§ Mr. James
presented a Petition, numerously signed, from the inhabitants of Carlisle and its vicinity. The exact number of signatures, he believed, was 2,100, praying for a repeal of the legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland, 1091 and that the latter country might again possess her own domestic Legislature. The petitioners were all in the humble ranks of life. They were poor men, but as they were honest and industrious, he trusted their petition would not be the less favourably received by the House because they were poor, and did not belong to the more wealthy and privileged classes. They had requested him, as far as he conscientiously could, to support the prayer of the petition. He would remark, that if it were intended to give to Ireland such a parliament as she formerly possessed, he did not think a much greater curse could be inflicted upon that country; but if the future proposed Representatives for Ireland were to be fairly and freely elected, he thought it might confer many advantages upon Ireland, and some upon England. He thought it would confer a direct benefit upon Ireland, by enabling the Irish people to make laws upon many subjects, such as the formation of railroads, draining bogs, and other improvements upon which we, at this side of the channel, could not, of course, possess so perfect a knowledge as those who were on the spot. It would confer an advantage upon Ireland indirectly, by taking back to that country, a large number of the absentees; and he apprehended there was no Gentleman but would admit, that absenteeism was one of the great causes of the evils which unhappily afflicted that country. One of not the least advantages that England would derive from Repeal, would be (and he said so without intending the slightest disrespect to the Irish Members) the getting rid of those Gentlemen out of that House. He thought the House, as now constituted, too numerous for a deliberative assembly. If the Irish Members were sent back to their own country, to which, he dared to say, they would have no objection, the business of the nation would, in their absence, be transacted more advantageously, more conveniently, and with more satisfaction to the public, than it was at present; for they all knew, that those Members were so eloquent on all occasions, and made such lengthy speeches, that sometimes an English Member could not get an opportunity of saying all he might wish on some subjects; but nothing could stop an Irishman. However, the subject was one of too much importance to be treated with 1092 any thing like levity. He must confess it was one upon which he had not made up his mind as to how he should give his vote, nor should he do so until he had had an opportunity of hearing it fully and fairly discussed in all its bearings.
§ Petition laid on the Table.
§ Alter a number of petitions on the same subject had been presented,
having been called by the Speaker, spoke to the following effect, "It happened to me, Sir, a few days ago, to be speaking to a Member in the lobby, when I was asked by another Member, who had been in conversation with him before I came up, when the question of the Repeal or the Union was to come on. I was about to give the required information, when the Gentleman went on to observe, "The Canadas are endeavouring to escape from us; America has escaped us; but Ireland shall not escape us." The hon. member for Wiltshire, too, who, I regret to find, is not now in his place, may recollect, that last year, when the Coercion Bill was brought before the House, a Member of this House, said, in the library, with something like an oath, that Ireland should not escape us. [Cries of Oh!] It is, I think, a little too soon to begin this. Sir, I do believe it is a fact, that this claimed superiority—this general notion of a right of dominion inherent in England over Ireland has been the great bane of both countries, and the source of all the evils which you have for centuries inflicted upon Ireland. I do not believe there ever existed a greater mistake than the supposition, that this country has the right of domination over Ireland, or that this country ever obtained all the rights which the subjugation of the people of Ireland would confer. I wish Gentlemen to recollect, that in treating of the restoration of an Irish National Legislature, I wish to divest the case of every feature which may not be thought important, and to bring before them matters of the utmost national interest; but let not the spirit of domination now so far prevail, as to prevent the House from allowing a fair and legitimate discussion of this subject. Amongst the people of Ireland an opinion prevails, that British interests are adverse to those of Ireland. My first and greatest anxiety, therefore, is to demonstrate, that the English have no right of conquest, nor any title to the subjugation of Ireland. 1093 That observation I mean to apply to the affairs of Ireland, both before the Union and since. I mean to canvass this question. I mean distinctly to assert, that Ireland was an independent nation, and that we ought to regard her, not as a subordinate province, but as a limb of the empire—as another and a distinct country, subject to the same King, but having a Legislature totally independent of the Legislature of Great Britain. I shall be as brief as I can upon this subject, for it is quite clear, that no man ever yet rose to address a more unwilling audience. My first sentence was interrupted; and there are amongst you those who have endeavoured to interrupt me before I could utter two distinct periods. I feel, however, that a great, and an important duty is confided to me, and I am determined to discharge it. I wish to show you, that Ireland was an independent nation—that in by-gone times she was an independent nation, having an independent Legislature to take care of her own concerns. I may be mistaken in what I seek; but my feeling is, that I but discharge my duty to myself, my country, and posterity, in calling on you to restore her to the station she occupied when I was born. But in the performance of my duty, I ask those whom I address, to give up the reins of power and dominion—the pride of power and dominion which it is infinitely more difficult to part with, than the minor interests involved in their possession. I call upon you to do that, by ceasing to continue the Union upon its present basis. Knowing, then, that I have such an unfavorable auditory, I am anxious to pass over the preliminary and unpleasant topics as quickly as I can, and to dwell as short a time as possible upon matters likely to excite the unpleasant feelings of those who hear me. There are not many amongst my auditory, who are aware, that from the period of 1172, when, for the first time, a sort of treaty was entered into between some of the inhabitants of Ireland and the British Monarch, from that period to the present, only two hundred and forty years have elapsed since Ireland was regarded as a portion of the dominions of the Crown of Great Britain. At no earlier period than that, were the Irish recognised as subjects of the King of England. In 1614, and not before that year, the distinction between the "Irish enemy," and "English 1094 subject" was put an end to. In 1614, there was a recognition of a distinct nation in Ireland. In 1614, for the first time, the power of the King of Great Britain—the power of the King of England and Scotland, was recognised in Ireland. No title had been acquired by battle previously, nor has any been acquired since, There never existed a right by conquest. No Jurist—no writer upon the laws of nations—can say, that any such thing occurred to give England any such claim. There was no dominion over the Irish as subjects—there was no recognition by them, of any such dominion; and, above all, there was the distinction between "Irish enemies," and "British subjects." I am bound—for I am not speaking for the present hour—I am not addressing those merely who hear me; but I am, I believe, making the first step to national independence; and, in doing so, it becomes me to lay the foundations on which to rest my arguments, broadly, distinctly, and as I hope, irreversibly. For this purpose I must have recourse to ancient documents, which will perfectly authorise my statement, that there was neither a submission, as subjects, of the Irish people, nor a recognition by them of the Sovereignty of England. The first document which I shall refer to, concerns the reign of Henry 3rd, and is dated in the year 1246. I know how unwilling this House is to listen to the reading of documents of any description; but more especially those certainly not calculated to please its vanity or gratify its pride. In the reign of Henry 3rd, a number of the Irish people applied for the benefit of the British law and the British Constitution, and they asked to be recognised as subjects. Henry 3rd issued a mandate under the Great Seal to the Barons in Ireland, that, for the peace and tranquillity of that land, they would permit it to be governed by the laws of England; but on this point what was the testimony of history? It was this—'The great English settlers found it more for their immediate interest that a free course should be left to their oppressions—that many of those whose lands they coveted should be considered as aliens—that they should be furnished for their petty wars by arbitrary exactions—and in their rapine and massacres be freed from the terrors of a rigidly impartial and severe tribunal. They had the opportunities of making 1095 such representations as they pleased to the court of England, and such descriptions of the temper and dispositions of the Irish as might serve their own purposes most effectually. They thus succeeded in rendering the mandate ineffectual.' This is my first proof, that the Irish were not recognised as subjects, and that the intention of the King to recognise them as such was defeated by the party whose object it was, to preserve their own means of oppression, and prevent the establishment of a uniform government in Ireland. The second document I shall quote illustrates this part of the case. An offer was made by many of the Irish to pay 8,000 marks, a considerable sum at that time, to Edward 1st—this was in 1278—for the enjoyment of the British institutions, for the protection of the English laws, and for the establishment of a regular government in Ireland. In this instance the King issued his mandate, stating—'Whereas the community of Ireland has made to us a tender of 8,000 marks, on condition that we grant to them the laws of England, to be used in the aforesaid land, we will you to know that, inasmuch as the laws used by the Irish are hateful to God, and repugnant to all justice—and having held diligent conference and full deliberation with our council on this matter, it seems sufficiently expedient to us and to our council to grant to them the English laws, provided always that the general consent of our people, or at least of the prelates and nobles of that land, well affected to us, shall uniformly concur in this behalf. We therefore command you that, having entered into treaty with those Irish people, and examined diligently into the wills of our commons, prelates, and nobles, well affected to us in this behalf; and having agreed between you on the highest fine of money that you can obtain to be paid us on this account, you do, with the consent of all, or, at least, with the greater and sounder part afore-said, make such a composition with the said people in the premises as you shall judge in your diligence to be most expedient for our honour and interest; provided, however, that these people should hold in readiness a body of good and stout footmen, amounting to such a number as you shall agree upon with them, for one turn only, to repair to us when we shall think fit to demand them.' 1096 And the historian says—'Here we see the just and honorable dispositions of Edward, notwithstanding his intention to make this incident subservient to his affairs. But his wisdom and rectitude were fatally counteracted, and by those who should have run foremost in the prosecution of a measure which would have prevented the calamities of ages, and which was obviously calculated for the pacification and effectual improvement of their country; but it would have circumscribed their rapacious views, and controlled their violence and oppression.' Again, however, were the people's views frustrated, and they were a second time refused the boon they solicited. Another document I might quote, records a similar application that was made to King Richard 2nd, through Lord Thomas of Lancaster, which received a similar refusal, as well as a later application made to Lord Deputy Gray and Sir Arthur Chichester. The death of the Earl of Desmond afforded an occasion to regulate the affairs of Ireland upon principles of justice and liberal policy; but Elizabeth and her councillors thought otherwise. 'Should we exert ourselves,' said they, 'in reducing this country to order and civility, it must soon acquire power and riches. The inhabitants will be thus alienated from England; they will cast themselves into the arm of some foreign power, or, perhaps, erect themselves into an independent and separate state. Let us rather connive at their disorders; for a weak and disordered people never can attempt to detach themselves from the crown of England.' I find Sir, that Sir Henry Sidney and Sir John Perrot, who perfectly understood the affairs of Ireland, and the dispositions of its inhabitants, both expressed the utmost indignation at this horrid policy, which yet found its way into the English Parliament. The Queen was apprehensive should Ireland have the benefit of good laws, that she would become too strong for mismanagement, and it was thought that the best policy for England would be to keep her weak and divided—a policy which has been followed with unrelenting perseverance, and which is as much acted on to-day as ever it was in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Throughout this period, the right of Ireland to a Parliament was not controverted; there was, at first, merely the Parliament of the Pale formed; but in the interval to which 1097 I just now adverted—in the reign of Edward 3rd, an attempt was made to take the Irish representatives from that country. The writs on that occasion were made returnable to Westminster. The people returned the members, but they kept from them the power of granting any supplies of money, and doing so, it was useless for the members to come here, and accordingly that attempt totally failed. Thus there existed, up to the period of the reign of James 1st, an anxiety on the part of the Irish to be governed by British laws, and on the part of the Government, that anxiety was constantly met by resistance and refusal to grant that request. It may be said that I have anticipated the proofs and arguments upon the other side; but this is plain, that if there was no right by subjugation over Ireland, yet there was an anxiety and a disposition to submit as subjects, "in order and civility," are the terms used—that is, as subjects of a separate and distinct country, and having a Parliament sitting in Ireland. Why did the descendants of English settlers refuse this? Because they desired to increase their plunder—because they had a land war to carry on, the consequence of which was expected to be, the acquirement of individual territory, and an enrichment by individual plunder, even though there was a lessening of the power of the Crown. During these centuries that I have alluded to, there was another plan formed, the most cruel and the most dishonest, to harass, to annoy, and to plunder the Irish, and it succeeded by means as cruel and as mean as the project was dishonorable. It was the wish of the Irish to become subjects, and of the ruling English powers that they should remain enemies. At length, in the reign of James 1st, the whole of the inhabitants were amalgamated under the one government, and that amalgamation was produced by crimes at which the person hearing of them should start with horror. Divisions were fomented—dissensions promoted—the weak were roused against the strong—the stranger against the native—the insignificant against the wealthy—the O'Donnell was supported against the O'Neill—the illegitimate brother against the legitimate son, and when they had invaded the property of the legitimate, when they attacked and took from him the county of Tyrone, they then declared that the lawful heir of it had forfeited it 1098 by his resistance! By this cruel policy—which I am bound thus to go through and expose, however reluctantly—by this most cruel policy, inroads were made upon the property of the native Irish, and at length those who despoiled them obtained a rule over the whole country. But let me inform the House of this, that this dominion was obtained, as I have said, not by battle—not by the submission of the people, but by the perpetration of the most horrible cruelties that one class of human beings ever yet inflicted upon another. The story of Spanish cruelties in South America, is mild and moderate compared with the dark catalogue of crimes, of cruelties, and atrocities, which were committed in Ireland and against Irishmen. I hold in my hand extracts, not from Irish historians, not from Catholic historians after that distinction was introduced; but from writers of the ascendant party, and who charge their own friends with the committal of the greatest crimes that ever yet disgraced humanity. In Morrisson's History of Ireland, we find, in 1577, this fact—'The Lords of Connaught and O'Rorke made a composition for their lands with Sir Nicholas Malby, governor of the province, wherein they were content to yield the Queen so large a rent, and such services, both of laborers to work for the occasion of fortifying, and of horse and foot to serve upon occasion of war, that their minds seemed not yet to be alienated to their wonted awe and reverence to the Crown of England. Yet, in that same year, an horrible massacre was committed by the English at Mulloghmaston, on some hundreds of the most peaceable of the Irish gentry, invited thither on the public faith, and under the protection of Government.' This massacre is thus described by the Irish annalists—'The English published a proclamation, inviting all the well-affected Irish to an interview on the Rathmore, at Mulloghmaston, engaging them at the same time for their security, and that no evil was intended. In consequence of this engagement the well-affected came, and soon after they were assembled, they found themselves surrounded by three or four lines of English and Irish horse and foot, completely accoutred, by whom they were ungenerously attacked, and cut to pieces, and not a single man escaped.' Sir, in the same year another 1099 atrocity was perpetrated. In 1583, we find this stated by Borlase—'The garrison of Smerwick, in Kerry, surrendered upon mercy to Lord Deputy Gray; he ordered upwards of 700 of them to be put to the sword or hanged; repeated complaints were made of the inhuman rigor practised by this Deputy and his officers; the Queen was assured that he tyrannised with such barbarity that little was left in Ireland for her Majesty to reign over, but ashes and dead carcases.' The mode of accomplishing the destruction of the garrison of Smerwick is described thus: 'Wingfield was commissioned to disarm them, and when this service was performed, an English company was sent into the fort, and the entire were butchered in cold blood; nor is it without pain we find a service so horrid and detestable committed to Sir Walter Raleig, for which, and other such exploits, he had 40,000 acres of lands bestowed on him in the county of Cork,' which he afterwards sold to Richard first Earl of Cork. A great portion of the county Down was obtained in the manner I will now describe to the House on a better authority than my own—'Walter, Earl of Essex, on the conclusion of a peace, invited Bryan O'Niall, of Claneboy, with a great number of his relations, to an entertainment where they lived together in great harmony, making good cheer for three days and nights, when on a sudden O'Niall was surprised with an arrest, together with his brother and wife, by the Earl's order. His friends were put to the sword before his face, nor were the women and children spared; he was himself, with his brother and wife, sent to Dublin, where they were cut in quarters. This increased the disaffection and produced the detestation of all the Irish; for this chieftain of Claneboy was the senior of his family; and as he had been universally esteemed, he was now as universally regretted.' The county Monaghan was acquired about 1590, in this manner. 'About this year died M'Mahon, chieftain of Monaghan, who, in his lifetime, had surrendered his country into her Majesty's hands, and received a re-grant thereof, under the broad seal of England, to him and his heirs male, and in default of such to his brother, Hugh Roe M'Mahon, with the other remainders, and this man dying without issue male, his said brother came 1100 up to the state that he might be settled in his inheritance, hoping to be countenanced and cherished as her Majesty's patentee. But he found he could not be admitted until he promised 600 cows (for such, and no other, were the bribes). He was afterwards imprisoned for failing in part of the payment, and in a few days enlarged, with promise that the Lord Deputy himself would go and settle him in his county of Monaghan; whither his lordship took his journey shortly after with M'Mahon in his company. At their first arrival, the gentleman was clapped into bolts; in two days after he was indicted, arraigned, and executed at his own door: all done by such officers as the deputy carried with him for that purpose from Dublin. The treason for which he was condemned was, because two years before he, pretending a rent due to him out of Fearney, levied forces and made a distress for the same, which, in the English law (adds my author), may, perhaps, be treason, but in that country, never before subject to law, it was thought no rare thing nor great offence. The Marshal, Sir Henry Bagnal, had part of the country; a Captain Hensflower was made seneschal of it, and got M'Mahon's chief house and part of the land; and to divers others small portions were assigned; and it is said that these men were all the contrivers of his death, and that every one was paid something for his share.' But, Sir, the further progress towards English dominion in Ireland is stained with crimes of the worst character—by plunder, by the wilful creation of famine and formation of insurrections—by the hiring of assassins—by the total devastation of the country. It is a painful and a melancholy duty for me to have to recite these facts; but it is my firm conviction that it is my duty to detail them. I bring them now forward to lay down a basis for my arguments, and from which I think the inevitable conclusion in the minds of gentlemen will be, that they are bound to vote in support of the Motion which I shall conclude by submitting to the House. Of the period between 1580 and 1590 we are told—'Nor were these incessant acts of cruelty sufficient to appease the enmity of the Queen's officers. That destruction which their swords had left unfinished they now industriously completed by a general famine, Mr. Morrisson mentions this 1101 method of ending the war with a seeming complacency, at least without dislike. But the effects of it were too horrible to be unfeelingly related, even by an enemy, "because," says he, "I have often made mention formerly of our destroying the rebels' corn, and using all means to famish them, let me now by two or three examples shew the miserable estate to which they were thereby reduced." He then, after telling us that Sir Arthur Chichester, Sir Richard Morrisson, and other commanders, saw a most horrid spectacle of three children, whereof the eldest was not above ten years old, feeding on the flesh of their dead mother, with circumstances too shocking to be repeated, and that the common sort of rebels were driven to unspeakable extremities, beyond the records of any histories that he had ever heard of that kind. "No spectacle," adds Morrisson, "was more frequent in the ditches of towns, and especially in wasted villages, than to see multitudes of these poor people dead, with their mouths coloured green, by eating nettles, docks and all things they could rend up out of the ground. The Lord Deputy and Council, in a letter to the Lords in England, concerning their receiving the submissions of some Irish chiefs, acquainted them that they had received their submissions partly for the good of the service, and partly out of humane consideration having (say they) with our own eyes daily seen the lamentable condition wherein we found everywhere men dead of famine; and they add, that in the space of a few months above 3,000 were starved in Tyrone." Thus had the Queen's army, under Lord Mountjoy, broken and absolutely subdued all the lords and chieftains of the Irish; whereupon, the multitude being braved as it were in a mortar (says Sir John Davies) with sword, famine, and pestilence, together submitted themselves to the English Government, received the laws and magistrates, and most gladly embraced the King's pardon and peace in all parts of the realm, with demonstrations of joy and comfort."' There is another document to which I will refer, from the pen of Spencer, it is a feeling and an accurate description of the mode in which this species of warfare was carried on in Ireland. Here are his words:—'Notwithstanding that the same was a most rich and plentiful country, full of 1102 corn and cattle, yet ere one year and a half, they were brought to such wretchedness as that any strong heart would rue the same. Out of every corner of the woods and glens they came creeping forth upon their hands, for their legs could not bear them; they looked like anatomies of death; they spoke like ghosts crying out of their graves; they did eat the dead carrions—happy were they could find them; yea, and one another soon after, insomuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape out of their graves; and if they found a plot of water-cresses or shamrocks, there they flocked as to a feast, for the time, yet not able to continue there withal, that in short space there was none almost left and a most populous and plentiful country suddenly left void of man and beast.' Lombard, another writer on Irish history, tells us—'After Desmond's death, and the entire suppression of the rebellion, unheard-of cruelties were committed on the provincials of Munster by the English commanders. Great companies of these provincials, men, women, and children, were often forced into castles and other houses, which were then set on fire, and if any of them attempted to escape from the flames, they were shot or stabbed by the soldiers who guarded them. It was a diversion to these monsters to take up infants on the points of their spears, and whirl them about in their agony, apologising for their cruelty by saying, that if they suffered them to grow to live up they would become rebels. Many of their women were found hanging on trees, with their children at their breasts, strangled with the mother's hair!' Recollect, now, that the object of all their cruelties was to obtain dominion over Ireland. I am glad that I have but two documents more of a similar character; but they are of great interest, and I think they will show gentlemen how exceedingly ignorant they are of the woes and misfortunes of Ireland, and prove to them with what audacity the greatest crimes were committed against my country. Morrisson acquaints us that Lord Mountjoy never received any to mercy but such as had drawn blood on their fellows. 'Thus,' says he, 'M'Mahon and M'Artyle offered to submit, but neither could be received without the other's head.' But barbarous as these terms of acceptance were, they were sometimes 1103 reluctantly complied with. 'I have, it seems, made,' says Lord Mountjoy, some 'of the subjects already reclaimed, and in these times suspected, put themselves in blood already, for even now I hear that Lord Mountgarret's sons have killed some of Cloncare's and some of Tyrell's followers since I contested with their father about somewhat I heard suspicious of them.' 'About this time,' says he, 'Nugent came to make his submission to the President, by whom he was told, that as his crimes and offences were extraordinary, he could not hope for pardon unless he would deserve it by some extraordinary services, which, said the President, if you will perform, you may deserve not only pardon for your faults committed heretofore, but also some store of crowns to relieve your wants hereafter. Nugent, who was valiant and daring, and in whom the rebels reposed great confidence, presently promised not to be wanting in anything that one man could accomplish, and in private made offer to the President that, if he might be well recompensed, he would ruin within a short time, James Fitzthomas, the then reputed Earl of Desmond, or his brother John. But the President, having before contrived a plot for James, gave him in charge to undertake his brother John. Accordingly, some few days after, Nugent, in riding in company with John Fitzthomas and one Mr. Coppinger, permitted this great captain to ride a little before him, minding. (his back being turned) to shoot him through with his pistol, which, for the purpose, was well charged with two balls. The opportunity offered—the pistol bent—both heart and hand ready to do the deed, when Coppinger, at that instant, snatched the pistol from him, crying treason;' wherewith John Fitzthomas 'turning himself about, perceived his intent. Nugent, thinking to escape by the goodness of his horse, spurred hard. The horse stumbled, and he was taken, and the next day, after examination and confession of his intent, hanged. In his examination he freely confessed the whole intent, which was, to have despatched John Fitzthomas, and immediately after to have posted to his brother James, to carry the first news thereof, intending to call him aside, and in a secret manner to relate the particulars of his brother's murder, and then to exe- 1104 cute as much upon him also.' Here the House must perceive, that to establish English power in Ireland the basest means were resorted to: and I now ask Gentlemen is it by such means you claim a title to dominion in Ireland? Are these your title deeds—these the acts which give one human being power over another? The good feeling of the present day will recoil against an assertion of right founded on such atrocities. I, myself, have felt it to be an extremely unpleasant duty to state them; but I give them as a part of historyx—I put them forward as part of my case, and I challenge my opponents to show that the subjugation of Ireland was not brought about by conquest, but that it was effected by the most shameful deceit and devastation, and by means the most horrible and cruel, which were to others woe, but were disgraceful only to the oppressors who used them. This part of Irish history I quote with something of readiness; because it has not in it anything of sectarian distinctions, and there is here no question between one religion and another. The question here is the subjugation of those whom their opponents chose to call rebels, but who never were recognised as subjects. On this account it is the less painful to me to go into these details. I dwell upon them to show, that England has nothing by charter—nothing by conquest—to claim from Ireland, or to prove that the Irish should be subjugated. England has no claim unless such crimes as have detailed be her claim. I know it may be said, that it would be better for me not to mention these matters,—and I have considered it much whether I should bring forward at all this part of my case—I know how unfavourable an impression it may produce against myself by at all bringing it forward, but, after the best reflection I could give the subject, I have determined on advancing it, in order that the English and the Irish of this day, both shall know upon what foundation that connexion has been placed. I do not say, that any authority is now derived from the crimes I have recited; but they are mentioned to put an end to the possibility of reverting beyond 1614 for claiming any species of domination over the people of Ireland. The period of James 1st is, then, that period in history, in the domestic history of the countries, when there existed the two nations having the one Sovereign. The 1105 Sovereign existed as King of England with his Parliament, and he also existed as King of Ireland—a separate and distinct nation with its Parliament. Crimes were then committed; but that is part of the domestic history of Ireland. The story of the reign of James 1st, in Ireland, is a deplorable narrative of treachery, plunder, and cruelty; but that is part of the domestic history of Ireland. Strafford—haughty, treacherous, and abandoned—ruled with an absolute dominion, which was as fatal to his sovereign as it subsequently was to himself—he completely tyrannised over Church and State; but that also is part of a domestic history—it is part of the history of another and an independent nation. In the progress of the Cromwellian usurpation, the crimes of the house of the Stuarts, even when the Duke of York, afterwards James 2nd, took 40,000 acres from the men who had fought for his father—the revolution of 1688—the breach of the treaty of Limerick,—all this is domestic history. These are all features of our own story; and when there existed a Parliament sometimes greatly checked, and at other times partly free, for Poynyngs' law was repealed four times, and the judicial independence of Ireland was maintained. Shackled even as the Legislature was, there existed a distinct Legislature—the King of both countries was the same—the Parliaments alone were different. That was the state of things down to 1778—Ireland continued to have a separate and distinct Legislature. Look from the reign of James 1st down to that period; and my case is, that to that time England had not a shadow of a title to a dominion over Ireland, except, that the Sovereign of Ireland was equally the Sovereign of England. During the whole of that period the title of Ireland was completely perfect to possess an independent Legislature, sometimes fettered by authority; a domestic Parliament at least, controlled unjustly because of the weakness of Ireland, and not by reason of any ingredient in the Constitution of Ireland. They were separate and distinct kingdoms—they were separate nations,—and the Act requiring that the laws of Ireland should first be sanctioned by England before they were valid, was an act of usurpation. From the end of the wars of William until 1778, this was the situation of Ireland. The Act of 1778 gave some scope to the re- 1106 sources of the country, and upon no country under Heaven have so many natural blessings been conferred as upon Ireland. The opportunity then having been given for those resources to develope themselves, Ireland was growing in wealth and prosperity. Let it be remarked, that the wealth of Ireland followed Irish independence. In 1778, the Legislature relieved a great part of the population from those disabilities under which they laboured in consequence of the penal laws. What was the first result of that beneficial measure? The trade of Ireland, that had been unjustly crippled by British monopoly and British interests, righted itself, and free trade was extended by the combination of the people and Parliament of Ireland. The Act establishing that was recognised by the British Legislature. This is part of my case, for it shows you that where something useful was given, something beneficial was also received, and both nations were benefited by a measure of justice. The principle of justice was introduced in 1778, and one of its practical details was a free trade in 1779. That necessarily accumulated and increased the energies and powers of the people—both were directed to the advantage of Ireland; and, accordingly, in 1782, Ireland worked out the principle of its Parliamentary existence. A Parliament in Ireland was first confined to the Pale; it was next, in the reign of James 1st, extended throughout Ireland; still, however, unjustly controlled. But it worked out its entire developement in 1782, when the full legislative and judicial independence of Ireland was attained. Never yet was any change or revolution in any country so complete, so honourable, so glorious to a people, as the change which was then accomplished. There was not a crime to stain it—not one drop of blood to tarnish it. It was the perfection of human patriotism, and afforded an example which I should be happy to see the world imitate. It was the greatest of political changes, without the smallest particle of crime to deteriorate from its value. And that change, Sir, was a treaty solemnly made with the governing powers—it was entered into deliberately by England, and confirmed by her Government—it was founded upon a message of the King—the King of Ireland. It was a wise and generous message. On the 16th April, 1782, this message was delivered to the 1107 Irish Houses of Parliament. His Majesty stated, "That being concerned to find discontents and jealousies prevailing amongst his loyal subjects in Ireland, he earnestly recommended to the House to take the same into their most serious consideration, in order to such a final adjustment as would give mutual satisfaction to both countries." The revolution then accomplished (continued Mr. O'Connell) was no hasty rebellion—it was not obtained even by those circuitous means which, in modern times, it may be necessary to adopt. No; those who were authorised by the Constitution gave their sanction to this great constitutional principle, sanctioning, authorising, and recognising, the independence of Ireland. The Irish then said, 'We are a separate nation from you—Ireland belongs to your King, as England belongs to him; we belong to the same King; but we ought to have distinct Legislatures. You have admitted this principle—our Legislature is nearly as old as your's—both began nearly at the same time—and the records of our Parliament are nearly as old as those of England. When your power was extended all over Ireland, Parliament was co-extensive with the confines of Ireland." If ever there was a solemn treaty recorded in history, this was one, sanctioned by the message adopted by its Parliament, and approved of by its people. It was Ireland's right to have an existing Parliament; never was anything so broadly and so legibly recognised; it was admitted, even though many unjust usurpations had been made in spite of the admission. Many usurpations, I say, have since been made, and not the least of them is establishing at Westminster an appellate jurisdiction for Ireland. If there were no other reason, the inconvenience of that jurisdiction alone is sufficient to justify the call for Repeal. The vexation and delay of the appellate jurisdiction is intolerable: it is the most cruel of hardships that a client from Donegal or Kerry must have recourse to Westminster Hall and the House of Lords, there to decide that which ought to be determined at home. It may be fine in speech, but it is a cruel mockery to the Irish peasant to tell him to look to Westminster for an equitable decision should he be treated unjustly at home. This is one of the inconveniences of the Union—it is one of the grounds of my complaints against the Union—it is one 1108 of the reasons which makes me think that Irishmen should struggle to gain back again the independence of their Parliament. I have read for you the message of the King in 1782—I will now read for you the unanimous, the unqualified reply of the Parliament. The Minister attempted to introduce two or three sentences, which would have mitigated its force; but they were rejected by every body, and, at last, abandoned by himself, and this address was unanimously agreed to:—'To assure his Majesty that his subjects of Ireland are a free people; that the Crown of Ireland is an imperial Crown, inseparably annexed to the Crown of Great Britain, on which the connexion, the interests, and happiness of both nations essentially depend.' (Hear.) I adopt every word of it, and truth more distinct and plain was never yet uttered by human lips. The address goes on"—'But that the kingdom of Ireland is a distinct kingdom, with a Parliament of her own, the sole Legislature thereof; that there is no body of men competent to make laws to bind this nation, except the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland; nor any other Parliament which hath any authority or power of any sort whatsoever in this country, save only the Parliament of Ireland. To assure his Majesty, that we humbly conceive, that in this right the very essence of our liberties exists—a right which we, on the part of all the people of Ireland, do claim as their birthright, and which we cannot yield but with our lives.' Yes, that was the assertion of liberty, and whenever the same spirit walks abroad in Ireland again, that moment the Irish Parliament will be restored (with your consent) to my country. A sad and a melancholy story is that of English rule in Ireland. Many are the crimes—many are the woes—many the misfortunes, of the children of Ireland—and many have been the violations of treaties made with them; and mark! now, I defy the congregated malignity of the world to show one instance in which the Irish violated any one treaty into which they entered. I could point, only that I do not choose to burthen myself, to 100 documents, which it would pain both you and myself to read. I could show you 100 instances in which treaties were only made with the Irish to be violated. British writers have openly de- 1109 scanted on the vanity and foolishness of keeping faith with the rebel and popish Irish; and while they thus brand their own want of faith, I defy any man to show that the Irish ever violated any treaty into which they entered. There was, indeed, a period brilliant in Irish history—a period when the Irish gentry—when the great Protestant families took the lead. That was a glorious occasion; and the names of many of them which belong to history live in the affections, and are dear to the recollections, of the Irish people. I speak of the great movement in 1782. No matter how different may be their politics, there is not any one of the families of those men who does not boast that his father was a colonel of the Irish Volunteers. Many a dissension has occurred since. There has been the violence of party animosity; and yet, when I have spoken to a son of an Irish Volunteer, he has always insisted that Ireland should be free—that Irishmen should recognize no masters—that no laws should be passed for his country but those sanctioned by the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland. The act of 1782 was our treaty—it was our charter—and it is not now to be got rid of by any species of special pleading. The Act of 1782, was the Irish charter of liberty—it was not given up by the people. It was their charter then, it is their charter still. You cannot blot it out. You may create, as you have created, faction. You may continue, as you have continued, dissensions amongst us. You may adopt and feign, as you have done, the most paltry pretences; but the people, the people of Ireland, will still insist upon their charter being revived. I insist upon it, that that charter was obtained by the best means, and granted in the most solemn manner; it was a compact voluntarily and deliberately entered into, and it was a compact in which the Irish people endeavoured to follow up the principles of the British Constitution. The Irish Parliament passed that Act—the King of Ireland assented to it—the Lords and the Commons were a party to the treaty—it was perfect, complete, and should have been irreversible. What do we ask for now? The full extension of the principles and the benefits conferred by the final adjustment of 1782. Many of us were alive, and we felt the benefits of that arrangement, and yet we saw our- 1110 selves divested of it. I am one of them, and yet I live to tell it! If it were possible to have existed—if it were possible to have survived—it could only be, because of the hope that my country would be restored to all her rights—without that hope, existence would not be worth preserving. The improving spirit of my countrymen, the amelioration of their feelings towards each other, prove that they are advancing to that state when the charter of 1782 must be conceded to them. You may be convinced of this. Whether I abandon the question or not, is immaterial; but this I tell you, even if I were to abandon it, it never would be abandoned by the people of Ireland. I close here the first topic, and the first part of my argument, and I proceed to the next. I first firmly assert, the charter still remains, and I throw the burthen upon the other side, to show by what title that final adjustment was evaded, and that solemn compact broken. I proceed to show how the independence of Ireland was obscured, for it is not lost. Before I go to that, I am anxious to allude to a topic upon which I delight to dwell—it is the effects to Ireland of her having an independent legislature. If the form of government be immaterial, as some assert—an opinion in which I do not agree with them—if, as some say,For modes of law let casuists contest,Those that are best administer'd are best.Let us look to what were the effects of the independence of Ireland, and we shall soon discover the blessings which good government bestowed upon the country. I am delighted to be able to do this now, because I believe that there will be bought forward multitudinous calculations, by which Ireland will be conjured into a state of prosperity. These documents, too, may be fabricated for the occasion—they may be treasured for the occasion; to be sure, it may be thought a good trick, as "dulness ever loves a joke," and they, too, may be prepared for the period on which they are used. But the documents to which I refer are not so tainted—there is no trickery, and there can be no fabrication about them. Let it be remembered, too, that the experiment of independence in Ireland was made under exceedingly unfavorable circumstances—that was not a Reformed Parliament; and yet the prosperity of Ireland followed its independence; besides, its independence was qua- 1111 lified by this, it was a boroughmongers' parliament. There were forty boroughs created in one day; it was not the people, but a party, who returned the Members, for a considerable portion of the people were excluded from voting. It was impossible that the experiment could have been made under more unfavourable circumstances; but then it was an Irish and a national parliament, and it did much good for the country. It had, of course, its defects. It has often been assailed, and nothing has been more common than to abuse and calumniate it; and yet, abused as it has been, it showed several instances of excellent virtue, and it defied the Ministers more than once. With three hundred Members, it had a permanent opposition of ninety—a number quite sufficient to keep any ministry in check; they might be mistaken in their opposition, as one of them, Sir Edward Garrey, was, who declared, that "he had never voted with the minister, whether right or wrong." But still it was independent; it did not seek for court favours nor Treasury dinners; and, notwithstanding all its faults, it was not worse than its neighbours. It certainly never had voted that the Walcheren expedition was wise and expedient. If the right hon. member for Limerick (for Cambridge, I mean)—and I assure him the mistake was unintentional—but if the right hon. Gentleman had discovered, that the Irish House of Commons had travelled through the multiplication table, and discovered by that, or any other conjuring process—ay, and voted it, too, that a pound note and a shilling were equal to a guinea in gold—and yet the moment you walked out of the House, it was discovered that a guinea in gold was worth a pound note and seven shillings—if the right hon. Gentleman had discovered any thing of that kind done by the Irish Parliament, how he would have diverted the House with it!—if this had been done by an Irish Parliament, and the same Parliament had, in less than a fortnight afterwards, passed an Act of Parliament, settling that the guinea in gold was actually worth twenty-seven shillings. Yet, Gentlemen, it was an English, and not an Irish, Parliament did this. Both Parliaments have committed many crimes against the people; but, on some occasions, the Parliament of Ireland was more honest than that of England. On the Regency question, for example, I 1112 firmly assert, that more honesty and independence were exhibited by the Irish than the English Parliament. The British Parliament then voted, that Mr. Pitt should be, in effect, the Regent; while the Irish Parliament considered, that, if the King's body were dead, his heir, being of full age, should naturally ascend the Throne; and that, if the mind were dead, whether that occurred from age or affliction, that, without which the carcase was as dead, they thought that, under such circumstances, the heir, being of full age, should be the Regent. In that I think they acted wisely and properly. I see (said Mr. O'Connell pointing to Mr. Secretary Stanley) a note taking of that. I wish the gentleman joy of it; and, in order that I may dispose of the argument to follow from it, let me observe that, by the 33rd Henry 8th, the King, de facto, of England, is the King, de jure, of Ireland. Only extend that principle to the case of a Regency, and the Regent of England, de facto, becomes the Regent of Ireland, de jure. With the settlement of the Crown of Great Britain I meddle not. The Irish Parliament had then, in the first instance, to decide it as you had, in whose hands the executive power was to be placed. There was no precedent, no rule, to guide them; and I contend, that they acted well. To return, however, to the effects of independence in Ireland. The independent Parliament gave prosperity to the Irish people; and, one necessary effect that followed from it was, to check the progress of absenteeism amongst the great and the noble. And I here challenge my opponents to show any expedient so well calculated as a resident Parliament to check absenteeism. It is the means best to be adopted, for bringing those who have property in a country to attend to the welfare of the people who reside in it. But was Ireland prosperous under her own Parliament? In this debate I consider myself as counsel for Ireland; and the first witness that I shall summon is Lord Clare. He is one over whom I could not be supposed to have any control. His speech was published in 1798; and he tells you what were the effects to Ireland of an independent Parliament, from 1782 to 1798. "There is not," he said, "a nation on the face of the habitable globe, which has advanced in cultivation, in agriculture, in manufactures, with the same rapidity, in the same 1113 period, as Ireland." That is the evidence of Lord Clare, who declared, that no nation had advanced with the same rapidity in agriculture and manufactures as Ireland, from 1782 to 1798; that is, two years before the Union. He was Chancellor, too, in his day. Let me now take the evidence of another Chancellor, who thus described Ireland at the same period:—'As a little island, with a population of 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 of people, hardy, gallant, and enthusiastic; possessed of all the means of civilization; agriculture, and commerce, well pursued and understood; a constitution fully recognised and established; her revenues, her trade, her manufactures, thriving beyond the hope, or example, of any other country of her extent; within these few years, advancing with a rapidity astonishing even to herself; not complaining of deficiency in any of these respects, but enjoying and acknowledging her prosperity. She is called on to surrender them all to the control—of whom? Is it to a great and powerful continent, to whom nature intended her as an appendage?—to a mighty people, totally exceeding her in all calculation of territory or population? No; but to another happy little island, placed beside her in the bosom of the Atlantic, of little more than double her territory and population, and possessing resources not nearly so superior to her wants; and this, too, an island that has grown great, and prosperous, and happy, by the very same advantages which Ireland enjoys—a free and independent constitution, and the protection of a domestic superintendent Parliament.' That is the opinion of Lord Chancellor Plunkett! There is the living Chancellor following the dead—the testimony of one corroborated and confirmed by the testimony of the other. I will quote another authority, a great one in this House: he was a Chancellor, too—but he was a Chancellor of the Exchequer—I mean Mr. Pitt; and, in his speech for carrying the Union, we find this important testimony in a speech published by his authority. Mr. Pitt begins by quoting Mr. Foster's speech, in 1785, on the then state of the international trade between England and Ireland, which he adopted:—'The exportation,' he said, 'of Irish products to England amounts to two millions and a half annually; and the exportation of British products to Ireland 1114 amounts to one million!' That is a proof that Ireland was a flourishing country before the Union. But I have another evidence; it is Lord Grey. He was then Mr. Grey, and he then asserted the principles for which I now contend. When Mr. Grey, in his opposition to the Union, was taunted upon the prosperity of Scotland since the Union, he said: 'In truth, for a period of more than forty years after the Union, Scotland exhibited no proofs of increased industry and of rising wealth—till after 1748 there was no sensible advance of her commerce. Several of her manufactures were not established till sixty years after the Union, and her principal branch of manufacture was not set up, I believe, until 1781. The abolition of the heritable jurisdictions was the first great measure that gave an impulse to the spirit of improvement in Scotland. Since that time, the prosperity of Scotland has been considerable, but certainly not so great as that of Ireland has been within the same period.' There is the testimony of two Lord Chancellors—Lord Chancellor Clare and Lord Chancellor Plunkett; of John Foster, of William Pitt; and there, too, is the testimony of Lord Grey—all of them demonstrating the prosperity which Ireland enjoyed when her Parliament became independent. But I possess another document derived from the Report on the condition of commerce in Ireland, which was drawn up on the Motion of the hon. member for Cambridge, by which I can show, that the consumption of Ireland increased considerably above that of England during the period of Irish legislative independence. I will take for the example—tea, sugar, tobacco, coffee, and wine. Within this period, from 1782 to 1797, the consumption of tea in Ireland increased eighty-four per cent, while in England it only increased forty-five per cent; the consumption of tobacco increased 100 per cent, and in England but forty-five. The consumption of wine had increased in Ireland seventy-four per cent; England, twenty-two per cent; while the increased use of coffee in Ireland was proved by figures, stating the increase at 600 per cent; England being left with an addition of only seventy-five per cent. These are evidences of the increase of prosperity during this period, and I cannot be suspected of preparing or manufacturing these proofs. They, however, establish this fact 1115 completely—that a considerable increase, during a number of years previous to the Union took place, in the consumption of articles of luxury and comfort by the people of Ireland. I will now advert to another topic, although I confess that it would be at least equally pleasing to me to dwell upon the commercial effects of legislative independence in Ireland. It is enough, however, that I have completely proved, that as Ireland effected the most glorious Revolution in point of principle, and moral conduct in 1782, so that Revolution led to the most useful consequences in extent of consumption, extent of commerce, and the enjoyments even of the luxuries of life. That with which I first began was a painful subject; but that with which I close, my proofs of the independence of Ireland, is a matter of great and peculiar gratification. The second topic, with regard to the effects produced by its legislative independence, is a subject equally pleasing; and let me not, however, be led away from it, until I assert, that there is not a man in Ireland old enough to remember that period, who does not know that not a particle of that independence has ever been surrendered. I was young, to be sure, in 1782; it was the first year of which I can distinctly remember anything connected with public affairs; but I am old enough to recollect the increase of the prosperity of my country. I have seen it expand—I have witnessed its decay; and I most sincerely trust, that I shall live to see prosperity and happiness revive under an independent and national Legislature. Since the Union, Ireland has grievously declined, both in prosperity and political freedom. With regard to the Act of Union which has been the great source of Ireland's wrongs, I fearlessly maintain, that that Act was not legal. The Irish Parliament had no right to transfer its powers to the Legislature of Great Britain. It is not by merely throwing an Act of Parliament before me that you can prove anything. There might be an Act of Parliament passed to vest the Crown of this realm in Louis Philippe to-morrow; but it would he merely an Act in shape and form—in reality an ordinance which everyone of us is bound to resist to the death upon principle. Is there any authority competent to strike down the liberties of the people of Ireland? The British Parliament have no such authority, The peo- 1116 ple have the inherent power to govern in themselves; and, if the people choose to alter a Government, the natural feeling is, that they have the power and the right to do so. But I deny that the British Parliament has any such authority, or that the Irish Parliament had any such authority. I assert here, as I have asserted before in other places, that the Irish Parliament was utterly incompetent to annihilate the Legislature of Ireland, as they assumed to do by the Act of Union; and on behalf of the Irish people, I protest against its competency. The Parliament had the power to make laws—that principle is quite clear; so have you the power to make laws; but neither of these Parliaments had the power to make Legislators. You may alter and modify a branch of the Legislature, but have not the power to annihilate the Legislature. You have not the power of transferring to France at this moment—to the Chamber of Deputies—the right of taxing the people of this country. Oh! how I should be surprised at any man getting up in this House and saying, "Send over 100 of our Members to the Chamber of Deputies, in order that they may be allowed to tax the people of this country." It would be a suggestion that could only be considered as that of a madman. Yet the principle is the same as you have applied to Ireland. The King of England was King of France, as well as Ireland, up to the reign of George 3rd; there was little difference between the circumstances. Henry 5th was crowned King of France in France; but I ask, would that have made any difference?—Not the least, in point of principle. I, on the part of the people of Ireland, assert, that the Irish Parliament was perfectly incompetent to do this—that the Parliament of Ireland exists, in right, even at the present moment—and that the Treaty—so I will call it—of 1782, is still uninvalidated by any Act which has the sanction of any regular or competent authority. But I do not depend on my own dictum—on any assertions or reasoning of my own. I know that I cannot convince unwilling persons of the truth and justice of my general principles, as to the connexion between Great Britain and Ireland, though you will admit them the moment that the case is put as between England and the government of France. But I depend on other authorities than my own; and in this instance I have an authority which 1117 has ever been held in high respect and veneration by the Whigs—that great public writer who was the principal means, before any other man, of establishing, or rather confirming, the Revolution of 1688—I allude to John Locke. He has shown how far the Legislature could go—he has shown that the Legislature has the power of cashiering a King, and appointing a successor; and he has shown, at the same time, the utter impossibility, upon principle, of a Legislature having any power beyond this. I will read his own words, and not comment on them. 'The Legislature cannot transfer (says Mr. Locke) the power of making laws into other hands, for it being but a delegated power from the people, they who have it cannot pass it over to others. The people alone can appoint the form of the Commonwealth—which is by constituting the legislative—and appointing in whose hands that shall be; and when the people shall have said we will submit and be governed by laws made by such men, and in such terms, nobody else can say other men shall make laws for them. The power of the Legislature being derived from the people, by a positive voluntary grant and institution, can be no other than what the positive grant conveyed—which being only to make laws—and not to make Legislators—the Legislature can have no power to transfer their authority of making laws—or to place it in other hands.' Mr. Locke then unanswerably proves, that no Parliament has the right of annihilating itself—that the power of legislation can only be derived from the people—that no Legislature has any right to transfer the power so conferred on them into any other hands. He does not dispute the right or the authority of Parliament to remodel the Legislature of the country—that is part of your law—but he does dispute the power of making a different Legislature for those persons over whom this Legislature has no kind of control whatever. But to come to a more modern authority, to which a certain portion of this House will be ready to give due weight and consideration. I find it expressly declared, and laid down, that 'You may make the Union binding as a law, but, you cannot make it obligatory on conscience. It will be obeyed as long as England is strong, but resistance to it will be in the abstract a duty; and the exhibition of that re- 1118 sistance will be a mere question of prudence.' Who did hon. Members (Mr. O'Connell continued) think, said that? Was it some wild agitator, was it some popular orator who had said it? No. It was one of the most distinguished lawyers of the present day; one who for twenty years had managed all the Government law business in Ireland. The name of the high authority to which he referred was Saurin, the Attorney General for Ireland. He would be glad to learn, whether or not Lord Grey had not since been of the same opinion? Did not his Lordship say in the speech already quoted, that the people of Ireland should wait their opportunity to recover the rights of which they had been deprived by the Act of Union? Lord Grey had never, in the whole course of his life, said anything more true. The people of Ireland were waiting, and would wait, for an opportunity to recover their rights. He had one authority more to bring forward. He had already referred to what Saurin had said on the subject of the illegality of the Union. Did he make the speech in which he expressed that opinion before he was Attorney General? No, he did not. The speech was made five years after. Well, then, did he retract? He never did. Mr. Saurin was not a man to retract. He now came to the other authority, of whom he had just stated he was about to speak. That authority had, in the most earnest and eloquent terms, warned the Irish Legislature against passing an Act of Union. That authority used language superior to any he could employ, and he would quote it to the House. 'I warn you,' said this authority, 'That I deny the competence of the Irish Parliament to do this act. I warn you not to lay your hands on the constitution of your country. The act which you are about to perform will, of itself, be a nullity; it will be an Act which no man in Ireland can be called upon to obey. I repeat my assertion, that no man is bound to obey this illegal act, and I call upon you to take down my words. You were not elected for this purpose. You are called upon to frame laws, and not to frame a legislation. You are not empowered to transfer the legislation of one country to that of another; and I solemnly warn you that, by attempting to do so, you, in fact, are only performing an act which is a dissolution of your own Govern- 1119 ment, and resolving all society into its original elements. And mark me, I do not here state what may be called the doctrines of wise and sagacious men alone; but I state the doctrines which are to be found inscribed in the very first records of your own Revolution of 1688, doctrines by which, and by which alone the House of Hanover holds any title to the throne of the British empire. Would any one venture to assert that the King of England can transfer his Crown and the allegiance of his people to another Sovereign? No one would. And you, the Irish Parliament, are as competent to transfer the allegiance of the Irish people to the French nation as you are to transfer your powers to the British Parliament. If you attempt to do so, that attempt is an act of abdication. Yourselves you may extinguish and blot out, but the Irish Parliament you cannot. That is a body which is enthroned on Irish ground alone; its shrine is in Ireland, and in Ireland alone; and as well might the wretched suicide, in the effort of destroying his body, think he had effectually annihilated and extinguished his soul, as you, the Irish House of Parliament, believe that, in assenting to this Act of Union, you had put an end to the Parliament of Ireland. Therefore, and for all these reasons, I warn you not to lay your hands on the sacred and inviolable constitution.' And whose words were these? They were the words of another Chancellor of Ireland, and where was the answer to it? Oh God, it was given by the bayonet and the scourge. And who was this Lord Chancellor, who could so strongly, so eloquently, urge the truth? Who but the Lord Chancellor Plunket. Who, having been made Attorney General by the Tories, was made yet more by the Whigs, and having been induced to abdicate that office was made first Master of the Rolls, then Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, but mind, never having retracted one word of his declaration against the Union, and, lastly, Lord Chancellor of Ireland. And what authority had they to oppose to these two great men, Plunket and Saurin? Saurin, wholly unimpeached in all his original integrity; and Plunket as he was in the days of his uncontaminated political fame and consistency. Let them take Saurin in any way, either as a politician or as a 1120 lawyer, and he was completely unshakable and unshaken, and a fortunate thing was it that Ireland could command from such an uncontaminated source the declaration that the Parliament of Ireland was incompetent to perform the Act of Union. It had been said by the same authority that the Irish Parliament was not dead, but merely slept; and the late Mr. Grattan had very expressively said, that he had rocked the cradle of the Irish Parliament, and followed it to its grave, but he had no doubt it would have a glorious resurrection when all parties combined to attain their common good. He begged hon. Members to recollect how great was the importance which was attached to those solemn declarations of Lords Grey and Plunkett. Lord Grey had told the Irish people to wait for a proper opportunity to recover their rights. However little his hope was, when he entered that House, of seeing his countrymen recover their right to a legislature of their own, he trusted at least Parliament must now see that the way to satisfy them, was not by a haughty refusal to grant them the desired inquiry into the consequences which had resulted from the Union. That Union was said by some to be a national compact; but he assumed, that the Union was not an international compact, or admitting that it even had the colour or shape of a compact, he maintained that it was procured under circumstances which made it void. But he distinctly denied that the Act of Union possessed any of the characters of a compact. He knew that it had been said, "that the Act of Union was a bargain, in respect of which Ireland got some consideration; that some persons thought the consideration great, while others thought it small! But it was not a question of much or little, the fact being that the Act of Union was a contract by which Ireland got something, and by which she was therefore bound." He was ready to admit the obligatory nature of a contract with respect to those who were parties to it; they could not void with justice, yet there existed exceptions in every law. A femme covert, or a person deranged in intellect, could not make a valid contract, and those which were entered into by trustees for their own benefit were not binding on the parties for whom they were trustees. He repeated, however, that the Union had not any appearance of 1121 a contract, and though it was not skilful in a man addressing a public assembly to promise more than he could afterwards perform, yet he had no hesitation in declaring, that if an inquiry were granted him, he had materials to show, that there never had been committed before such enormities as those by which the Union was brought about. He had already mentioned some of the crimes perpetrated in the early periods of Irish history; but he undertook to prove, that atrocities equal in magnitude to those had been committed shortly previous to the Union, and, that the chief means by which that act was consummated were intimidation, bribery, corruption, treachery, and bloodshed. He would show, that rebellion was fomented, that divisions were kept up, that religion was distorted from its high and holy purposes, and perverted into an instrument of discord and assassination; he would trace these calamities to the promoters of the Union, to effect which they set the Catholic against the Protestant, and the Protestant against the Catholic, and made the country one universal bedlam, on purpose that they might assume the office of keeper, and turn it to their own profit and emolument. Could they then call the Union, effected by such means, a compact? He should be obliged to detain the House some time while he laid these facts before them; but the subject was important, and it was fitting, that the nature of the ease of the advocates of the Repeal of the Union should be fully explained to the British Parliament and the British public. Every species of taunt, contumely, and ridicule, had been thrown on them; as base a press as ever existed had been turned against them; and they who were only advocating the rights of their country had been made the objects of the bitterest calumny. He only said this, that he might now appeal to universal Britain, through her representatives, to hear the real state of the case with respect to the object of the extinction of the Parliament of Ireland. His own conviction was, that the object of that measure was to enable the British Government to obtain a complete control over the revenues of Ireland. Whether this was a wise speculation was another consideration, but that it was the speculation he entertained not the least doubt. He was aware of the formidable advantage he was giving the right hon. Secretary of the 1122 Colonies by this avowal. He knew what the right hon. Gentleman's estimate was of English generosity and Irish beggary; yet he had not the least doubt, that he should be able to prove, that the Union was brought about for the object he had mentioned. England had engaged in a most expensive war, and her debt amounted to 420,000,000l. The debt of Ireland did not exceed 25,000,000l., even including that which she ought not to be called on to pay—the wages of her own sin. Yet Ireland was called on to hand over her resources to a nation by whom she had for centuries been treated with oppression. It was asserted by Mr. Pitt, that "Ireland had always been treated with injustice and illiberality," and Junius said, that "Ireland had uniformly been plundered," and in these expressions might be found the history of Ireland for centuries. The British had uniformly checked the development of her resources, paralysed her exertions, and ridiculed her pretensions to commerce. They had never made any concession to her which they had the power to withhold, or granted any favour without reluctance. All the advantages which Ireland had obtained from England had been wrung from that country like drops of her heart's blood. Whose sentiments were these? The sentiments of Chief Justice Bushe. The House knew how he should be taunted if he ventured to speak in the same strain; yet how feeble was his language compared with the emphatic expression of Chief Justice Bushe? For twenty years that learned Gentleman filled the office of Solicitor-General; he was afterwards made Lord Chief Justice; and now let the House hear his description of the motives which actuated the promoters of the Union—These were his words.—'I strip this formidable measure of all its pretences and all its aggravations; I look upon it nakedly and abstractedly, and I see nothing in it but one question—Will you give up the country? I forget for the moment the unprincipled means by which it has been promoted; I pass by for an instant the unseasonable moment at which it was introduced, and the contempt of Parliament upon which it is bottomed, and I look upon it simply as England reclaiming, in a moment of your weakness, that dominion which you extorted from her in a moment of your virtue—a dominion which she uniformly abused, which in- 1123 variably oppressed and impoverished you, and from the cessation of which you date all your prosperity. It is a measure which goes to degrade the country, by saying it is unworthy to govern itself, and to stultify the Parliament, by saying, it is incapable of governing the country. It is the revival of the odious and absurd title of conquest; it is the renewal of the abominable distinction between mother country and colony which lost America; it is the denial of the rights of nature to a great nation, from an intolerance of its prosperity.' This he (Mr. O'Connell) asserted was the real fact, and he called Lord Chief Justice Bushe to bear witness that England promoted the Union from intolerance of Irish prosperity. He would now proceed to quote an opinion of some importance, for it was his good fortune to be arguing this question not only with the authority of Lord Clare and Lord Chief Justice Bushe, but also with that of the present Prime Minister, Earl Grey. He was not, therefore, supported by men of doubtful principles, but by the great lights of the country whose unquestioned talents had raised them above their fellowmen. The present Prime Minister said on one occasion, 'Twenty-seven counties have petitioned against the measure. The petition from the county of Down is signed by upwards of 17,000 respectable independent men, and all the others are in a similar proportion. Dublin petitioned under the great seal of the city, and each of the Corporations in it followed the example. Drogheda petitioned against the Union, and almost every other town in the kingdom in like manner testified its disapprobation. Those in favour of the measure, possessing great influence in the country, obtained a few counter-petitions; yet, though the petition from Down was signed by 17,000, the counter-petition was signed only by 415. Though there were 707,000 who had signed petitions against the measure, the total number of those who declared themselves in favour of it did not exceed 3,000; and many of these even only prayed that the measure might be discussed. If the facts I state are true, and I challenge any man to falsify them, could a nation in more direct terms express its disapprobation of a political measure than Ireland has of a Legislative Union with Great Britain? In fact the nation is nearly unanimous; 1124 and this great majority is composed, not of fanatics, bigots, or, Jacobins, but of the most respectable in every class of the community.' He had the authority of Earl Grey, then, for saying, that the Union with Ireland was not a compact, and did not even bear the slightest semblance to a compact. More than 150 years before, it appeared that my Lord Strafford issued a Commission to the Sheriff of Connaught, to try the titles of all the gentlemen of the province to their estates, and gave the Chief Baron 4s. for each Jury that he could provide to find a verdict for the Crown. But, lest the bribe of 4s. might not be enough, he also despatched a troop of horse, who were to be "lookers-on" in name, but who were, in reality, directed to bring bodily to Dublin every recusant Jury, The example of Strafford was not lost on the Irish Governors at the period of the Union. A formidable array of military force would, they shrewdly thought, be no dull incentive to be applied to the people; and, accordingly, in 1797, at which time a rebellion threatened to explode in Ireland, the military force amounted in number to 78,994 men, while in 1798, when the rebellion was put down, the military force had increased to 91,000 men; in 1799, it was not less than 114,000 men; and in 1800, two years after the Rebellion, it had augmented to 129,215 men. Thus, the army had gone on increasing precisely in the same proportion as the necessity for its augmentation had diminished. Those troops, however, were not bad "lookers-on," and were not brought in vain to Ireland. The army was employed in the service it was intended for; and that service it performed, to the ruin of Ireland and the discredit of England. What was that service? It was to suppress meetings in some places when their proceedings were likely to be opposed to the dictum of the Castle, and to control and overawe them in others; in fact, to extinguish the free expression of the popular will, or, by intimidation, to give it a direction favourable to the views of Government. In Clonmel and in Birr, meetings, legally convened and temperately conducted, were forcibly suppressed by the military. The first time he (Mr. O'Connell) ever spoke in public was at a meeting convened to resist the Union. That meeting was held under the eye of the military. Mr. Pitt told the Catholics, as 1125 an inducement to them to support the question of the Union, that, if the Union passed, they would be emancipated. Others, again, who were opposed to the Union, told them, that their support of the measure would be sealing their own degradation, and that their own freedom would be the natural consequence of the independence of their country. Mr. Pitt wrote to the Earl of Fingal, the Premier Catholic Peer of Ireland, that emancipation would be surely the reward of the adhesion of the Catholics to the Union. He had no doubt that Mr. Pitt then meant honestly; but he was overruled by a rancorous and dominant faction; and in a few years after, he resigned because he could not fulfil his pledge. When the meeting, to which he had just referred, assembled in the Royal Exchange, and were waiting for the Chairman, they heard at once the clashing of arms and the rush of soldiers, while the members, in their consternation, were hurrying from the scene of danger; indeed, the glass door and some windows were broken; the officer appeared, and told them that he had orders to suppress the meeting. The consequence was, that they were obliged to despatch an humble supplication to the Lord Lieutenant; and it was not until his gracious permission was obtained, that they were allowed to meet for the discussion of a great national question. That was a historical fact, not his simple statement; for Plowden, the Irish historian, minutely detailed the circumstances of the meeting, and said, that Counsellor O'Connell said so and so. Plowden was employed by Mr. Pitt to give a history of Ireland, and such a one as would reconcile the Catholics to the Union. Having quoted from the speeches of so many individuals, he might now, perhaps, be allowed to read two or three lines from the speech to which Plowden referred. He had then said:—'It is my sentiment, and I am satisfied it is the sentiment, not only of every gentleman who now hears me, but of the Catholic people of Ireland, that if our opposition to this injurious, insulting, and hated measure of the Union were to draw upon us the revival of the penal laws, we would boldly meet a proscription and oppression, which would be the testimonies of our virtue, and sooner throw ourselves once more on the mercy of our Protestant brethren, than give our consent to the political murder of our 1126 country. Yes, I know,—I do know, that although exclusive advantages may be ambiguously held forth to the Irish Catholic to seduce him from the sacred duty which he owes his country,—I know, that the Catholics of Ireland still remember that they have a country, and that they will never accept of any advantages as a sect, which would debase and destroy them as a people.' These were his sentiments then, and these were is sentiments now. He stated the fact to show that, from early life, he was opposed, as he ever would be opposed, to a measure so pregnant with shame and disaster to his country. Resolutions were passed at that meeting, among which were the following, which he would beg leave to read to the House:—'That we are of opinion, that the proposed incorporate Union of the Legislature of Great Britain and Ireland is, in fact, an extinction of the liberty of the country, which would be reduced to the actual condition of a province, surrendered to the mercy of the Minister and Legislature of another country, to be bound by the absolute will, and taxed at their pleasure by laws in the making of which this country could have no efficient participation whatever. Resolved,—That we are of opinion, that the improvement of Ireland for the last twenty years, so rapid beyond example, is ascribed wholly to the independency of our Legislature, so gloriously asserted in the year 1782, by the virtue of our Parliament co-operating with the generous recommendation of our gracious and most benevolent Sovereign, and backed by the spirit of our people, and so solemnly ratified by both kingdoms, as the only true and permanent foundation of Irish prosperity and British connexion. Resolved,—That having heretofore determined not to come forward any more in the distinct character of Catholics, but to consider our claims and our cause, not as those of a sect, but as involved in the general fate of our country, that we now think it right, notwithstanding such determination, to publish the present Resolutions in order to undeceive our fellow-subjects, who may have been led to believe, by false representations, that we are capable of giving any concurrence whatever to so foul and fatal a project; to assure them that we are incapable of sacrificing our common country to either pique or 1127 pretension; and that we are of opinion, that this deadly attack upon the nation is the great call of nature, of country, and posterity, upon Irishmen of all descriptions and persuasions, to every constitutional and legal resistance, and that we sacredly pledge ourselves to persevere in obedience to that call as long as we have life.' The interference of the military at that meeting was of a piece with their authorised interference on all occasions. The feelings of the Irish nation had been held at nought,—they were treated with the most galling contempt. The violence of the military was day after day augmented; the public meetings held by the Irish were interfered with in the most arbitrary and insolent manner; the popular feeling was exasperated; resistance was secretly encouraged by the satellites of the Government; and thus was the Rebellion fomented, and brought to a head, until it ended in a fearful tragedy. Give him (Mr. O'Connell) a Committee,—he would not then enter into the multitudinous proofs,—and he would establish, to a demonstration, that there would have been no Rebellion if it were not to carry the Union. That Rebellion was purely jacobinical in its origin; but at its close it was disgraced by religious rancour, and made the instrument of splitting the people into hostile factions. It, at first, as was notorious, originated with the Presbyterians of the North; it then spread over the country, embracing men of all parties and creeds; and it was for the sake of carrying the Union that it was made to explode. What was the proof? The Government had clear evidence of what was going on, and could at any moment check it; but, no; in place of arresting the chiefs, and seizing their papers, they allowed things to ripen, and the people to be goaded by petty tyranny into open revolt; and what, then, was the terrible consequence? He had heard of such things (as who had not) of free quarter, of torture, and of picketing. All these were the work of the Irish Government of those days, in order that they might enslave the country. In the year 1797, the military command was intrusted to the gallant General Abercromby, who was no party man, and from whom, therefore, truth might be expected. He found the army demoralized and disorganized, and, on the 17th of February of that year, he published his famous "General Orders," 1128 in which he stated the memorable fact, that "the army was formidable to all but to the enemies of the country." That was a fact which was not denied, and was undeniable. Against a foreign foe they were contemptible, though to the Irish people they were a direful scourge. The fact, he knew, had been asserted in the Irish House of Commons. He asserted in that House, that the object of the Government was, to make the Irish Rebellion explode for the purpose of carrying the Union. His authority was not rumour report, but a Report of a Secret Committee of the House of Commons in 1798. In section 14 it was stated, that a man, named Nicholas Macgnane, who was a Colonel of the insurgent army, and a member of the Provincial Committee, attended the meeting, and regularly entered into the debates, and after the business was over, went to a neighbouring Magistrate, the reverend Mr. Clelland, who was now alive, and gave the names of the parties, with an account of all the proceedings. This was in 1797. That information was duly transmitted to Government, who did not act on it, but allowed matters to go on until 1798, when they were ripe for their purpose. The Ministers then had had all the necessary information in their possession for twelve months, and yet they made no effort to check the march of rebellion, but, on the contrary, many efforts to expedite and facilitate it. They had a large army, but they did not, however, apprehend the danger to be so great as it was. They miscalculated grossly the amount of physical force, and the popular energy and moral intelligence arrayed against them, and were nearly falling into the pit they prepared for the people. The outbreak in Wexford was not the result of the concerted scheme of the leaders of the Rebellion, but was caused by wanton and premeditated cruelties, practised in order to precipitate things to a crisis before the schemes of the leaders were matured. There would have been no Union but for the Rebellion, and no Rebellion but for the Union; the Rebellion was destined to usher in the monster of the Union, that engine of English domination. But a rebellion was necessary to excite bigotry, and foster religious animosity. For that the Union was a blessing! and there was the Nero-like feeling to attain it—Rarus et anticus habitator in urbibus errat,Sect si non alia venturo fata Neroni invenire viam.1129 If there were no other way to get at a union but by rebellion, the Nero of the Union was, like the Roman, determined to find that way to it. The youth of Ireland were learning these facts, and the men of Ireland were meditating upon them. Refuse them not an inquiry, to set their minds at ease. Oh! what horrible features were to be traced in the features of that measure! The massacres of Wexford and the burnings of Scullabogue, the pillage and depopulation of whole districts, the ruin of families, the desertion of homes, the tears of the widow and the cries of famishing children, and the exasperation of millions, were to be traced to that tornado of a measure. It was a measure that was floated into the temple of the British Constitution on the blood of Irishmen. How was the Union procured but by the familiar use of torments,—by the terror inspired by a military force, amounting to 129,000 men, each of whom was judge, sheriff, and executioner,—and by drum-head Courts-martial? Let the House hear what Lord Plunkett said upon that subject:—'I will be bold to say, that licentious and impious France, in all the unrestrained excesses which anarchy and atheism have given birth to, has not committed a more insidious act against her enemy than is now attempted by the professed champion of the cause of civilized Europe against a friend and an ally in the hour of her calamity and distress; at a moment when our country is filled with British troops, when the loyal men of Ireland are fatigued and exhausted by their efforts to subdue rebellion—efforts in which they had succeeded before those troops arrived,—whilst our Habeas Corpus Act is suspended,—whilst trials by Courts-martial are carrying on in many parts of the kingdom,—whilst the people are taught to think they have no right to meet, or to deliberate,—and whilst the great body of them are so palsied by their fears, and worn down by their exertions, that even the vital question is scarcely able to rouse them from their lethargy, at a moment when we are distracted by domestic dissensions—dissensions artfully kept alive as the pretext of our present subjugation, and the instrument of our future thraldom.' It might be asked, why did not the people oppose the Union—why did they concur in the measure? He (Mr. O'Connell) would 1130 put it to English Gentlemen to make it their own case, and then make allowances for the people of Ireland, especially the Catholics. If they opposed it, they would be accused as rebels; if, as Catholics, they resisted it, then would they be stigmatised as setting themselves against the Protestants. He implored the House not to dismiss this part of the case from their minds until they understood it. Here the Government had all the information in their power necessary to crush the rebellion in its infancy; yet they did not crush it. Why not arrest the leaders in time, and strike a timely blow for the restoration of allegiance? Merely that they wished to foster it to a certain extent, that they might make disaffection an excuse for robbing the country of its freedom. Who that cast a glance at the proud period of its independence could fail to see the meridian glories that shed their lustre over the heroes of 1782; and who would say, that a country which so nobly won a bloodless victory, and started up from her prostration to the full vigour of a prosperous and gallant nation, deserved to be stabbed by the clandestine emissaries of her jealous rival? He (Mr. O'Connell) would, if a Committee were given him, show beyond doubt, that the Union was carried by foul means. No columns of figures prepared at the Treasury could controvert the fact. The Irish loved their country as much as the English did, and were actuated by as high aspirations after liberty, and it was not without the foulest means that the English Government succeeded. It was not alone by intimidation or by force, that the Union was carried; but even the subsidiary means of the grossest bribery were adopted. Considering the machinery set to work, and the power employed to work it, he would maintain, if all the facts of the case were known, that that portion of the Parliament which might be said to represent the people was more virtuous than other Parliaments; and if corruption prevailed, it was with that portion that did not sympathise with the people, or represent their will. He would tell them from a high authority what means were used, 'If the Parliament of Ireland were left to itself, untempted, unawed, unintimidated, it would, without hesitation, have rejectcd the measure. There were 300 members in all, and 120 of these strenuously opposed the measure—amongst whom were two-thirds of the county 1131 Members, the representatives of the city of Dublin, and almost all the towns which it is proposed shall send Members to the Imperial Parliament, 162 voted in favour of the Union—of those 116 were placemen; some of them were English Generals on the Staff, without a foot of ground in Ireland, and completely dependent upon Government. Let us reflect upon the arts which have been used since the last Sessions of the Irish Parliament to pack a majority in the House of Commons; all persons holding offices under Government, even the most intimate friends of the Minister, if they hesitated to vote as directed, were stript of all their employment—even this step was found ineffectual, and other arts were had recourse to, which, though I cannot tell in this place, all will easily conjecture. A bill, framed for preserving the purity of Parliament was likewise abused, and no less than sixty-three seats were vacated by their holders having received nominal offices.' These were the words of Lord Grey: the following were those of Chief Justice Bushe:—'The basest corruption and artifice were exerted to promote it. All the worst passions of the human heart were entered into the service, and all the most depraved ingenuity of the human intellect tortured to devise new contrivances of fraud.' He would next quote a passage from Henry Grattan: who said, 'Half a million or more were expended, some years ago, to break down an opposition. The same, or a greater sum, may now be necessary. He (Lord Castlereagh) has said so in the most extensive sense of bribery and corruption. The threat was proceeded on—the peerage was sold—the caitiffs of corruption were everywhere—in the lobby—in the street—on the steps—and at the door of every parliamentary man—offering title to some—offices to others—corruption to all.' Mr. Grattan to his face told Lord Castlereagh, that he had said he would give 3,000,000l. to carry the Union, and he stood uncontradicted. It would be found, on a reference to the parliamentary documents of that day, that Ireland had to pay for the corruption of its senators, and to purchase its own slavery. The last authority to which he would refer was that of Lord Plunkett:—'During the whole interval between the Sessions, the same barefaced system of Parliamentary corruption has been pursued—dismissals, 1132 promotions, threats, promises—in despite of all this, the Minister feared he could not succeed in Parliament, and he affected to appeal to what he had before despised, the sentiments of the people. When he was confident of a majority, the people were to be heard only through the constitutional medium of their representatives; when he was driven out of Parliament, the sense of the people became everything. Bribes were promised to the Catholic clergy—bribes were promised to the Presbyterian clergy. I trust they have been generally spurned with the contempt they merited. The noble Lord understands but badly the genius of the religion in which he was educated. You held out hopes to the Catholic body, which were never intended to be gratified; regardless of the disappointment, and indignation, and eventual rebellion, which you might kindle—regardless of everything, provided the present paltry little object were obtained. In the same breath you held out professions to the Protestants equally delusive; and having thus prepared the way, the representative of Majesty set out on his mission to court his Sovereign, the Majesty of the people. It is painful to dwell on that disgraceful expedition—no place too obscure to be visited—no rank too low to be courted—no threat too vile to be refrained from. The counties not sought to be legally convened by their sheriffs—no attempt to collect the unbiassed suffrage of the intelligent and independent part of the community—public addresses sought for from petty villages—and private signatures smuggled from public counties; and how procured? By the influence of absentee landlords, not over the affections, but over the terrors of their tenantry, by griping agents and revenue officers; and after all this mummery had been exhausted, after the lustre of royalty had been tarnished by this vulgar intercourse with the lowest of the rabble—after every spot had been selected where a paltry address could be procured, and every place avoided where a manly sentiment could be encountered—after abusing the names of the dead, and forging the signatures of the living—after polling the inhabitants of a gaol, and calling out against the Parliament the suffrages of those who dared not come to sign them till they had got their suffrages in their pockets—after employing the 1133 revenue officer to threaten the publican that he should be marked as a victim, and the agent to terrify the shivering tenant with the prospect of his turf-bog being withheld, if he did not sign your addresses—after employing your military commanders, the uncontrolled arbiters of life and death, to bunt the rabble against the constituted authorities—after squeezing the lowest dregs of a population of near 5,000,000—you obtained about 5,000 signatures, three-fourths of whom affixed their names in surprise, terror, or total ignorance of the subject! You have exhausted the whole patronage of the Crown in the execution of that system; and, to crown all, you openly avow, and it is notoriously part of your plan, that the constitution of Ireland is to be purchased for a stipulated sum. I state a fact, for which, if untrue, I deserve serious reprehension. I state it as a fact, that you cannot dare to deny, that 15,000l. a-piece is to be given to certain individuals as the price for their surrendering.—What? Their property? No; but the rights of representation of the people of Ireland; and yon will then proceed in this, or in an Imperial Parliament, to lay taxes on the wretched natives of this land to pay the purchase of their own slavery. It was in the last stage of vice and decrepitude, that the Roman purple was set up for sale, and the sceptre of the world transferred for a stipulated price; but even then the horde of slaves who were to be ruled would not have endured that their country itself should have been enslaved to another nation. Do not persuade yourselves that a young, gallant, hardy, enthusiastic people like the Irish, are to be enslaved by means so vile, or will submit to injuries so palpable and galling.' But it was not by cash alone they succeeded in robbing Ireland of her Legislature, though that was expended on that object, to the amount of 3,000,000l. They pandered to the ambition of men as well as to their venality. They created four Marquesses, six Earls, five Viscounts, and twenty-two Barons; eighteen men got titles for their votes in the Commons; men who, if sent back to their constituencies, would never be returned; eight lawyers were made Judges, five of whom were as fit to be made Judges, as they were to be made Professors of Hebrew; twelve Bishops were also made in consequence of the support given by 1134 their friends to Government. But a more important fact remained to be told. The right over whole constituencies was openly bought. Boroughs were purchased for 15,000l. a piece; some sold for 12,000l. The Earl of Shannon got 37,000l. for his boroughs, and the Marquess of Ely 46,000l. Thus was the representation of the people treated as a matter of property. There were eighty-four boroughs, and of these forty-five were openly purchased. Was that a legal, not to say constitutional, mode of carrying a measure? Now, under the Bill no compensation was given to the proprietors of boroughs for the surrender of their influence; if the purchase of the Irish boroughs was legal, then the Whig Government was guilty of robbery in depriving the owners of the boroughs of schedule A of compensation. But if the boroughs of schedule A should not be made matter of barter, then the Irish Government was guilty of robbery against the State, and the Act and its consequences were illegal and invalid. There was robbery somewhere. The majority then for the Union in the Irish Parliament had been purchased; and purchased, too, in such a way, that it must have been gross bribery even in the least culpable view, or the late Reform Bill was an iniquitous robbery. Then in that he fixed the present possessors of power. Earl Grey had advocated compensation to the Irish borough-holders at the period of the Union, but now all compensation was denied. Oh, if the Tories had been in power, he should have been deprived of that argument, for they would have continued the work of compensation; but as the facts stood his position was unassailable. Such was the strength of his cause, it being that of justice and truth, that he defied and laughed to scorn all attempts at refutation. They had decided the question as to the validity of the compact; the 1,200,000l. that had been given, was a gross and shameless corruption, and had in itself vitiated the whole proceeding. They had bought that which they had no right to purchase, for the purpose of acquiring that by corruption which the corrupted had no right to sell. He, therefore, defied any one to contend, that the Act of Union was a valid contract. And yet that was the only formal means publicly taken for the dissolution of Irish independence as established and solemnly guaranteed in 1782. 1135 The compact in 1782 was made with the Irish nation, and he in his conscience believed, complacently witnessed by the Almighty. And yet it was to be dissolved, destroyed, by this base and iniquitous proceeding. He denied, that there was any contract. The trustees had been purchased; and if he was told, that being so they were still trustees, his reply was, that the first Irish Parliament assembled, had proved itself incorruptible, that it had resisted all bribery; and that, as long as the nation had the power of naming its trustees, they were faithful. The case was different with the next Parliament; it was not freely chosen by the people; it was not the representation of the people, and its acts were not the acts of the people. These, then, were the means by which the Act of Union had been obtained. Would any attempt be made to deny his facts? Such could not be the case. It was impossible. They were notorious beyond dispute; and in Ireland they were felt so strongly, that any attempt to throw discredit on that would excite the indignant laughter of the people. If the House doubted it, give him the Committee, and he would prove every item of it. But dreadful and disastrous as were the effects of the atrocious means resorted to in order to carry the Union, he deplored, perhaps, more than any man, that which had prevented those who had won the victories of 1782 from acting still in the same spirit, and resisting the robbery of their country even to the death. Those gallant and patriotic men had declared, that as they had fought rebels in rags, so they were ready to fight rebels in lace; but, unhappily, so deep-laid was the scheme for the prostration of Ireland, that they were forbidden from entering upon the contest. There was no chance of success; and so wily and deep were the snares, that no man of character and sense could resist openly the course which was equally opposed to morality, legality, and justice.—I have now (continued the hon. and learned Gentleman) gone through some of the topics upon which I have intended to speak—I have shown you the right of Ireland to an independent Legislature, and that that independence was established in 1782—I have shown you the effects of that independence—I have shown the incompetency of the Irish Parliament to pass the Union—I have shown the horrible 1136 means by which it was actually effected, and I come now to the terms upon which it was carried. I think I shall be able to show, that these terms were as improper as the means to carry the Union were monstrous—I come at once to the frightful terms of the Union; and my proposition is, that there never was anything more unjust than those terms; and among their other mischiefs, they have given to us the most useless calculations within the last week. This part of my case is quite consistent with the Union being valid in itself; and even though it be so consistent, it is no admission made by me, that I consider the compact valid.—The first thing I would remark as to the financial terms is, that there were no Commissioners appointed, nor any arrangement made by them, as to the proper terms—it was done as a bribed and corrupted Parliament would do it, hand over head, and no inquiry by Commissioners at all. If I now get the Committee of Inquiry I seek for, I shall be able to convince them, that the grossest injustice has been practised towards Ireland. The terms made at the Union were, that Ireland was to pay two-seventeenths, and England fifteen-seventeenths. Why was the compound fraction introduced? I am convinced, simply for this reason, in order to create confusion. A nation never enters into the calculation of fractions; that troublesome process is left to some industrious man to undergo. The fraction, I believe, was purposely introduced, in order that Ireland might be robbed with the greater facility. The progress of the Irish debt was this:—In 1797, it was 5,300,000l.; in 1798, 9,200,000l.; in 1799, 14,900,000l.; in 1800, 21,700,000l.; in 1801, 26,800,000l. You perceive that it swelled up to 26,000,000l. in 1801.—Now, see what was the debt of England? In 1799, it was 400,000,000l., and the Irish debt then was 14,900,000l., call it 15,000,000l. The question then to be discovered was, how much of the joint expenditure each country ought to be liable to? What was the basis of calculation? England had been going in debt for a century—her debt had increased in that time at least 372,000,000l., and Ireland, during the same period, but 9,000,000l. If I were going into partnership with a man who owed 420,000l., and I owed 9,000l., I should be glad to know, if he ought to ask me to contribute 1137 equally to the future expenditure. If you turn the debt into capital, the man who had the most capital should have most of the profits.—Here are two countries, the one very little in debt, and the other a great deal, and the fair way would have been to take the proportions of their respective debts, and thus calculating what each ought to pay. Indeed, as Ireland was to lose the protection of her Parliament, it would have been but fair to have taken a portion of her debt. Ireland, however, was charged with two-seventeenths, when she ought, in fact, to have been charged with only one-seventeenth—the charge against her prospectively, ought to have been not more than one-sixteenth; but I should be satisfied with one-seventeenth. The Irish anti-union Lords insisted, that the proportion should be but one-eighteenth, and they calculated it thus:—
Upon the debt of both it ought to be about one-sixteenth, and on revenue one-thirteenth. But there were no Commissioners then to investigate, and the one-seventeenth which Ireland ought to pay, you turned into two-seventeenths, and this without the least reason, but that your name was "Lion," and you had the power to do it.—But do I want to show, that this proposition was too great for Ireland to bear? There is demonstrative proof, that it was too great for Ireland. You say, that Ireland has prospered since the Union. You make my case the stronger by the assertion, for with all your boasted prosperity of Ireland, you had to consolidate the Exchequers, she not being able to pay her proportion—the two-seventeenths. Ought Ireland to have been charged more than she was able to pay? You bought our Parliament: you corrupted our Parliament: you got from Ireland the proportion you wished of her contributions: you put your hands into the pockets of her people; and, like felons and pickpockets, you did not withdraw your hand until you left your victim stripped of all her wealth, a bankrupt, and a beggar. It is manifest a fraud was contemplated against Ireland, and it has been successfully practised. Will the right hon. member for Cambridge say, that Ireland has been benefited by the 1138 Union? If he does, he but makes my argument the stronger; for, with all the benefits of the Union, he proves that its terms were enormously and extravagantly unjust—Ireland could not comply with them. Now, one of the provisions of the Act of Union, shows the fraud that was meditated. If the provisions had been, that when the English debt was brought down to the level of the Irish the taxes would have been equal upon both, it would have been fair; but that Ireland should be equally liable to English taxation when her debt was raised to the Union proportions was most unjust. By going in debt Ireland was to arrive at the happy consummation that her taxes were to be increased! This was literally and in terms the provision of the Union. I now call for an inquiry. They granted no inquiry in 1800. At least remedy this evil of the Union. What was the consequence of this provision? Ireland ran faster into debt than even England had. The English debt only travelled: the Irish galloped; and at last it overtook the English. This was the stipulation of the Union. I ask you, would any but an insane man have consented to it? The Irish people did not consent to it: it was proposed and adopted by plunderers and robbers. Would an Irish Parliament, if it had continued, have permitted Ireland to be thus despoiled? Would it have suffered her to be thus pressed down with a load of taxes? There were 110,000,000l. borrowed in the name of Ireland; and the result has been, that Ireland is a sharer in the common debt. She owed 26,000,000l. at the time of the Union: at this day she owes 800,000,000l.! No matter what may be our trade and commerce, no matter what the enterprise and the industry of the people may be, we must bear an equal load of taxes with you until we have paid off the 800,000,0001. If you did justice to Ireland you would come back to the one-sixteenth, or the one-eighteenth, or whatever the proportion of the Irish debt ought to be. I was exceedingly amused with what was certainly not a factious composition—the Returns moved for on Thursday in this House, and printed upon Friday, and which went to show I do not know how many millions which England had paid for Ireland. Is it by any remission of duties—is it by sparing Ireland, that it has been done? Will any one pretend to say that it has? No; you have 1139 taxed Ireland as much as you possibly could—you taxed Ireland to the amount of 5,000,000l., and by your excessively high taxation there was a reduction, at last, in the revenue of 300,000l. You have demonstrated your injustice in your over-taxation of Ireland. Here I am most ready to meet the right hon. Gentleman foot to foot upon this point; not, certainly, as he once proposed to meet another hon. Gentleman, "breast to breast, and shoulder to shoulder." You, I say, have only paid more, because you have plundered Ireland too fast; and for your losses in that way I have not the least Christian charity. Now, in these calculations I have been struck with this, that if there had been no Union, England would have had to pay 16,000,000l. of separate taxation. If it, happened to Ireland that she was put under water—not, as Sir Joseph Yorke said, for twenty-four hours, but for thirty-four years—you would all that time have been paving 16,000,000l. of separate taxation—that would make, in the thirty-four years, 544,000,000l. of separate taxation. In the late Returns, the amount of separate taxation claimed for England is 325,316,861l. So that, in fact, the Union has saved to England 219,000,000l. of separate taxation. Now, I must observe, that in June last I moved for Returns and I got them not till last week. The right hon. Gentleman, upon the other hand, moves for Returns upon Thursday, and he has them in the House on Friday! Why, Sir, I do say that there ought to be some little decency in these matters. This dexterity in financial matters is not at all creditable to those who practise them. Why should there be this anomaly? I gave notice of this Motion in the last Session. I renewed it at the commencement of this. Why were not the right hon. Gentleman's accounts produced? Why were these complicated accounts held back till now? The object is obvious—they are now brought forward to make the people of England think that they are bountiful benefactors to the people of Ireland. If there was any shame in the quarter in which they have originated, this attempt at deceit and delusion would not be made. The Returns I moved for are kept back from June, and they are at last sent to me, by way of a compliment, on Wednesday, the day before they were delivered to the House. Here, then, there was to be an occasion of triumph; but 1140 this would be the whole of the triumph. When the right hon. Gentleman makes use of his tables, which were so dexterously kept back till the last moment, they will be received by the House with loud cries of "hear, hear"—they will ring around the House, and they will be followed by the cheers of his supporters. I am, I suppose, to witness this scene! But, then, I tell the triumphant party you took care to keep back your documents until Friday—they were concocted and prepared for the occasion—you moved for them on Thursday—they are returned the next day, while I did not receive until Wednesday the documents for which I had applied in June last! And this is your candour! This is your fair play! And this, too, is another specimen of your national faith! I have had but a very short time for examining the tables of the right hon. Gentleman, and yet I have found those tables to be grossly fraudulent. In pages 23, 24, and 25, it is made to appear as if there had been a bonus given to Ireland of 39,000,000l. The way in which these tables are made up is this—the taxes paid by Ireland are placed in the first column, her revenue in the second, and the amount in the third column is given of what her taxes would have been had she paid equal taxes with England. Now, no man knows better than the right hon. Member himself, that adding to taxation does not increase consumption. Suppose you add 5,000,000l. to the taxation of Ireland, you would have no revenue from it. The account here is fraudulent—it is grossly fraudulent, because it supposes that the same consumption would continue in Ireland with increased taxation, although the contrary constantly occurs in practice; and in Ireland the very contrary has been demonstrated since the Union, where the right hon. member for Cambridge must know, that by the increased taxes in lreland—by imposing them to the amount of 5,000,000l., there was an actual lessening of the revenue. Supposing, now, the result were otherwise, still it would be decidedly favourable to my argument; for had Ireland continued to be taxed by her own Parliament, these 39,000,000l. with which we are now charged would be a sum saved to us by the Irish Parliament; for remember that it is English taxation that you have given to us. If I wanted an argument to show the benefit to Ireland of haying a resident Legislature, have I 1141 not it here, to the extent of 39,000,000l.? Does not this simple fact alone speak trumpet-tongued to my countrymen? The features of the Union bargain with Ireland must strike any man as dishonest towards Ireland. Any rational bargain of finance made for Ireland in 1800, and by which there was to be a separate liability to joint charges with England would claim for Ireland the revenue arising from absentee rents spent in England. Should it not have been considered that Ireland produced these rents—that these rents were taken from her—that she gained no advantage by them, but England did; for they are expended here. Should not Ireland have been credited with this? In my opinion she ought, and the reverse is the fact. Every absentee rent is separated from the Treasury of Ireland—it is added to the revenue of England, and Ireland is charged with the more taxes, the more absentee rents that she produces! Assuredly these are things which prove that I am entitled to the inquiry that I now look for. Ought not, I ask, Ireland to get credit for the rents she produced, or ought England to have the credit of them? There is not a single part of the Union compact that does not show how fraudulent it was. It was as atrocious and criminal in its details as in its concoction—it was marked by malice, and in its enforcement stained with blood and tears. I do not know whether I should remark upon the tables that have been kept back till the last moment; but this fact I must call to the attention of the House, with respect to Treasury tables, that I find in Mr. Marshall's book, published by your authority, that there is in table No. 1, an excess over the Exchequer statement of Irish credits to the amount of 6,000,000l. and in the second table there are 44,000,000l. of discrepancies pointed out. When the right hon. member for Cambridge knows that such things may happen with Treasury Accounts, he was, perhaps, right in not moving for his until Thursday. Such matters have been concocted, and it is only useful to show you the necessity for fair play being given to us. As a specimen of the accounts before the House, I find that in these is a charge against Ireland of 1,500,000l. for what is called Union compensation—this, remember, is made a separate charge against Ireland. You got a bargain of my country, you 1142 have it, and yet you make my country pay for the bargain! This is the most cruel wrong—it is the most outrageous insult that ever yet, perhaps, was offered to any country—it is making her pay the wages of her own sin and death. In page 13 it is put down to the separate account of Ireland—surely the charge should be made on the other side. In the years 1802, 1803, 1804, and 1805, the joint expenditure of both countries was 133,000,000l. Two-seventeenths of this amount are 15,700,000l.; but it appears in the twenty-ninth page of the Finance Report of 1815 that Ireland was made to contribute in these years 17,300,000l., being an overcharge of 1,600,000l. In the accounts which were given in to me on Wednesday last I find another mistake. In the table of articles charged with duties in England, and not in Ireland, is hops—the amount of this item is no less than 7,146,479l. 8s. 3d. Is this, I ask, right? Was there ever anything more untrue than this item? The hops pay duty in England. Do they pay no duty in Ireland? Does Ireland use an ounce of hops that has not paid duty? and that duty she has to pay here. You claim credit for yourselves for the duty paid by Ireland; and then you debit Ireland with that, as if she paid no duty at all. These Returns, however, claim for England the merit of being exceedingly bountiful, as the accounts stand between her and Ireland. Now, I happen to have by me the letter of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer upon this subject. The letter is dated the 10th of April, 1822: it was addressed to the deputies of Mary's parish in Dublin, and says—"I have been favoured with your letter of the 6th, and have at the same time received the newspaper containing your full and perspicuous statement of the comparative relief from taxation afforded to England and Ireland since the conclusion of the peace. Connected with the passage from the Report of the Finance Committee, as to the comparative advances in taxation during the war, the inference is, in my opinion, irresistible, that Ireland has an equitable claim on Parliament for remission of taxation to a much greater extent than she has experienced." The writer of this letter is Sir John Newport; and so far are the accounts that the right hon. Gentleman has produced from being corroborated by 1143 this letter, that they are directly contradicted by it. Sir John Newport distinctly intimates that Ireland was overtaxed during the war, and that she was entitled to a remission of taxation much greater than she has experienced. Let me now remark, that in the accounts that were sent me, and for which I had applied, they ought to have been summed up. The omission is curious, and its effect has been to impose a great deal of additional trouble upon me. The result is, that since the war, upwards of 47,000,000l. of taxes have been repealed in Great Britain, and scarcely a million and a-half in Ireland. Let me observe, too, that some articles being taxed in England, and not taxed in Ireland, has been ruinous to the Irish trader in those articles. Some of the separate taxes in England have been made to operate in favour of the English manufacturer, and against the Irish manufacturer. Look, for instance, at the tax upon soap and printed cottons. The Soap-tax in England was, through the instrumentality of the draw-back as a bounty to the English manufacturer, fast verging to the annihilation of the Irish manufacturer. Looking, then, to this portion of the account, you find that separate taxation upon this article has, in its results, been a bonus to the English soap manufacturer to enter the Irish market, and monopolise nearly all its profits. Why, now, do I dwell upon this?—why do I detain the house by observing upon these particular items? Because I wish to show you how much of fraud there was in the basis of the financial arrangements of the Union. A complexity was introduced into them which has been taken advantage of by the most shameful robbery of Ireland. I have now gone through my fifth proposition, which I meant to sustain,—namely, that the financial terms of the Union were unjust. I have next to go through the legislative terms of the Union, which were equally unjust, and I promise the House that I will not be as diffuse upon this head, as I have felt it my duty to be upon others. The number of Representatives should necessarily have been, according to the calculation of Lord Castlereagh, much greater than they are. He gave to Ireland, after all imaginable reductions, 108 Members. He took, as the grounds for his calculation, population, exports, im- 1144 ports, and revenue. He gave for
Eng. Ire. The balance of trade then appearing as 29 to 1 Current cash 12 to 1 Permanent Revenue 13 to 1
And the result was, 108 members. Now, the first injustice done to Ireland was striking off eight Members to which we were entitled on a calculation exceedingly unfavourable to us; and we find that in a Reform of Parliament, this injustice, no more than any other, has not been remedied. Lord Castlereagh left in the hands of the collectors of the revenue a balance of half a million, which Foster showed would have added more than one-sixth to the revenue proportion—so that the thirty-nine put down for revenue should have been forty-five, and it would then have stood thus, even according to Lord Castlereagh's own showing, had the revenue been fairly considered—
Population 202 Members. Exports 100 — Imports 93 — Revenue 39 —
The result would have been two additional Members, giving to Ireland on those terms 110 Members. It was admitted she was entitled to 108; and yet the barefaced fraud was perpetrated of lessening the number to 100. Newnham has calculated that Ireland should have had 165 Members; but without detaining the House longer, or exposing more fully the injustice done to Ireland in this respect, I ask what, in point of legislation, have you done for the people of Ireland? I can tell you what you have done against the people of Ireland. You have given to absentee landlords a power which they had not before the Union—a power which has tended much to increase agrarian disturbances—you have given to them a power of seizing the growing crops of the tenants, and by another law, you enable them to eject their unfortunate tenantry at the cost of a few shillings—you have given to them every facility, first to beggar, and then to expel, the wretched tenant. These are some of the advantages! which Ireland has obtained by having to legislate for her a Parliament not connected with her people. But how has Ireland been treated in point of constitutional liberty since the Union? She has had Insurrection Acts and Martial-law from 1800, to 1805, five years; the Insurrection Act from 1807 to 1810, three years; the In- 1145 surrection Act again from 1814 to 1818, four years; the Insurrection Act again from 1822 to 1825, three years; the first Algerine Act from 1825 to 1828, three years; the second Algerine Act from 1829 to 1830, one year; and the third Algerine Coercion Bill, one year. During twenty of the thirty-four years which have elapsed since the Union, the constitution has been suspended in Ireland! You have given to us Insurrection Acts and Martial-law—you have suspended the Habeas Corpus Act—you have fettered us with Algerine Acts, and gagged us with Coercion Bills; and these are the results of your Union! For twenty years, you have shut out from us the light of liberty; and this you call a beneficial Union to Ireland! I tell you it is a Union with which Ireland never can be satisfied—it is the Union between the master and the slave—between the oppressor and the oppressed—it cannot, and it ought not to continue. You have totally abolished the semblance of freedom—you have established a permanent police there, whom the hon. member for Dundee has justly termed a gen darmérie—you have placed deadly weapons in their hands, and you have taken from the people, that which the Bill of Rights gave them—the right to bear arms for their defence: you took this even from the Protestants, whom the Bill of Rights originally contemplated;—these are your doings, and you have left as the landmarks of your legislation, permanent police and Insurrection Acts. The Union, commenced in injustice, has been consistent in its career; it was based upon fraud, and it is still propped up by wrong to Ireland. I now come to the next topic—the injurious effects of the Union to Ireland, It increased absenteeism, the cause of great poverty amongst the poorer classes of the people, the cause of great destitution and misery to them; and when the Union was proposed, it was said that the people would be relieved from it. At the time of the Union, the general prosperity of the country was increasing—its riches were accumulating; and though absenteeism did exist, still it was not so extensive as now; and if the Irish Parliament had continued, it would long before now have been at an end. Let me remark here, that upon this subject the Unionists principally rest their case. They must admit, that Ireland was entitled to her independence in 1782—they cannot deny 1146 that she lost that independence by the most dishonest means—by bribery, by corruption, by a suspension of the Constitution, by martial law; but then they say Ireland has prospered since the Union. This is, indeed, the post hoc propter hoc argument—that which follows in point of date does not necessarily show cause and effect. England has enormously increased in the four-and-thirty years that have elapsed since the Union—Ireland, if there had been no Union, ought to have enormously increased also. I shall be able to show an absolute declension. This I say of the greater part of Ireland—if Belfast be an exception, God knows why it should be so; but looking to the north, the south, and the west of Ireland, the decay is manifest. I would say here, that if there be any increase of prosperity in Ireland attempted to be proved, it ought to be shown to be legitimately traceable to the Union, and that any declension must be shown to be owing to the Union. I will prove that declension to you, and thus dispose of the vaporing upon the advantages of the Union to Ireland. First, the evil effects must be admitted of absenteeism. No man will deny, that those evils existed before the Union; no man can deny that they have been enormously increased since. The man who pretends even to controvert that I will not condescend to argue with—he who denies it, loses all credit in Ireland. The next point I put forward is, the disadvantageous scale of taxation in Ireland since the Union. In England it has been increased twenty per cent; in Ireland there has been an increase of eighty per cent, and that upon the prime necessaries of life. The Finance Report to which I before alluded,—the report of the public expenditure for the year 1815, contains this passage, which corroborates a great many of my statements;—'For several years Ireland has advanced in permanent taxation more rapidly than Great Britain itself, notwithstanding the immense exertions of the latter country, and including extraordinary and war taxes: the permanent revenue of Great Britain having increased since the year 1781, in the proportion of sixteen-and-a-half to ten, and the revenue of Ireland in the proportion of twenty-three to ten.' See the difference between sixteen-and-a-half to ten, and twenty-three to ten. The whole increase of the Irish revenue in twenty years has 1147 been in the monstrous proportion of forty-six-and-a-half to ten. Mark what the value of the Union is to Ireland! See how the taxation has increased! Is there any doubt of the fact? Let me then call your attention to the observations of Lord Lansdown, who, in making a motion on the state of Ireland in 1822, said, "that the revenues of Ireland in the year 1807, amounted to 4,378,241l.; between that year and 1815, additional taxes had been laid on to the estimated amount of 3 376,000l. From these were to be deducted 400,000l. remitted at the end of last war. Now, the whole revenue of Ireland in 1821, was 3,844,889l., so that the effect of adding 3,000,000l. of taxes had been to produce less by several hundred thousands than that of 1807."* Here is a proof of increased taxation giving a diminished revenue. I must now call your attention to another document; and recollect I bring it forward to meet the case which would show that Ireland has prospered by the Union. It is a part of the speech of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered in May, 1824. The noble Lord made a motion in May, 1824, for the appointment of a Select Committee on the state of Ireland, on which occasion the noble Lord is reported—as it appears to me accurately—to have used these words:—'He had, on a former occasion, stated it to be his opinion, that the repeal of the taxes in Ireland would tend mainly towards reviving the manufactures of that country, and bringing it into a prosperous condition. It was objected to him on that occasion, that he sought, by giving large and exclusive advantages to Ireland, to raise her up into a manufactoring country, which should make her the rival of Scotland and England. While he disclaimed any such intention, he feared Ireland was far indeed from any such state of prosperity. She was as little to be feared as she was to be envied.'† Sir John Newport, in bringing forward a similar Motion to that of the noble Lord in 1822, said,—'Up to the period of the Union, as I have before observed, Ireland was lightly taxed. Since that period, taxation, and especially local taxation, has been infinitely increased; and the result has been, not increase, but manifest and signal di-
Population 202 Exports 100 Imports 93 Revenue 45* Hansard (new series) vii. 1049.† Hansard (new series) xi. p. 659.1148 minution of revenue. I have in every succeeding year opposed the increase of internal local taxation, and again and again stated to the House, that the finance ministers would reap from the system "a harvest of discontent but not of revenue." The House has now before it positive proofs that my predictions were unhappily too well-founded: you have reaped a plentiful harvest, not of ways and means, but of debt and of discontent; and what is still more, far more, to be lamented, you have broken the spirit of the gentry of Ireland—deprived of the influence which they formerly possessed (and rightfully possessed by the power of doing good). Too many from the pride natural to persons of their rank in society, could not brook to alter their mode of living amongst those with whom they were accustomed to dwell in affluence; they transported their families to some English watering-place, and, consigned to obscurity in lodgings, ceased to occupy their family demesnes, increasing all the national evils under which they themselves suffered. Nothing, I repeat, could be devised more injurious to Ireland, than the excess and rapidity with which taxation had advanced since the Union, and which has diminished, not increased the revenue. Since 1808, the estimates of the finance ministers held out a nominal increase to the extent of four millions; and yet, so complete has been the delusion, that the amount of actual revenue is now less than in 1808. As a system of taxation it has entirely failed, and it has been shown more forcibly here than in any country, that the iron grasp of poverty has paralysed the efforts of the taxgatherer, and placed a limit to the omnipotence of Parliament. The taxes increased—the revenue diminished—the only augmentation observable, and that in a fearful degree, was, the increase of debt and discontent.'* The right hon. gentleman, too, Mr. Poulett Thomson—I beg his pardon, I should have said the Vice-President of the Board of Trade—said, on the 26th of March, 1830: "A case is established in the instance of Ireland, which is written in characters too legible not to serve as a guide to future financiers—one which ought to bring shame upon the memory of its authors. The revenue of Ireland, in the year 1807, amounted to* Hansard (new series) vi. 1471.1149 4,378,000l. Between that year and the conclusion of the war, taxes were successively imposed, which, according to the calculations of Chancellors of the Exchequer, were to produce 3,400,000l., or to augment the revenue to the extent of 7,700,000l. What was the result? Why, that in the year 1821, when that amount, less about 400,000l. for taxes afterwards repealed, ought to have been paid into the Exchequer, the whole revenue of Ireland amounted only to 3,844,000l., being 533,000l. less than in 1807; previous to one-farthing of these additional taxes having been imposed. Here is an example to prove, that an increase of taxation does not tend to produce a corresponding increase of revenue, but, en the contrary, an actual diminution."* I admit, (continued the hon. and learned Member, who had been interrupted by some confusion in the House as he was quoting these passages.) the tediousness of this—I am endeavouring to make out a case, and even though it may be inconvenient, I wish Gentlemen to listen—I am now showing that at the period when Lord Althorp's Motion for inquiring into the state of Ireland was brought forward, it was admitted that Ireland was not prosperous. We have here a counsel for prosperity, and I wish to give him the opinion of one of his own witnesses, who, in answer to Lord Castlereagh's declaration of Irish prosperity, thus replied to him:—"The noble Lord said, that it behoved Parliament to watch over the rising greatness of Ireland, and to endeavour to ascertain the cause of the evils which had so long oppressed her. As to the words 'rising greatness,' he (Sir John Newport) did not know how they applied, unless in the sarcastic sense of that remark which was made to Philip 3rd, who had overrun a great part of the Low Countries, that they resembled a ditch, out of which the more that was taken, the greater it grew." Now, the last time I heard this gentleman's name mentioned, it was with great respect by many. Is, I ask, his authority now to be upset by the multiplication table, and his opinions refuted by a page from Cocker's Arithmetic? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Poulett Thomson) has told you, that there was a constant struggle to increase taxation. This, remember, is one of the beneficial results of the Union. In the* Hansard (new series) xxiii. p. 877.1150 document which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spring Rice) has given me, I find that the relief of taxation to England has been 41,085,202l., and to Ireland but 1,584,211l.; that is, about one-twenty-fifth of the amount of taxes repealed or remitted in Great Britain. There is another point in which the Union is felt in Ireland, that is—in expenditure. Savings have been boasted of; but what savings are they? Savings of money spent in Ireland. Look, for instance, to one item, and see how it must be felt in Dublin. To the establishment of the Lord Lieutenant was formerly assigned 68,000l.; it is now reduced to 16,000l. This is a reduction of 52,000l., that is, 1,000l. a-week, spent in Dublin, less than there used to be. I like economy, but dislike that Ireland should feel exclusively the effects of it. We have heard it boasted, that the Irish Estimates have been reduced 104,000l. This, remember, increases our remittances to the British Treasury, and it is, in fact, so much of relief to Great Britain. I now come to those articles which must show the increase of consumption before the Union, and what it has been since. The account of the consumption of the following articles is taken from the Report of the Committee on Irish Poor, of which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spring Rice) was Chairman, in 1830, page 112:—From 1785 to the Union, the increase of Tea in Ireland was 84 per cent: in England, 45 per cent. From 1786 to the Union, the increase oh Tobacco in Ireland was 100 per cent: in England, 64 per cent. From 1787 to the Union, the increase of Wine in Ireland was 74 per cent: in England, 22 per cent. From 1785 to the Union, the increase of Sugar in Ireland was 57 per cent: in England, 53 per cent. From 1784 to the Union, the increase of Coffee in Ireland was 600 per cent: in England, 75 per cent. Now, these are the effects on the consumption of Ireland before the period of the Union. Compare them with the increase of consumption in England and Ireland subsequent to the time that Ireland lost its independence. In Tea, the increase in England since 1800, has been 25 per cent: in Ireland, but 24. In Coffee, the increase in England, has been 1,800 per cent: in Ireland, 400. In Sugar, there has been an increase in England of 26 per cent: in Ireland, 16. In Tobacco, (the poor man's luxury), there has been 1151 an increase in England of 27 per cent: in Ireland, however, there has been a decrease of 37 per cent. In Wine, the increase in England is 24 per cent: in Ireland, the decrease is 45 per cent. Looking, then, at the two periods, we find the consumption of the poor man's luxury, and of the rich man's luxury, diminishing in Ireland in the period that has occurred since the Union. These results, remember, are not taken from any tables made by me, but are furnished to me by the Report drawn up by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. In the tables published by Mr. Halliday, there were, I find, imported into Ireland, of Green Tea, in 1802, 152,674 lbs.; 1823, 38,168 lbs.: decrease, 114,506 lbs. Of Port Wine, 1802, 4,487 tuns; 1823, 1,014 tuns: decrease 3,473 tuns. Of French Wines, 1802, 454 tuns; 1823, 101 tuns: decrease, 333 tuns. In all these articles there has been a decrease of about three-fourths; and it is to be observed, that, while the consumption of Green Tea thus fell off, there was only an increase of one-eighth on Black Teas. The same tables give the comparative consumption of some articles—Raw Silk and Bark, for instance. The value of Raw Silk consumed was, in Ireland, in 1800, 78,451l.; 1823, 45,331l.: decrease, 33,120l. In England, it was, in 1800, 703,009l.; in 1823, 1,067,265l.: increase, 364,256l. Thus showing, that in the one country there had been a decrease, and in the other an increase. But Silk was a luxury of the rich, Bark was in some measure a necessary for the poor. It was necessary for the manufacture of native leather, and in that the contrast is still more remarkable. The quantity of Bark consumed was, in Ireland, in 1800, 174,401 cwts.; 1823, 115,441 cwts.: decrease, 58,960 cwts.; In England, in 1800, 153,825 cwts.; in 1823, 933,488 cwts.: increase, 779,663 cwts. Now, let it be observed, that the Irish at the first date—that of independence—exceeded England by 20,576 cwts. In the second period—that of the Union—England exceeded Ireland by 818,047 cwts., the account standing thus—England, 933,488 cwts.; Ireland, 115,441 cwts.: difference, 818,047 cwts. I have now made known these facts to you to show you that the Union has not conferred blessings upon Ireland, as some would pretend it has. I do not know whether the right hon. Member opposite has read the letter of Doctor MacHale describing 1152 the state of Connaught. He must, however, recollect the Report of Doctor White on the state of the poor of Dublin. That gentleman states, that amongst 1716 individuals, he found but fifty blankets. This demonstrates the poverty that exists amongst the wretched people of Ireland. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spring Rice), whether he read the evidence which was given last year, before the Committee of Agriculture, and which exhibits the distress of the people. The first evidence I shall quote, is that given by the hon. member for Kildare, Mr. More O'Ferrall, who illustrated the deteriorated condition of the people, by the diminished consumption of meat. "There has (says he) been a most remarkable falling off in the demand for meat in Dublin. Thirty years ago, Dublin consumed, with a less population, as large a quantity of meat as at present, and I would say the same for all the large towns." Mr. Murray, a Scotch land-agent and a surveyor, who has been visiting Ireland for the last eleven years, say:—"The north is not now as well cultivated as when I first knew it—the south is nearly stationary. In Cork and Kerry there has been some improvement." Mr. Clendenning showed, from a table of the sheep and horned cattle sold and unsold at Ballinasloe, for upwards of forty years, that there was pretty much the same quantity of cattle disposed of in 1790 (when there were none exported), as in 1832. During the last forty years, the quantities of black cattle exported to England have astonishingly increased; but that shews that while the productive powers of Ireland have increased, its powers of consumption have diminished. But there is a passage in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Control, made in the year 1822, which, up to that period, shews what was the state of the people of Ireland:—'I believe, (said that right hon. Gentleman) that the Irish are the most wretched peasantry in Europe, except, perhaps, the Polish. Their whole scale of existence is, in all respects, the lowest possible. Their garb and their habitations are of the meanest and commonest kind. I need not say, that their food, which is principally the potatoe, is obtained with remarkable facility, and in ordinary years, is sufficiently abundant, but the crops of which are peculiarly liable to failure; the con- 1153 sequence of their living upon this lowest kind of food is, that in the event of a failure of the crops, they have nothing to fall back upon, but are left completely without resource. The least calamity, the slightest visitation of Providence, reduces them at once to absolute misery.'* That, Sir, was the condition of Ireland twenty-two years after it had received the blessings of the Union—a Union which gave to her what a late right hon. Gentleman, once called "the periodical returns of famine in Ireland,"—his word was "periodical." In answer to all this, I shall be told, the trade of Ireland has increased, and that her prosperity has increased accordingly. In the Report of the Committee of 1830, drawn up by the right hon. Secretary of the Treasury, I read this passage:—"The foreign trade of Ireland having continued progressive, and the general tonnage being greatly increased, it is not to be doubted but that the British imports (of which no Returns have been kept since 1825), have augmented at least in the same ratio." Now, I deny that the foreign trade has increased. I assert the directly opposite fact, and I do this, on the authority of the Returns thrown upon the Table on Thursday. In the 8th page we have these figures:—
This is what is called the "improvement" of the foreign trade, and on this "improvement" it is assumed that the trade with Great Britain has been progressive. But tonnage and shipping are referred to as a test. Let me show the House what reliance is to be placed on such a criterion. I have a letter from Dublin, in which the system of making out schedules of exports in that port is thus described:—'Any person conversant with the official forms in use at the Custom-house, on entering coasting vessels, either inwards or outwards, must be aware, that the list of goods specified in the transcire or ship's clearance, by no means affords a correct account of the respective cargoes, especially of steam-vessels; the despatch which they require, and the practice of their receiving goods on board nearly to the very moment of sailing, prevents anything like a correct return being
Imports. Exports. 1830 — £1,573,545 — £839,014 1832 — 1,491,036 — 635,909 1834 — 1,386,045 — 410,715* Hansard (new series) vi. p. 1504.1154 given. The brokers, or Custom House clerks of the several Steam Companies, therefore, never even think of ascertaining the cargo, but usually write down in the Custom House papers any quantity or description of goods that comes into their heads, and which they think will have the appearance of being a proper cargo. The practice of clearing out the vessels of the City of Dublin Steam Company, which is the most extensive Shipping Company in Ireland, strongly illustrates the point. At some periods of the year, this Company sail from three to six vessels daily to Liverpool; and the clerk who clears them out at the Custom House writes down a fictitious cargo in the Long-room, not even considering it necessary to go down to the vessel to inquire what her cargo is; and to sum up the imperfection of the ship's clearance, the transcire ends with the sweeping item of "sundry British goods." Such are the documents from which the Government officials are now gleaning information, for the purpose, no doubt, of exhibiting at the approaching discussion of the Repeal Question in Parliament, a splendid view of the prosperity of Ireland, as indicated by the extent of her imports and exports. The son of the functionary through whom the inquiry on this subject is now making at this port being a broker, and transacting the Custom House business of the Liverpool Steam Company, his father can scarcely plead ignorance of the fact, that the only Return of our imports and exports which he will be enabled to give, must convey a most erroneous impression, from the very falsity of the documents on which it is founded.' There is a sample of the accuracy of official Returns of Irish exports and imports for you. It betrays the grossest ignorance in the right hon. Gentleman to attach any value to such tests. Tonnage means the capacity of vessels to hold commodities, whether they be coals, cattle, or stones, or the most precious merchandize. A ship is, in the general acceptation, any vessel that sails, whether it be great or small. Thus there may be a great array of ships and tonnage with a comparatively insignificant trade. Let us compare Liverpool and Newcastle in this regard:—
Now, this shows that, according to one of 1155 these ridiculous tables by which the right hon. Gentleman is to extinguish Repeal and crush Ireland, Newcastle is a far more important place than Liverpool, though the Customs' duties of the minor place are more than eleven times the amount of the other. Away with such miserable and impudent delusions! Now, what, I ask, has been the effect of the Union upon the population of Ireland?—that population of whom the right hon. Gentleman I just now quoted, the President of the Board of Control, said this—'When you reflect on their many admirable qualities,—their genius and intelligence,—their peculiarly social and affectionate character,—their disposition to give confidence,—their steady devotion to any cause which they have once heartily espoused,—their patience under privations,—their constitutional hospitality,—their remarkable love of country,—their attachment to all the charities of life and kindred;—what must you think of that policy by which all these excellent qualities have been perverted,—by which all these gifts of nature and of Providence have been rendered the fruitful source of misery and of bloodshed?' Policy, indeed! Your policy is now scattering them over the face of the earth. The Union is banishing them from their native land. The number of emigrants who landed at one port, Quebec, from England, Scotland, and Ireland, in the years 1829, 1830, 1831, and 1832, was—Scotch, 10,317; English, 43,136; Irish, 90,256. There is your prosperity for you! Dispose of that, if you please, with a column of figures. There is the result of your prosperity in three years. It has banished thousands of agricultural labourers from a country the most fertile and productive upon the face of the earth. These have left you, because they were starving at home, by being misgoverned from abroad. What, then, has the Union done for Ireland? Has it given to Ireland tranquillity? No; you must admit that it has not. I see a smile upon the face of a right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Stanley). I dare say he will attribute the want of tranquillity to me. I treat the assertion with ineffable contempt. For twenty years since the Union there has been that want of tranquillity. It existed before the question of Repeal was agitated. You have not given to us tranquillity; and you have suspended the Constitution. Yon say that the Union has given to Ireland prosperity. If I were arguing the question in Ireland, I should merely say, "cir- 1156 cumspice." The very condition of the country, and the wretchedness of the people, would be a sufficient refutation to your assertion. Men are working in Ireland for 3d. a-day: this is prosperity! this is the "prosperity" which the Union has given to them! This is the consequence of Ireland being deprived of a resident parliament! I have already shown to you what were the consequences of our having an independent legislature. But it is not in Ireland alone that the baneful consequences of the Union are felt: it extends to the labourers and artisans of this country, who are interfered with by the Irish who are obliged to come here. It increases your poor-rates, by sending a greater number upon the parish. It interferes with wages; for the Irish poor enter into competition with your artisans. Such are some of the effects of the Union! I am glad to inform the House, that I have not much more to say upon this subject. I have only one remaining topic upon which I shall address you. What, I ask, will be the consequence of retarding the repeal of the Union? I ask that question of Englishmen. It is a matter of prophesy—it cannot be a certainty. The men of Ireland know the nature of national independence; and I should esteem but little the man who thought another country should be more independent than his own. The people of Ireland recollect the manner and the means by which the Union was effected—they feel its sad consequences, and they are desirous to put an end to them. Repeal cannot endanger the connexion—continuing the Union may; and although, while I live, I shall oppose separation, yet still it is my opinion, that continuing the legislative Union must endanger the connexion. I can tell you what would be the advantages to my country, if the Irish parliament were restored. I can see no advantage to follow from separation—I know there must be a great deal in continuing the connexion. I inn most favourable to the connexion, although I have been accused of seeking for separation. The Union can alone endanger that connexion; and this is not alone my opinion, but that of others of far more weight than I possess. In the debate on the Union, Mr. Grey, the present Prime Minister, said,—'I trust that his Majesty's Ministers will not, by any undue means, seek to triumph over all opposition. If the Union shall be effected by such means, I am confident that that, more than any thing else, will endanger the separation of the two coun 1157 tries.' I have a still stronger passage to read to the House. It is this:—'Sir, I warn the Ministers of this country against persevering in their present system. Let them not proceed to offer violence to the settled principles, or to shake the settled loyalty of the country. Let them not persist in the wicked and desperate doctrine which places British connexion in contradiction to Irish freedom. I revere them both—it has been the habit of my life to do so. For the present constitution I am ready to make any sacrifice—I have proved it. For British connexion I am ready to lay down my life—my actions have proved it. Why have I done so? Because I consider that connexion essential to the freedom of Ireland. Do not, therefore, tear asunder to oppose to each other those principles which are identified in the minds of loyal Irishmen. For me, I do not hesitate to declare, that if the madness of the revolutionist should tell me, "you must sacrifice British connexion," I would adhere to that connexion in preference to the independence of my country; but I have as little hesitation in saying, that if the wanton ambition of a minister should assault the freedom of Ireland, and compel me to the alternative, I would fling the connexion to the winds, and I would clasp the independence of my country to my heart.' You have made the individual who delivered those sentiments Attorney-General; you have promoted him to be a Lord Chancellor—and these, mark, are his opinions. Now, I would not, like him, "fling British connexion to the winds;" I desire to retain it. I am sure that separation will not happen in my time; but I am equally sure that the connexion cannot continue if you maintain the Union on its present basis. What, then, do I propose?—that there should be that friendly connexion between the two countries which existed before the Union. I propose it not as a resolution; but what I look for is, that friendly connexion by which both countries would be able to protect each other. As Ireland exported corn to England, so could England export her manufactures to Ireland—both countries would afford mutual advantage to the other. I propose that you should restore to Ireland her parliament. We have our viceroy and our Irish peers—we only want a House of Commons, which you could place upon the same basis as your reformed parliament. This is the claim of Ireland upon you—this is what I ask from you. I have shown you, 1158 that Ireland is entitled to an independent legislature—I have shown you the effects of that independence—I have shown you the incompetency of the Irish parliament to vote itself away—I have shown you, that the Union was accomplished by crimes the most unparalleled—I have shown you, that the terms of the Union were unjust to Ireland—I have shown you, that the Union has been ruinous to us, and that some of its consequences have reverted to yourselves—I have shown you, that the legislative terms of the Union were unjust—I have shown you, that the Union has deprived my country of the protection of the law, and the benefits of the constitution, and that it has despoiled the people of the means of existence—I have shown you, that the English labourers and artizans have suffered equally from the poverty of Ireland—I have shown you the probable consequences of continuing the Union—I have shown, or rather I have suggested, with what facility the connexion could be placed on the basis of right and justice. You are unable to govern Ireland, even to your own satisfaction; for two-thirds of the time that you have presided over her destinies you have ruled her not by the powers of the law, but by undisguised despotism—you have not made Ireland prosperous, and her misery has been of no advantage to you. In the name, then, of Ireland, I call upon you to do my country justice. I call upon you to restore her national independence. The hon. and learned Member concluded by moving, "That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire and report on the means by which the dissolution of the Parliament of Ireland was effected; on the effects of that measure upon Ireland; and on the probable consequences of continuing the legislative Union between both countries."
Ships. Tonnage. Customs' Duties. New-castle … 1,048 … 215,784 … 320,893 Liverpool … 806 … 158,596 … 3,594,344
§ The Debate was adjourned.