be finally settled and regulated on permanent " and equitable principles for the mutual benefit of both countries.
" 2d. Resolved, That towards carrying into full effect so desirable a settle. “ ment, it is fit and proper, that all articles, not the growth or manufacture of “ Great Britain or Ireland, should be imported into each kingdom froin the
other, reciprocally, under the same regulation, and at the said duties, if
subject to duties, to which they are liable when imported directly from the “place of their growth, product or manufacture; and that all duties originally “paid on importation into either country respectively, shall be fully drawn “ back on exportation to the other.
“ 3d. Resolved, That for the same purpose, it is proper, that no prohibition “ should exist in either country, against the importation, use, or sale of any “ article, the growth, product, or manufacture of the other; and that the “ duty on the importation of every such article, if subject to duty, in either “ country, should be precisely the same in the one country as in the other, “ except where an addition may be necessary in either country, in consequence “ of an internal duty on any such article of its own consumption.
"4th. Resolved, That in all cases where the duties on articles of the growth, “ product, or manufacture of either country, are different on the importation • into the other, it would be expedient, that they should be reduced in the “ kingdom where they are the highest, to the amount payable in the other, " and that all such articles should be exportable from the kingdom, into which “ they shall be imported, as free from duty as the similar commodities or home « manufactures of the same kingdom.
“ 5th. Resolved, That for the same purpose, it is also proper, that in all “ cases where either kingdom shall charge articles of its own consumption, " with an internal duty on the manufacture, or a duty on the material, the « same manufacture, when imported from the other, may be charged with a “ further duty on importation, to the same amount as the internal duty on the “ manufacture, or to an amount adequate to countervail the duty on the mate. “ rial, and shall be entitled to such drawbacks or bounties on exportation, as “ may leave the same subject to no heavier burden, than the home made ma. “ nufacture ; such farther duty to continue so long only as the internal con“sumption shall be charged with the duty or duties, to balance which it shall “ be imposed, or until the manufacture, coming from the other kingdom, shall “ be subjected there to an equal burden, not drawn back or compensated on “ exportation.
“ 6th. Resolved, That in order to give permanency to the settlement now “ intended to be established, it is necessary, that no prohibition, or new or