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and germinated from that root of much evil, the simple repeal: since that moment only, it seems that I have been going down in the opinion of the public ; since that moment they have found out my character and conduct deserve all reprobation, and deserve the brand of being an incendiary; and yet I can hardly prevail upon myself to think that is the case, because, since that moment, I have received more honourable testimonies from every corner of the kingdom, than that right honourable member has received in the same period. I shall return once more to the sentiments of that beloved character I have just described : he was a man, over whose life, or over whose grave, envy never hovered: he was a man, wishing ardently to serve his country himself, not wishing to monopolize the service, but wishing to partake and to communicate the glory of what passed: he gave me in his motion for a free trade, a full participation of the honour. Upon another occasion he said, I remember the words, they are traced with the pencil of gratitude on my heart, “ That “ I was a man whom the most lucrative office in the land had
never warped in point of integrity.” The words were marked, I am sure I repeat them fairly; they are words I should be proud to have inscribed upon my tomb. Consider the man from whom they came; consider the magnitude of the subject · on which they were spoken ; consider the situation of the persons concerned, and it adds to, and multiplies the honour. My noble friend.... I beg pardon, he did not live to be ennobled by patent, but he was born ennobled by nature ; his situation at that moment was this: he had found himself obliged to surrender office, and enter into active opposition to that government, from whom he had received it. I remained in office, though under the circumstance of having sent in my resignation; that he did not know; in political position therefore we were contradistinguished to each other : he did not know, while he was doing justice to me, but that he might be doing political detriment to himself; he did not know but he might serve the administration he opposed ; but careless of every thing except justice and honour, he gave the sentiments of his heart, and he approved. I have mentioned, Sir, that short period, during which the character of an incendiary, if at all applicable to me, must have come upon me in the night, like an enemy, and have taken me unawares; I cannot think the opinion of the public so transformed, when I see every corner of the country expressing their approbation of my conduct, one after another; great and respectable societies of men, compared with whose sentiments the obloquy of an individual sinks into nothing. Even this very day, I have received from the united delegates of the province of Connaught, an approbation, with one voice; as they
express it, of that conduct, which has been slandered as the conduct of an incendiary. Here is a congregation of men, not one of whom I have ever seen, to none of whom I have ever a chance of doing a service, who could have nothing in contemplation, but the doing an act of justice. Sir, I may say, I had the same sanction from another province, that of Ulster. But it seems. I went to Belfast in the character of an incendiary; I went to Dungannon in the character of an incendiary. Now I went to neither of those places but by an invitation, and if a person invited be 'an incendiary, what must those be that give the invitation? If I am an incendiary, all Ulster is an incendiary ; if I am an incendiary, all Connaught is an incendiary....with two provinces therefore at my back, and with the parliament of England behind me....in their having coincided honourably, and nobly in that sentiment, which I sustained, I think I am not much afraid of any single and solitary accusation. But I have not only the parliaments of both kingdoms, I have the ju. dicial power in my favour. If my doctrine was not right, Lord Mansfield's was not right; I ask you was he wrong? It has been said he was the enemy of both countries on that occasion. But has the accusation been proved? Lord Mansfield has many political enemies. The administration at the time would have been glad to have proved him an enemy to both countries, yet was there a man in the parliament of England, the greatest enemy to that noble judge, who attempted to find fault with his conduct? After having mentioned the judicial power, let me come to a highly respectable body, the corps of Lawyers in this country, who, after six months meditation by a committee cho sen by ballot, gave their sanction to that opinion, which is the opinion of an incendiary, if I deserve that name. If Lord Mansfield be an incendiary, if the parliament of England be an incendiary, if the corps of Lawyers be incendiaries, if the Ulster delegates be incendiaries, if the Connaught delegates be incendiaries, and all the societies who have joined that opinion throughout the kingdom....if all these be incendiaries, in the name of God let me be added to the number, and let me be an incendiary too. But though I may be such an incendiary, I will never be that which would deserve the name; I will never by any hollow composition....lay the seed of future dissension. I will go clearly and fully to the work. I will be satisfied when satisfaction is given; my nature is as prone to satisfaction, and as distant from chagrin as that of any man. I appeal to those who know me from my childhood, first at a public school, then at the university of this kingdom, then at the university of Oxford, and afterwards during twenty-four years, taking no very private part within the walls of this house.... I have spoken to facts. I do not mean to arraign. Any man may be mistaken,
and I wish to suppose any man to be realiy mistaken, rather than be so intendedly. I would rather reconcile all men to the public, than make unnecessary divisions. But though I would do every thing a man can do to prevent dissension, I cannot be expected to sacrifice my character to unlimited obloquy. Sir, one circumstance I must mention as it is somewhat extraordia nary. It has been said by some authority on that side of the question, that I am the out-cast of government, and of my prince; certainly, Sir, my dismission from office was attended with the extraordinary circumstance of dismission from council; therefore I suppose it is that the right honourable member has called me the out-cast of government and of my prince. It certainly, Sir, was an extraordinary transaction, but it was done in the case of Mr. Pulteney, it was done in the case of the Duke of Devonshire: therefore I suppose it will not be a decisive proof of any reprobated or factious character in the person to whom it happened. It is the first time it has been mentioned to my disadvantage. It was in the House of Lords of England men. tioned to the disadvantage of the minister who was supposed to dave done it, by a most respectable character; it was thought not to my dishonour here ; it was thought not to my dishonour in the House of Lords of Ireland, where I have lately received from a very eminent peer, the sanction of sentiments very
different from these. In a word, it is but the sentence of one tongue, and upon that tongue I leave it. I do not however pretend to dispute a ministerial fact, which a gentleman in confidence alleges. He has been in the confidence of the Duke of Portland, he is as much a minister as any man who is not in office.
Thus much, therefore, I must give to this ministerial asser. tion, that I shall find it impossible for me, under such an interdict, to pay my respects at his majesty's castle of Dublin, which otherwise I should be prompted to discharge. And I mention it, thus publicly, that my absence may not be interpreted into any want of the most perfect duty and loyalty to my prince, or of the greatest respect to the nobleman who presides there. I am not a man formed to court proscription; I will not seek disgrace; let it remain in its den, I will not revoke it. Sir, I have trespas, sed too long, and I am oppressed with the weight and multitude of thanks which I owe you and the house ; I have troubled you too long upon a private subject, but, with your permission, I will endeavour to make amends the next day, by bringing before you a subject of more importance, the economy of the nation; I beg pardon for what I have said, I have promised too much, I am in your judgment whether I shall do it. You have heard what has passed upon my subject; I appeal to you, if I am that character that has been drawn; if I am that character in any degree, I do not deprecate your justice, but I call for it, and exhort you, for yourselves and your country, to get rid of a member who would be unworthy to sit among you.
MR. MONKE Mason's speECH AGAINST PARLIAMENTARY
MR. John Monke Mason began the debate, by apologizing to the house for speaking at a time when he was so oppressed with a violent cold, that without their utmost indulgence he could not be heard at all. He said, I shall leave it to other gentlemen to point out to the house the absurdities of the plan that is now before you, and shall confine myself merely to the principle of the bill, and the reasons stated in support of it by the honourable gentleman by whom it was introduced, and the several petitions that lie on your table.
The honourable gentleman has said, that our present mode of representation is a novelty, and that what he contends for is not an innovation, but merely a restoration of the ancient constitution; and in the several petitions, it seems to be laid down as an incontrovertible maxim, that equality of representation is a fundamental principle of the English constitution; an assertion, which, I acknowledge, these people may support by the authority of several modern publications, the productions of ingenious and speculative men, who, in their vacant moments, when they have nothing else to do, amuse themselves with delineating a fantastical form of government, which they are pleased to entitle the constitution of England : and in reducing a series of political aphorisms, which they tell us are the principles of that constitution; but I am confident they cannot support this assertion by any facts recorded in the general or parliamentary history of that country
If the constitution requires an equal representation of the people, the gentlemen will tell us the year of what reign that parliament assembled, in which the people were equally represented. If equality of representation be a principle of the constitution, they will point to us the period, at which this principle had effectual operation ;....if they cannot do that, they will never persuade any man of common sense, that that is the English constitution,
which was never known to exist, or that that is a principle of the constitution which never has operated for a single moment of time, from the beginning of the world to the present hour.
It was not till the 34th of Henry VIII. that the county and city of Chester were impowered to send members to serve in parliament, it was not till 130 years after, in the 26th of Charles II. that this power was extended to the county and city of Durham. Could this possibly have happened, if equality of representation were a principle of the English constitution?' In both these cases, specific acts of parliament were considered as requisite to invest them with this right. Could that have been thought necessary, if equality of representation were a principle of the constitution?
But to put this matter in a stronger light, it has ever been the undoubted prerogative of the crown, to impose the burden or extend the privileges of returning members to serve in parliament, to any communities or bodies of men that the king thought proper. This part of the prerogative has been constantly exercised without dispute or control from the first institution of parliament to the time of the revolution : is it possible that this power should even have existed for a single moment, if equality of representation were a principle of the constitution ?
The reformers themselves do not controvert either this power of the crown, or the validity of the charters that have been formerly granted in consequence of that power ; but they allege that many of the boroughs which were, at the time the charters were granted, in a flourishing condition, are now depopulated and gone to decay. With respect to those boroughs where the right of suffrage is vested in the inhabitants at large, I do not believe that the assertion is true; I believe that in the greater part of those towns there are as many Protestant inhabi. tants now as there were in the reign of King James I. and with respect to those, which these people call rotten boroughs, where the right of suffrage is vested in a few persons only, the depopulation of the places can have no effect upon the representatives. Belfast is as much a rotten borough as Harristown; the number of inhabitants is nothing to the purpose, for those inhabitants could have no right to poll, and the members for such boroughs are returned at this day by the self-same numbers of voters that they were at the time that the charters were granted. I will therefore assert that this pretended reform is not a renovation of the ancient constitution, but an idle and dangerous innovation.
A scheme for reforming the representation of the people was proposed in the British parliament in the course of the last