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Patriots, New Converts do to prove the Sincerity of their Conversion ?
The Session opened with visible Sparrings and Heart-Burnings of opposite Parties. They tried their Strength upon some Questions of less Importance. And the Chiefs had Reason to apprehend they wanted but to give any Question the Sanction of Popularity to carry it as they wished.
Upon the Increase of Luxury in that poor Kingdom, there had been about this Time a considerable Increase of Imports, which necessarily raised the Revenues so far beyond what had been calculated for the Support of the Establishment, that a Redundance of some Hundreds of Thousand Pounds, over and above all the Exigencies of the State, arose, was collected, and now lay in the Treasury: Whereas, the Nation, upon some former Emergencies, was forced to run in Debt. The Application of this Surplus to the Payment of the National Debt could not fail of being an interesting popular Question. Courtiers and New Patriots, or Anticourtiers were, unfortunately for the Schemes of the latter, agreed in this Point. But, the former layed no small Stress, and indeed with greater Reason than ever, upon the inserting the previous Consent of the Crown to the Disposal of that Money in the Preamble of the Bill, as it had the Precedent of the laft Session so strongly, so recently in its Favour. Sensible honeft Men would blush to have made Concessions to the Ministry, to have given Powers to the Crown in one Seffion, without Opposition, and to retract them the next, without being able to assign some rational, some new Cause. But, blushing is out of Fashion - in Ireland. The previous Consent in the former Bill had hurt all sensible, honest and loyal Men. Without the Sanction of such, an Opposition could be of no Weight. Therefore regardless of their passive Obedience, or in their own Language, their Unanimity, in paffing the Bill with the previous Consent in the last Session; they set themselves with all their Force, without Doors, as well as within, to reject a Bill now brought in for the same Purposes and couched in the same Terms; though not a Word was formerly to be offered against the Reasonableness, Expediency or Equity of inserting the Consent of the Crown in the Preamble of a Bill, no more than if that were essentially necessary to the framing or passing such a Bill. But now the new Patriots were inspired, and having, by Accident, Truth and Justice on their Side, offered Arguments, which though they were weak and insufficient enough to thew all reasonable Men, that the new Converts were prompted to give Oppo
fition onely through private Pique, and that they were onely by Accident in the Right, not knowing how far í notwithstanding, their Reasons were enough to overturn those of Courtiers, who feldom have any better Motives to urge for their Conduct than the Will of the Minister, and who foolishly or wickedly think themselves generally bound to make and hold all the Incroachments possible upon the Rights of the People. The Words implying the previous Consent were rejected by an inconsiderable Majority, by the Agency of a Set of Gentlemen, who, fo far from having ever before been known to oppose the Will of the Minister, never had any Conteft heretofore known among them, but who should have the Honor and Emolument of carrying his Commands into Execution. And had the same soothing Means been continued as heretofore, this Opposition and Rejection had probably never been heard of.
The Novelty of having a Patriot Question carried there had like to have made the Populace mad all over the Kingdom, but especially in Dublin. And though it was with Difficulty some warm Spirits were prevented imbruing their Hands in the Blood of fome of these very Men, whom they looked upon, from their Treatment of the City in the last Election and Return of Members, as the worst and most inhuman Affaffins of their Country; the Citizens in Crowds went to compliment them, and, forgetting their juft Resentment, now reposed the utmoft Confidence in them, payed them the utmost Veneration. They presented them with Gold Medals, as a Reward and Encouragement to what to them bore the Semblance of Virtue, with which they had been long unacquainted.
Had you, Gentlemen, been permitted to read the Papers I attempted to lay before you, the true State of this Controyersy had then been clearly open to your View. It does not fall within my Sphere to examine the Measures or Motives of the Administration in Ireland or America. Let the proper Judges enquire from what Sources they must have sprung. But, you will surely indulge my Sollicitude to vindicate myself to you and to the World, Permit me then to shew you of what Weight the Censure of the Commons pafled upon me must be deemed from their general Conduct.
The Government could hardly have suspected, nor did the Chiefs ever imagine, their Opposition could have been carried to the Length it was. Each thought at first to frighten the other into Compliance. The Ministry probably did not think any Men would run the Risque of losing their Places :
And they were right; for, the Placemen never intended to risque any Loss; they onely thought, that by fhewing how they might thwart and embarrass the Administration, to enhanfe their respective Values, that their Places may be rendered more secure, and their several Emoluments reftored, This is evinced by the Event.
The Court, perhaps relying too much on the Promifes of promise-fed Minions, was quite unprepared for a Disappointment, and therefore could not brook it. Its Indignation was let loose against the Chiefs and their Adherents, even to their remoteft Kinsmen, and upon their Non-compliance with the Terms proposed, the Parlement was fuddenly prorogued, and the Ring-leaders of the Opposition were all stripped of their Places and Pensions, not sparing those, that had purehased Promotion in the Army or civil patentee Employments.
These Measures of the Court gave general Discontent. And those that were gratified with the vacated Employments, were not of Weight enough to fupport_its declining Influence, or to skreen it from the bittereft Reproaches and Calumny of the Multitude. It was, indeed, impossible to justify the Proroguing a Parlement in the Midst of a Session, the greatest Part of the public Business left undone, and when several Bills, that had passed through all the Forms, waited onely for the Royal Allent.
These afforded the displaced Chiefs fpecious Arguments for inflaming the Minds of the Populace against the Adminiftration. They cried out against the Loss of several Bills, as well as that, that provided for the Payment of the national Debt; particularly, one for the better fecuring that Branch of Trade, on which the sole Support of the Kingdom now depends, the Linen Manufacture; another for the extending and maintaining the Charter-Schools, thọfe Seminaries of Religion and Industry in the Kingdom. These carried weighty and unanfwerable Reflections on the Ministry and its Partisans, who could offer in their own De. fence no better Arguments, than their Fears of the Fury of an enraged Tory Faction, who could not therefore be too foon disperfed, or by any other means so effectually, as by a fudden Prorogation. The Chiefs complained, with some Reason of the Hardships thrown upon them; while they faw themselves universally Mis-represented, and, as they had room to suspect, to the Ears of Majefty, without the Mcans of vindicating their own Affection and Loyalty, or of laying the true State of the Kingdom and this Controversy before
the Crown. Indeed, whatever may be fayed with respect to their Affection ; it seems no lofs to them to be kept from entering upon the Controversy ; a Task, to which the whole Tenor of their Conduct proves them unequal.
Whatever Credit the Administration might have gained upon this Occasion in England; it loft very much in Ireland; and in Proportion as the Court fell there into Discredit, the Anti-Courtiers, who chose to be known by none other Apellacion, than that of the Patriots, gained the Favor and Confidence of the Public ; even some of them, who had long been Infamous for every base Proftitution, and had become so odious to the Populace, as to have lived fome Time in perpetual Dread of the Mob; by their Behavior upon this Occafion, artfully regained the Countenance of the deluded Multitude in general, of the Citizens in particular.
Now, the Masque was thrown off on both sides. The Patriots formed Clubs and Associations all over the City and Kingdom. They were set up and looked upon as Martyrs for the Interest of their Country. This gained them the moft unbounded Confidence. While it lo difturbed the Tranquility of the Realm, that Parties and Factions were ftirred up in all Ranks, from Men of Quality and Fortune, to trading Citizens. The Fury possessed the
Minds even of Hackney-coachmen and Chair-men, who refused driving or carrying, those that were pointed out to them as Courtiers ; for, every Man, that was not in all Points with the Patriots, was marked out as an Enemy to his Country. These Feuds caused a general Inattention to Trade, from the Highest to the Lowest. Most of the circulating Cash of the Kingdam got into the Treasury. And as soon as Demands from Abroad came, for Payments for their foreign Luxuries, the Bankers were not all found able to answer their Bills; whence Numbers of Bankruptcies ensued, and the whole Kingdom was thrown into inexpreffible Confufion and Diftrefs.
In the Midk of this general Shock, the Lord Lieutenan did all that was possible to support the public Credit. He gave Orders, that the several surviving Bankers Notes hould be taken as Payments in the Treasury. For this he got the Thanks of the Citizens. But, his Antagonists, who endeavored by every Means to throw the whole
Blame of the general Distress upon him, would have made this extraordinary Extenfion of Power, though done to save the Nation, a capital Crime.
Sometime after the Prorogation, the greatest Part of the surplus Money in the Treasury was ordered to be layed out by the King's fole Authority. It is true, it was applied to the Payment of the national Debt. But, though this was done agreeable to the Sense of the Parlement, as it was not done by their joint Authority, it served to raise a new Accusation against the chief Governor; who foon after returned to England ; leaving the Speaker out of the Government.
Now, strict Vengeance was denounced aloud against the whole Court. The Chief was thrcatned with nothing less than an Impeachment, for Numbers of imputed Crimes unfit to be recited, as they can be supposed to have no Foundation, till they are legally proved. They endeavored to fasten one shameful Crime upon his Excellency ; that of raising at errible Mob; and this upon no better Authority, than some Hundreds of Fellows, with an hackney Justice at their Head, armed with Cutlasses and Sabres, attacking another Mob, and carbonading a few of them. Some of the former Mob, it is true, being taken, it was hard to find a civil Magistrate in the fallen City, who would presume to take Examinations against them, when the Arms found upon them, bore the King's Mark, and appeared to have been taken out of the Arsenal. This however was greatly magnified by the Patriots; but in the End, deemed no Proof; for a righteous Court could not be wanting in Ireland, at the Nod of Power, to acquit the Rioters; or if found Guilty, they might without any Noise, be afterwards pardoned. — All is venal,-in Ireland! But, the Pity of it! The Terror of it, My Friends!
Another great Officer, we were assured by the Patriots, should be expelled the House, for attempting to corrupt Members of Parlement ; a Crime never yet complained of in Britain; and for exacting exorbitant Fees of Office, which he very civilly, most courteously refunded, as soon as it was detected. Before a Middlesex Jury, this would carry some Proof.
But sometimes, Juries, as well as Parlements are Deaf, Blind, and Lame, -in Ireland.
A third, whom the Patriots thought fit to blacken with every Crime, that could render an Object detestable in the Eyes of God or Man, when his Enemies were forced to confess him as good a Bishop, and as good a Landlord as the Archiepiscopal See had known in our Days, without being able with any Color of Truth