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“ three-fourths of as loyal subjects as his majesty can boast of, " I mean the Roman Catholics of Ireland ; an enlightened par“ liament had done away the illiberal prejudices of former ages ; “ and should they, in the very act of renovation, re-rivet those “ chains, from which that parliament freed them? That would
operate cruelly against the Roman Catholic tenant ; for no
sooner would his lease expire, than he, his wife, and helpless “ children, would be set adrift to make way for the Protestant - freeholders, to augment the influence of the petty bashaw 6 of the barony: the proposed extension of the right of suffrage, “excluding the Roman Catholic, was adding insult to injury;
they brought the cup of liberty to his parched lips, but, like “ Tantalus, precluded him from the taste.
Mr. Grattan so far differed in his patriotic efforts to serve his country from Mr. Flood, that until they had procured a constitution, he was indefatigable and foremost in every exertion, that could tend to promote the cause of civil freedom: he had la. boured incessantly till the year 1782; and when Great Britain had, with superior wisdom and liberality, called upon Ireland to state her own terms, and had most magnanimously granted them without stint or cavil, for a time he appeared to rest upon his oars : he never receded from the principles he avowed: though his enemies objected to him, that the relaxation of his fervour was an effect of the donation of 50,000l. There never was any personal cordiality between Mr. Grattan and Mr. Flood; the purity of Mr. Flood's patriotism appears to have been much questioned, from the recency of its birth, the doubtfulness of its parentage, and his intemperance in the indulgence of the novelty. On this important debate, Mr. Grattan was the only member of the house who did not exceed his usual powers. He temperately observed, that the question before the house was, whether the bill should be committed ? And that question should be decided by the principle of the bill, and not by any defect in its clauses. He believed that bill never would be carried into effect; but a bill might be formed by correcting all its defects, still preserving its principles. The committee was the place to make alteration or improvement.
That the bill was an innovation on the constitution, he de. nied; the fundamental principles of the constitution were abused by the corruption of boroughs, and if they were so, reformation had become necessary.
That bill went to first principles ; it was an innovation upon abuse ; but a renovation of the constitution. What was the octennial bill; what were the election laws, but innovations upon abuses, and renovations of first principles? Their forefathers were not so apprehensive of innovation : the great charter was an innovation upon tyranny : the bill of rights was also such an innovation ; but they were both restorations of the people's rights.
It was said, that the bill would increase both the oligarchical and democratical factions of the state ; that was impossible ; the power
of the commons and of the people, were the same; and he was a bad man, who would wish to separate them. It was not three hundred gentlemen sitting in parliament, that were the commons of Ireland, but those gentlemen and their constituents together: it was that alliance, that gave strength and longevity to the constitution, which long ago would have fallen under tyranny, if not supported by the people ; that was the cause why the constitution of England had not fallen, as that of France had done, for want of such an invigorating principle.
Another argument was, “ that we ought not to disfranchise those
persons, who at present enjoy the right of voting in boroughs; but could that be called a franchise, which was used as a private property, either to be sold or given away? Besides, they imposed no hardships on those people, but what the law had already imposed ; for the law of the land disallowed the selling seats in parliament.
He had declared his approbation of the principle of the bill, and wouid vote to have it committed ; so far would he go,
and no farther: he would not commit the parliament, nor give their consent to any act or resolution, or expression injurious to the commons, because that would be to discredit their authority, and impeach the law-makers; and what had they been contending for, but the supremacy of their parliament? He acknowledged their constitution had some defects, but such as it was, it was the best existing; and though it might be a proper subject for reform, it ought not to be the subject of calumny. Mr. Pitt had set a proper example : animated with his father's patriotic spirit, he wished to invigorate the constitution of his country, to supply it with strength, and remedy its infirmities; but he felt a dutiful respect, which restrained him from any violent or rash proceeding. He knew, that if by any excess of the reformer, a reform were once lost, every hope must perish with it.
Gentlemen had intimated, that discontents might prevail among the volunteers and the people, if that measure should be rejected; he doubted not there might be some little ebullition; but nothing less than a miracle could convince him, that they would ever violate the public peace and good order; they were restrained by the constitution they possessed, and by the fame, which they had acquired. When he declared that opinion of the volunteers, he knew he spoke before men, who in conjunction with them, had done more than the barons at Runnymede, or the convention parliament; men who had acquired more by wisdom and discretion, than others with the sword. He did
not like the distinction, which said, the people, and not parliament, acquired the great objects, for which that country lately contended : the distinction was not just or true ; they were acquired by an happy concurrence and union of both.
Who acquired the free trade? The House of Commons.
Who acquired the repeal of the 6th of George the Ist? The House of Commons.
Who restored the appellant jurisdiction ? The House of Commons.
Who framed an Irish mutiny bill? The House of Com. mons.
In a word, who obtained all, that could be demanded or de sired? The House of Commons, backed, not bullied, by the volunteers ; supported, but not intimidated. The volunteers never did, nor never would attempt to overawe that parliament, under which they formed: that parliament, which they had pledged their lives and fortunes to support.
As the principle of the bill went to a reform, he would vote for having it go into a committee; the defective clauses might there be altered, as was done in the case of the bill for relieving their Catholic fellow-subjects, which he had the happiness to support. The right honourable gentleman who introduced that bill, being convinced of its imperfection, consented to a total alteration of its form, retaining its principle and spirit; the same thing might be done with this bill; and he sincerely wished it the same effect.
About four o'clock on Sunday morning, the question, whether the bill should be committed, was put, and on a division, the numbers were.... Aves
159 Thus, for the present, was put an end to the grand question of reform in parliament. The majority of 74 was too decisive not to deter the partisans of reform from attempting any thing further upon the subject. Two other objects of great national importance were brought before parliament that session; the regulation of the revenue, by Mr. Grattan, and the improvement of commerce, by Mr. Gardiner: the first on the 31st of March,* the last on the 2d of April.
The backwardness of the parliament in seconding the wishes of several of the armed associations, and their assumption of a
• The speeches of Mr. Grattan and of Mr. Beresford, lay open the whole system of revenue in Ireland at that time, and are to be seen in the Appendix, No. LXXII.
† Mr. Gardiner's speech is given in the Appendix, No. LXXIII. as a most valuable piece of historical information on the commerce of Ireland.
right to give instructions to, and watch the motions of their constituents in parliament, had so sharpened the rancour and animosity of the people, that they flew out into the most audacious outrages.' On the 5th of April, a complaint was made to the house of a breach of privilege, by several persons riotously breaking into the house; two of the persons guilty of the of. fence, having been seized by the serjeant at arms, were ordered to be prosecuted, and immediately Mr. Foster moved a com. mittee to enquire into the conduct of the magistrates of the city of Dublin, respecting an outrageous mob, which had broken into the house that day, and behaved riotously and abusively to several of the members, in which it was unanimously resolved, that an address should be presented to the lord-lieutenant, that he would be pleased to issue a proclamation, offering such reward as he should think proper, for the discovery of such persons, as had been concerned in tumultuously breaking into the house, or who had incited or encouraged others thereto ; and on the same day a complaint was made of several paragraphs in a printed newspaper, intituled, “ The Volunteer's Journal, or Irish Herald,” published that morning; which being read, it was unanimously resolved, that the said paper was a daring, false, scandalous, and seditious libel on the proceedings of that house, tending to promote discontents among his majesty's subjects, to create groundless jealousies between that kingdom and Great Britain, to alienate the affections of the people from his majesty's government, and to excite an opposition to the laws of the land: and it was ordered, that the printer and publisher of the paper should forthwith attend the house.
On the same day Mr. Foster moved, that the printer and publisher of The Evening Chronicle, should also be brought to the bar of the house, the same seditious and libellous paragraphs having also appeared in that paper: and almost immediately after, he reported from the committee appointed to enquire into the conduct of the magistrates on that occasion. The house came to the following resolutions, viz.
“ Resolved, That it appears to this committee, that the Right " Hon. Thomas Green, the lord mayor, received notice on Mon“ day last, at nine o'clock, from Mr. Secretary Orde, that he “ had information of an intended tumult in the city on that day; " and that the lord mayor had seen, on Sunday evening last, one " of the seditious hand-bills, which were dispersed throughout “ the city on that day.
“ Resolved, That it appears to this committee, that notwithstanding such information, the said lord mayor did not take
any step to prevent the tumultuous rising of the people, which “ happened in this city on Monday last.
“ Resolved, That it appears to this committee, that the said “ lord mayor has not acted with that caution and prudence which “ becomes the magistrate of this city."
Mr. Griffith said, he thought the lord mayor had acted with a becoming regard for the principles of the constitution. He had refrained from calling on a military force, which the constitution abhors, until compelled by the last extremity. In doing this, he was warranted by the prudent and constitutional advice of Mr. Speaker.
The Prime Serjeant said, that the lord mayor had entered upon his office at a time, when the city was in the most perfect state of tranquillity, and when its police was much more completely regulated, than ever it had been at any former period. In that state, his predecessor's great ability and unwearied applia cation to the duties of his high office, had left the city ; but hardly had Mr. Green entered
red upon his year of mayoralty, when he, who had been an active officer in the county of Wicklow, suffered every thing to run into disorder; the streets became impassable, riots became frequent, and every duty neglected. The man who could so far forget himself, as not to prevent such tumults as had arisen, he said, must be considered as little better than an accomplice, and therefore, though with infinite reluctance he should consent to any thing disgraceful to a magistrate, he thought Mr. Greene ought to be censured.
The Recorder and Alderman Warren supported the lord mayor, as did Mr. Hartley.
Mr. Hayes, of the county of Wicklow, said, that he had for many years known the lord mayor in that county, where he was esteemed a worthy public spirited man, and an active upright magistrate.
Upon a division there appeared, for censuring the lord mayor 35, and 17 against it.
Among other matters then pending, Sir John Blaquiere's paving bill had created discontent amongst a large part of the citizens of Dublin, and many of them had petitioned against it. * On the 7th of the month, Mr. Alderman Warren said, that such was the tenor of that bill, as induced the inhabitants to think it inexpedient, agreeable to the petitions presented on the preceding day; that to prevent the grievances arising therefrom, counsel ought to be heard, who were ready to attend at the bar.
Sir Boyle Roche dissented, not only in approving of the principles of the bill, but also thought it repugnant to the dig
3 Parl. Debates. Although the petition were presented, yet was it not accepted by the house, which rejection irritated the populace very much : even the presentation of it is not noticed in the Journals.