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such as to prevent all cavil, and to take away every pretext from those, who might have a greater wish for embroiling, than for settling public affairs. Ireland did not desire, and would not accept of a grant of rights from Great Britain ; and at the same time her good sense, and her regard for this country, would not suffer her to propose or demand what England would not do, what she could not do, without recording her own shame, namely, to declare, that for centuries she had usurped the rights of Ireland. As for himself, nothing was farther from his intention, than to impeach the mode of proceeding of the administration, under whose direction the Irish business had been conducted last year; he believed that sincerity and wisdom had guided their steps ; but some untoward circumstances had intervened, to prevent them from producing all the good effect, that might have been expected from them, particularly a late decision in the court of King's Bench here, which had excited jealousies in the breasts even of the best intentioned men in Ireland. In what he had just said, Mr. Secretary declared, nothing could be farther from his meaning, than in any, the most distant manner, even to reflect on the conduct of the judges of the court King's Bench, with regard to their determination of the writ of error. He was perfectly conscious, that they were bounden to act as they had done ; that it was not in their own power legally to have acted otherwise; and, that in reality, what they had done, did not affect the question between the two countries. Ireland claimed a sole and exclusive exercise of judicature, as well as of legislation ; having given up the legislation, the judicature was certainly not worth contending for; and therefore, were there not other great and weighty reasons of policy and justice in the case, he should think England ought, knowing what the wish of Ireland was, to meet it cheerfuily and readily. He wished that his motion might pass unanimously, that the people of Ireland might see that England meant fairly, when she set out to remove the causes of their jealousies and discon
He then moved for leave to bring in a bill “ For removing and preventing all doubts which have arisen, or may s arise, concerning the exclusive rights of the parliament and * courts of Ireland in matters of legislation and judicature, and for preveniing any writ of error, or appeal, from any of his
majesty's courts in that kingdom, from being received, heard, - and adjudged, in any of his majesty's couris in the kingdom of “ Great Britain."
Mr. W. Grenville (Secretary to Lord Temple) seconded the motion; he was happy to find that government had so early, and of their own accord, brought forth the business; for though he would not say how jealousies had been excited in Ireland, there was no doubt, but jealousies did exist there; and that the late
transaction in the court of King's Bench here, had in no small degree contributed to spread them wider. The necessity of taking some steps that should amount to such a prevention, struck him so forcibly, that he could not but rejoice exceedingly at what he had heard that day; at the same time he meant not to suggest the smallest impeachment of the measures of government
last session, or of the intention of those gentlemen, who had managed the business on the part of Ireland,
Mr. Eden rose next. He said, that when Mr. Fox's propositions were discussed on the 17th of May last, he had ventured to declare his belief, that those propositions would be satisfactory to Ireland, and his opinion, that they ought to be satisfactory. He had not yet scen any reason to believe he bad erred in either idea: he added, that he was far from meaning to express or convey censure, either on the ingenuity of the individuals, who had raised the doubt, or of the jealous sensibility of the people, who had adopted it. A doubt originated by the noble lord, forcibly stated in Ireland by the legal precision of Mr. Walshe, supported by the admirable and unwearied abilities of Mr. Flood, and countenanced by the manly firmness and eminent integrity of the Recorder of Dublin, was certainly not to be treated otherwise, than with respect. He never had admitted, nor would admit, that Ireland owed her acquisitions to the battalions of her volunteers, farther than as the volunteers were understood to express the general sense of the nation. His deference in these matters had been paid, not to their English firelocks, but to their Irish unanimity; he would have paid at least an equal deference to as many farmers or manufacturers, with the implements of their industry in their hands. Ireland ought then to found and rest her security, which she safely might, on the basis of national wisdom, national affection and national faith.
Colonel Fitzpatrick said, there was one expression, which he found fault with, and that was, that there were doubts and jealousies subsisting in the kingdom of Ireland. He knew of no such doubts and jealousies, and that house knew of none. There had not come to their knowledge, by any petition, memorial, or representation whatever, any account of these jealousies. If they noticed all rumours of reports, they would never know where to stop; for there would always start up some individuals, who would, by weak pretexts, and under various masks, endeavour to raise clamours as distinct from the voice of the nation, as the purpose, which they had in view, was distinct from the true interests of their country. The minds of men in Ireland hack been, as it were, fermented and worked up into a kind of political fever; and he that expected that they would subside altogether in an instant, and grow every where perfectly calm and tempe
rate, must be equally unacquainted with the state, humours, and sensations of the body politic, and the body natural. naturally to be imagined, that there would be in that country, as there must be in all countries, certain restless spirits, to whom the return of peace and order must be unfavourable. That such men should be ready to propagate stories and suspicions, was not strange; and it was no ways to be wondered at, if, by their address and cunning, they should bring over a certain set of men to listen to them. But was a wise and prudent government to call such clamours the voice of the nation ? Certainly not; and he therefore wished that on the present occasion, there had not been any mention made of the jealousies of the Irish nation.
Lord Beauchamp said, that there were jealousies in Ireland, was not to be doubted: that there were grounds for these jealousies, was an incontrovertible proposition*; that the writ of error from Ireland, returnable into the King's Bench of England, was coeval with the constitution of Ireland; it was impossible, therefore, that the mere repeal of the 6th of George I. could take this writ away: now, if it did not take it away, with what truth in argument could the right honourable gentleman say, that this country had fully and completely surrendered every legislative, every judicial jurisdiction over Ireland. But the right honourable member would say, “it was only of the
appellant jurisdiction of the House of Lords that the Irish “ complained.” To what did a writ of error brought into the King's Bench here ultimately tend? Why, to establish that very appellant jurisdiction of the British House of Lords, of which the Irish had complained; for no man could doubt but the party, who, in the appeal to the King's Bench, should think himself aggrieved, was by law entitled to take out a writ of error returnable in parliament; and thus the English lords come once more into possession of that very judicial jurisdiction, which the right honourable gentleman would have the Irish erroneously believe had been fully surrendered up to then His lordship took up the other branch of jurisdiction, the legislative ; and he maintained, that the Irish had been as much deceived in this point as in the former; for though it were said, and erroneously said, that the rights of England over Ireland in matters
Colonel Fitzpatrick, on this occasion, read a paragraph out of a letter published by Lord Beauchamp to the Belfast volunteers, in which he had said, if the people acquiesce in what has been done, my lips are for ever closed on the subject. He contended, the people had acquiesced; and was therefore sur. prised to find the noble lord running a race with the minister, who should first open his lips. On the very next day, (23d of January, 1783) Mr. Secretary Townshend announced to the house the signing of the preliminaries of peace between Great Britain, France, and Spain; and that a cessation of hostilities with the United States of Holland had been agreed upon.
of legislation, had been surrendered, scarcely three weeks had passed, when the English parliament legislated for Ireland, by passing an act prohibiting the exportation of blocks used in callico printing; in this act, Ireland was expressly named, notwithstanding the very recent repeal of the 6th of George I. Had not the Irish a just cause for being alarmed at this breach of faith with them? But was this the only instance of attempting to legislate for Ireland ? No: for that kingdom was expressly named in the act which opened the British ports for the importation of sugars, &c. the produce of St. Kitts, and other late British islands in the West-Indies. Surely, an attempt to open the ports of a kingdom, was one of the highest acts of sovereign power; and yet this power the British parliament had assumed, just after they had, in the opinion of the right honourable gentleman, surrendered all legislative authority over Ireland. Was it unnatural then, that jealousies should subsist in that country? He was very willing to allow, that in these cases the word Ire. land had slipped in by oversight, and that it had passed the house through that indifference and inattention, which but too strongly prevailed. He did not doubt the sincerity of their intentions, but the matter might naturally excite disturbance in Ireland. And if none of all this had been done, a transaction had taken place at the close of the last session, which, of itself, might well excite jealousies, and keep them alive; for a noble lord in the upper house had read in his place a bill, which he said he would at another period move for leave to bring in, which bill proposed to resume and maintain the right of England to legislate externally for Ireland. Were the people of that country to be the sport and caprice of every man? Were they to have no other tenure, no other security for their rights, than the construction of law, than the mere repeal of a declaratory act? Was it not, therefore, wise and prudent in the ministers to avail themselves of the present circumstance, when one parliament was sitting and the other not, to take such steps as would effectually stifle all jealousy, and draw from the parliament of Ireland, at their next meeting, addresses of affection, of kindness, of generosity, instead of gloomy and resentful remonstrances.
Colonel Fitzpatrick and Mr. Fox would not object to the Secretary's motion, although they saw no necessity for the bill; it was therefore inoved for and carried unanimously.
In the discussion of the preliminary articles of peace, was formed the memorable coalition between Lord North and Mr. Fox. Several of the friends of both these gentlemen vehemently reprobated the terms of Lord Shelburne's peace. These gentlemen had, indeed, violently opposed each other on the question
of the American war: but that being now set to rest, such of the former opponents as supported, or opposed rather measures than men, found no longer any grounds for opposing each other, and therefore united into one body for the common good of their country. On the 22d of February, the coalesced party brought all their forces to bear upon the ministry; and after a very long and heated debate, they outvoted the minister by 17 upon the following question :*....“ That the concessions made "to the adversaries of Great Britain, by the provisional treaty “ and preliminary articles, are greater than they were entitled to, " either from the actual situation of their respective possessions, " or from their comparative strength.” In consequence of this defeat of the minister, on the 25th of February, 1782, the Secretary of State moved, “ That the house, at its rising, should " adjourn to Friday next:" it was not unknown to gentlemen, that arrangements were making for a new administration; and it would be but proper that the house should adjourn over a few days, in order to afford time for completing the arrangements.
Earl Nugent opposed it; he said, that a bill of the greatest importance relative to Ireland, was to be referred to a committee of the whole house on the morrow; and gentlemen must see the impropriety of putting off a business so materially affecting such a great part of the empire, merely that ministerial arrangements might be made, when the bill had nothing to do with ministers: it was the great work of the people of England.
The lord Advocate declared himself a friend to the adjournment, for the very reason, that moved the noble lord to oppose it: the bill to which he alluded was of too great a magnitude to
9 Parl. Debates, p. 369. The house sat till past three in the morning; the ayes were 207, the noes 190. In consequence of this censure passed on the peace by the House of Commons, the Earl of Shelburne quitted his office of first commissioner of the treasury; and the chancellor of the exchequer de. clared publicly in the house, that he only held his place till a successor should be appointed to fill it. A ministerial interregnum ensued, which lasted till the beginning of April; during which time the kingdom remained in a state of great disorder, without any responsible government at home, the finances neglected, the military establishments unreduced, and the negociations with foreign powers, which the critical conjuncture of affairs rendered peculiarly inportant, entirely at a stand.
Various causes were assigned for the extraordinary delay in the appointment of a new administration. Those who wished to shift all blame from the court, alleged, that the chief obstacle arose from the mutual jealousy, which still subsisted between the new aliied parties, and the difficulties they found in adjusting their several pretensions. Others have supposed, that the interval was employed in private intrigues with the individuals of different parties, and in an attempt to form an administration independent of the great leading conHections. Others again did not hesitate to assert, that on the failure of this attempt, the influence possessed by the lord high chancellor, whose dismission was a point insisted on by the coalition, was the principal arrangement. Such were the public conversations at the time, and so matters were frequently al. luded to in the debates in parliament.