« PreviousContinue »
present ministers had adopted it as a part of a system, upon which the mutual connection of the two countries was to be established. This was particularly necessary to be known, on account of the very unaccountable and opposite mixture of opinion and principle that existed in the cabinet at that time. It was impossible that he, or that any man could rationally trust to the measures of an administration, where the principles were so opposite and contradictory; one part of which he revered as much as he reprobated the other. The noble duke severely animadverted upon Lord North's conduct respecting Ireland, and endeavoured to prove, that the noble lord had been the cause of all the uneasiness and oppression felt and complained of by Ireland, and of her taking up arms to do herself justice, when she found the British parliament would do nothing for her. His Grace stated the frequent attempts made to relieve her trade in trifling particulars, all of which were defeated by the opposition of local interests. He mentioned the bill allowing her to import her own sugars, which he said was ultimately defeated by the interposition of Lord North, on a division of 64 to 58; he afterwards stated the declaration of a noble earl at that time at the head of his majesty's councils (Earl Gower) at the end of the session of 1779 (that the address then moved respecting Ireland by the Marquis of Rockingham, should not be opposed, if the censure of ministers were taken out) the accompanying promise, that something for the relief of Ireland should be thought of against the next session, and the noble earl's subsequent resignation of his office, and his informing the house when parliament met again, that his reason for having quitted his majesty's councils was, “because the promise « he had ventured to make to their lordships had not been “ fulfilled, and nothing had been done for Ireland.” His Grace dwelt on these particulars for some time, and then took the liberty of asking from the noble duke, who was at the head of the new adininistration, not what was to be his system, but whether or not it were the design of the cabinet to follow up this bill with others; and whether this were only a part, or the whole of their system with regard to the set:lement of the relative situation of the two kingdoms?
The Duke of Portland said, that it would be a very improper thing for him to divulgę prematurely the purposes of the king's ministers. He always had been, and always should be ready, to do every thing in his power to cement the connection between Great Britain and Ireland, on terms of mutual affection and mutual interest. He therefore must heartily concurred in the present bill; he submitted to the candour of the house whether it were fair to suspect until there was an appearance of guilt, and whether it were right to call upon him for official communications
future measures or designs. Beside, their lordships would recollect how very short the time was since they had come into office, and in fairness they could not be expected to be fully informed of the various topics in the offices.
Lord Thurlow professed, that he could not see any thing unseasonable or improper in the question, which the noble Duke had asked. It was applicable to the occasion, and he thought, that without being satisfied on the point, their lordships could not fairly be called to the decision of the present question. What was the question? Was the present bill the whole or only the part of a system? On what grounds was it to be adopted by the present ministers ? For what purpose was it to be passed? To what end was it to be applied? In all this was there any thing, which in the smallest degree, could give embarrassment to ministers in answering? There had been full time from Friday to Monday, to have examined every paper on the subject: and what made this appear more singular, was, that many of those papers must have come from the noble duke himself, and a noble earl his now colleague in administration; would not their lordships then
suppose, that no men could have been fixed on so capable of speedily determining what was expected, and what ought to be done to secure a lasting and permanent connection with our sister kingdom ? and yet these men, according to their own accounts, were the most improper and incapable of all persons living. He said he could not but lament the frequent changes, which revolutions in politics in this kingdom made in the lord lieutenants of that country. The people were scarcely settled with a representative of the crown, before intelligence arrived, that they were to part with him, and that another was appointed in his stead. This circumstance was sufficient to make them have a very poor opinion of the councils of this country, and that we were guided by caprice, whim, and unsteadiness: the present nobleman who filled that high office, by his generosity; his large connections in both countries, his affability and integrity, had won their good opinion in a short time; and this was no sooner done than their favourite was to be taken from them.
Lord Loughborough said, that on this question he had no pe. culiar means of acquiring information with respect to the designs of the cabinet. He had no other information than as a lord of parliament, and as such, he must declare freely, that he thought the present conversation, for it was not a debate, on the merits of the bill, extremely irregular, if not disorderly. Not a word was started in objection to the bill as to itself, but ministers were called upon to divulge their future system, and to de.. clare what they were to be to the house. He did not think this
perfectly consistent with fairness, nor was it the kind of opposi. tion, which any ministry would have reason to dread.
Lord Viscount Townshend said, it was not candid nor fair to demand from ministers, at so early a period after their introduction to office, the system which they were to pursue with Ireland. This, at least, was evident; that if they meant to act a fair, a manly, and an honest part, the present bill was necessary, since it confirmed what was done in the last session, and none of those alarming evils were to be apprehended from it. The fluctuation of Irish opinions was easily to be accounted for. The incessant change of the government must naturally give rise to fresh jealousies and new opinions, and while this very great evil continued, it was impossible that we could expect to see our sister kingdom truly and permanently fixed in her system and sentiments. He declared it was his opinion, that for want of acting unequivocally on former occasions, all our misfortunes, including even the loss of America, had arisen ; that what they felt in their own breasts should govern their public conduct; and the national honour, like the personal honour of their lordships, should be deemed sacred, and on no account to be violated.' Public credit depended on the public faith; the abandonment of the latter consequently must prove the ruin of the former. After a very heated debate and personal reflections from the Duke of Chandos and Lord Radnor upon the new ministers having seized on the reins of government by force, and outraged royalty by peremptory conditions, the bill was committed without a dissenting voice.
No bill ever produced more debates, yet it never brought on one division. And it must be allowed, that under the variety of changes, which the British ministry experienced at that critical period, they all centred in one accord, to give ease, satisfaction, and perfect constitutional liberty to Ireland. There cannot be a more unimpeachable voucher, than the *act for finally settling the independent legislation and judicature of Ireland.
* The act 23 George III. c. 28. intituled, “ An Act for preventing and re“ moving all doubts which have arisen, or may arise, concerning the exclu“ sive rights of the parliament and courts of Ireland, in matters of legislation “ and judicature; and for preventing any writ of error or appeal from any of
bis majesty's courts in that kingdom from being received, heard, and adjudged, in any of his majesty's courts in the kingdom of Great Britain." *** Whereas by an act of the last session of this present parliament, intituled, “ An Act to repeal an act, made in the 6th year of the reign of his late majes
ty King George I. intituled, An Act for the better securing the dependancy “ of the kingdom of Ireland upon the crown of Great Britain, it was enacted, " That the said last mentioned act, and all matters and things therein con“ tained, should be repealed: And whereas doubts have arisen whether the " provisions of the said act are sufficient to secure to the people of Ireland the "riglits claimed by them to be bound anly by laws enacted by his majesty and
Whilst the British senate was earnestly employed in giving and securing freedom to Ireland, and in the ministerial interregnum, which suspended the action of the British government, Ireland was not wholly inactive. The corporation of the city of Dublin presented the following address to the lord lieutenant: “ MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY.
“ WE, the Lord Mayor, Sherills, Commons, " and Citizens of the City of Dublin, in common council as“ sembled, unanimously think it our indispensable duty at this “ time to approach your excellency with our sincere acknow
ledgments for your prudent and indefatigable regard to the " honour and welfare of this country:
“ Your excellency's early attention to the removal of all “ doubts relative to the independency of the legislation, and ju“ risdiction of the parliament of Ireland, the general and eco“nomical reform introduced into several departments of the
state, and the many great and apparent advantages we enjoy, “ and are likely to experience, from your excellency's wise, firm, “ and virtuous administration, must at all times excite and de" mand the highest expressions of gratitude, and make us earn
estly solicitous for the continuance of your government over
a people affectionate to your person, and truly sensible of your “honourable intentions. " the parliament of that kingdom, in all cases whatever, and to have all ac" tions and suits at law or in equity, which may be instituted in that kingdom, “ decided in bis majesty's courts therein finally, and without appeal from ** thence, therefore, for removing all doubts respecting the same, may it please
your majesty, that it may be declared and enacted; and be it declared and “ enacted by the king's most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and “consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present “ parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that the said riglt " claimed by the people of Ireland to be bound only by laws enacted by his “ majesty and the parliament of that kingdom, in all cases whatever, and to “ have all actions and suits at law or in equity, which may be instituted in « that kingdom, decided in his majesty's courts therein finally, and without " appeal from thence, shall be, and it is hereby declared to be established and " ascertained for ever, and shall, at no time hereafter, be questioned or ques" tionable.
« Il. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no writ " of error or appeal shall be receivedl or adjudged, or any other proceeding be " had by or in any of his majesty's courts in this kingdom in any action or suit “ at law or in equity, instituted in any of his majesty's courts in the kingdom “ of Ireland; and that all such writs, appeals, or proceedings, shall be, and " they are hereby declared null and void tv all intents and purposes; and that " all records, transcripts of records or proceedings, which have been trans« mitted from Ireland to Great Britain, by virtue of any writ of error or ap" peal, and upon which no judgment has been given, or decree pronounced “ before the first day of June, 1782, shall, upon application made by, or in be. “ balf of the party in whose favour judgment was given, or decree pronounced, " in Ireland, be delivered to such party, or any person by him authorized to "apply for, and receive the same."
“ It has been justly observed, that all nations have experi"enced a period of exaltation as well as of depression.
“ From an ill-judging policy, this kingdom felt the latter ; “ from the well-timed and liberal sentiments which prevail, it is " likely to attain the former.
“ We assure your excellency, that the citizens expect the consummation of this great business from a nobleman of in“ dependent fortune and principles, equally the friend of Great “ Britain and Ireland; sensible that their interests are the same,
they do most firmly rely on your goodness, that nothing in your power will be wanting to secure to this nation the com
plete and perpetual enjoyment of commercial and constitutional “ freedom.
“ In that persuasion, we cannot but represent to your excel. lency, that as the time is critical and important, no circum
stances whatsoever should induce a change, which might pre“judice, but cannot benefit this country; and your excellency “must be convinced there are situations, in which the yielding “ even to the finer feelings of the mind, (however amiable in “ private life) must be considered as political error, and a 'de. " sertion of public duty.
“ Your excellency will please to receive this address, not as " the ordinary and common compliment paid to persons in your
high station, but as the language of freemen sensibly alarmed,
who highly approve your conduct and revere your virtues; and " who will not behold with indifference the moment, which " shall terminate your excellency's administration.
“In testimony whereof, we have caused the common seal “ of the said city to be hereunto affised, this 7th day of March, ( 1783.”
To this address the following answer was returned : “I am too sensible to this address of affectionate regard, to, answer it in the common expressions of good-will: my heart
is indeed too full; and I truly feel an honest pride in receiving “ such a testimony of the sense, which the city of Dublin en“ tertain of my zeal to promote the first object of my wishes, " the constitutional and commercial freedom of Ireland. “such an object I would gladly sacrifice every private feeling: " and as long as I can flatter myself, that my exertions are ac
ceptable to his majesty, or may be serviceable to this king
dom, I will hope that no circumstances will prevent me from “ continuing to you that proof of my interest in vour prosperity, “ which an unremitting attention to the great lines of an honest
government can so truly give. But in every situation, I never can forget how much I owe to your affection; and my con
stant prayer, my constant object will be, that the honour, “pride, and happiness of Ireland, may be perpetual, and that