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fore parliament; it went to rob the crown of its responsibility in the disposal of the public money, and to convey it to that house, and even to the House of Peers. He then begged leave to remind the members of what happened after the passing of their favourite vote of 1757. The members of that house caballed together, forming themselves into little parties, and voting to each other hundreds of thousands. And as no government could go on without the aid of their leaders, it cost that nation more to break through that puisn aristocracy, which had made a property of parliament, than what it would by the pension list for many years. * On the side of the patriots, all the old arguments were urged with redoubled force against the pension list. Mr. Grattan gave great offence by the strong and harsh assertion, with which he closed his speech on Mr. Forbes's motion, viz. if he should vote that pensions were not a grievance, he should vote an impudent, an insolent, and a public lie.t
6 Parl. Debates, p. 290. This is a sort of official evidence, if any were wanting, to prove the existence of the system of individual venality, which has been stated to have been established under the administration of Lord Townshend. Sir Hercules Langrish exerted his powers on this occasion in an extraordinary manner, insomuch, that Mr. George Ponsonby said of him, that he had never heard a series of better arguments, interspersed and enlivened with more brilliant strokes of wit, than the speech of the honourable baronet against that bill. Mr. George Ponsonby was so attached to the government of the Duke of Rutland, that one of his principal arguments against the pension bill, was, that it would convey censure upon his Grace's administration, which he did not deserve.
+ Amongst the patriots, Mr. Curran shone conspicuous in support of the pension bill. (6 Parl. Debates, p. 282) This polyglot of wealth, said he, this museum of ccriosities, the pension list, embraces every link in the human chain; every description of men, women, and children, from the exalted excellence of a Hawke or Rodney, to the debased situation of the lady who humbleth herself that she may be exalted. But the lessons it inculcates form its greatest perfection ; it teaches that sloth and vice may eat that bread, which virtue and honesty may starve for after they had earned it. It teaches the idle and dissolute to look up for that support, which they are too proud to stoop to earn.
It directs the minds of ren to an entire reliance on the ruling power of the state, who feels the ravens of the royal aviary, that cry continually for food. Il teaches them to imitate those saints on the pension list, that are like the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet are arrayed like Solomon in all his glory. In fine, it teaches a lesson, which indeed they might have learned from Epictetus, that it is sometimes good not to be over-virtuous: it shews, that in proportion as our distresses increase, the inunificence of the crown increases also; in proportion as our clothes are rant, the royal mantle is extended over us.
On the same day Mr. Grattan exclaime, when gentlemen say that the new @liarge for pensions is small, let me assure them they need not be alarmed ; the charge will be much greater; for unless your interposition should deter, what else is there to check it? Will public poverty ? no: new taxes ? no : gratitude for those taxes? no: principle ? no: profession ? no: the love of fame, or sense of infimy? no. Confined to no one description of merit, or want of character, under the authority of that list, every mail, woman, and
The remaining subject of difference between the ministry and the patriots in that session, was upon the police bill, which had been for a considerable time a favourite object with government to carry, in order to strengthen their interest in the city of Dublin, which, from the days of Dr. Lucas, they had felt declining, in the independence, which he had laboured so strenuously and successfully to establish. It was conceived by the opposition, that if the bill were carried for the city of Dublin, it would in the next session be extended to every part of the kingdom : and it was also generally considered, that the report of popular risings and popish conspiracies against the Protestant ascendancy, had been industriously exaggerated for the purpose of intimidating the parliament into the adoption of that strong measure* of government, child in Ireland, have pretensions to become a public incumbrance ; so that since government went so far, I marvel that they have stopped, unless the pen fell out of their hand from fatigue, for it could not be from principle.
No, Sir, this list will go on, it will go on till the merchant shall feel it, until the manufacturer shall feel it, until the pension list shall take into its own hand the keys of taxation ; and instead of taxing licence to sell, shall tax the article and manufacture itself; until we shall lose our great commercial resource, a comparative exemption from taxes, the gift of our poverty, and get an accumulation of taxes, to be the companion of our poverty; until public indignation shall cry shame upon us, and the morality of a serious and offended community shall call out for the interposition of law.
* Sir Edward Crofton, in opposing this bill, said, " I have spoken of Mr. “ O'Connor in a former debate; and I am firmly persuaded that, as to that “gentleman, matters have been extremely exaggerated and misrepresented. ** I know it has been mentioned as an affair, that required the interference " of government; and that camps, cannon, and fortifications, were erected. “ It was also rumoured, that the Roman Catholics were in open rebeltion; “ this was an insidious, infamous, and false report, calculated to cast an “ undeserved reflection on a body of men remarkable for their loyalty to their “ sovereign, and their known attachment to the constitution ; it was an illibe. “ ral and an infamous attack on people distinguished for their peaceable “ demeanour, and was intended but to serve the purposes of this still more “ infamous bill.
“ However great my knowledge may have been of the loyalty of the Roman “ Catholics of this country, yet I must confess, on this occasion, I was made a " dupe to report ; for from the gentleman, who had declared the county of “ Roscommon to be in a state of rebellion, I could scarcely believe but govern"ment had authority for saying so; I confess, therefore, I felt for my property; " and it was natural I should make every possible enquiry; I did so, and " found there was no rebellion in the country; and also found the trifling “ disturbances, which have been so exaggerated, were only the effects of " some whiskey, to which the country people had been treated, and which
every gentleman knows operates on the lower order of people, as eil of “ rodium does on rats; and what was very extraordinary, there was not a " broken head on the occasion.
“ I wrote to a gentleman of veracity, and a magistrate, (a Mr. Caulfield) “ who assured me, the peace of the county was not for a moment disturbed : " I offered to re-instate those gentlemen who were said to be dispossessed of " their lands, with the assistance of a troop of dragoons; the power was " denied me; I therefore was well-founded in an opinion, that when this bill “ was mentioned, the affair of Roscommon would be made a handle of, and VOL. III.
Mr. Conolly took a leading part in opposing the police bill, which he observed, under the specious pretence of giving police, went to take away constitution. He was still positive, that he was well-founded in his opinion; that the conduct of the administration was inimical to the constitution. The temperance of the volunteers since the noble duke's administration, deserved their grateful approbation. When they were misguided, and adopted measures, which he conceived improper, he was not backward in avowing himself against their proceedings ; but when he reflected, that the moment the volunteers were told their conduct was disagreeable to parliament, they retired to the country without a murmur, such conduct secured his admiration, and made him tenacious of their liberties nor could their arms be placed in better hands than where they were.
There were several heated debates upon this bill: it was treated by opposition as a most unconstitutional job, a mere bill of patronage for ministerial purposes: although it must be allowed, that the secretary offered to alter whatever should be found objectionable in the committee, and some of the noxious clauses were withdrawn. Several petitions were presented against the bill, but received with ill grace. Amongst other petitions, one was presented by the freeholders of the county of Dublin, by Sir Edward Newnham, which the attorney-general moved to have rejected,* as an insult to the house ; and it was
“ that it would be said, the rebellion, as it was ludicrously termed, of O'Con"nor, made it absolutely necessary. I am also convinced, that the affairs in “ the south are likewise exaggerated, and by no means fairly stated, so as " to give rise to this measure.' 6 Parl. Debates, p. 338.
• The temper of the house will be better seen by considering the petition which met with this severe fate. (6 Parl. Debates, p. 388).
A petition of the freeholders of the county of Dublin, signed by the sheriff of the said county, was presented to the house and read, setting forth that the “ petitioners, deeply interested in the welfare of this country, the metropolis thereof, and the king tom of Ireland at large, and anxiously solicitous for the honour and dignity of parliament, have, with the most sincere concern, ob. served a bill, intituled" a bill for the better execution of the law within the city " of Dublin, and certain parts adjacent thereto, and for quieting and protecting “ possessions within this kingdom, for the more expeditious transportation of “ felons; for the reviving, continuing, and amending certain statutes therein 6 mentioned, and for repealing an act passed in the 17th and 18th years of " the police of the city of Dublin," involving the chartered rights of the ancient and respectable corporation of the city of Dublin, the liberties, properties, and domestic enjoyments of the inhabitants of the capital and its environs, precipitating through the House of Commons, at a time when a considerable number of members were unavoidably engaged in the business of the assizes, and therefore could not have had an opportunity of being consulted upon a subject of such magnitude; that the petitioners conceive that a certain class of men, who, from their character and conduct have never been considered as objects of responsibility, under the absolute control of certain commissioners nominated by the minister, with powers arbitrary and despotic, may to gratify
rejected by 118 against Sir Edward Newnham and Colonel Sharman. The attorney-general boasted of his indulgence in not moving a censure against the petitioners: but should not again be so gentle, if the offence were repeated. This was the most important bill passed during the session. Several gentlemen on the treasury bench wished to bring in a bill for securing the persons, houses and properties of vicars, rectors, and curates, actually resident within their respective parishes; the introduction of which bill gave to several members an opportunity of giving vent to the feelings either of zeal for the hie. rarchy, or indignation against those, who were not of the establishment. But as the attorney-general considered them as effectually secured by the law, as other subjects, the bill was reluctantly dropped. On the 8th of May, 1786, the parliament was prorogued; when his grace the lord-lieutenant, in his speech, assured them, that the determined spirit, with which they had marked their abhorrence of all lawless disorders and tumults, had already made an useful impression ; and the salutary laws enacted in that session, and particularly the introduce tion of a system of police, were honourable proofs of their wisdom, moderation, and prudence. He moreover assured them, that his majesty beheld with the highest satisfaction the zeal and loyalty of the people of Ireland: and that he had his majesty's express commands, to assure them of the most cordial returns of his royal favour and parental affection.
When the parliament met according to the last adjournment, on the 18th of January, 1787, the lord lieutenant particularly applied to them for their assistance, in the effectual vindication of the laws and the protection of society: and reminded them, that their uniform regard for the rights of their fellow subjects, and their zealous attachment to the religious and civil constitution of their country, would stimulate their attention to their inseparable interests, and would ensure their special support of the established church and the respectable situation of its ministers. He also informed them, that he had ordered a copy of the treaty of commerce with the French king to be laid be. fore them, and he hoped, that the adoption of it in Ireland, by such laws as would be requisite to give it effect, would be attended with the most beneficial consequences to the country. These objects of recommendation formed the bulk of the busi. ness of the session.
their own licentious dispositions, force themselves into the peaceful retreats of our families, and, under the pretence of protecting us from the depredations of others, commit the most indecent and cruel irregularities, that the debtor, to whom the law has afforded in his house a sanctuary, cannot be secure ; and the infirm and invalid, let their situation be ever so deplorable, cannot be at rest ; our wives, children, and friends, will find their domestic enjoyment cease, the ultimate wish of life, retirement, done away: that the petitioners are of opinion, that the powers granted by the bill to the commissioners, of raising bodies of armed men, although limited in number, together with that of levying money to support the same, are dangerous expedients, and directly militate against the principles of the constitution : that the petitioners perceive with sorrow a certain and numerous body of their fellow-subjects obliged to submit to an ignominious distinction, and marked suspicion, by a partial registry of their names, occupations, and abodes, which regulation from any matter that has been set forth in the bill, or we can devise, we cannot but consider as oppressive and unnecessary : that the petitioners consider the clause, which includes that part of the county of Dublin within the circular road in the district of the metropolis, as highly oppressive upon the inhabitants of the county of Dublin residing therein, as it subjects them to a twofold taxation; and therefore praying to be heard by themselves, or their cpuncil, at the bar of the house against the said bill.".
Mr. Conolly made some observations upon that part of the address, which alluded to the disturbances in the south ; he could by no means admit, that they were as extensive as represented by government. He wished not to make any reflection upon the worthy chief governor, whom, he said, he knew to be an honest man and the friend of both countries; he did not suspect him, but the administration : and against them he made the most serious, and at the same time the most important charge, that could be laid at the door of the most wicked administration. It is the more necessary to advert to the nature of this charge, as it has been almost uniformly objected from this time forwards to the measures of every administration, down to the close of the union, but with what justice, subsequent events will disclose. A charge of such intense malevolence, and of such incalculable mischief ought not to be even imagined without the strongest presumptions and grounds.* Mr. Conolly adverted to the proclamations that had been issued, stating, that the greatest meetings ever known had been convened in the south; and that they were all in arms. Why then did not goverment suppress them in their infancy? Why not punish the
* 7 Par. Deb. p. 21. Supposing, said Mr. Conolly, that these disturbances are as extensive as have been represented, but I hope in God they are not.... supposing they are as formidable as government have represented them in their proclamations, are not the laws at present in being sufficient to restore order? They are abundantly so, if properly enforced. And hence, Sir, my suspicion is excited, when I behold administration attempting by insinuation, to establish the necessity of new laws for unnecessary purposes, or for some. thing worse. I am convinced that had administration been active, they might have checked these disturbances in embryo. I will ask can any man entertain a doubt of it? and when they did not, what can we infer from it, but that there was some dark design in suffering them to come to maturity?
And why do I suspect administration ? Because of their conduct on the propositions ; when they wished to pro and to have us believe, that the returned propositions were identically the same as the original ten, and were ready to pass them with the same alacrity and vigour, although every man in the nation was convinced, that they coerced the commerce, and invaded the constitution of this kingdom.