§ The Order of the Day being moved for resuming the adjourned debate upon this question,
rose, and began by observing, that he was aware of the difficulties which he should have to encounter in addressing the House, and of his incapability to secure that attention which the magnitude and importance of the subject required. At the same time he was fully determined to discharge his duty to his country, to his constituents, and to himself. The Repeal of the Union was a question that resounded throughout every part of Ireland. Its progress made most rapid strides. He thought that his hon. and learned friend and colleague (Mr. O'Connell) was perfectly right in having gone into a historical review of the state of Ireland. An inquiry had taken place into the effects produced by northern Unions, as in the instance of Sweden, Denmark, 6 and Norway, but it ought not to be forgotten that Portugal, by a glorious struggle, dissolved her union with Spain, and freed herself from the yoke which she had too long borne. That was brought about by the invincible spirit of opposition which was raised to the tyranny of the Spanish monarch. The right hon. Gentleman, the chief Secretary for Ireland, talked last night about rhapsodical rhymes; but this question called for no such allusion; it called for nothing but plain matter of fact. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman, unlike so many of his predecessors, would not have recourse to the spy system in Ireland for political purposes. He deprecated the reference made by the right hon. Gentleman to the meetings which were held in Dublin for charitable objects. It was very natural that at all such meetings there should be a strong ebullition of Irish feeling; it could not be repressed, for there was an intense desire on the part of the people of Ireland to obtain a Repeal of the Union. He did not mean to hold out Ireland as the most charming picture in the world, of a country in which due regard was bad to the protection of life and property. But to what was that owing but to the British Government? It was utterly impossible that justice could ever be done to Ireland without a domestic legislature. The Coercion Bill had been carried through Parliament in the most indecent—the most disgraceful manner; but it could never put down the cry for a Repeal of the Union, or subdue the spirit of Ireland, for the people of that country felt that they were eight millions of men. Everybody was aware that at present Ireland lay prostrate before this House, and could obtain nothing except what she got from the mercy or generosity of England. She had expected much from a reformed Parliament; but in this she was most grievously disappointed. There were in Ireland many combustible materials which might be very promptly ignited. France had already had her three glorious days, and nobody knew how soon she might have three others. The House ought to recollect, that Ireland was the most vulnerable part of the British empire. The great measure which was brought about in 1782, gave comparative freedom to Ireland; it gave her the Habeas Corpus Act and the Mutiny Bill; but above all it gave her a control over the public purse. There was not in Ireland, at present, even the shadow of a government, for the Chief Secretary 7 was necessarily obliged to be an absentee throughout the greater part of the year. The people there would never be satisfied without a parliament of their own, but then they were told by the House that they were not likely to get it. It was true they might not get it at present, but ultimately it could not be withheld from them. Upon the first occasion, when the Catholic question was introduced into the House of Commons, it was at once kicked out, but afterwards the Catholics got all they desired, and more than they expected. The energies of Ireland in this great cause were not to be repressed, whatever message might come down from the Crown, or whatever measures might be taken by the Minister. Some illiberal allusions had been made to the events of 1798 in Ireland, but Lord Edward Fitzgerald, so far from being disgraced by his participation in them, lived in the tenderest sympathies of the people of that country. They still revered his memory, and he (Mr. Ruthven) thought him as much entitled to the highest consideration, for pure, ardent, and unsullied patriotism, as a Russell, a Hampden, or a Sydney. In Ireland, Repeal was sure to become a national question to a man—nay, to a woman. Yes, he would say to a woman, and it was known that men were a good deal influenced by the ladies in their political acts. The very child in the cradle would be taught to lisp the word "Repeal!" The words of Mr. Fox, which he would read to the House, were enough to fix for ever the brand of infamy upon the Union. That great man, speaking of it, said, "The Union is atrocious in principle, and abominable in means; it is the most disgraceful measure that has ever been carried or proposed." The Union itself was a job—a job of the basest description, and when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Rice) referred on a former night of the debate to the family of the Jobs, he ought not to have forgotten that that family were as numerous of late years as ever they had been; for bishopricks, commands, commissionerships, and pensions, were as effectual in their way as any of Sir Robert Walpole's bribes, and there was this evil attending them, that they were permanent, whilst Sir Robert paid the money at once, and was done with it. There was even after the Union an hon. Member who regularly received his 500l. a-year from the ministerial service money, and who voted accordingly. For himself he sought not the restoration of the Irish Parliament 8 such as it was, and such as the right hon. Gentleman had represented it; but he sought to obtain a domestic House of Legislature, such as would watch over the prosperity of the nation, and such as would be returned by the people of Ireland, if they had their choice free and unbiassed. Was he to be told, in reply to this demand, that Ireland could not produce 300 men who were worthy to execute the duties which ought to devolve upon them? The Union which Ireland desired, and which she would obtain before she ceased to complain, was a federal Union upon an independent principle—they sought not for a separation, which he did not deny would be much more easily obtained were Ireland governed again by such an assembly as he had referred to; but he would ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Littleton) whether Ireland would not be more safely governed and more securely allied to England, under the control of 300 of the wisest and best men who could be found in the kingdom, than it now was under the control of a single man—the Secretary of State for that country? Before, also, any permanent good could be effected for Ireland, an absentee tax ought to be imposed upon all who did not make their native country their habitual abode. The country was now drained of its means to support those persons; and when the people, starving, cried out for bread, their rulers gave them the point of the bayonet. The returns upon which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Rice), who, he regretted, was not present, had relied as proofs of the increased prosperity of Ireland subsequent to the Union, were either extremely incorrect, or else very highly embellished by the specious arguments which they were intended to illustrate. The city of Limerick, the right hon. Gentleman had selected as one place which had thriven under the Union; but he could only say, that, in the returns which he had seen of that city, he observed, that where there was one pawnbroker before the Union, there were now forty, and that was anything but a proof of prosperity. In Dublin, too, the criminal prosecutions had increased in an enormous proportion since the Union; and, as for the present state of commerce there, he would simply state that, whilst there were sixty woollen factories before the Union, there were now only ten. There were also upwards of 50,000 people in that city in a state of occasional destitution and distress, and who, in their emergencies, relied wholly on the 9 casual relief afforded them by public subscription. The valuation of houses before the Union, was 794,000l., and in 1830, only 704,000l., showing a falling-off of 90,000l. The returns with respect to linens were as fallacious as they could possibly be. It cost nothing for a man to put down his name as exporting 10,000l. or 20,000l. in value yearly, instead of 600l. or 700l. England, if the Union were repealed, would flourish in peace and amity with Ireland; but as we were now circumstanced, it was impossible to expect peace or tranquillity. That could only happen when we became amalgamated with Ireland, and Englishmen became Irish, when they came to be looked on as friends, instead of enemies and spies.
Mr. John Brown
was certain, that even those hon. Members who acted on this occasion with the hon. and learned member for Dublin, must feel, that the course he had pursued, and the arguments he had advanced in bringing forward the measure, were not at all calculated to further the object which he and they had in view. He felt relieved from the responsibility he should otherwise have felt pressing upon him, in addressing the House on this subject, by the circumstance of knowing that, in expressing his own sentiments, he was also expressing those of the large and respectable constituency which he had the honour to represent; and knowing and recollecting this, he would not be deterred from the fearless and explicit expression of his sentiments by any of the sarcasms of the hon. and learned member for Dublin. The House and the country were under obligations to the hon. and learned member for the county of Cork, for the candour he had shown on this occasion; for it was chiefly owing to him that the question of the Repeal of the Union was now brought to the bar of public opinion. Circumstances might soon arise, in the present state of Ireland, which would make it necessary to grapple with the question then before the House; and his Majesty's Ministers, now that it was brought before the House, ought to grapple with it firmly, vigorously, and fearlessly. He (Mr. Brown) had no hesitation in saying, that there were no respectable persons in Ireland who did not contemplate the possibility of the measure passing without dismay. He could state, that, according to his own knowledge, the people of Ireland did not wish for a Repeal of the Union. It was not their question, but solely the question of the hon. and 10 learned member for Dublin. Even of those who did petition for a Repeal of the Union, there was a great number who did so, not because it was with them a question of principle or feeling, but merely because they had been dragged into it by the agitators in Ireland. Were it not that he was afraid of exposing them to the fury and vengeance of an enraged populace, he could mention the names of hundreds of the peasantry even of that country to prove this. He had said thus much, because he knew that all the men of property and respectability in Ireland—all, indeed, whose good opinion was worth having—expected their Representatives to express their opinions on this subject boldly and explicitly. He considered, that the preservation of the Union between the two countries was the only way in which we could bid defiance to our enemies.
§ Sir Daniel Sandford
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Cork, in presenting a petition in favour of the Repeal of the Union, from certain of the inhabitants of Paisley, took occasion to say, that a considerable proportion of the people of Scotland were friendly to the measure. The statement was altogether unfounded. With regard to the west of Scotland, with which he was most intimately connected, he could state some peculiar circumstances, which would account for a certain number of persons there being friendly to the measure of Repeal. There were, in the west of Scotland, no fewer than 45,000 Irish emigrants, belonging, with very few exceptions, to the Roman Catholic persuasion; and in Paisley, the town he had the honour to represent, there were nearly 11,000 Irish Roman Catholics. It was almost exclusively by this class of persons that the petition which the hon. and learned member for Dublin presented, was signed. It was a rather singular circumstance, that the first question which came before the House on his first appearance in it was the momentous question of the Repeal of the Union,—one of the most momentous questions, he would say, which had, for years, come under the deliberation of Parliament. He came into that House a perfectly independent and unfettered 'man; he did not belong to either of the parties into which the House was divided; and, therefore, his sentiments were the more entitled to respect. He would give his most decided opposition to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman; and he could assure the House, that, in doing so, he was acting in accord- 11 ance with the sentiments of the people of Scotland,—a fact which, he trusted, would be shown by the conduct of the Representatives of Scotland when the House came to a division on the question now before it. They had been referred, by the hon. Gentleman to Returns and statistical tables, but he must say, that this was a fallacious way of arguing a question relating principally to the moral condition of the people. Tables of exports and imports might show the wealth of a country, but would they show how that wealth was diffused? He wished that personalities and statistical computations had not mingled so largely with the general reasonings upon the fundamental principles of Government put forth by the hon. and learned Member. His computations were, probably, intended to gratify the ears of the political economists; but his maxims were intended for a different class of persons. He spoke of addressing himself to posterity; but some of his doctrines were intended for contemporary audiences. Much of the opening part of the speech of the hon. and learned member for Dublin seemed rather conceived in the spirit of a special pleader than of a wise and judicious statesman. The hon. and learned Member was bound to show, in seeking to introduce so great a change in the institutions of the country, that the prosperity of Ireland had been impeded in consequence of the Legislative Union between the two countries; and that now was the time, that now the circumstances were favourable, that now the state of parties, of interests, and of men's minds in Ireland, were all favourable to making so great a change in our policy. But the hon. and learned member, with all that skill which he can command on every occasion,—with all that eloquence which comes at his call,—made a long statement concerning the conquest of Ireland by England, and the title of the latter to dominion. He seemed to labour throughout the opening part of his speech to prove that Ireland had not been soon enough nor sufficiently conquered. It was singular, that the hon. and learned Gentleman should have touched upon so dangerous a topic. Were there not already persons enough prepared to maintain that Ireland had not been sufficiently conquered? Was it necessary thus to supply precipitate and intemperate men with an argument in favour of more thoroughly and completely subjugating Ireland? Great Britain asserted no more than an equality of rights; and as that was a po- 12 sition which the common sense of every man must at once admit, he suspected that, whilst the hon. and learned Gentleman was so largely arguing the title to dominion, the title to property was uppermost in his mind. At least the people might think that some allusion was intended to the tenure and title of property, when the hon. and learned Member discussed the question of the title to Sovereignty. He, therefore, warned the owners of property in Ireland—he warned Protestant proprietors in Ireland—that such a sense might be easily fixed on the words of the hon. and learned Member. He did not mean to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman through the pages of Irish history, from the early records down to the last volume of the Annual Register; but it appeared to him, that it was strikingly demonstrated by the whole course of Irish history, that the people of Ireland had been unhappy exactly in proportion to their independence of the British Government, and their dissimilarity to the British character and institutions. Every approach they had made to civilization and happiness had been the produce of their approximation to the character and institutions of this country. In the reign of Henry 2nd, the state of Ireland was one of degradation and misery. Upon what grounds were the swords of the English sent into Ireland? Had the hon. and learned Gentleman forgotten, that their claim was derived from Pope Adrian, who must have been wise and benevolent, because wisdom and benevolence are inseparable from infallibility. On what plea did that Pope give Henry 2nd a sanction to invade Ireland? On the plea, that she was distracted within herself, and that Christianity could make no progress whilst she was a prey to discord. He was to conquer Ireland, in order to add to the number of the saints and of the elect in heaven. In the reign of Elizabeth, Ireland was distracted in precise proportion to the independence of the Irish chieftains. When a gleam of sunshine lighted on the country, in the reign of James 1st, he let it in by putting down Irish customs—abolishing the Brehon law—reforming Irish habits (of which extortion by great political chiefs was one)—and assimilating, as much as possible, the institutions of Ireland to those of England. What, again, was the condition of Ireland in the reign of Queen Anne? There were continual complaints of a divided people,—of a divided Parliament,—of decayed trade,—of neglected 13 agriculture,—of severe enactments against the Papists,—and of the general oppression of the Government? In the reigns of George 1st and George 2nd, the complaints of the subserviency of the Parliament at one time, and of its petulant resistance at another, were continual. In short, till that brilliant epoch, upon which the hon. and learned Gentleman dwelt with so much of his own glowing eloquence, till the year 1782, was there a bright spot in the political history of Ireland? He sympathized with the hon. and learned Gentleman when he dwelt upon the names of the great men who figured at that period. He admitted their wisdom, their eloquence, and the mighty deeds which they attempted to do for their posterity. They established a Parliament in Ireland; but was there no corruption there? Was there in Ireland at that time no misery, no discontent? Were there no inflammable materials which wanted but a spark to light them up into a flame? The terrible explosion which afterwards took place at the Rebellion was to be traced to the period antecedent to that event. The hon. and learned Gentleman maintained, that spies and incendiaries were employed by the British Government to foment the rebellion in Ireland; but could any one suppose, that the great leaders of the Rebellion were the tools of the British Government? What would some of those distinguished men have said, if they could have anticipated the predicament in which their memory had been placed by the hon. and learned Gentleman. What would some of those ardent enemies of British connexion, whose names he would not mention, because there might be Gentlemen present connected with them by blood,—what would they have said, if they had been told, that the time would come when they would be held up to this House, and to the country, as having been the tools,—the mere deceived, deluded tools,—of the British Government? He was not about to contend, that spies and informers had never been employed by British Statesmen. They had been employed at too many periods; they had been the agents of Statesmen in England, as well as in Ireland, and he believed, that it was not till a very recent period in English history,—not, perhaps, till the period of the excellent Home Administration of the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, that the use of these unworthy instruments had been wholly banished. But was he to believe that spies and incen- 14 diaries could have lighted up the flame which burst out in Ireland in 1798? A retrospect of Irish history showed, in his opinion, in a most distinct manner, that the condition of Ireland, prior to the Union, was worse than it had been since. But he should be told, that, whatever might have been the circumstances which led to the Legislative Union, or whatever might be the benefits anticipated from it, to one great evil it had certainly given rise,—the evil of absenteeism. Their attention had been particularly called to that as one of the curses of Ireland, caused by the Union. Individuals who derived great wealth from the country, absented themselves, instead of living in the neighbourhood of their estates, setting a moral example, and looking to the interests of those around them with a fostering care. None were more to be blamed than those who neglected such duties, and abandoned the responsibility and care which the possession of property threw on them. But absenteeism did not commence with the Union. It had been for ages the curse of Ireland. As early as the reign of Richard 2nd, absentees had a heavy tax laid on them. In the reign of Henry 8th, it was proposed, that the penalty on the property of absentees should be three-fourths of their income. In 1782 the clamours of Irish society against the evils resulting from absenteeism were loud and frequent in all parts of the country. Were they, then, to be told, that absenteeism was chargeable to the Union? He would also ask, had there been no increase of luxury, and had not the appetite for luxuries led to an increase of absenteeism in Scotland and England, as well as in Ireland? The love of luxury and the progress of civilization had unquestionably given rise to a disposition for foreign travel. It was worthy of remark, that the Union with Scotland had not given rise to evils such as were attributed to the Union of Ireland; and why? He supposed it must be because they were a more contented and more peaceable people, and were more ready to submit to the authority of the law. In Scotland, there were no agitators,—in that country, there were no individuals who wished to make a trade of agitation. Was there anything in the Union between England and Ireland to make it less palatable to the people of Ireland than was the Union of Scotland with England to the people of Scotland? There had never yet been meted out to Scotland so full a measure of justice as Ireland had received. He referred particularly to the 15 measures of Parliamentary Reform. In the measure for Scotland, she was not treated so liberally as Ireland was. The question was one of property and intelligence, and numbers, and of contributions to the State; and, taking this view of it, Scotland was entitled to a more liberal measure; at all events, she had no reason to be more satisfied than Ireland. The benefits of the Union did not grow up all at once for Scotland; she also had her period of distraction, for she also had her Pretender to supreme authority, who agitated the minds of the people. Scotland's Pretender, too, had his devoted followers; and the means which that gallant body took to advance their object were much more deserving of admiration than were the means resorted to by the followers in the other case to which he had alluded. He had said, that Scotland did not immediately receive all the advantages of the Union; it was not till she was relieved from her political Pretender that she obtained peace, and received the full benefit of the Union. He would invite the hon. and learned Gentleman to go and see with his own eyes. Most happy would he be to act as the guide of the hon. and learned Gentleman upon the occasion; and he could assure him, that he would be received with all that respectful attention that was due to his great talents, his wide-spread renown, and his enormous political influence. Let him go to Scotland, and there see the advantages which that country had derived from her union with England. At the time when the union with Ireland was under discussion, Mr. Pitt referred to the then flourishing condition of Glasgow and other Scotch towns, as a proof of the advantages which were to be derived from the connexion of a poor with a rich country. But what would he have said, if he had seen Scotland at the present moment? When Mr. Pitt spoke, the Scotch metropolis consisted only of some irregular streets, running up the black rock, which was crowned with the castle, and could not have claimed the title it now possessed of the "Queen of the North." Let the hon. and learned Member compare what Edinburgh now was with what she was then, and with what she was some few years past; and ask himself, had Scotland derived no advantage from the Union? Let him look, then, to the West, and compare the present condition of Glasgow with what she was some years since. Then let the hon. and learned Gentleman ask himself, had Glasgow derived no ad- 16 vantage from the Union with England? Under these circumstances, then, knowing the advantages which Scotland had derived from her Union with England, he did not conceive he should be properly discharging his duty if he did not express his fixed determination to resist any attempt to dissolve the Union between Great Britain and Ireland, as a measure fraught with poverty and dissension to both countries.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said: Sir, the Coercion Bill is an answer to the speech of the right hon. the Secretary of the Treasury. The law which, under false pretences, swept away the liberty of Ireland, and annihilated the Constitution, repealed the Habeas Corpus Act, abolished the Trial by Jury, established military tribunals and created an arbitrary dictator—that law, I say, is an answer to the right hon. Secretary. It is a sufficient answer; it is the only answer that Ireland ought to give; it is the only answer that Ireland condescends to give. But, Sir, the advocate of the people must go further; and though Ireland might rest her case here, he cannot remain silent. There are two difficulties in the way of the right hon. Gentleman—a matter of fact and a matter of right. As to the former, I ask him to look to the state of the country on which the Union, he says, has conferred such innumerable blessings. But I say, si queris monumentum, circumspice. Now, as to the matter of right; and here I beg to ask, what right has one country to govern another? I say, none from nature, none from conquest. Conquest gives power, not right—none, then, except by compact, and that compact must be voluntary. I speak of abstract right; for nations may submit, and in process of time non-claim may constitute title. Try the question according to the principles of the great writers on jurisprudence. Let Vattel, Barlemaque, Grotius, Locke, De Lolme, Molyneux, form a jury, and they must find a verdict for Ireland. The abstract right laid down, the next point is to bring the case of the two countries as near as possible within its limits. We do not seek for the extreme case: we seek a connexion compatible with your security and our independence; and this we conceive is found under distinct legislatures, but with one and the same king. It might have been your compact, but the benefits were withheld from Ireland through your power and injustice. It is true, that the Union may make Parliament more handy for the Minister, but it does not render the empire 17 more secure. To recur to the history of past times is unnecessary, and would be injurious; it leaves a sting without a remedy, and, therefore, I do not follow the example of the hon. member for Paisley, who has just sat down. I shall regard his precept, and shall not follow his example. The histories of Ireland should be burned: they are written in letters of blood: and if we read them for months and speak on them for hours, they are comprised in a few sentences. They are these—your ancestors came to Ireland without right, they took from the people their land, they took from the people their liberty, and they proscribed them on account of their religion. The question immediately before us is not on that subject—it is this, has Ireland got on better since 1800 than between 1782 and 1800? and can the progress since 1800 be solely attributed to the Union? First, I contend, that the Union failed; it is not what it was intended; its promises have not been fulfilled. Look to the Act itself; look to the speeches of Lord Castlereagh and Mr. Pitt. The Union held forth to Ireland the promise of wealth and concord, equal laws and equal liberties—great capitalists were to have gone over, new sources of trade and commerce were to be opened, such as not only to retain her old trade, but acquire a new one. Has this been so?—has Ireland equal laws, or laws similar to England? Has she equal justice, or similar justice?—has she got an influx of British capitalists—new branches of trade?—has she peace?—has she prosperity? You talk of Union and equal liberty—read the Coercion Bill—you talk of Union and equal law—look from the door to the procession of the London trades, and read Lord Anglesea's proclamation against the manufacturers and trades of Dublin. The right hon. Secretary speaks of the prosperity of Ireland. Will he take the trouble of remembering—for having changed his name and being now a West Briton, he may not again behold the state of his former countrymen—will he see it in their deserted factories, falling houses, and ruined families, ragged clothes, and haggard looks? He speaks of the prosperity of Dublin, and her increased rental. Does he know, that yesterday was the day on which the Mendicity Institution was to parade the unfortunate victims of her prosperity through the streets of Dublin, to extract, by exciting feelings of disgust, those alms which the reduced means of the inhabitants had forced them to deny to the 18 necessities of their fellow-creatures, and thus obtain from horror that which was withheld from charity. Will he call this prosperity? When he concluded his six hours' speech, I fancied that I belonged to a new country—a land (his former country) flowing with milk and honey, and that, like the bees from Hymettus, the Irish Members would be scarce able to rise, so encumbered with wealth and riches Cruro Thymo plena; but my senses told me it was but a dream, and that the visions were the incorrect sketches of a painter fróm the Treasury. I submit that the plan entirely failed, and that the machinery, in 1817, came to pieces. The Minister then came down to this House; he declared, all their financial prospects, like their promises in 1800, had failed; that, the additional taxes that were to produce 3,376,000l. had failed; that the revenue of Ireland was diminishing, and he proclaimed Ireland a bankrupt. One of the Reports of the Committee states, that while the revenues of Great Britain had increased from 1801, to the proportion of sixteen-and-a-half to ten, the entire revenue of Great Britain, as twenty-one to ten, and the revenues of Ireland, as twenty-three to ten; yet in the twenty-four years referred to, the increase of the Irish revenue was in the proportion of forty-six-and-three-quarters td ten! So that Ireland had increased in permanent taxation more rapidly than Great Britain; in fact, her imperial contribution, the interest of her absentee remittances, exceeding twelve millions, broke her down; the minister proclaimed her bankrupt, and yet at the same breath, under one of the articles of the Union, he moved, that the circumstances of the country would admit of her contributing, indiscriminately, by equal taxes. Thus he, declared the incompetency of Ireland, and, at the same time, pronounced her ability to bear equal taxation with England.—The result was, that debts were consolidated—Ireland became liable with Great Britain, to the whole of the debt and the provision in the Act of Union was anticipated by bankruptcy, just as the promises at the time of the Union were defeated by it. I know financial statements are tiresome, so I return to the grand point—the political part of the question—Ireland has to complain not only that the promises held out to her have not been kept, but that every man who has courage to stand up for the liberties of his country is proscribed. The right hon. Secretary adopts this species of 19 political ostracism—he takes his brand, and on every man's forehead, as he thinks proper, he affixes his mark O. He puts every one in schedule O, and marks you out as a most dangerous character. Now, Sir, I beg to say I shall support schedule O, if I think it right, and as firmly oppose schedule O if I think it wrong—this is but the old system under a new form—so it was with Molyneux, his works were burned by the Parliament of Great Britain, the Parliament of the Revolution, the Whig Parliament of the day. But his spirit lived to defeat your principles and assert his own, and as Flood beautifully expresses it "from the flames of his cradle he illumined the isle." Here I stop to mark the candour of the Secretary. He quoted from this work a passage that told for him—but did he read the whole—did he follow his own rule, that if a record be produced, the whole and not part should be read? Now observe, when Molyneux wrote, there was no free Parliament in Ireland, and, no doubt, it were natural to form such an opinion, when there was virtually no Irish Parliament; but Molyneux does not say, I would prefer an Imperial Parliament to an Independent Irish Parliament; he could not mean that, because his work was written in defence of an Irish Parliament, and for that in letter and spirit he contends—the candour of the Secretary would make you think otherwise, and therefore, he garbled the passage he read thus:—" If it be contended, that the Parliament of England may bind Ireland, it must be allowed, that the people of Ireland ought to have their Representatives in the Parliament of England, and this, I believe, we should be willing enough to embrace—but this is a happiness we can hardly hope for." Here the Secretary stopped. Why did he not proceed? Why did he not proceed with the next passage?—Why conceal from the House the following passage:"Their sending of Representatives out of Ireland to the Parliament of England on some occasions, was found in process of time to be very troublesome and inconvenient, and this, we may presume, was the reason, that, afterwards, when times were more settled, we fell again into our old track and course of Parliaments, in our own country—the laws and liberties of England were granted to the people of Ireland with a design to make them easy to England—and to keep them in the allegiance of the King of England. How consistent it may be with the true policy of England 20 to do that which the people of Ireland may think an invasion of their rights and liberties, I do most humbly submit to the Parliament of England to consider. They are men of great wisdom, honour, and justice, and know how to prevent all future inconveniences. We have heard great out-cries, and deservedly, about breaking the edict of Nantes. How far the breaking of our Constitution, which is of 500 years' standing, exceeds that, I leave the world to judge." This was the opinion of Molyneux in a former century, but had he lived to 1800, what would have been his opinion of the breaking of a solemn treaty, ratified, concluded and declared, by the Act of Renunciation passed by Great Britain in 1782, to be for ever ascertained, and at no time hereafter to be questioned or questionable—all which words the right hon. Secretary, in alluding to this Act, has suppressed. What would Molyneux have thought or said of such a proceeding, the Treaty of 1782, broken in 1800, by the aid of 120,000 bayonets, and 1,500,000l. of money. What would Molyneux have said of those that preach to us about the cant of national faith, or the cant of national fault? Where was it then—on whose side was it now?—But was Molyneux the only victim? His successor nearly shared the same fate. Swift, too, had the temerity to assert the rights of his countrymen. His works were prosecuted; a reward offered for the discovery of the author. Next came a character of another description. Ireland had the Doctors in Law—Ireland had the Doctor in Divinity, (strange occurrence,) the advocates of her freedom; and next appeared the Doctor in Physic—but nothing would go down with the British Minister. Dr. Lucas tried it. He, too, was prosecuted for his writings; he was at once indicted in the King's Bench, and for the same offence prosecuted by information. Moreover, he was banished his country, but he soon returned and triumphed over that very Lord Lieutenant, under whose reign he was banished, and that was the Whig family of Devonshire. Ireland justly says now, as she said then, you may be very good British patriots, but you are very bad Irish Kings. In fact, we complain, that any man who asserts Irish freedom has been prosecuted. Even in 1782, it was said, that a letter came from England with this singular passage, "Is there no one can stop that madman Grattan?" The Irish patriots were attacked then, just as the right hon. Secretary 21 attacks us now—the language, perhaps, was rather more polished. The words "nonsense," "rubbish," "lunatic," did not so frequently occur; but there was some similarity; and in Mr. Burke's letter to Mr. Burgh, he says, "Lord North attributed the Irish proceedings to us, and they asserted, that every thing that had been done in Parliament on the subject, was with a view of stirring up a rebellion The Ministers proceeded in your affairs just as they did in those of America. They always represented you as a parcel of blockheads without sense or even feeling; that all your words were only the echo of faction; that you had not understanding enough to know that your trade was cramped by the British Parliament, and spoke of nothing but an Act of Union, as the only way that could be found of giving freedom of trade to Ireland consistently with the interests of this kingdom." Gentlemen have talked of Ireland, why did they omit to state her services? why did they state every thing that was adverse, and refrain from stating what England owed her? Ireland, in 1753, paid off a large debt, and had a surplus of 260,000l. in the treasury; in 1761 she was able to keep an army of 24,000 men in pay, of which 16,000 remained at home for the defence of the country, and 8,000 were sent to fight the battles of England abroad; she sent 33,000 recruits, her own natives, to fill up the British regiments, and spent above 600,000l. for the support of the war in Germany; this was before 1782. It is easy for the right hon. Secretary to forget those services, or to suppress the statement; but I am not equal to that duty—let me state what was the opinion of Mr. Burke, the individual from whose writings the Secretary quoted—what did Mr. Burke say of the conduct of the men who are considered as men devoid of wisdom, foresight, or statesmanship? Mr. Burke, in his letter to Mr. Burgh says, alluding to the Volunteers, 'Ireland has obtained, solely by her own efforts, the fruits of a great victory, which I am very ready to allow the best efforts of her best well-wishers here could not have done for her so effectually in a great number of years, and, perhaps, could not have done at all, what was done in Ireland during that period, in and out of Parliament—never will it be forgotten.' With what indignation, then, must we not burn, when we hear the noblest periods of our history misrepresented and traduced, and the efforts of our 22 patriots considered the acts of lunatics? Here is the answer; let Mr. Burke speak for them—I only add, that I rejoice, that the right hon. Secretary has, with these new sentiments, adopted a new name, and has, of himself, assumed the more appropriate appellation of "West Briton." But, Sir, I beg to refer to what Ireland did at her Revolution—Ireland, in 1782, passed a Habeas Corpus Act, passed an Act rendering her Judges independent, repealed the Perpetual Mutiny Bill, repealed the Perpetual Revenue Bill, repealed the Law of Poynings, and obtained a power to originate her own laws; got repealed the 6th George 1st, and obtained a power to make her own laws; obtained her final judicature and the jurisdiction over the property of the kingdom;—were these things to be passed over or suppressed, was that all?—No, she was generous, and voted 20,000 seamen for the British navy, and 100,000l. to aid them. What was the operation of her independence?—her trade increased, her revenue increased, she soon got rid of her debt, and she had a surplus in the Treasury, and the acquisition of wealth accompanied the blessings of freedom. But one thing the right hon. Secretary did omit, for which I charge him home—he attributed to the Imperial Parliament the merit of assisting on behalf of Ireland, the principles of religious freedom, and he suppressed the services of the Parliament of his own. Why did he omit this?—did he forget the Acts the Irish Parliament passed in favour of the Catholics? They struck off the fetters that British Acts and British bigotry had forged for the Catholics; they gave them the rights of men, and bad as that Parliament is reputed by him, yet that Parliament of his own country, gave to his own countrymen religious liberty; and has he forgotten it, and, unintentionally, no doubt, omitted to state it? Is this just?—is this acting like a man?—is this acting like a Statesman? Shame upon it—if your countryman lies dead, throw the soldiers' cloak over the body, and do not suffer every pelting boy to fling his filth upon his remains; recollect he was your brother, and he fell gallantly fighting the battles of his country's independence. Gentlemen have adverted to three subjects, which they declared proved the incompatibility of an Irish independent Legislature with a British Parliament, and with the security of the empire—the Portugal question, the Propositions in 1785, and the Regency in 1789. What were the facts? Ireland 23 had a right to trade with any colony o Great Britain, or with any country to which Great Britain traded; and if her manufactures were prohibited, or heavy duties imposed, it was the same as if imposed on Great Britain; and the King, as arbiter of peace and war, had the same powers and duties to perform with regard to his Irish subjects and their properties, as with regard to those of Great Britain The Irish Parliament showed it was fully adequate to the emergency: by the same firmness were the propositions in 1785 got rid of. In 1789, the Regency came on; this was the great objection made by the Secretary: he represented it as a proof of the impossibility of the two islands agreeing; and what was the point? Simply this—whether the Regent should have a right to create Irish Peers. The question which the right hon. Secretary would make you believe would have severed the connexion, was, that the two Parliaments agreed on the person of Regent, though they differed about the precedents. Ireland proceeded by Address to the Prince of Wales: England by Bill. England restricted the Regent in the power of creating Peers, or appointing to office or pension, except during the life of the King: Ireland did not reserve that power. Mr. Pitt's plan may have affected to be of a more democratic character—that of the Irish Parliament was more in accordance with the principles of the British Constitution; but surely the House must remember what Mr. Sheridan said on the subject, when he revealed his private opinion of Mr. Pitt's conduct, and declared the whole was a mere contest for power. In fact, there was no real danger—the danger, if any, could be remedied by a law; for, as the King of England was de facto King of Ireland, the Regent of England could easily be declared to be also Regent of Ireland. In fact, we proposed it in the Irish Parliament, and brought in a Bill for the purpose of settling the matter. I contend there was no real danger, though to others there may have appeared to be some apparent difficulty. But they say your Constitution of 1782 failed. I answer, it would not have failed if the Minister had not conspired against it; but you did more, for you made the Minister not only buy the Representatives, but torture the people. He introduced a new phraseology—vassalation—strangulation—flagellation—horrid names, to be found only in the Pitt-Castlereagh calendar; and Ireland lost her Con- 24 stitution when her Minister became her hangman. Sir, the next point is the state of Ireland as to trade; and I contend, if you compare the advance of Ireland under her free Constitution of 1782, you will find how much greater she increased in proportion than since 1800. I beg to state first the amount of her exports. The hon. Member read the following statement—
|Her exports—Official value.|
|1785||..||3,700,000||In seven years, under an independent constitution, an increase of near two millions.|
|1811||..||5,471,000||In ten years, under the Union, only 171,000l. increase.|
|1820||..||6,291,275||In twenty, years, under the union, only 1,008,725l. increase.|
|1826||..||8,454,918||In 34 years, under the Union, only 3,154,000l. increase.|
§ The exports in 1810 are little more than what they were in 1793; but if they had increased in the same ratio as between 1783 and 1793, they would have amounted to near seven millions; and if they had gone similarly on to 1826, they would have been fifteen millions instead of eight, and this too without reference to the population, which was from three to four millions, and, in 1826, from seven to eight millions; so that while the population doubled, the exports only increased three-eighths, and the imports but three-sevenths; from four millions one hundred in 1793, to seven millions one hundred in 1826. I next take the linen-trade. Of linens, Ireland exported in the year
|1782, 25,000,000 yards, value||£1,600,000||In 14 years, an of increase of 22 millions.|
|1796, 47,000,000 yards, value||3,113,087|
|1811, 36,890,971 yards, value||2,460,000|
§ Next, Sir, in manufactures, under her free Constitution, Ireland made a more rapid increase even than England. The manufactures of Ireland, in 1706, amounted in value to 500,000l.; in 1783, to 3,000,000l.; in 1796, to 5,000,000l. In 1706, those of England amounted in value to 6,500,000l.; in 1796, 50,000,000l. Thus, England increased in the ratio of less than eight to one, and Ireland in the ratio of ten to one. Next is the revenue of Ireland. Her nett revenue was, in
§ That is an increase of nearly 200,000l. See what it was under the Union—
|In 1803,||£3,318,460||Increase in eight years of only 281,761l.|
|1825,||3,696,090||Increase in 22 years of only 374,000l.|
|1834,||3,814,374||Increase in 30 years of only 496,000l.|
§ Whereas, under the operation of the independent Constitution, it had, in six years, increased near 200,000l., while, under the 25 Union, in thirty-four years, it only increased 496,000l. Examine her debt; and see the rapid approach to bankruptcy. It was, in
|1796,||4,841,856||In this year her exports were 5,300,000l.|
|1811,||89,728,992||In this year her exports were 5,471,000l.|
and in the year after this her inability to pay taxes was announced, and her bankruptcy was proclaimed by her minister. I could go further, and show how the Articles of Union were infringed, or explained away, and though coals were only to be charged such duty as they were subject to at the Union, yet by the construction of the 6th article of Union, by the British Attorney-General, Ireland was forced to pay double duty laid on coal; he gave his opinion that this clause of Lord Castlereagh was unintelligible—that the clause he drew up was "nonsense;" but it was a nonsense decided against the weaker party, and Ireland was forced to pay the double duty imposed; and this additional duty, amounted between 1804 and 1833, by the paper on the table of the House, to the sum of not less than 800,000l. The Secretary states the wealth of Ireland. I refer him to Mr. White's pamphlet, who states, that in one parish in Dublin, out of 23,918 population, 17,000 are paupers. Let him read the statement, that among 1,762 persons there were only fifty blankets to cover them. Let him read the statement of the sick and indigent room-keepers; of the meeting of the clergy of the diocese of Mayo; the evidence of the agricultural committee of the state of the province of Munster; the list of Irish vagrants passing from Liverpool—1815, 3,847; in 1818, 6,614; in 1827, 7,988. Are those the proofs of increasing prosperity? The right hon. Secretary spoke of Dublin and the liberties, and stated how many were unemployed; I was in amazement; he stated 200 weavers. I hold a list from the Mendicity Society in 1826, of persons admitted—of weavers, 423, and of manufacturers altogether, 647. I know, of my own knowledge, that close to the liberties there stood two tan-yards some years ago; they are vanished; a cotton factory—it is gone; a dyeing factory, gone. A house that let for 47l. a-year, now lets for 8l.; this is the right hon. Gentleman's idea of the value of Dublin property! In Trinity-street, the centre of Dublin, a house at a rent of 90l. a-year surrendered to the landlord from inability to pay the
rent. In Stephen's-green, a house on a forty-five years' lease, at a rent of 20l., sold for 484l. Nay, within a few days, close to the parts of Dublin described by the right hon. Secretary as so improved, there were three Irish acres subject to a rent of 70l., and on a bishop's lease, on which upwards of 100 houses could be built, and it was sold for so low a sum as 500l. What, then, becomes of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, as to the prosperity and increased value of property in Dublin? Sir—the right hon. Gentleman is fond of quotation; he quoted from the Irish parliamentary debates to show the system then pursued; he alluded to the Scrambling Committee and the family of Job. There may be scrambling committees in a British as well as an Irish parliament, and jobbers after as before the Union. The sale of a writership and the conduct of Lord Castlereagh and Lord Clancarty are on the records of parliament, though they may be forgotten by a Secretary of the Treasury; but when he read the first part of the life and adventures of the Job family, why did he not give the conclusion, and why did he omit this passage—"from the court physician to the itinerant quack, they have flourished in proportion to the wealth and generosity of the country where they have resided; and though the country cannot boast of having been visited by many of the offsprings which public spirit has borne of a worthy father, yet many of the Jobs, by self-interest, have come over from a neighbouring kingdom, and have, with great success, played upon our virtues and our weaknesses; they flattered us by telling us we were rich; they amused us by pretending to increase our riches; they applauded our generosity, and, to give us an opportunity of showing that we deserved the compliment, they have been very free in soliciting favours." Surely the right hon. Secretary need not have omitted this. In holding up the mirror to this side of the House, to discover a likeness, he forgot that we must have perceived in it a reflection from the other. So I say, to finish the picture, and proceed with the narrative of the Job family. It goes on—"One of this hopeful progeny some time ago found a hoard of money, which, as is a common case, betrayed him into strange inconsistencies, so that some persons did not scruple to say he was beside himself. It was his custom, some time or other, to sally forth, attended by drummers and trumpeters, and a licen-
tious and disorderly rabble, crying out, my country, my country. The little boys ran; the women above fell into fits; but at last he sat down with his associates about him, treated them with whiskey and tobacco (and a speech of six hours), till they could neither see, speak, nor stir, and declared that Ireland was the happiest country in the world, that all ministers were patriots, and alluded to nothing but establishing liberty and rewarding merit." Sir, the House heard the right hon. Secretary state the very great benefits which Ireland had received from 1801 to 1815–61 committees of inquiry and 114 reports on Irish affairs. This was followed by great cheering on the other side. He stated a variety of other services rendered to Ireland by the various parliaments and various administrations since the Union. It has happened that, on referring to our debates, I found a speech of the right hon. Gentleman, made in 1822, on a motion regarding Ireland; and the following is one of the passages which I take leave to read. The right hon. Gentleman, or rather the hon. Member(he was not then in office), asked of the government of the day, "What boon tad Ireland received, with the exception of the Window-tax, which he admitted was a great boon? What had been done from that time?"—A system of Coercive-laws had been pursued. He would ask, was the Tithe Bill any effectual remedy for the evils arising out of the Iirsh Church Establishment? What, then, had Ireland received, after all the promises held out to her?—A mere measure of police, and an efficient Tithe Bill, calculated less to tranquillize than to irritate."—"Why were anonymous communications to be laid before Parliament?—and how could they be decided on?—"He would now read to the House a few words from the recommendation of the celebrated Lord Bacon, in speaking of the mode of rendering Ireland happy and prosperous. It consisted of four points—first, the extinguishing the relics of war; second, the recovery of the hearts of the people. Now, he would ask the House, and the Members of all past Administrations since the Union, whether any one measure had been set on foot, which had for its object the recovery of the hearts of the people?"—"He demanded of the House, whether the Insurrection Act was the true mode of removing the roots and occasions of new troubles?" And if the Insurrection Act war not likely to have that effect, he would ask, which of the
nominally remedial measures that had been introduced of late years, was calculated to remove the roots and occasions of new troubles?"—"Ireland had always met a formidable antagonist in the person of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the time being. Whatever might have been done for the lower orders of that country was rendered of no avail by the counteracting of the right hon. Gentlemen who presided over the taxation of the country. How did the case stand?—what encouragement did the people generally receive?—if they built a house, it must be with taxed timber;—if they enjoyed the light and air of heaven, it must be through taxed windows;—if they wished to enjoy the warmth of a fire, it must be at a taxed hearth;—if they were desirous of drinking any liquor stronger than water, they could only indulge them by paying a tax."* And now, Sir, this is the man of sixty-one Committees, and 114 Reports. Sir, I beg to observe, that the right hon. Member alluded to the late Mr. Grattan; he cited his last advice, and thought to impress the House with the idea that he was against a Repeal of the Union. I beg to refer to that advice; there is not one word about the Union in it, but there is about the connexion. He recommended "the two countries never to separate, and that Ireland should never seek any connexion except with Great Britain." I drew up the paper, and am bound to say, that Mr. Grattan did apprehend much danger; but it was on account of the delay of Roman Catholic emancipation, and not from a Repeal of the Union. In 1810, in his answer to the address from the Dublin grand jury, and in another from the freemen and freeholders of Dublin, he says, "I shall present your petition and support the Repeal of the Union with a decided attachment to our connexion with Great Britain, and to that harmony between the two countries, without which the connexion cannot last. I do not apprehend I impair either when I assure you that I shall support the Repeal of the Act of Union." Those sentiments, I declare, he never, to my knowledge, altered to the last moment of his life. Sir, I conclude, I am for the connexion; but I complain, and Ireland complains. We think you have not time to attend to our business;—we think that your measures are defective—the measures as to our tithes, subletting, our tolls, our bogs, and, above all, our civil
* Hansard (new series) Vii: p. 1536–1542.
and political liberty,—that word which never once escaped the lips of the right hon. Secretary,—that word Liberty! We say our liberty is extinguished; we say our country is deserted—our nobility mostly gone—our gentry in a great degree—our tenantry departing—the Protestants of the north as the Catholics of the south—the best peasantry are emigrating. We submit, that the absentees have increased prodigiously since 1800, and the rental which was two millions then, is four millions now. Ireland cannot bear this drain, and to the Union she attributes its increase. We apprehend much danger in case of a continental war. If the minister should there proceed to recruit, and he erects his standard, let him chose his motto: if he takes "Resist to the death," he will have but few followers; if he assumes even the motto of Extinction of Tithes," and proceeds south, he will have no followers, and will be laughed to scorn; but if he unfurl the flag of 1782, he will have millions in the ranks. We submit this is a dangerous experiment. I am against the continuance of a system that produced in Ireland nothing but discord. I am against a system that began six hundred years of oppression, and ended with two of flogging. I am against a system that cheated Ireland out of her constitution of 1782—that cheated her in 1795, and cheated her again in 1800—I am against a system of chequered governments, that sets one man a spy or guard upon another—I am against a system that promised emancipation in 1800, and delayed it for thirty years, and then only conceded it to force—I am against that system which promised amelioration of tithes in 1800, and afterwards confirmed them at the point of the bayonet, and levied them in the blood of the people—I am against a system that annihilates, no matter under what pretext, the freedom of every Irishman, and deprives him of the rights and liberties of a Briton. I will not fight for such a system of Government; Ireland won't fight for such a system of Government; if his majesty puts a sword by our side, he must put a padlock on the hilt; but give Ireland her charter of liberty, restore to her the charter of independence, and she is willing to bleed for Great Britain—you will not only have her hand, but her heart; and she will stand or fall in the battle for the connexion of Irish independence and British security.
§ Mr. Lambert
commenced by observing, 30 that he had waited with great anxiety during two nights for the presence of the hon. and learned member for Dublin;—and were it not that he had positively ascertained that he (Mr. O'Connell) was now within the precincts of the House, and had he not taken every pains to inform the hon. and learned Member that he was about to address the House on matters connected with his political career in Ireland, he would have thought it his duty to have further postponed the observations with which he was about to trouble them. The hon. and learned Member was not in his place, as the House might perceive; but he appealed to them, whether he had not done everything that a Gentleman should do in a case of the kind, in giving notice to the hon. and learned Member that he was about to make some comments on the system of agitation he had thought fit to pursue in Ireland. He owned he had expected, after all the excitement which had been created in Ireland—after all the expressions used both by the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and his colleagues in agitation, with a view to incite the Irish people—after all the solemn pledges that had been given, and after all the promises that had been made—the House would have had something more of a decided and distinct Motion on the great question of Repeal than a mere Resolution, or a motion for a Committee of Inquiry into the means by which the Legislative Union was effected, and into its effects on a certain portion of the people of Ireland. In his opinion, the hon. and learned Member might just as well have moved for a Committee of Inquiry into the means by which the invasion of Ireland was effected. But it struck him that the real state of the question appeared from the following facts:—Some time ago the hon. and learned Member called on the people of Ireland to supply him with two millions of signatures in favour of Repeal. How many responded to that call? Not one-twentieth part of the number which he so solemnly declared would be necessary to enable him to bring forward the question in that House. The fact was so, and on the part of the Irish nation he claimed the defalcation as a mark of the sound sense of his countrymen. Every pains that could be taken, every possible exertion that could be used, was had recourse to to procure Repeal Petitions; and yet how many questions were there which, without exciting half the attention the present subject had excited, had been supported in that House 31 by Petitions, not only much more numerously, but much more respectably signed! In fact, he thought himself justified, from the circumstance of so few petitions being presented on the subject, in asserting that the attempt of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, to extract a decided opinion on the part of the people of Ireland had, as far as it had gone, proved a most complete and signal failure. After the triumphant, able, and satisfactory speech of the right hon. Secretary for the Treasury, a speech which every man of common sense must admit set the question totally at rest, he should not trespass on the indulgence of the House by entering upon the financial part of the subject before them, but content himself with stating a few facts connected with its general bearings, which had come under his immediate knowledge. But before he proceeded to do so, with the permission of the House, he would go rapidly, and he promised he would do so very rapidly, through the statements of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, relative to the condition of Ireland previous to the Union.—[Mr. O'Connell entered the House].—By a reference to the Journals of the Irish Parliament from 1782 to 1800, it would be at once seen, that the tables of that House were loaded with Petitions containing expressions of general distress and misery. There was scarcely a trade which did not find it necessary to appeal to Parliament for assistance in distress, and for a remedy of grievances. And, notwithstanding such was the fact, the period to which he alluded was the one so constantly referred to by the hon. and learned member for Dublin (whom at length he was happy to see in his place) as "the green spot in the history of Ireland,"—"the oasis in the desert," and in such like highflown terms. Why, at the very period to which he alluded, Ireland was groaning under the iron dominion of a few aristocratic families, who so completely monopolised the Government of Ireland, that on the occasion of a new Lord-lieutenant going over, they told him that if he attempted in any way to interfere in the management of the country, he would find it impossible to retain his office. It was absurd to say, that Ireland enjoyed anything even bordering on prosperity at the period to which he referred. With respect to the county which he had the honour to represent, he begged distinctly to state, that the condition of its farming interests had most materially improved of late years. He could not re- 32 member what the condition of those interests was before the Union, but since the enactment of that measure, they had been constantly and steadily improving in each and every respect. He had now before him a letter from a gentleman of most liberal principles and large fortune, who had for many years resided in the county of Wexford, and in it was stated a fact which he thought spoke much in corroboration of what he had just mentioned. His correpondent informed him, that at the time of the Union there were but ten or twelve small coasting vessels belonging to the port of Wexford, the sole freightage of which consisted of malt for Dublin, or coals for Wexford; but that, at the present moment, there were 100 sail of vessels belonging to the town trading in all manner of provisions to Liverpool and the ports of the British Channel. Again, before the Union, there was not a single opulent trader in Wexford, while at the present moment it contained a most respectable body of independent high-minded merchants. He had heard a great deal of the revolution of 1782. A revolution it unquestionably was. The sequel proved it. That revolution illustrated beyond all dispute, that if there existed two Legislatures, they always would be rivals, and that collisions could only be avoided by concession. Collisions between the English and the Irish Parliament were prevented from 1782 to the period of the Union; but how, he asked, had they been prevented? It was by the most unblushing, undisguised, profligate, and infamous corruption, carried on to an extent, and with a reckless impudence which had never been witnessed in any other country of Europe. There were no other means of preventing collision, no other means of carrying on the public business in Ireland. He deprecated such a system as much as man could deprecate it; but still he would maintain, that under the circumstances of two rival Legislatures, it was unavoidable, and absolutely necessary to adopt the system of corruption. He would suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Union was repealed, and that there were two Parliaments, the one sitting at Westminster, and the other at College-green. If the King of England should think proper to declare war, which was within his province, the Parliament of England might refuse him supplies; and thus the Constitution supplied a check against an unreasonable exercise of royal authority, as well as a check against an extravagant expenditure 33 of public money. But if the King of England, who was also King of Ireland, de facto, should declare war, and the Parliament of England should approve of the declaration and vote the supplies; and if the Irish Parliament, under certain influences, should not approve of the war, and should not vote supplies, it followed simply that the King and Parliament of England were at war, whilst the King and Parliament of Ireland were enjoying a state of profound peace. He put it to the House whether there was any means of preventing this? There were other cases of equal difficulty and absurdity that might be put to the House. If the Irish Parliament were not to have the power over their local taxation—if Ireland, if the Parliament of Ireland, were not to have a control over its financial, commercial, colonial, foreign, and domestic policy—he should like to know what sort of a Parliament the Irish Parliament would be? He would ask any man if it could be a Parliament fit to be called an independent national Parliament in which the great interests, all the permanent interests, of the State might be determined? Was this Parliament to be controlled by an English Parliament, in which there would not be one single Irishman to vote? And yet they were to be told, that this would be one of the great benefits to be derived from the Repeal of the Union. The British Parliament, without one single Irish vote in it, was to be supreme over this independent national Parliament of Ireland. He, for his part, could not bring himself to conceive anything so truly ludicrous. If the Irish Parliament were to be really independent, and in a condition to resist the Parliament of England. ["No, no!"] Well, then, it would not be in a condition to resist, and this was what the hon. and learned Gentleman called independence. But he would suppose, that it was in no condition to resist the Parliament of England, and allow him, then, to ask the House what the Irish Parliament would be but a mere registerer of details—a mere paltry provincial assembly, in the mildest sense of the word—a mere provincial meeting to discuss local interests and village politics? If it were not to be an entirely independent Parliament, in what situation was Ireland to be placed? Was it this miserable shadow, this wretched pretence, this mean and paltry mockery of a national Parliament, that was to conjure Ireland into what she ought to be? Was it this that was to make her 34—Great, glorious, and free,First flower of the earth, and first gem of the sea?[The hon. Member imitated the hon. and learned member for Dublin, and the House on several occasions was convulsed with laughter.—Cries of "Hear, hear," from Mr. O'Connell.] The hon. and learned Member cried, "Hear, hear," but he (Mr. Lambert) answered in seriousness, and must say, that if such a mockery of self-government was forced upon Ireland, he should declare, that the "time for talking had passed, and that the period of action had commenced." But, for the sake of argument, he would just suppose, that all these little difficulties were got over. He would take it for granted, that the present House of Commons was actually stultified, that it had lost itself, and had lost all reasonable views of the interests of the empire. He would imagine for a moment, that the King's Government of the day was so totally lost, as to admit the fall of England—that it was willing to let England fall so low in the scale of nations, as to submit to the establishment of this separate independent Legislature. He would suppose all this, and, to use the language of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, he would admit, that the mere brandishing of eight millions of short sticks would control the Parliament; and what, he asked, would be the result—he meant under present circumstances? He had admitted a great deal in supposing the matter carried so far; but all this at the present moment might be conceived. If, then, the Irish Repeal Parliament were sitting at College-green, what would be its first measure? Why, according to the view and the prophecy of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, the very first measure of the College-green Parliament would be the placing of prohibitory duties upon everything. What would follow next? A prohibitory duty on the part of the English Parliament against the importation into England of Irish agricultural produce. But then, said the supporters of the Repeal, "Oh no, John Bull could not be so foolish as to starve himself; he would continue, as here-tofore, to import the produce of Irish farms, and, if he did not, why then the produce would be consumed at home." Yes, the produce would be consumed; but would it be paid for? John Bull, in his opinion, would be apt to supply himself from other parts of Europe, and he (Mr. 35 Lambert) most humbly apprehended, that Irish farmers would not be very willing to cultivate lands, or to fatten cattle, if persons were to help themselves from the produce of the farm on "great, glorious, and free" principles. He strongly apprehended, that the Repeal Parliament would do all this. He found, that at a public meeting of the vintners of Dublin, held in December, 1832, one of the inducements held out by a learned and popular Orator—one of the inducements which he held out to the people, to make them follow up with spirit and resolution, the principle of Repeal, was the following:—"In 1792, a law was brought into the House of Commons of Ireland, for imposing penalties on all workmen who should enter into any combination against their masters. But the trades assembled from every quarter and street of Dublin, and from a circuit of more than twenty miles. They amounted, said the learned and Popular Orator, to at least 50,000 men, and they all marched in a body into College-green, and they called out the Speaker. They called out the Speaker merely to tell him their minds—and to forbid the passing of such a tyrannical unconstitutional law. The Speaker had to leave the chair, and come out to them in his wig and gown—and to hear all that they had to say; and he was obliged to declare, and upon his honour, that, although this tyrannical and unconstitutional Bill had passed the House of Commons, it should never pass the House of Lords. The fifty thousand worthies upon this gave—three cheers; they then threw up—their caps, and they then went home—with the greatest good humour." This is the way (continued the learned and Popular Orator,) that things might be once again if we had only our own Parliament, for all trades would be then flourishing and powerful, as they ought to be; and no bad laws would be suffered to be brought in, but everything would be settled on the spot—settled on the spot peaceably and satisfactorily. He always found, when a question, when a dilemma or scrape, arose, the weak or vulgar fellow went to the wall, or was driven to it by the partisans of liberty and equality. But the same principles had been asserted from a much more formidable authority. He begged leave to state to the House—and he prayed the House to do him the favour to recollect it—that in a passage of the Irish speech of the hon. and learned member for Dublin—he said Irish speech, for the Irish 36 speeches of the hon. and learned Member were very different from the speeches he delivered in Parliament—he had recommended to the Irish people a species of influence which he (Mr. Lambert) would shortly describe. In all that he stated relating to the hon. and learned Member he should, in every instance, name the newspaper, the date, place, and circumstances; and this would give the hon. and learned Member a fair opportunity of setting him right if he were in error. He was now going to advert to a scene that had once taken place at a Roman Catholic chapel in the county of Kildare. Before he proceeded, he must pause to express his sincere and very deep regret, that such opportunities should be chosen for the expression of sentiments—that such a place as a place of worship should be selected for the display of such scenes. He took his cases from the Pilot Newspaper of Monday, December 2nd, 1832, and he supposed, that the Pilot was the official gazette. "A Meeting was held in the open air; a platform was erected at the upper end of the new Church, from which Mr. O'Connell," said the Paper, "addressed the people." The moment Mr. O'Connell was seen by the crowd, which was not less than 50,000 persons, the air was rent with repeated shouts and acclamations of enthusiastic delight. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin, according to the Pilot, said to the people, "Why should not Parliament be now sitting in College-green, and if your Representatives were then doing wrong, you could all take your short sticks some fine morning, and go up and tell them to act honestly and right?" He (Mr. Lambert) was perfectly aware, that this was mentioned in the House last night; but it was a matter of such very deep importance, especially in conjunction with other circumstances, that he thought it right to repeat it. The hon. and learned Member had then said, that, "if the Union were repealed to-morrow, only imagine two hundred and fifty Gentlemen here, all taking houses in our city, all of them furnishing each house from the garret to the kitchen; there would not be an artisan or mechanic in our city unemployed." Two hundred and fifty Gentlemen—Gentlemen! Gentlemen! Gentlemen! Why the very supposition of being a Gentleman would be more than sufficient to exclude a candidate from any place. He would repeat it. He spoke upon the supposition, that the Repeal of the Union was carried. Now, he was 37 quite sure, that such would be the case, whatever it might be hereafter. He would maintain, that the very lowest landlord or person qualified by the courtesy of that House to exhibit his qualifications would be deemed at such an Irish election to be, by far, too aristocratical for a seat in the Parliament of 250 Gentlemen. He was aware, that there were many persons who honestly and conscientiously thought, that the Repeal of the Union might be carried with perfect safety to both countries, and with singular advantage to Ireland. He would ask such honourable men, if they found the hope of carrying their measure to be perfectly vain—if they found that measure totally impracticable—whether they would lend the sanction of their honest names for the purpose of prolonging that excitement, which was destroying their unfortunate country, and which prevented those practical advantages which might be, and must be, conceded to Ireland if the lamentable and mischievous agitation were at an end? Such honourable men might be right, and he might be wrong, with respect to the Repeal of the Union, could it be repealed; but he asked of them, when they knew, by the decision of that House, that Repeal was utterly hopeless and impracticable, would they lose for such a delusion, the benefit of all which was practicable? He rejoiced, that Ministers had put the question on its proper basis. The question was, should the Union between the two countries be dissolved or not? If this were negatived by such a majority as to render the success of the question utterly impossible, he again asked hon. Members, whether they would continue to tear their wretched country in the manner in which it was now torn, without the slightest prospect of any good? There was another point upon which he would perform his public duty, although, in the performance of that duty, his feelings might be misunderstood in that House, and his conduct misrepresented, as he knew it would be, elsewhere. He should do all in his power upon this point, to confine himself to the public question; and if he should err, he prayed the House to make allowances for the very peculiar and most painful situation in which he stood. He alluded to the agitation which had been kept up in Ireland, and which he believed, solemnly believed, with the most shameful views. He must entreat the House to mark the wide distinction which existed 38 between the agitation which now prevailed, and that agitation which was carried on formerly for the purpose of accomplishing Catholic Emancipation, or obtaining the Reform Bill. The characters of these two agitations were widely different. In the one it produced no outrage. It was supported by men whose character and estates in the country were a warranty for good conduct and honest intentions. What was the character of the present Repeal agitation? He would illustrate this part of his subject by commencing with the county of Kilkenny, the county, the outrages in which had first given occasion for the Coercion Bill. In the county of Kilkenny the disturbances commenced by the agitation got up for the purpose of defeating the return of the Noble Lord who had accepted of the office of First Commissioner of Woods and Forests. This agitation had been got up by means hardly credible, but which would sooner or later meet the light of day. Every social relation of society had been disturbed, and the whole county was in confusion from one end of it to another, and this for Repeal and for nothing else. The spirit spread from county to county, and all industry, prosperity, and security were at once at an end. He would ask what were the causes of this predial agitation? To such an extent had it been carried, that the venerable and most respected Roman Catholic Bishop of Waterford had been assailed and pelted with stones. Another Bishop had been protected solely by the interference of the, Sheriff, and this merely because he differed from the crowd on the subject of Repeal. The Catholic Bishop of Kinshilla shared a similar fate, and the Clergy in general were treated in the same way whenever they refused to lend themselves to the delusions of the people on the subject of Repeal. He was far from being an advocate for priestly domination; but he was sorry for this treatment of the clergy, for he believed, that the Catholic priests were always ready to lend their influence for the preservation of the public peace, and for the protection of property and the safety of persons. What was the object, the real object, of the hon. and learned Gentleman in exciting such agitation? Not the object of Repeal. No; his design was, to stir up a hatred of the English, to excite in the lowest of the populace a thorough contempt and hatred of the English Parliament, and to hold it up as totally incompetent to do justice to the 39 people of Ireland. His language for ever was, that the British Parliament, even under the most favourable circumstances, was incompetent and unwilling to do justice to Ireland. In the Weekly Register of January, 1832, the hon. and learned member for Dublin had said, "The British Parliament is incompetent from ignorance, from wretchedness, from a want of a sufficient feeling of interest, and from a want of time, to effect any measures for the security of Ireland." For his (Mr. Lambert's) part, he could not see how any man could conscientiously say, that the British Parliament was incompetent to effect such measures. Surely the Irish Members elected for the British Parliament, were competent to understand and decide upon Irish questions. There was another part of the subject upon which he must address the House with the most unfeigned reluctance. It was a most painful subject, and had already occupied much of the public attention. He would wish to avoid the topic altogether, but he felt it a public duty to meet this point of the case. The question he referred to, was that which was vulgarly called in Ireland the National Tribute. He knew that it was a very delicate subject. He would have avoided it; but it had really become a national burthen, an intolerable national nuisance. It was necessary that he should address a few words to the House upon the subject. He was very well aware, that at all times it had been the practice—a most honourable and laudable practice—for the public to confer on those who served them well and faithfully, and from honourable motives, some marks of their approbation, some tokens of their gratitude. In some cases this was equally honourable to those who conferred and to those who accepted the tribute. There existed no person in Ireland, no person in any part of the empire, more willing than himself to admit the full extent of the services of the hon. and learned member for Dublin when they were exerted for what he had achieved, the great object of Catholic Emancipation. He had often, in that, and out of that House, expressed himself clearly and most strongly to that effect. Would to God the hon. and learned Gentleman's extensive influence over his deluded countrymen, had been always dedicated to such great, useful, and innocent purposes! To the first tribute collected in Ireland he had given his approbation, and he believed it met the approbation of every honourable mind that wished 40 well to Ireland, and that embraced the still more noble principle, that of universal religious freedom. He was one of those who had promoted this national reward, but now he found that year after year it was exacted; what once was a voluntary effusion, now became an exaction of contrivance and a management of tact and business; and when he reflected, that places of public worship were desecrated, and made scenes of dissension and turbulence, for the sake of collecting this rent from the impoverished peasantry, he felt it his duty to state the case, and express his feelings to the House. Dr. Murray had written to him, that he would no longer pay what was called the O'Connell Tribute, and that his family were obliged to abstain from a place of worship merely to avoid Mr. O'Connell's jackalls, who, during the whole Sunday, were enforcing the tribute. He challenged any man to contradict him if he was misstating facts. On this most disgraceful subject he should say no more. He could not, at the same time, but express his as tonishment at part of the speech he had heard last night from the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Tennant), in which that hon. Member had passed such indiscriminate censure on the Roman Catholics. The language that had been used by the hon. Gentleman only tended to remind him of the days of Dr. Dueignan. He hoped, that his Majesty's Government did not participate in those sentiments, and he was sure, that that House did not. He could tell the House, that both Protestant and Catholic were embarked in the same cause. The property of both was alike in jeopardy, and they were now called upon to forget all past animosities for their mutual safety; for, if the object of the agitators prevailed, neither Catholic nor Protestant would be spared. The conduct that was pursued in Ireland in the year 1798 was very similar to that adopted by the present disturbers of that country. He should read an extract from the Report of a Secret Committee appointed in that year to inquire into the state of Ireland, by which it appeared, that then, as now, a part of the system was, to seduce the soldiers from their duty.—[The hon. Member read the extract.]—In all the proceedings of the agitators of the present day, the soldiers were spoken of in the most flattering terms, while, at the same time, with the most glaring inconsistency, the officers of the army were declared unworthy to sit as Jurors. Never, he believed, in the history 41 of any country did a political chief attempt to carry his object by such a system of abuse and blackguardism, as that which was pursued in Ireland in the present day. Look at the treatment that had been experienced by those upright and honourable men, the late members for Meath, Dublin, and Kilkenny, who, after struggling to accomplish the great measure of Reform, and after having successfully struggled, were expelled from that House by the influence of unprincipled agitators as the reward of their services. Nothing was heard of this question of Repeal until after the Coercion Bill was introduced, and then only as a means to a certain end. The hon. and learned member for Dublin now said, that he was in earnest. He (Mr. Lambert) hoped, that his Majesty's Government would be in earnest too. The hon. and learned Member had said, that he would nail his colours to the mast. He (Mr. Lambert) would also nail his colours to the mast, but they were very different colours from those of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The colours of the hon. and learned Gentleman were orange, in which he had toasted, "The glorious and immortal memory of King William, who freed us from Pope and Popery." His (Mr. Lambert's) colours were those of the laws and Constitution of his country; and if they should be torn down by the hand of lawless violence, he was ready to fall with them. He well knew what he had to expect hereafter for speaking thus; he well knew the implacable vengeance he was bringing down upon his head; but, without being influenced by any motive which he would wish to hide from the world, he would give his determined and most cordial support to the Amendment.
§ Mr. Sheil
The speech just spoken has been received with loud and enthusiastic acclamations; and if it were less able—if the hon. Gentleman had substituted invective for argument, and by his phraseology, his topics, and his utterance, had afforded reason to conjecture that his political conduct was, in some measure, influenced by his personal resentments—the acclamations would not, therefore, perhaps, have been less enthusiastic, or less loud. Fortunate advocates, whose success depends as much at least on the predilections of the tribunal, as upon the eloquence of the pleader, or the merits of the cause! I have heard my hon. friend when he exhibited fully as much ability as upon this occasion; but never saw him received with 42 such cordiality at his outset, or such rapture at the termination of any of his former harangues. With how much power, with what order, with what clearness of exposition, with what irresistible argument, for example, did he treat the tithe question, and demand justice for the Irish people after the massacre of Newtown Barry! He presented a picture of that atrocious transaction, compared to which, his accounts of the fatal effects of agitation are weak and inefficient indeed. The incidents which he described, and the picturesque diction in which his narrative was conveyed, ought to have produced a great impression upon his auditory; yet how coldly and ineffectually did all that he then urged fall upon his hearers. You were then frigid and apathetic; you are now, in the highest degree, susceptible and alive to the accomplishments of the member for the county of Wexford. My hon. friend is now a devoted and unqualified antagonist of Repeal. Was it always thus? Did he not say—(I ask for information, and shall abide by his answer)—that if justice were not done to Ireland on the tithe question, he should, however reluctantly, become an advocate for Repeal. [Mr. Lambert: I do not recollect having ever said so.] At all events, my hon. friend, declared, that the denial of justice with respect to the Irish Church, would have the effect of inducing the great mass of the population to embrace Repeal, as the only remedy for their evils. Whether he spoke of himself, or of the country, putting personal considerations out of view, the inference is nearly the same. He expressed a desire when he began, that the member for Dublin should be in attendance, while he reviewed his conduct, and described his character. His wish was gratified. The member for Dublin entered the House, (which the hon. member for the county of Wexford never would have entered but for the member for Dublin); and I own, that I did not think that he had any great cause to wince under the chastisement applied to him by the hon. Member. But how, after all, are the real merits of this great question—(for great it must be, when the Secretary for the Treasury first called the House, and then occupied it for six hours)—how is the matter at issue affected by these resentful references to incidents which have taken place outside this House? Is this the proper field for encounter between two hon. Gen- 43 tlemen? The member for the county of Wexford may have sustained wrong, language may have been applied to him by the member for Dublin, with regard to his conduct on the Coercion Bill which deserves condemnation. I regret it; but let him bear in mind that the services conferred upon him by the member for Dublin ought to outweigh every injury. Though he has been smitten in the face, let him not return the blow; let him remember, that the hand that struck him had first struck off his fetters. The hon. member for Wexford has adverted to the remuneration, which the people of Ireland have bestowed upon the member for Dublin. He should have considered the extent of the service, before he derided the reward. For thirty years, the hon. member for Dublin has toiled with indefatigable energy and indubitable determination in the cause of Ireland; he has been mainly instrumental in achieving the liberty of his fellow-countrymen; he has relinquished great emoluments by abstracting himself from his profession, and persevering in the dedication of his faculties to the interests of his country; and Ireland has felt, that it behoved her to make him a compensation for his services, and to prove her gratitude for that freedom, which is above all price. I turn from these painful topics to the subject presented to our deliberation. Not a word has yet been said upon the Amendment. Many may conceive that the original proposition ought to be rejected, and yet will, I hope, pause before they adopt the sentiments contained in the Address. The question before the House, is not merely whether a Committee should be granted for the purpose of investigating a question on which the Secretary for the Treasury thought it not inexpedient to deliver an harangue, of which the length must be admitted to be wonderful; but whether we shall vote an Address, which not only contains an approval of the Union, but states besides, that the policy adopted with respect to Ireland, has been judicious, wise, and just. Observe what it is you are called upon to place on record:—'We humbly represent to your Majesty, that the Imperial Parliament have taken the affairs of Ireland into their most serious consideration, and that various salutary laws have been enacted since the Union, for the advancement of the most important interests of Ireland, and of the empire at large.'44 What other object can there be for this assertion, if it be not to declare that the course pursued by Parliament has been such, as not to make it requisite that any change should be adopted. Let me put the matter thus:—Suppose that in the year 1827, when Mr. Canning was Prime Minister, and so many members of the present Cabinet were associated with him, the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, had introduced the question of Parliamentary Reform, which Mr. Canning declared he would resist—not "to the death," but to the last moment of his life, and that the Conservative party had introduced an Address against Reform, similar to this Address against Repeal; would not all the arguments advanced in support of this Address, have applied as forcibly to that which I have hypothetically suggested? The Conservative Address against Reform would, with the alteration of a phrase or two, have been precisely the same as this, and might have run thus:—"We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons in Parliament assembled, feel it our duty humbly to approach your Majesty's Throne, to record, in the most solemn manner, our fixed determination to maintain, unimpaired, and undisturbed, the Constitution—(I substitute it for 'Legislative Union'), which we consider to be essential to the strength and stability of the empire—to the continuance of the connexion between the two countries—and to the peace, and security, and happiness, of all classes of your Majesty's subjects. In expressing, to your Majesty, our resolution to maintain the Constitution inviolate, we humbly beg leave to assure your Majesty, that we shall persevere in applying our best attention to the removal of all just causes of complaint, and to the promotion of all well-considered measures of improvement."
Had such an Address been proposed, how would it have been denounced? Would it not have been considered as amounting to a sanction of all the policy pursued by the Borough mongering administrations? In that light, it would, beyond doubt, have been represented by the Whig party, which, after having passed their political lives in reprobating the conduct of their opponents while they were in power, now call on the House to pronounce upon the measures of the last thirty-four years an unqualified panegyric. I shall, in the course of the observations I mean to make, revert to this 45 view of the Amendment, which I have only suggested, in order that the House may see exactly what it is called on to do, and the extent of the proposition which has been made by the Government. I return to the original Motion. The member for Dublin calls for a Committee to inquire into the results of the Union, and the probable consequences of its continuance. I should at once grapple with the argument derived from the alleged likelihood of separation, but that it belongs to the prophetic part of the case; it is better to deal with facts before we indulge in predictions; and, before we look far forward, to look a little back. It may be difficult to answer the arguments of the Secretary of the Treasury, but it is a still more arduous undertaking to meet the whisperings and gesticulations of his colleagues. I am not so sufficiently unreasonable to expect that this House will be impartial,—the "sad civility" of silence is all that I require. Before the year 1782, Ireland lay prostrate. The foot of England was upon her neck, and was applied with the pressure which, in such an attitude, is habitually employed. Why do I revert to a period so remote? I call up your ancestors, in order to show you that you have preserved a resemblance—in the pictures of your predecessors a national likeness may be traced. You ask, why go back to the system on which Ireland was formerly governed? For this simple reason—that Ireland is not as dependent on England as she was then. Between an Irish Parliament under the direct control or an English, and an Imperial Parliament, in which Irish Members are overwhelmed by English majorities, there is some distinction, but not much difference. Was Ireland justified in demanding her independence? Few will deny it. Yet its advocates were aspersed with contumely as coarse as is now poured from high places on the champions of Repeal. The tract of Molyneux was burned by order of the British House of Commons, in Palace Yard, and the office was performed by an appropriate representative of the feelings of Englishmen towards the sister country. The question was treated as a wretched absurdity, or a base expedient. It was denounced as equally impracticable and bad; and yet events converted the impossibility into fact. When the Irish Parliament had achieved its independence, how did it employ the noble instrument which it had so gloriously won? Free trade, the independence of the Judges, the Habeas Corpus Act, concessions to the Roman Ca- 46 tholics, these were the measures associated with independence. The Secretary to the Treasury has cited the authority of Mr. Grattan, for the purpose of showing, that Mr. Grattan condemned the proceedings of the Irish Parliament after the year 1782, up to the time of the Union. I could also cite the authority of Mr. Grattan on the other side, and could quote his panegyric; but I will not occupy the time of the House with prolixities of this sort, nor refer to a multitude of authorities. To one, however, I cannot refrain from adverting, that of Edmund Burke, because it must weigh beyond every other, in the mind of the Secretary for the Treasury, as Edmund Burke considered England his adopted, and (he had good cause to do so) his dearer country. It is not wonderful that Edmund Burke should have given a preference to England; "where a man hath his treasure, there also he hath his heart." With long extracts I shall not molest the House; it is enough to refer to Edmund Burke's speech on conciliation with America, and to his letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe, for splendid descriptions of the rapid and wide advances made by Ireland after 1782. The course adopted by the Government is singular—they tell us, in the first place, that all reference to events before the Union is inapplicable, and that our encomiums on the Irish Parliament are out of place, and afterwards, they themselves open the pages of our history, nay, resort to every petty anecdote connected with our Parliament, and disinter from oblivion every derogatory circumstance, to make out a case against us. The argument is this:—the Irish Parliament was often under the influence of the populace—its proceedings were interrupted and controlled, and, therefore, it ought not to exist. Might I not say, Cromwell broke into this House, bade a rude soldier take away "this bauble" on which I now lay my hand, therefore, there ought not to be a House of Commons. Or, might I not exclaim, "Lord George Gordon gathered his mob round this House, therefore an end ought to be put to Parliament!" How preposterous this would sound! yet the reasoning against the Irish Parliament is the same. The Secretary for the Treasury, has quoted every bad Act passed by the Irish Parliament—and he has quoted every good one passed by an Imperial. Why did he omit any the least mention of any one of the beneficial measures enacted by the Parliament of his country? I should be justified in 47 opening the Irish Statutes, and, step by step, going through the whole of its legislation. But this would be a tedious process. To one part only of the legislation of the Irish Parliament shall I call the attention of the House. Many a time and oft has it been said, that the Irish Parliament, left to itself, would never carry the Roman Catholic question. Let us judge, not by idle conjectures of what it was probable it would have done, but by a reference to what it actually did do. What was the conduct with respect to the Roman Catholics, of the Irish and the English Parliaments at the same time. The English Parliament made some concessions, but excluded Roman Catholics from the Universities, from Corporations, from the Bench of Magisterial Justice, from Grand Juries, from Petty Juries, and from the hustings. This was the conduct of that Parliament, to which, afterwards, the destinies of the Irish nation were to be confided. What, on the other hand, was the conduct of the Irish Parliament? It admitted Roman Catholics to the Universities, to Corporations, to the Magisterial Bench, to the Grand Jury-box, to the Petty Jury, and, above and gloriously paramount to all, it conferred upon them the elective franchise,—furnished the fulcrum by which Ireland placed a mighty lever—gave the weapon with which the victory of peace was achieved—gave that, which, being conceded, the noble residue of freedom could not be withheld. Was that nothing? I shall, by-and-by, have occasion to compare the conduct of the Imperial Parliament with that of the Irish Parliament, with regard to the Catholic Question. I come to the Rebellion. We are told that an Irish Parliament would be favourable to separation. Do facts bear out the prophecy? The object of the Rebellion was separation. How did the Irish Parliament act? If it co-operated with the conspirators, or connived at their project,—if there was a party in the Irish House favourable to that enterprise—there would be some plausibility in the suggestion. But not only was there no party with a leaning to the insurgents, but there was not a man in that Assembly who did not concur in the suppression of the revolt; and it was remarkable, that the men who were most devoted to Irish independence, were equally attached to connexion with this country. Never did there exist a body which displayed a more genuine and enthusiastic loyalty; and was that nothing? Was it nothing that France should see in 48 the Irish Parliament a representative of the gentry and of the influence and intelligence of Ireland? Was it nothing, that such a body should afford a proof, that by the most powerful class the invader would never be joined? Was it nothing, that there should have been sitting in the capital of Ireland, an Assembly, whose moral influence co-operated with military power, and who rallied the nation round the standard of the King, by inculcating the great principle, that allegiance is but a modification of patriotism, and fidelity to our institutions a part of the love of country? I pass to the Union. As to the infamy of the means by which it was carried, it is unnecessary to say much, because the fact is undisputed. But it is said—"of what consequence are the means?" A Polish Secretary of St. Petersburgh would admit that the partition of Poland was effected by the bribery of the Polish Diet, and exclaim "factum valet." Convenient aphorism! By a judicious application of this canon in the Machiavelian casuistry, there is no atrocity which may not be turned to account. Lord Grey would not—God forbid!—have ever robbed Ireland of her Legislature; but he has no objection to become receiver of her spoliated rights. But let us put the ethics of the question, except so far as they are connected with expediency, out of the case; yet have they no connexion with expediency? The means have mingled with and influenced the effects, because they have generated the feelings which would more than vitiate any good which the Union could produce. From a source so foul, the Irish people think, that nothing pure can be derived. They think that, no matter over what time it may pass, the current can never run clear. They look back with detestation to the venality, the baseness, the turpitude, by which their Legislature was trucked and bartered—that which is an object of national abhorrence must be prolific of many evils, and barren of all good. Some one said, that a fault was worse than a crime; but a crime seldom fails to be a fault. The memory of the delinquency makes it a mistake. Thus, then, the consideration of the instrumentality by which the Union was accomplished, is not irrelevant, or out of the record; but let us consider the more direct and palpable effects of the measure. They are divisible into two heads—the fiscal and the political. The Secretary for the Treasury has appealed to a great number of financial facts, to sustain the proposition, that the Union 49 has produced the prosperity of Ireland. In 1796, Edmund Burke published his letters on the Regicide Peace. In one of them, like the Secretary for the Treasury, he combines the most powerful rhetoric and the most abstruse arithmetic together. He refers to the exports and imports, to the official Returns respecting the Revenue, the Customs, Taxes, Excise, Manufactures, and Tonnage, and all the other materials of fiscal calculation. He concludes from them, that nothing is so useful as war, and calls on England to fight on. But if the inference of Edmund Burke were wrong, is the inference of the member for Cambridge right? Look at Canada! Its prosperity may be demonstrated. Why should not Ireland prosper with a local Government as well as Canada? If you effected a Union with Canada, would you not lose the country—would you keep it for three years? The Secretary for the Treasury says, that Ireland prospers because she enjoys a free trade. In the event of Repeal would there not be a free trade? ["No! No! "] Is it not the interest of both countries, that there should not be any commercial restrictions? Ireland consumes 7,000,000l. of your manufactures,—you consume several millions of her produce. How would it be your interest to restrict her trade, when she affords you your best, nearest, and safest market? Are not the people of England clamouring for a free trade with France? Would they refuse it to Ireland? I deny—(and I know it is the sentiment of the great body of my countrymen)—that a Repeal of the Union would produce an abolition of the free trade between the two countries. Will the Vice-President of the Board of Trade assert, that Repeal ought to lead to a cessation of free trade between Ireland and England, when he maintains the utility of free trade with all the world. But, then, it is said, that, in consequence of the Union, Ireland has the exclusive market of England. If that has hitherto been the case, how long Will you pledge yourselves that this advantage shall continue? Will you pledge yourselves, that the present Corn-laws shall stand? Will the English manufacturer concur in such a pledge? and if he will not, what becomes of this argument? Place the integrity of the empire in one scale, and a quartern loaf in the other, and on which side, in the mind of a political economist, will the preponderancy be found? But, after all, is it here, in a debate like this, that questions so compli- 50 cated are to be determined? Give me leave to ask of those who have heard the hon. member for Dublin, and who have listened to the member for Cambridge, whether the arithmetic of both parties is not a much fitter subject for investigation in a Committee, than for discussion, or rather retorts, and derisions, and invective, and acclamation here? Was Ireland prosperous before the Union? Mr. Pitt, Mr. Burke, and a crowd of other authorities, have been cited to establish it. But it may be said, that the antecedent prosperity of Ireland does not touch the main question. If so, why did the right hon. Gentleman think it necessary to advert to it? He has taken from it every quality of impertinence, and given it relevancy and value. To one prominent point in this part of the case I shall apply myself. Indeed, with respect to finance, there is but one observation which I desire to make, and in that I believe myself to be well-founded, for I am borne out in it by the authority of a gentleman who was once Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland—Sir John Newport; and this opinion is sustained by that of Lord Plunkett. I will not trouble the House by quoting the opinions of these gentlemen at length, but I will give the substance of them; and if any one doubts the accuracy of my statement, I can produce the passages to which I refer. Ireland, at the time of the Union, was charged with the contribution of two-seventeenths to the general expenditure of the two kingdoms. Was that fair? Sir John Newport pronounced it to be most unjust—so did Lord Plunkett; but the fact goes further than the authority of both these gentlemen, for it turned out, that Ireland was unable to pay the share she had contracted to contribute. What was the consequence? It was necessary to make up the deficiency by successive loans. Where was the money borrowed? In England; and the revenue of Ireland was applied to paying the interest on those loans. How many millions were paid by Ireland in consequence of that injustice? Between 4,000,000l. and 5,000,000l. a-year up to 1816. You have got so much, then, of the revenue of Ireland, which you ought never to have received. Has no injustice been done to Ireland, then, in this respect? But you will tell me, that you have cured all this by the consolidation of the Exchequers of the two countries. You have not; because, at the time of the Union, you agreed, that the surplus revenue of Ireland should be 51 spent in Ireland: there would have been a surplus, but for the charge of two-seventeenths. You consolidated the Exchequers on account of the excessive charge, and now the whole of our revenue comes to your Exchequer. By the returns, a clear surplus beyond our expenditure appears; that surplus you receive. But this is a dull and obscure subject. If the statement of fiscal details occupied the right hon. Secretary six hours during one speech, and if, in venturing to controvert the argument founded upon those details, (at the same time endeavouring to limit the duration of my speech to within a much shorter period than that occupied by him)—if in so doing there be anything confused (and almost unavoidably so,) in our statements, I beg to suggest that inevitable complexity in the subject, as the ground for the Committee. The right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, the late Secretary for Ireland (a fact to which it is impossible not to revert), has set the House an admirable example. The Canadian Government thought proper to find fault with a despatch which the right hon. Secretary sent out to them. In reply to their remonstrances, he said, that, in sending that despatch, he had only done his duty. "Redress their grievances," cried the member for Bath. "I will give you a Committee," replied the right hon. Secretary. Give Ireland that which was not denied to Canada. The mention of Canada brings to my mind a circumstance deserving note: the Secretary for the Colonies enumerated the number of offices held by native Canadians, in order to show, that they had no grievance to complain of upon that head. Whilst the Secretary to the Treasury was speaking, I could not help reflecting, that he was the only Irishman in this House who holds any sort of office connected with the Government, and that, Irishman as he is, he is not at present a member for any Irish borough or Irish county.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
.—I would remind the hon. and learned Gentleman, that the present Lord-lieutenant, the highest officer of the Crown in Ireland, is an Irishman; that, the Earl of Belfast is Vice-Chamberlain of the King's household: that, Mr. Fitzgibbon is Lord-lieutenant of Limerick, and that many other Irishmen whose names might be mentioned hold offices under the Crown.
§ Mr. Sheil
.—I assert, that there is not one Irish Member out of all the 105 sent from Ireland who holds an office connected 52 with the Government, and invested with power. You may sneer; but, look at the Belgian declaration of independence. What was one of the main complaints? Was it not that, in all official appointments, there was an undue preference given to the Dutch? I repeat, that Ireland has 105 Members in this House, and that not to one of them has an office connected with the government of the country been granted. I am perfectly disinterested in making this observation; but, perhaps, it may lead to the correction of that which must be admitted to be an evil. It would be unreasonable on the part of Irish Members, to expect any mark of favour, until the Ministers had promoted those of whose merits they had more peculiar and domestic means of forming a correct estimate; but after they had sufficiently combined with the exercise of their public duties, the amiable indulgence of their private virtues, it is strange, that not one crumb has fallen from the tables of official plenty among those Irish Members, who have never given any cause of displeasure to the Government. I pass from this topic, on which, if you reflect, you will find it not irrelevant. It is light, and you may deem it scarce worth picking up; but it shows better than matter of more moment, how, at the corner of Downing-street, the wind may blow. But I feel, that I have broken the order in which I proposed to treat this question. I was upon the fiscal part of it. I proceed to absenteeism. You talk of British capital flowing into Ireland;—you might as well talk of infusing blood into the veins, while you were opening the arteries. The Secretary for Ireland says absenteeism existed before the Union. Yes; but you have aggravated the disease, and also taken away the cure. Do you deny, that the evil has been augmented? The Secretary for the Treasury tells us, that Dublin is more prosperous. Hear the Report of a Committee of this House, in 1825:—'Your Committee feel an earnest hope, that the peculiar situation in which the city of Dublin has been placed by the Union will not be lost sight of by this House. Prior to that event, ninety-eight Peers and a proportionate number of wealthy Commoners inhabited the same. At present the number of resident Peers does not exceed twelve.' At the present moment, I am sorry to add, that there are not more than two. Ninety-eight resident Peers before the Union,—at present only two! Is that fact of any importance? 53 The Report of the Committee contains these additional words:—"Thus the effect of the Union has been to withdraw from Dublin many of those who were likely to contribute most effectually to its opulence and prosperity." The same opinion was expressed, by Sir John Newport, on the 22nd of April, 1822, in a debate in this House, in which the right hon. Secretary to the Treasury took part. 'Before the Union (said Sir John) the progress of taxation in Ireland had been comparatively moderate, and I am perfectly convinced, that had Parliament, since the Union, pursued the course which wisdom dictated with respect to this object, it would have been precisely the reverse of that which they have adopted. It is manifest that one of the evils of Ireland confessedly prominent in the list of those under which she suffers, is the magnitude and number of her absentee proprietors. By their absence the people are deprived of those to whom they could with confidence look up, and whom they might consider as their natural protectors. They have lost in their absence that care and attention to their wants which resident landed gentry are alone calculated to afford, and which keeps up in the gradation of ranks that interchange of good offices which binds together all classes of society, from the cottage of the peasant to the Throne of the Sovereign. It became then, as I conceive, the duty of an enlightened Parliament to counteract by prudent legislation, so far as legislation can effect it, the tendency to increase of absenteeism which the union of the two kingdoms under one Parliament of necessity induced; and this could only be effected by guarding strictly against any improvident increase of internal local taxation which might have the effect of impelling the landed proprietors to quit their proper sphere of duties in the country from whence they derive their income. 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 diminution 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 54 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 their 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.* Mark what follows;—it will prove that I was not unfair in my observation when I stated that two-seventeenths of the general expenditure of the two countries was more than Ireland ought to bear. "At the time of the Union," adds Sir John Newport, "Ireland was charged with two-seventeenths, which was just one seventeenth more than ought to have been exacted from her." Now, was Sir John Newport right in his estimation of what was the fair proportion of Ireland, or was it all misconception on his part? Was there a wrong done to the people of Ireland in this particular, or was there not? We have paid, at least, from 20,000,000l. to 30,000,000l. into the Treasury of England. Has the Treasury of England ever paid it back again to the people of Ireland? The Secretary to the Treasury produces to me his grants made to Ireland for the promotion of public works, amounting to 6,000,000l. Against that sum, I place 20,000,000l., at least, that have been paid by Ireland beyond her fair proportion towards the general expenditure of the empire. But will any Gentleman tell me that the absenteeism caused by the Union has not led to evils of the most serious description in Ireland? Is the absence of the nobility and chief gentry of that country of no account? I admit, that some noblemen, like the Duke of Devonshire, Lords Hertford, Lansdown, Camden, Fitzwilliam, Essex, and others, must remain residents in this country. Some arrangement might be made by an Irish Parliament in their regard; but the necessity of attending the two Houses here* Hansard (new series) vol. vi, p. 1471.55 has caused the absence of others, who otherwise would live in Ireland. An Irish Parliament would tax absenteeism. The Secretary for Ireland the member for Staffordshire, between whom and the hon. member for Belfast, there last night passed an interchange of parliamentary endearments, spoke of a tax upon the property of absentees as amounting to confiscation. Are the Acts of the Irish Parliament void? You would resent a hint touching the invalidity of the Act of Union: extend to other Acts the benefit of your doctrine. We have Acts of the Irish Parliament (Richard 2nd and Henry 8th), by which the proprietors of estates were subject to heavy forfeiture during their absence. This principle of taxation was adopted by an English Parliament when the Kings of England had dominions in France, and their subjects preferred residence on their estates in that country. Look at the inconvenience of the tax on the one hand, and the misery of the people of Ireland on the other, and then tell me which ought to weigh most in the consideration of the Legislature. When you expatiate on the increased prosperity of the country as proved by its exports, do you forget that when converted into money, it is in the palaces, the banquets, and saloons of this metropolis, that the fruits of Irish labour are expended? What is the condition of the mass of the people. The population of Ireland has doubled since the Union. Has her capital increased in the same proportion,—and is there not a far greater mass of misery than there was before? "The greater happiness of the greater number" being applied as a test, in what light shall we see the result of the Union to the people, the state of the people! there's the rub? The exports of Ireland, forsooth! go—let the right hon. Gentleman take his stand on the quay of the city which he once represented—let him look on whole fleets upon the Shannon, freighted to the water's edge with heaps of grain, the produce, of myriads of acres, and with droves, and flocks, and herds innumerable, fed and depastured upon the land on which heaven has rained fertility, and after he there has contemplated the spectacle on which it does the heart of an economist good to rest, then let him turn round and look on the starving peasantry by whom all these materials for absentee splendor have been created; and after he shall behold the famine, the wretchedness, the shivering, the pestilence of the Irish hovel, then, if 56 he have the heart to do so, let him go on and mock at the calamities of his country, with his demonstrations of the prosperity of Ireland. The fact is beyond question; the mass of the people are in a condition more wretched than that of any nation in Europe; they are worse housed, worse covered, worse fed, than the basest boors in the provinces of Russia; they dwell in habitations to which your swine would not be committed; they are covered with rags which your beggars would disdain to wear; and not only do they never taste the flesh of the animals which crowd into your markets; but while the sweat drops from their brows, they never touch the bread into which their harvests are converted. For you they toil—for you they delve—they reclaim the bog—and drive the plough to the mountain's top—for you! And where does all this misery exist? where is all this calamity of which your tourists and travellers write such picturesque and unavailing delineations? In a country teeming with fertility, and stamped with the beneficent intents of God. It is notorious, it is beyond controversy, that when the famines of Ireland prevailed—when her cries crossed the Channel, and pierced your ears, and reached your hearts, the granaries of Ireland were bursting with their contents, and while a famished people knelt down, and stretched out their hands for food, the business of deportation, the absentee tribute, was going on. Talk of the prosperity of Ireland! Talk of the external magnificence of a poor-house, gorged with misery within. I am glad that I have recollected the Poor-laws. Wherefore are half this House favourable to an Irish Poor-law? Is it not because the people are reduced to straits at which humanity recoils? And how does your sympathy with the Irish poor at one moment accord with your expatiations on Irish prosperity at another. But let me be just. I do not accuse the Secretary for the Treasury of being favourable to Poor-laws. He sees the Poor-laws from the Shannon, as he sees repeal from the Thames. He takes a Treasury view of the one, and a Mount Trenchard view of the other. We propose repeal—others propose Poor-laws. What does he suggest? What nostrum will he produce from the Downing-street dispensary of political empiricism? All that Ireland requires is good Government. Has she been well-governed? "Yes," says the Secretary of the Treasury. I proceed to the political 57 head of this great question. The right hon. Gentleman, on this part of the case, has spoken with more than his usual talent—which is saying much; and with more than his usual earnestness—which is saying a good deal. He tells us, that he belongs to England, and designates himself as a West Briton. He does himself injustice, for he is more than English. It was said of the English colonist, that he was Hibernis Hibernior. He improved upon our indigenous barbarism. British civilization has produced an opposite result, in a proportionate degree of refinement, on the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. All the mud and tarnish of his native Shannon has not only been washed by his ablutions in the Cam, entirely away, but he comes more fresh and glossy from the academic water, than those who at their birth were immersed in the classic stream. But did the right hon. Gentleman always see the Government of Ireland in the same light—or does the configuration, and do the colours of objects, depend on the position from which they are seen? There was a time when the right hon. Gentleman saw nothing but gloom in the political horizon; but now every cloud is filled with the radiance of his imagination, and he beholds nothing but brightness, gorgeousness and gold. He has represented the conduct of the Imperial Parliament towards his native country as wise and generous. I shall be able to prove, from the uniform tenor of the right hon. Gentleman's speeches in Opposition, that, until he came into office, he regarded the system by which Ireland was governed as fraught with injustice. He has picked from the speeches delivered by the member for Dublin, every loose expression, every careless phrase, which he could apply to his purposes. Well my hon. friend may exclaim,————all my faults observed,Set in a note-book, conn'd and learn'd by roteTo cast into my teeth.Blame us not, if in this, as in other particulars, we presume to follow your example. Since you rely upon the ebullitions of popular excitement at public meetings, and upon those thoughtless and inconsiderate declamations which are thrown off in utter recklessness, amidst casual gatherings of the people—since you quote after-dinner orators, and rely upon the rhetoric of the Corn Exchange; permit us, on the other hand, to refer to your own solemn and reiterated declarations made in your legislative capacity in this House, and to exhibit the enormity of the contradiction that exists between 58 your conduct in office, and that which you adopted before you arrived at power. How has Ireland been governed since the Union? Whigs of 1834, how have the forebodings of the Whigs of 1799 been fulfilled? They foretold the result of that vile exchange, that base swap by which Ireland was forced to give up the entirety of her legislature for a miserable sixth in that imperial co-partnership, and became dependant upon majorities composed of men who care little about the welfare, sympathize less with the feelings, and know nothing of the interests, of Ireland. Let us see whether having a gigantic strength, you have used it it in a gigantic spirit. Let us see the evidence of British magnanimity, British generosity, and British justice? The Secretary for the Treasury has gone through a variety of details to establish the undeviating beneficence of an imperial legislature. Now hear the language (let him listen to it) uttered by himself on the 22nd of April, 1822. Thus speaks the member for Limerick:—'What was the first tribute which the Imperial Parliament of 1801 tendered to Ireland in their first notice of the situation of that country after the Union? The first statute was the Irish Martial Law Bill.'* On Wednesday the right hon. Gentleman recapitulated the Acts which the Imperial Parliament had passed for Ireland. He went through Acts for lighting and paving the streets—he enlarged, with well adapted eloquence, on the achievements of pure legislation—he recounted the provisions of various statutes on small subjects—but never once alluded to the questions which touch the heart of the country to the core; and entirely forgot that, in 1822, he had exclaimed, that the renewal of Martial-law, in 1801, was the first piece of legislation adopted by the Imperial Parliament with respect to Ireland. But I will not do him the injustice of suppressing the rest of his observations in that remarkable declaration. The right hon. Gentleman went on, and said, that the spirit in which the British Parliament legislated for Ireland had been in accordance with the principle on which the Act establishing Martial-law was founded. He added—'In tracing the history of Irish legislation, both before and since the Union, there appeared, as it were, two streams passing through the channel of Parliament. In one flowed Acts of strenuous finance, or equally strong coercion* Hansard (new series), vol. vi., p. 1494.59 —the one with great malice, the other with great power. In the other Channel the struggle was made, but made in vain, to procure an examination into the state and condition of the people, in the hope of discovering and applying some remedy for their evils.'*—Will the right hon. Gentleman give us a Committee to examine into them now?—'It was curious,' he continued, 'in tracing these proceedings, to observe, with what a singularly felicitous uniformity the channel of coercion always flowed, and that of inquiry was always resisted and impeded.'†—Thus spoke the right hon. Gentleman in 1822. Now, hear his amendment of 1834. See what a metamorphosis the right hon. Gentleman has undergone? Peruse the Address in which he sets forth the wisdom of British legislation, and reconcile the member for Limerick with the Secretary for the Treasury if you can. I could quote fifty speeches of the right hon. Gentleman of the same character, but I have not time; let us turn from him, and, in a rapid retrospect, look at the policy pursued by the Imperial Parliament since the Union. Not a more hint, not an insinuation whispered by a Secretary into the ear of a Catholic peer at the Castle, but a pledge was given (the more obligatory, because it rested upon honour for its fulfilment) that the Union should be followed by Emancipation. How was that pledge redeemed? What evidence was afforded of the liberal and enlightened spirit of the Imperial Legislature? Panegyrists of the Union try—try by its fruits—and let us look to historical notorieties, as well as to Treasury calculations. Mr. Pitt could not carry the question—he was compelled to resign. 1801, 1802, 1803, and 1804 passed by. The question was not even introduced; it would have been treated as repeal is to-night. Henry Grattan himself did not, until 1805, venture to raise his voice in the cause of his country. At length Mr. Fox in 1805, moved for a committee. The proposition was spurned at: the Whigs came in. The no-Popery howl is raised—the Catholic question is left to the umpirage of a ferocious multitude, and the rights of millions of your fellow-subjects are trampled under foot by the infuriated populace which Protestantism has summoned to its aid. The Whigs are driven from office—not for having proposed emancipation, but for having made the humble suggestion* Hansard (new series), vol. vi., p. 1494.† Ibid.60 that men who shed their blood for England, should be capable of honour. The new Parliament assembles. Ireland asks for freedom, and she receives the Insurrection Act. In 1812, an ordinance issues signed "Wellesley Pole," from the Castle, and the Catholic Committee is dispersed. Mr. Saurin tries the Catholic delegates and fails. He mends his hand, packs a jury, and procures a conviction. I say that the jury was packed, the panel was sent, marked and dotted, from the Castle. Who were the loudest to proclaim, and to reprobate the practice by which justice was polluted to its source? Who were they that poured out the most vehement denunciations against the predominance exercised by faction in our tribunals? The Whigs; the very men who now see nothing in the government of Ireland but matter for admiration, and persevere in the very course which they had formerly held up to the execration of the country. In 1814, the Insurrection Act is renewed: the Whigs hurled the thunders of their eloquence against it. Would that I could here make some pauses in order to lay before the House some of those masterpieces of eloquence in which they held up to indignation the outrage committed on the Constitution. But I must hurry on; seven years go by; nothing is done for Ireland; and yet all this while there has been a vast majority of Irish Members in favour of Catholic emancipation. Their remonstrances, their entreaties for justice, were spurned and derided. By whom was Ireland oppressed and degraded? By whom was the penal system (the parent of such a brood of evil) maintained? Englishmen, by you! and yet, in the face of these facts, an Irishman asks you to pronounce a retrospective panegyric upon the fanaticism and the spirit of divination by which the measures of thirty years were distinguished. In 1821, George 4th goes to Ireland; in our loyalty he finds evidence of our felicity. In 1822, Lord Wellesley (the present viceroy) recommends the renewal of the Insurrection Act. It was consistent to send him to administer the Coercive Bill. No one was more prominent than the Secretary for the Treasury in reprobating the principles on which that unconstitutional proceeding was founded. In 1824, the Insurrection Act was again renewed, and again the Whigs declaimed and stormed. In the interval, the Catholic Association was created. By whom? Not by the Catholic gentry—not by the men who de- 61 nounce repeal and repealers—but, with the aid of the people, with plebeians for his auxiliaries, by a man who, whatever estimate may be formed of this question in this House, has done great things; has written his name in ineffaceable permanence in the records of his country, and built himself on the liberty of Ireland a monument which will never fall. The agitation and organization of Ireland proceeded. In 1825, the Catholic delegates arrived in London. I do not blame the men then in office, I do not say it was in their power; but, oh! if they had adjusted the Catholic question then, how many of the evils that have since arisen might have been prevented. You were told then what would befall if justice were denied—remember what we tell you now. We do but speak to you upon the tithes and upon the Church, as we spoke upon the Catholic emancipation. We were good prophets then—are we false prophets now? The year 1826 passes by. Mr. Canning comes into office: Mr. Canning gives up the Catholic emancipation, and is denounced for apostacy by Lord Grey. Why did Mr. Canning give up that measure? Was it from any treacherous and renegade spirit? No; it was because he knew it was hopeless to attempt to carry the question in the Imperial Parliament, "which has passed," according to the Secretary of the Treasury, "so many salutary and beneficial measures for the people of Ireland." We were as much at your service then as we were before 1782. These, these were the fruits of the Union! The prejudices of England were insuperable. The Goderich Administration, Lansdowne, Herries and Co., succeeded Canning. It died in its cradle. At length (there was one Arthur Wellesley, member for Trim, in the Irish House of Commons, who asserted the necessity of emancipation in 1793)—at length the Duke of Wellington consummated in the Cabinet that renown which he had obtained in the field, and, with the aid of a man who did incalculable services by inestimable sacrifices, gave freedom to 7,000,000 of his fellow-citizens; but with what injustice was it, accompanied? The Irish Parliament bestowed upon the forty-shilling freeholders of Ireland the elective franchise. It remained for the Imperial Parliament to deprive them of the right. This proceeding was denounced as spoliation. By whom? By Lord Brougham—by Lord Grey—the men who would not commit the robbery, but who, when the Reform Bill came on, 62 refused restitution. Are not these facts? Have I said a word that is not the fact? And what to all this does the Secretary for the Treasury reply? At the end of almost every fourth sentence in one part of his speech,—(I was surprised, knowing his command of language, and the copiousness of his vocabulary,)—the right hon. Gentleman exclaimed "nonsense," then he cried out "trash," and afterwards "stuff." Ah, Sir—there is no nonsense—no trash—no stuff, in this melancholy detail: there is truth—dismal, disastrous truth. Your delay of emancipation was fatal. If you had passed the Catholic Relief Bill years before, none of the results which you so much lament would have been produced. You were wrong; you know it, and yet I scarce condemn you for it. I blame the Union, which left the people of Ireland at the mercy of the fanatical passions, by which the Legislature was controlled. But the Secretary for the Treasury exclaims, "Oh! if the agitators would but let us alone, and allow Ireland to be tranquil." The agitators, forsooth! Does he venture—has he the intrepidity to speak thus? Agitators! Against deep potations let the drunkard rail; at Crockford's let there be homilies against the dice-box—let every libertine lament the progress of licentiousness, when his Majesty's Ministers deplore the influence of demagogues, and Whigs complain of agitation. How did you carry Reform? Was it not by impelling the people almost to the verge of revolution? Was there a stimulant for their passions—was there a provocative for their excitement, to which you did not resort? If you have forgotten, do you think that we shall fail to remember your meetings at Edinburgh (where such flags were unfurled) at Paisley, at Manchester, at Birmingham? Did not 300,000 men assemble? Did they not pass resolutions against taxes? Did they not threaten to march on London? Did not two of the Cabinet Ministers indite to them epistles of gratitude and of admiration? and do they now dare—have they the audacity to speak of agitation? Have we not as good a title to demand the restitution of our Parliamen as the Ministers to insist on the reform of this House? Wherefore should we not adopt the same means to effect it? The member for the county of Wexford has had the imprudence to talk of Catholic Bishops being treated with disrespect, and of excesses committed by the populace. Bishops! what, is it only in Ireland that it is a 63 crime to assail a Bishop? and as to excesses, have the flames of Bristol left no reflection behind? The Secretary for Ireland refers to some speech or other, in which the member for Dublin, spoke of a mob "taking up their sticks" to overawe the Irish House of Commons. Let me tell him, that the Irish House of Commons would never be treated as the Ministers treated a certain debating society hard bye. One word more with respect to the Secretary for Ireland. He heard, and we heard, the speech of the member for Belfast. There are thirty-three Irish Roman Catholic Members in this House—(you who think that the Irish people can be treated with disregard, mark that.) Is there one who did not feel a sentiment far stronger than that of mere surprise at the language of the hon. Gentleman? But as the hon. Gentleman did not mean to affront us, we accept his explanation; besides, he had every right to speak as he deemed right. But does the matter rest there? The Government are involved in his conduct, and must be considered to have prescribed the course he followed. He seconded the Amendment—he, who was out of this House conspicuous for his partisanship, and who in this House has given, if possible, a stronger expression to his anti-Catholic feelings—is picked and selected by the Government to occupy the foreground, and to second this address. But perhaps the Government could not have foreseen what he would do? Be it so: but, afterwards, how do they act? Is there any repudiation of him? Does the Secretary for Ireland disclaim his doctrines? No! he calls him "his hon. friend." Hon. friend! we know what this technical phrase is meant to convey, when applied to a Gentleman sitting behind the Treasury Bench. We know the difference between 'hon. Gentleman' pronounced with official acerbity, and 'my hon. friend' uttered with all the nicety of practising intonation; and so the member for Belfast is the 'hon. friend' of the Secretary for Ireland, who dragged Baron Smith before this House for language which, compared to that of the 'hon. friend' of the right hon. Gentleman, is moderate, and calm, and meek, and deserves the encomiums of the Secretary for Ireland, instead of his reprobation. Thus, thus, it is ever with you. One day the Protestant Judge is assailed—the next, a gentleman is applauded who inveighs against millions of the people: Irishmen of all parties who hear me, Protestants of the 64 North, and Catholics of the South, open your eyes, and look at the system by which we are played off against each other. I have demonstrated that, at least for twenty-nine years Ireland was misgoverned. Twenty-nine years of agitation, and at length justice was extorted from an Imperial Parliament? But since Emancipation, since the Whigs have come into office, has all gone well? Let us pass over some smaller details—the Arms' Bill, the jury packing, the exclusion of Catholics on tithe questions, the infusion of theology into the police; let us go to great and essential incidents. I shall dwell on no more than three. In your Reform Bill you adopted population as a standard here; you did not employ it in Ireland. You gave Wales with 800,000 people three additional representatives, eight to Scotland with 2,500,000, and five to Ireland with her 8,000,000. You did not restore the forty-shilling freeholders. You have left towns in Ireland with 12,000 people without a representative; and you have left your paltry boroughs here. It was either necessary, or it was not, to pass your Coercion Bill. It was either necessary, or it was not, for the opponents of the Insurrection Act, to put upon the Statute-book a precedent for tyranny, and to supersede the tribunals of the country with the legislation of the Horse-guards, and the judicature of the Barrack-yard. If it was unnecessary, it was detestable and atrocious; and if it was necessary for Lord Grey to introduce a bill which passed without dissent in the Lords, and which there were men who support Ministers who declared that they would rather die than support it in that shape; if that was necessary, by whom was the necessity created? You have had Ireland for thirty-three years under your rule—you have been her absolute and undisputed masters; and if her condition be deplorable,—if atrocities have been perpetrated which call for rigorous laws,—are you not responsible for this disastrous state of things; and to you, and to your Union, which armed you with power unlimited for good or evil, is it not to be referred? So much for your coercive measure; but for its severity you made up (did you not?) by your Tithe and Church Bills, your 147th clause, and those absurd and cruel experiments—absurd in theory and cruel in result—with which you have endeavoured to reconcile that most monstrous of all anomalies—a Church of one religion, and 65 almost an entire nation of another. I turn to the member for Paisley, and other Scotchmen who appeal to the results of the Scotch Union. Was such an article, as the fifth article of the Act of Union, giving eternity to the Protestant Church, among the terms on which Scotland gave up her Legislature? If any attempt had been made to establish Episcopacy by her Union—if a mitred pontificate had been inflicted upon her, what would have been the consequences? Consequences! She would not have for a moment endured it. Her people would have risen almost to a man against such a Union—to the death they would have resisted it—the country would have been deluged in blood—incidents, to which Newtown Barry and Carrickshock would have been mere petty affrays, would have taken place, and if at last England and Episcopacy had prevailed, they must have reared their altars in a desert, for Scotland would have left them nothing but a wilderness for their worship. But I perceive that there is a Gentleman on the Treasury Bench who thinks that I am speaking too long. Nay, I have not spoken six hours yet. He directs his glass to the clock, to intimate, I presume, that—We take no note of timeBut by its loss.Truths are tedious to him; there are others for whom they have pungency, and will prevent the influences of weariness upon them. I cannot sit down without adverting to two points; first, the probable constitution of an Irish Parliament; secondly, the likelihood of separation. As to the first, let the Whigs recollect that, on the Reform Question, it was urged that this House would be filled by men of an inferior station. It was answered, property must prevail; wherefore should it not prevail in Ireland as well as here? At this moment are the great majority of Irish Members persons of no consideration? If you put us to a comparison (odious as it would be), should we not be able to meet it? Is it not manifest that, in a little while after the Repeal had been carried, the Irish nation would follow the example of all other nations, and select men of natural influence, from fortune or talents (which give a higher title to respect), as the depositaries of the legislative trust? The quailfication of the Irish voter (10l. a-year rent), ought surely to secure a highly respectable representation. Besides, observe that if the evil is to take place after Repeal, it must take place without it. If Ireland 66 would then return 300 unworthy men, she will return 105 of the same character; and thus you entail on yourselves as great art evil as that which you apprehend as a consequence of Repeal. But you dread separation. It is not a little remarkable that the arguments which are urged against Repeal, were the very same as those which were pressed by Conservatives against Reform. They said, that a collision would take place between Lords and Commons, and certainly saw as many calamities in that collision, as you foresee in the anticipated disagreements of the Irish and English Parliaments. No man pointed out these consequences with more force than Mr. Canning—an authority which the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and the President of the Board of Control, once held in some regard. But was Lord Grey terrified by the phantom of Revolution? No. Why should he expect that we should be dismayed by another spectre, which was as huge and hideous in 1800, when he looked at it without fear. Is the argument more valid now than it was then? It is built on this abstract proposition; two Parliaments cannot amicably co-exist. He then said they could. He was not a beardless politician at that epoch; he had already proposed his great plan of Reform—he was about the age of the Secretary for the Colonies—had reached the age of parliamentary discretion, and had passed the period at which men might be led, by a juvenile enthusiasm, away—when the understanding may be obscured by the mists which arise from the boiling emotions of the heart. Will it not be astonishing if, thirty years hence, when the Secretary for the Colonies is Premier, he recommends Repeal to prevent separation. But this was the very doctrine laid down by Lord Grey. The argument is just the same as it was thirty-four years ago. What was then a sophism cannot grow into a reason, as into a sophism a reason cannot degenerate. Let it be borne in your minds, that although some of the arguments against a Union were founded on temporary and transient circumstances, yet others (like that grounded on the fear of separation,) were permanent, and are now just as good as they were a quarter of a century ago. Therefore it is, that the authority of Plunkett and Bushe, and Saurin, and Jay, and Jebb, and above all, (after Lord Grey), the authority of Grattan, is as powerful as it ever was. Here I must stop for a moment, to remonstrate with the Secretary 67 for the Treasury, in his having alleged that Grattan had changed his mind. His son has proved the contrary. He read his answer in 1810, declaring that he desired the restoration of the Irish Parliament. To what document was that answer a response? To an Address from the Grand Juries of Dublin, in which they describe the evils of the Union, and call on Mr. Grattan to employ his great faculties in accomplishing its Repeal. Mr. Grattan did not change his mind. Mr. Grattan never was in office. But what is the crime of the Repealers? This—that they consider Lord Grey a good statesman when he is old—but a better prophet, when he was young—I blame him not for having altered his opinion; but I own myself to be surprised that he should lavish in the speeches, for the utterance of which he avails himself of the royal enunciation, such unqualified and almost contumelious condemnation of those with whom he strenuously coincided when he was upwards of thirty years of age. But have we no better argument than that which Lord Grey so often urged against Mr. Pitt, when he reproached him with a desertion of his former opinions. Let us see: how stands history? It is asked, when did two Parliaments long co-exist in friendship? Shew me an instance in which 8,000,000 of people in one island submitted to a Parliament held in another, and containing such proportions as exist in this Assembly. The case of America is obvious; but look to two strong instances—Sweden and Norway have one king and two Parliaments. Since the year 1815, there has been no quarrel between the Legislatures. Now, turn to Belgium. Does not the example bear us out? Hear an extract from the declaration of Belgian independence. After alleging that the Union was obtained by fraud, the document goes on and states, that—'An enormous debt and expenditure, the only portion which Holland brought to us at the time of our deplorable Union—taxes, overwhelming by their amount—laws always voted by the Dutch for Holland only (and always against Belgium), represented so unequally in the States-General—the seat of all important establishments fixed in Holland—the most offensive partialities in the distribution of civil and military employments—in a word, Belgium, treated as a conquered province, as a colony, everything rendered a Revolution inevitable.' Do you mark this? You were instrumental in effecting the junction of Sweden and Norway, and the Union of 68 Belgium and Holland. Lord Castlereagh, who carried the Irish Union, represented you at the Congress in which the different arrangements as to Sweden and Norway, Belgium and Holland, were trade. You have, yourselves, recently been parties to that separation (the result of the Union) which Belgium demanded, and you assented to the grounds on which it was required. All the public establishments removed to Holland! What has become of our Custom House, of our Stamp Office? Our Royal Hospital, too, built by a contribution made among the Irish soldiers, raised out of a 6d. which they joyfully gave to provide for them an asylum where they mightShoulder the crutch, and shew how fields were won;that institution, connected with our national pride, associated with our best feelings of country, you, for the sake of some miserable saving have determined to annihilate. Take warning, you have made experiments enough. Be taught not by the failures of others, but by your own, Go on as you have hitherto proceeded, and you will soon find the whole of Ireland united for Repeal. A reference has been made to the small number of signatures to petitions. If there shall be 1,000,000 next year, what will you say? We are told that the Irish people are not anxious for Repeal. Are thirty-eight Irish Members out of 105 nothing? What other test do you demand? The last election ought to exhibit the truth. That last election verified the prediction which I made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer: I went to him when the Tithe Bill was pending in 1832. I told him what would happen. I exclaimed, "you are on the eve of a general election; you are driving the Irish to fury by your tithe measures, and the result will be, that on every hustings in the south, the standard of Repeal will be planted." It is said that the gentry are against Repeal. How fast do the gentry of every country fall into the mass of the people? They desert one by one, and the moment it is their interest, they combine with the class they once designated as the populace. It is in politics as it is in religion—a sect begins amongst the inferior orders, and spreads, and mounts. The opinions of the higher classes do not descend to those below them; it isThe mist that o'er the marsh glides,that gradually rises, and envelopes the heights of society. You fear that separation may be the result a Repeal! What may not be the result of its maintenance? Let 69 a few years go bye, Catholic and Protestant will become reconciled (their divisions cannot last for ever)—the popular power will augment—the feelings of the people will be extended to their Representatives—the absentee drain will continue—the Church system will be still maintained—the national mind will become one mass of fiery emotion—the same disregard for the interests and feelings of Ireland will be displayed, and—then (may God forfend that the event should befal) if there should be an outbreak of popular commotion here—if the prediction of the Conservatives should be fulfilled—and if your alliance with France, which is as unstable as its dynasty, should give way—then you may have cause to lament—but lament when lamentation will be as unavailing as it will be poignant—that you did not do justice to Ireland.
§ Sir Robert Peel
spoke to the following effect:—*Mr. Speaker, I am most desirous to consult the general wish and general convenience of the House. To myself it is a matter of entire indifference whether I speak now, or at a future period, if the House shall prefer an adjournment of the debate. [Cries of "Go on."] My own opinion is certainly in favour of proceeding at present, in order that we may make some effective progress in a discussion which has already continued for four days. And if, Sir, it should continue for thrice that period, and if ingenuity, if research, if eloquence, greater in a tenfold degree than that which has already signalized this debate, should be brought to hear upon its future stages, they would add nothing to the force of that conviction which compels my support of the Legislative Union. There are truths which lie too deep for argument; truths, to the establishment of which, the evidence of the senses, or the feelings of the heart, have contributed more than the slow process of reasoning; which are graven in deeper characters than any that reasoning can either impress or efface. When Dr. Johnson was asked to refute the arguments for the non-existence of matter, he stamped his foot upon the ground, and exclaimed, "I refute them thus." When Mr. Canning heard the first whisper in this House of a Repeal of the Union, this was all the answer he vouchsafed—the eloquent and indignant answer, the tones of which are still familiar to my ear,—"Repeal the Union! Restore the Hept-* Reprinted from the corrected edition, published by Murray.70 archy!" Did Mr. Canning decline to argue with the proposer of Repeal from the lack of argument? No; but because conviction of the folly of the proposal flashed upon his mind with an instinctive force, which required a more rapid vent than any that the tame and tardy processes of reasoning could supply. He overleaped the barriers of cautious demonstration to arrive at the great truth with which his emphatic exclamation was pregnant; that the Repeal of the Union with Ireland was tantamount to the dissolution of the British Empire; that it could only be assented to upon principles which resolved society into its first elements.
I repeat, that I want no array of figures, I want no official documents, I want no speeches of six hours, to establish to my satisfaction the public policy of maintaining the Legislative Union. I feel and know that the Repeal of it must lead to the dismemberment of this great empire; must make Great Britain a fourth-rate power of Europe, and Ireland a savage wilderness; and I will give therefore, at once, and without hesitation, an emphatic negative to the motion for Repeal. At the same time, I entirely approve of the course which has been taken by those who have led the opposition to the learned Member's (Mr. O'Connell's) proposal. I rejoice that it should have been intrusted to two natives of Ireland (Mr. Spring Rice and Mr. Emerson Tennent) to correct the misstatements, to expose the fallacies of the learned Member,—to demonstrate, by proofs that have been unassailed, and are unassailable, that whatever there is of Irish prosperity is mainly attributable to the Union, that the policy of the United Parliament towards Ireland has been just and liberal, and that the common interests of the whole empire, but especially the interests of Ireland, forbid us to impair the Union. I rejoice, also, that a Member from Scotland (Sir D. Sandford,) deeply impressed with the benefits that country has derived from her connexion with England, and enabled to bear the most recent testimony to the progressive increase of those benefits, has contributed his very able exertions to the common cause. It is right that the force of demonstration should be resorted to for the satisfaction of those (if any there be) who entertain an honest doubt upon this subject, and that posterity should have upon record the overwhelming proofs by which the policy, the absolute necessity, of maintaining inviolate 71 the Legislative Union, have been triumphantly established.
The conviction in favour of that Union springs from every source from which conviction in the human mind can arise. Consult your senses,—consult your feelings,—consult reason, history, and experience; they all concur in enforcing the same truth.
Consult your senses. Look at the map. Look at the geographical position of the British Islands, their relative position to the Peninsula, to France, to that great empire which is rising in the West on the opposite shores of the Atlantic; can you entertain a doubt that it is necessary for their common security, that the defensive energies of these Islands should be placed under the control and direction, not of one executive, liable to be thwarted by the conflicting decisions of different Legislative Councils, but of one united, superintending, supreme authority, representing the general will, and provident of the general safety? Do not you feel convinced, by the evidence of sense, that there exists an obstacle to Repeal, more powerful than any that mere argument can suggest? Opposuit natura. There is a physical necessity that forbids Repeal.
I beg pardon of the learned Gentleman (Mr. Sheil) for having been so long diverted from any direct reference to his very able and very entertaining speech. Three-fourths of it, at the least, require no notice from me; but to the remainder, to all that portion of it that contained an argument, or the semblance of an argument bearing on the question of Repeal, I will address myself fully. I pass by his vindication of the learned member for Dublin—I pass by his attacks on his Majesty's Government—his quotation from former speeches of the member for Cambridge (Mr. Rice)—all, in short, that consists of mere argumenta ad hominem of which I personally do not feel the force, and in the reply to which I am not in the least concerned. It may be true that the Reform Bill was carried by menace: it may be true, that the deliberations of the House of Lords were controlled by the demonstration of physical force, not discouraged by the King's Ministry: but if this be so, let the vile precedent be to us a warning and not an example—a warning that we do not permit the occasional, to grow into an habitual degrading restraint.
I shall proceed now to review the arguments which have been adduced in support of the Motion; for, Sir however needless argument may be for the confirmation of 72 my own impressions, I am little desirous of shrinking from the appeal to reason, or from the closest examination into the value of anything that has been urged in favour of Repeal. I will notice, as I proceed, the several arguments of the learned Gentleman, (Mr. Sheil.) My main object will be to show, that of the various charges preferred against England, some are without foundation; and that there is not one, which, even if clearly established in point of fact, could be relied on as a reason for Repeal. I shall next attempt to demonstrate, both from history and from strict logical proof, that two Legislatures really independent cannot co-exist in England and Ireland, consistently with the maintenance of a common Monarchy, and with a friendly connexion between the two countries.
I will first dispose of the predictions of the learned Gentleman, (Mr. Sheil.) He appeared here in the character of a prophet, as well as a reasoner; and with a confidence which I shall show to be misplaced, he claimed credit for the probable truth of his present, by a triumphant reference to the fulfilment of all his former predictions. He says that nothing has been done for Ireland; that every engagement remains unperformed; that unless we relinquish tithes, and still further reduce the Church Establishment, we must abandon all hope of conciliating the people—meaning, I presume, the Roman Catholic—of Ireland. Sir, I will do anything to conciliate any portion of the people of Ireland, that is just towards them, just also towards others. But, alas! we have had many warnings, that conciliation and peace are not the necessary results of concession and of intended kindness. The learned Gentleman has referred, in very courteous and very flattering terms, to the sacrifices which I personally made in restoring the Roman Catholics to complete political equality. I claim no credit for those sacrifices—I was a servant of the crown, and undertook office under the implied obligation to submit cheerfully to such sacrifices, should they be inevitable. I did nothing more than my duty, in giving to the Crown that advice which I thought the best according to the exigencies of public affairs, and in not shrinking from the personal responsibility and personal sacrifices of acting upon that advice, when the Crown commanded my services. If, indeed, I did make sacrifices, how must they now be aggravated when I find every hope of peace disappointed, every promise of grate- 73 ful acknowledgment violated by the parties who gave them? What right has the learned Gentleman to call upon me to confide in his present prophecies, in his present assurances, that certain further concessions being made, there will be peaceful obedience to the law in Ireland? I summon the learned Gentleman as a witness against himself. In 1825 he was called on to give evidence before the Committee that was appointed in that year, to consider the state of Ireland. Upon that occasion the following question was put to him:—"Do you think, in case the general question of Catholic emancipation were settled by Parliament, there would be a power existing in any individual to get public assemblies together, and to create a combined operation in Ireland?" His reply, the reply of Mr. Sheil, was as follows:—"I am convinced that it would not be in the power of any individual, no matter how great his influence might be, nor no matter how perverse his ambition might be, to draw large convocations of men together in Ireland; nothing but the sense of individual injury produces these great and systematic gatherings, through the medium of which so much inflammatory matter is conveyed through the country." But the hon. and learned Gentleman did not stop here. He did not content himself with this simple and satisfactory answer to the question put to him; so impressed was he with the necessity of establishing the fact, that the Roman Catholic body in Ireland would be perfectly contented with the removal of their political disabilities, that he proceeded in his reply to volunteer the following statement on a subject which was happily selected by himself for the purpose of illustration:—'Let me take,' he continued, 'the question of the Union, for example: there are many who suppose that if the Catholic question were to be satisfactorily arranged, the merits of the Union would be discussed; but I am convinced that if the Catholic question were settled, a great body of the population, so far from being dissatisfied, would be perfectly contented with the Union, or be indifferent to it. Whenever any mention is made in a Roman Catholic assembly of the evils of that measure, it is made for the purpose of rhetorical excitement, and not with any serious view upon the part of the Speaker to disturb that, which in my humble judgment is perfectly indissoluble. In answer to the question I beg to add this, that I am perfectly convinced 74 that neither upon tithes nor the Union, nor any other political subject, could the people of Ireland be powerfully and permanently excited.' Then I turn round upon the hon. and learned Member who gave this evidence, and I ask him, how can you refuse to vote for the present resolution? Where are your objections to that resolution, the principle of which you so strenuously maintained in 1825? How comes it that you hold us to be wrong for asserting now the opinion that you yourself asserted then? And mark the difference of circumstances. You were then, in 1825, an excluded Catholic, suffering under what you considered an injustice, and yet even then you declared that the British empire should not be dismembered, for that the Union was perfectly indissoluble. What events have occurred since 1825 to justify your retraction of the opinion that you then expressed? Since that period the Catholic disabilities have been removed, and yourself have boasted this very night that at the present moment there are thirty Catholic representatives speaking within these walls the sense of the Roman Catholic people of Ireland. What pretence then is there now for continuing to sport with the peace and happiness of Ireland, without "having any serious view," and for the "purpose of rhetorical excitement?"
Let us review in order the several accusations against Great Britain. The first is a charge of bad faith, or rather of express violation of the Act of Union. The learned Gentleman (Mr. Sheil) observes, that by that Act it is provided, that the surplus of Irish revenue that may be left after paying the charge of the separate debt and establishment of Ireland, shall be appropriated to Irish objects, and expended in Ireland; that it has not been so, but has been reserved and spent in England. Now, I answer, that there is no surplus; there can be no surplus; and that the Act of Union makes no provision respecting the appropriation of a surplus under the present financial circumstances of the two countries. The Act of Union did provide, that so long as Ireland contributed a certain proportion, namely, two-seventeenths to the general expenses of the empire, in the event of there being a surplus after defraying the interest, sinking-fund, and separate charges to which Ireland was liable, that surplus should be applied either to the remission of taxes in Ireland, or to local purposes. But the Act also provided expressly, that if Parliament should declare, 75 that all future expenses, and the interest of the joint debts shall be defrayed indiscriminately by a common contribution from taxes equally imposed on all parts of the empire, 'that from the period of such declaration, it shall no longer be necessary to regulate the contribution of the two countries according to any specific proportion, or according to any of the rules herein-before described.' The declaration in question has been made, and made too for the express benefit of Ireland; from the moment of making it, the existence of a surplus of Irish revenue became of course impossible.
The learned Gentleman says, that, in contributing two-seventeenths, Ireland was subject to a burthen beyond her strength. Be it so; but the burthen was imposed on Ireland by the Irish Parliament, and was removed by the Imperial Parliament, which redressed completely and for ever the unequal pressure. Surely, the deduction from these premises, that the Union ought to be repealed, and the Irish Parliament reinstated, is not a very legitimate one. As for the sagacious remark of the learned member for Dublin, that two-seventeenths—the fractional proportions as he called them—were selected as the amount of contribution for Ireland, for the express purpose of puzzling and bewildering the people, and concealing from them the real amount of the charge imposed upon them, it is unworthy of any other comment than that it shows the sad extremity to which the learned Gentleman must have been reduced for want of argument.
The learned Gentleman says, that absenteeism is an admitted evil. No doubt; but the Repeal of the Union is not an admitted remedy for that evil. It existed before the Union. It certainly has existed, it may have increased since; and, if it has, what is the cause? That accursed system of agitation which has disturbed all the relations, and poisoned all the intercourse of society—which has prevented all application to the peaceful pursuits of industry, has barred the access of improvement from the introduction of English mechanical skill, and English capital—and has banished from his home many a friend to Ireland, disgusted with the rancour of this eternal strife. He is threatened with danger to his life if he resides, and with the forfeiture of his estate if he is absent; and then you wonder that men of property are not contented, and you complain that Ireland is not improved.
76 The learned Gentleman says, that there is the greatest misery in Ireland at the very moment that the granaries are bursting with corn. Who denies the fact? But what connexion is there between the admitted fact, and the conclusion the learned Gentleman draws from it, that the Union ought to be repealed? The learned Gentleman himself, in the course of his speech this night, dwelt upon the miserable condition of English labourers, and the horrors of an English workhouse. But surely there are in England warehouses groaning with manufactures, and granaries bursting with the produce of the land. There exist, then, in England, as well as in Ireland, the extremes of abundance and of want—the same unequal distribution of worldly goods of which the learned Gentleman Win-plains. Now there must be causes for this, so far as England is concerned, totally independent of the Union. What right, then, has the learned Gentleman to conclude that the same state of things in Ireland was either caused by the Union, or would be remedied by its Repeal?
It is said, that England mis-governed Ireland for centuries. I admit the fact. Misgovernment was the hard condition, twin-born with a separate Legislature. Mis-government constituted the vindication of the Union; and the certainty of its recurrence is the main argument against Repeal. But where was the object of the learned Gentleman in hunting out the atrocities that were covered by the oblivion of five centuries, except to revive national animosities, and to provoke hatred against England, and English connexion? Is this the spirit in which that connexion is to be severed?—are these the auspices under which Ireland is to undertake the new duties of self-government? No doubt there were acts of violence, acts of injustice, acts of savage retaliation, during the long struggles in rude ages between the English settlers and the Irish natives, and between the hostile religious factions of later times. What concern have we with these things at the present time? We might, with just as much reason and good sense, detail all the acts of wrong and perfidy that followed the Norman Conquest, and demand restitution of the invaders. One would suppose, from the tone and tenor of the learned Gentleman's historical detail, that England, in the reign of Henry 2nd had found Ireland a happy and united country, enjoying in a state of Arcadian simplicity, all the blessings of equal law, and well-regulated liberty. 77 Now, the state of society in Ireland may have been bad enough in the first periods of English connexion, but it was worse before. It is thus described by an ancient writer of Ireland, on this point an impartial and unexceptionable authority. He says, that, 'Never any nation upon earth anneared the Milesian Irish in the most unnatural, bloody, everlasting, destructive feuds that have been heard of—feuds so prodigiously bloody, that, as they were first founded, so they still increased and continued in blood, from the foundation of the Monarchy in the blood of Heber, to the murder of the penultimate Monarch, Muirehiortah M'Neil. Feuds continued with the most hellish ambition, and followed with the most horrible injustices, oppressions, extortions, rapines, desolations, perfidiousness treasons, rebellions, conspiracies, treacheries, and murders, for almost 2,000 years.' He never read of any other people in the world 'so implacably, so eternally, set upon the destruction of one another.' He tells you of '600 battles fought cruelly and unnaturally by men of the same country, lineage, language, and religious rites; and that 118 Irish Monarchs were slaughtered by their own subjects, whereof ninety-four were murdered, and of them eighty-six were succeeded by the regicides, among which he finds one brother and one son.' As Campion says, 'If this be true, the Irish have much reason to thank God and the English for a more civil and regular Government exercised over them.'
I come to charges of a more recent date. The learned Gentleman prefers against Mr. Pitt and Lord Castlereagh, this atrocious and incredible accusation:—That they fomented the Rebellion in Ireland, in order that they might have a pretext for proposing the Union; and that they might be enabled, by an immense military force, to overawe public opinion. I will examine this charge a little more in detail; not so much with a view to refute it, for that is unnecessary, as for the purpose of exhibiting the spirit in which it was conceived, and of exposing, by one example, the probable foundation of other similar accusations. The charge amounts to this:—That, in the years 1796 and 1797, two Ministers of the Crown thought it useful for the public service to encourage a general Rebellion in Ireland—that is to say, that during the most perilous crisis of the war, after the French successes in Italy, after the disasters of Austria, after the Treaty of Campo 78 Formio—notwithstanding the mutiny at the Nore, and the threatened invasion of Ireland, two Ministers were found wicked enough, and mad enough, to take upon themselves the responsibility of deliberately provoking and fostering a Rebellion in Ireland. This Rebellion was to be the means of effecting the Union of Ireland with England, the real object of which Union the learned Gentleman has also been fortunate enough to discover; and the end seems to be quite worthy of the means. The object was this: that England, whose financial resources began to fail, might dip her hand into the purse of Ireland; of that same Ireland, observe, which was first to be desolated by a bloody Rebellion fomented by the country which coveted a share of her wealth.
The ground, the single ground, on which the learned Gentleman preferred this accusation, was a paper which he found in the Appendix to a Report from a Secret Committee in Ireland, which paper was furnished voluntarily to that Committee by the very Ministers whose guilt it is supposed to have established. It appears from that paper, that information was given from time to time by a person engaged in the conspiracy, to a Magistrate in the north of Ireland, detailing the names of the leaders in the conspiracy, and the times and places at which they assembled. "The Government, therefore," says the learned Gentleman, "might at the outset have apprehended the leaders, thrown them into gaol, and crushed the incipient Rebellion." Why, Sir, it is not always very easy to deal so summarily with leaders of conspiracies. Sometimes their professed objects are totally different from their real ones. These conspirators in 1796 and 1797, in all their public declarations, framed on the most approved models, breathed nothing but the spirit of peace. Catholic Emancipation and Constitutional Reform were the avowed objects of the confederacy. Perhaps, too, they were fortunate enough to find, as other combinations have found in later times, skilful advisers—learned in the law—volunteering to act as their Solicitors and Counsel; and teaching them the precise extent to which they might adventure in defiance or evasion of the law, without endangering their own necks. It was, Sir, only on Monday last, that this City witnessed the disciplined array of 25,000, or 30,000 men, marching in column through the streets of London for the professed object of simply presenting a petition 79 to the Secretary of State. Three days preceding—one week only from the time when the learned Gentleman asks for my consent to a measure which will establish his dominion in Ireland—he fortunately enabled me to judge in what manner and for what objects that dominion would be by him practically exercised.
On the occasion to which I refer, the hon. and learned Gentleman stated, that he had been waited upon by a deputation from the Trades' Union. He said, 'that their object was to call back the Dorset labourers; and he advised them to send such a petition to his Majesty to effect that object as would take a cart and six horses to convey it to the Palace. No man had a right to condemn Trades' Unions who was not prepared at the same time to give to the people the right of voting for their Representatives in Parliament. The first step which they ought to take was to obtain that right. * * * * The hon. and learned Gentleman added, that he was waited upon that day by a deputation from the Trades' Union, who requested him to act as their confidential Counsel. He accepted the office, on condition that they should accept his services gratuitously, and the hon. member for Colchester, who was present, had also consented to act as their Solicitor; and they would both unite in teaching them to avoid the many traps which the law presented to ensnare them at every step they took. He (Mr. O'Connell) was an apostle of the Movement party, and a greater Radical could not exist than the man before them. He advised those whom he addressed, not to mistake their power, or misdirect it. Let them keep their tempers, and wait their time. Let them act peaceably, legally, and consistently, but multitudinously; and by prudence, caution, energy, and unremitting exertions, they would effect their object.' Was it not probable that the same Gentleman, "the great apostle of the Movement party," who so offered his services to Trades' Unions in this country, would in his own, on questions of still greater excitement, endeavour to control the opinions of the Irish Legislature by a similar display of physical force, well organized and instructed in what manner "they might best evade the traps which the law presented to ensnare them?"
But to return to the charge against Mr. Pitt and Lord Castlereagh. There never were men who, entertaining the design of 80 secretly fomenting a general Rebellion, committed such blunders in the execution of their project. Their manifest interest must have been to allay public suspicion at first, to suppress all information as to the existence of a dangerous conspiracy, until their plot was well matured, and their Rebellion just ripe for explosion. Yet I find that, on the opening of the Session, so early as January, 1796, these Ministers were guilty of the manifest indiscretion of making the following communication to the Irish Parliament through the medium of the King's Speech:—'My Lords and Gentlemen.—It is with regret that I feel myself obliged to advert to those secret and treasonable associations, the dangerous extent and malignity of which have in some degree been disclosed in several trials, and in the disturbances which have taken place in some parts of the kingdom. It remains for your prudence and wisdom to devise such measures as, together with a continuance of those exertions, and the additional powers which, by the advice of the Privy Council, I have thought it necessary to establish in several counties, will prevent the return of similar excesses, and restore a proper reverence for the laws of the country.'The Irish Parliament again assembled in the same year, and, on the 13th October, 1796, his Majesty made to that Parliament the following communication:—'His Majesty has required your attendance in Parliament at this early period, in order that he may resort to your deliberative wisdom at a time when the ambitious projects of our enemies have threatened to interrupt the happiness and prosperity of his people, by making a descent upon this kingdom and Great Britain.'On the very next day, the 14th October, a Motion was made by the Government of Ireland, for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Mr. Ponson by said, if he stood alone he should resist it. Mr. Curran opposed the Bill. Now, observe the charge which he preferred against Ministers. 'If Ministers wished to excite alarm, they might succeed; they had already succeeded. Their industrious reports of an invasion, of which he was convinced they had no apprehension, had nearly destroyed public credit in the South.' This speech of Mr. Curran, ridiculing the threat of invasion, was made on the 14th October, 1796, and on the 18th December, of the 81 same year, eighteen sail-of-the-line, fifteen frigates, and sloops, and transports, for an army of 25,000 men, sailed from Brest, for Bantry Bay. They sailed, no doubt, in the learned Gentleman's opinion, in concert with Lord Castlereagh and Mr. Pitt, for the purpose of fomenting the Irish Rebellion, and opening to England the purse of Ireland.
The charge now preferred against the Government of Mr. Pitt and Lord Castlereagh, is, that they did not in 1796 and 1797, apprehend men who professed to be patriots, but were really traitors. Of the charge which would have been preferred against that Government at the time, if too lavish a use had been made of the powers intrusted to it, we may judge from the observations made by Mr. Grattan, in opposing the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. 'Any active citizen,' said he, any offensive Catholic, any friend to Parliamentary Reform, and enemy to the abuses of the Government, may be committed to New gate without the smallest truth, and without any responsibility.'
Again, as to the charge, that the Government made a wanton and unnecessary increase to the military force in Ireland, for the purpose of controlling the expression of public opinion, and putting down resistance to the measure of the Union. On the 21st February, 1797, in the Irish House of Commons, there was an accusation preferred against the Government by the Opposition, connected with the military force in Ireland; but the accusation was, not that the Government had unduly increased the military force, but that, from neglecting to increase it, they had exposed the country to serious peril. Mr. Ponson by made a Motion for Returns of the troops serving in Munster; of the number of troops stationed in Ireland; of the cannon fit for service, for the purpose not of impeaching the military despots at the head of Government for increasing the military establishment, but for precisely the reverse—for neglecting to increase it. When the Government, in February, 1797, made a modest proposal to add 10,000 men to the regular force, it was scouted as far beneath the necessities of the times, and it was moved by Mr. Lawrence Parsons, and he was supported in the Motion by the opponents of the Government, that 50,000 Yeomen be forthwith employed, in addition to those that were already on the establishment. The men that opposed the Motion were those who are now charged with 82 having sought for frivolous pretexts to increase the military force. So much for the accusation preferred by the learned Gentleman on this head of charge; and, as I before observed, I have troubled the House with a refutation of it, not because I attached any importance to it, but in order that they might be enabled the better to judge of the general spirit in which the learned Gentleman's whole speech was conceived, and of the probable foundation of the other charges that he has preferred against the British Government.
He says, and the learned Gentleman who spoke last repeats the accusation, that the policy of that Government, continued up to the present time, has been founded on the maxim, Divide et impera; on the principle of sowing dissensions between Roman Catholic and Protestant, for the purpose of preventing their amalgamation and union.
Now here again, Sir, whatever truth there is in the observation is fatal to the present Motion. While there existed a separate Legislature, England had no alternative but to rule by party, and by the divisions which such a rule must generate. But since the Union, she has been enabled to adopt, and she has adopted, another system. She has refused to be a partizan; she has attempted to moderate the rancour of religious feuds; she has interposed to protect you from yourselves, and she has met with the fate which is not uncommon to those who interfere in other domestic quarrels, she has drawn upon herself the wrath of the parties she attempted to moderate. One-half of the unpopularity—the merely occasional, I trust, and fleeting unpopularity of the British Government in Ireland, is fairly ascribable to the following causes—that since the Union she has used her influence to suppress the unseemly triumphs and insulting exhibitions of party feeling—that she has held the scales of justice with an equal hand, and has, therefore, alternately disappointed those of opposite opinions, who hoped for her co-operation in crushing a rival—that she has introduced economy and order into the departments of Government, and has, therefore, diminished that influence which she once owed to patronage and extravagance.
But repeal the Union, and you will then see that line of demarcation between religious parties which England has attempted to blend and soften, graven with sharp instruments, and marked in colours but too 83 distinct. You talk of the spirit of 1782, and boast, in a triumphant tone, of the conquests it achieved over the weakness of England. Yes, repeal the Union! and you shall then see that majestic spirit, the spirit of 1782, the spirit of the Protestant north, that has been lying not asleep but in watchful repose, confiding in the justice and protection of England—you shall then see it arise in conscious strength, to defend itself with its own native and sufficient energies, from that vile debasing domination which would be begotten from the foul union of religious hatred and perverse ambition.
You demand a separate and independent Parliament for Ireland. A separate one you may have, an independent one you cannot. You never had an independent Parliament. You never can have one consistently with the sovereignty of the British Crown, and the connexion with the island of Great Britain.
If you attempt to revive that system of Government which, after the completest evidence of its failure, the Union abolished, you may take your choice between these evils for Ireland—a paralyzed King or a corrupt Parliament. No, Sir, I am wrong, you will not have the choice between those evils—you will have the concurrent infliction of the two, for they are quite consistent, if not inseparable: you will have both a paralyzed King and a corrupt Parliament. Re-establish the separate Legislature, and the remaining tie—the golden band of common Sovereignty as you are pleased to call it—will be no band of gold; it will be a band of iron and miry clay, the foul mixture that betokened, in other times, a divided kingdom.
Sir, the whole question is concluded, if these positions can be proved—that Ireland never had, and that she never can have, consistently with British connexion, an independent Parliament.
It will be conceded to me, I apprehend, that upon the principle, corruptio optimi, pessima—the semblance of independence without the reality would be nothing but an evil and a curse, cheating with a vain mockery the country upon which it is inflicted, and bringing into general disrepute and shame the character of representative Government. Now let us first define what constitutes, at least what are essential conditions to the independence of a separate legislative body in Ireland. Such a body cannot, I apprehend, pretend to the character of independence, unless it possess, 84 first, control over the executive authority of the State, in so far as that authority may act within the limits, or may directly affect the interests of Ireland; and, secondly, control over the public purse of Ireland, involving complete power over the taxation and expenditure of that country.
Now, first, as to control over the executive. How was such control provided for under the boasted arrangement of 1782—that arrangement which is described as having been so perfectly satisfactory that it ought to have been completely final? Why, Sir, by an Act passed by the Irish Parliament itself, and constituting part of the arrangement of 1782; it was expressly provided, first, that no Parliament should be holden in Ireland without a license for that purpose obtained under the Great Seal, not of Ireland, but of Great Britain, and that no Bills passed by the Parliament of Ireland should have the force of law within Ireland until they were returned into that country without alteration, under the Great Seal of Great Britain. Now, if the King was King of Ireland in the same sense in which he was King of Great Britain, and if his authority in Ireland was an independent authority, controlled only by an Irish Legislature, why was not the Great Seal of Ireland employed to warrant the holding of Irish Parliaments, and to certify the passing of Irish Bills, instead of the Great Seal of England? Functions of vital importance to Irish interests were thus committed to a British Minister, and where was the corresponding control over that Minister which ought to have been possessed by an independent legislative body? The Chancellor of Great Britain had the express power to paralyse the whole Irish Legislature, for he had the power by law to prevent the operation of any Bill whatever, whether it related to matters of the first importance, or to matters of mere local concern. It is no doubt foolish to speculate on the extreme abuse of such a power. But suppose it was exercised under an honest bonâ fide impression of the justice and necessity of its exercise, in what manner could the British Chancellor be made amenable to the Irish Parliament?
Now let us consider the Constitution of an Irish Government acting in concurrence with a separate Legislature in Ireland. Is that Government to be appointed by the Crown, independently of the advice of the British Minister; or to be appointed by the advice of the British Minister, and to 85 act in cordial co-operation and concert with him? If it is to be appointed independently of him, who is to be responsible for its selection? and where is the man who will undertake as Minister the charge of conducting public affairs in this country and of preserving a good understanding with Ireland—if there is to be in Ireland not only an independent Legislature, but an executive authority totally independent of the British Minister, acting on its own separate responsibility, and giving to the King of Great Britain separate advice? Does any rational man believe that such a state of things could endure in peace for a month? Take, then, the other alternative. Let the Irish Government be appointed, as at present, on the advice and responsibility of the British Minister. It will then form a part—a subordinate but intimate part—of the general Government. The same spirit will influence all its acts, and direct all its councils. But the general Government, and the Irish Government as a part of it, must possess the confidence of the British Parliament. That confidence is a condition absolutely essential to its existence. But it is a condition also essential to the existence of the Irish Government, that it must conciliate the good will of the Irish Parliament, a legislative body equally independent with the British. Now, it appears even at present no very easy matter to reconcile the action of the executive with the concurrent confidence of one House of Lords and one House of Commons, and by way of simplifying the process of government we are to introduce two new elements into the system;—namely, an Irish House of Lords, and a reformed Irish House of Commons; and then we are to expect from the British Minister that he will so regulate his course of legislation and government that it shall command the assent and confidence of four independent legislative bodies, guarding respectively, in two different countries, those interests which the advocates of Repeal pronounce to be separate, and often conflicting interests.
Let us now turn to the subject of finance. The first question would be, and one preliminary to Repeal: What portion shall Ireland take upon herself of the present joint debt of the two countries? That she must take a considerable portion of it is self-evident. It is quite impossible that she could claim a participation in colonial trade, for instance, or in any other of the benefits of foreign possessions, without pay- 86 ing a fair share of that expense which has been incurred in obtaining and securing those benefits. There would be another question also, and one still more difficult of solution. In what proportion shall Ireland hereafter contribute to the common defence, and to the common charges of the Empire? In case of war, is she hereafter to judge for herself whether that war be a just war, a necessary war, or a war so little affecting her own special and peculiar interests that she may decline to take a part in it? If she may exercise that judgment, and if the consequence of her expressing an opinion unfavourable to the war, shall be that the whole charge of it will be left to be borne exclusively by Great Britain, what an obvious interest she will have in uniformly disapproving a warlike policy, however clear its necessity! If she does disapprove of it, in what a relation will she stand towards the enemies of Great Britain? Is she to be at peace with them, while her Sovereign, the Sovereign of Ireland as well as Great Britain, is at war? If she is not to be at peace, in what manner, and at whose cost, is her internal defence, and the protection of her commerce, to be provided for? The difficulty of determining such questions as these, compelled the adoption by the United States of that principle of government which is, in fact, analogous to the principle of our Union. Mr. Jefferson remarks in his memoirs that, among the debilities of the original confederation, no one was more distinguished, or more distressing than the utter impossibility of obtaining from the separate States the monies necessary for the payment of debts, or even of the ordinary expenses of the Government. What was the remedy? In fact, a Union—the appointment of one superintending supreme authority, which should decide, without appeal, on questions of foreign commerce, of war, of diplomacy, on all matters of general concern; and the establishment of a common Treasury, maintained by common contributions, and defraying all the charges of war, and all other expenses that should be incurred for the common defence or general welfare.
A mode has been suggested of meeting this difficulty;—namely, that the proportions of the respective contributions of the two countries should be determined beforehand, and that, in the event of war, or other specified contingencies, each should hereafter pay its allotted proportion. By what authority is this prospective arrange- 87 ment to be made? Of course by the present united Parliament. There can be no other. That is to say, the united Parliament, which is declared incompetent, through ignorance and partiality, to regulate the present concerns, and to provide for the present interests of Ireland, is to be endowed with such perfect justice, and such intimate knowledge, not only of the present, but of the future condition of Ireland that it can equitably and satisfactorily determine, with reference to all possible circumstances, what proportion the future contribution of Ireland to the general expenses of the Empire ought to bear to that of England. If the united Parliament is competent to do this, why dissolve it? why not trust it with the performance of the very inferior duties of ordinary and occasional legislation?
Supposing, however, all these difficulties overcome, there are others yet in store for us. Ireland, it is said, is so differently circumstanced from England; her commercial and manufacturing interests are so peculiar, that she requires a system of legislation adapted to those peculiar circumstances, of which a domestic Legislature alone can judge. Be it so. This peculiar system will probably involve different principles of commercial policy; duties on import, bounties on export, varying from those adopted in Great Britain. Now, by what authority, and under whose control, are these duties to be levied? Who is to determine on, and to enforce, the precautions that will be necessary to prevent the constant frauds to which the revenues of both countries will be subject? Will Ireland be content to leave the sole authority, in matters of this kind, to this country? Must not she have an establishment of her own, for the collection of her own revenues—Revenue cruizers of her own—armed vessels of her own, to protect those cruizers? What does all this portend? What but constant collision, and eventual war? It appears to me, Sir, that the proof from reasoning à priori is decisive, that you cannot have a separate Legislature in Ireland, bonâ fide independent, concurrently with the Sovereignty of the British Crown, and with friendly relations with this country.
In aid of the deductions of reason, if any aid were requisite, come the examples of history, and the warnings of experience. The case of Scotland—the events that immediately preceded, and compelled the Legislative Union with that country, in order to avert the imminent hazard of her 88 complete separation from England, would be alone decisive. The danger sprung from the same causes which would generate danger in this case. The remedy, namely, Union, was applied on the same principles, and with complete success. But I will not abuse the patient indulgence of the House, by citing superfluous examples. The history of Ireland herself, between the year 1782 and the period of the Union, is pregnant with evidence fatal to the re-establishment of the system under which her affairs were then administered—conclusive as to the fact, that under such a system the connexion between the two countries is in perpetual danger. The annals of Irish history for that short period, a period of only eighteen years, present, First, an Address to the Crown from the Irish Parliament, on the subject of the special relations of Ireland to Portugal; which Address, considered by Mr. Grattan a spiritless and languid Address, because it did not demand instant reparation for the insult offered to Ireland, implied a right, on the part of the Irish Parliament, to resent the injury Ireland had sustained, and to take such effectual means as the honour and indispensable rights of Ireland might demand. Thus, one of two events might have occurred from the decision of the Irish Parliament: either the foreign relations of Great Britain with a friendly power might have been disturbed, contrary to the wish of the British Parliament and the British Minister; or, Ireland might have been involved in a war, to which Great Britain refused to be a party.
The affair of Portugal occurred in 1782. In 1785 the propositions adopted by the Parliament of Great Britain, for regulating the commercial intercourse of Ireland with Great Britain and her colonies, were necessarily abandoned in consequence of the opposition of the Irish Parliament. In 1788, upon the great question of Regency, it is perfectly notorious that the Parliaments of the two countries pursued a different course, acting upon principles at complete variance. It is proposed to obviate the recurrence of a similar difficulty by determining beforehand that the Regent of Great Britain shall be de jure Regent of Ireland. That is to say, it is proposed, that the United Parliament shall now pass a law by which the future Parliaments of Ireland shall be irrevocably bound, providing, under all possible circumstances, that Regencies, however they may be constituted by the British Parliament, whether 89 to be administered by individual Regents, or by councils of Regency, shall exercise all the functions of Sovereignty in Ireland as well as in England. Why the very admission of the necessity of making this prospective arrangement is fatal to the independence of the Irish Parliament; it proves that you dare not trust a separate Legislature in Ireland with the right to legislate in a matter that must vitally affect Irish interests. You pre-determine that Ireland should be bound by the decision of a British Parliament, in a matter of paramount importance, even in spite of an adverse decision of her own. But where is the security that Ireland will be bound by it? that she will adopt a law imposed upon her by this present Parliament, which Parliament is to be superseded in its legislative functions, on the express ground that it does not fairly represent Irish opinions, and cannot adequately provide for Irish interests?
There have been only two occasions, in modern times, in which a difference between the two countries, as to the rights of Sovereignty, could by possibility have occurred, and on both it did occur. The first was in respect to the title of King William the 3rd to the Crown of Ireland; the second, the right of the Prince of Wales to the office of Regent. But the former case was foreseen and provided for by law, for there was a Statute, enacted in the reign of King Henry the 8th, expressly providing that the Kingdom of Ireland should be for ever united and knit to the Imperial Crown of England, and that the King of England, of right, ought to be and should be King of Ireland.
Notwithstanding the Statute, notwithstanding the abdication, by James, of the Crown of Great Britain, the Irish Parliament recognised his authority as King of Ireland, rejected the statutable right of King William, and did not submit to it until compelled by the issue of civil war. It may be said, that the circumstances of the Revolution, and of the abdication of James, were very peculiar. No doubt they were. And will there ever be changes of dynasties, and revolutions, and disputed claims to Sovereign rights, without circumstances very peculiar, without circumstances that overrule the force of written laws, which did not and could not provide for them?
Thus within the short period of six years from the establishment of what is called the independence of the Irish Parliament, 90 from the year 1782 to the year 1788, the foreign relations of the two countries, the commercial intercourse of the two countries, the Sovereign exercise of authority in the two countries, were the subjects of litigation and dispute, and it was owing more to accident than to any other cause that they did not produce actual alienation and rupture. Add to these sources of discord and misfortune, a foreign invasion in 1796, and a savage Rebellion in 1798, and what becomes of the boasted prosperity and happiness which Ireland is said to have enjoyed under the Government of the independent Parliament? I must repeat, Sir, the observation which I made at the outset—that the evidence of sense, the evidence of reason, the evidence of experience and history, are all conclusive against the disturbance of the Legislative Union.
But an alarming menace is held out to us. We are advised to consent to immediate Repeal, if we wish to avert the otherwise certain consequences of separation. I, for one, am not disturbed by that menace. If I am driven to make a choice between such dreadful evils, I very much doubt whether I shall not prefer separation—complete and entire separation—that is, the establishment of Ireland as an independent country, under a distinct form of Government, to a Repeal of the Union. I conceal from myself none of the vast evils and dangers of separation—the imminent hazard of collision between the two countries—the certain diminution to each of its power, influence, prosperity, and social happiness. But foreseeing separation to be an inevitable consequence of Repeal, I prefer separation now, to separation embittered by the additional animosities of a protracted, intermediate struggle. Separation, too, has this advantage: Powers independent of each other, have definite relations—have mutual rights prescribed by the long-settled code of the law of nations; but powers standing in the relation in which, after Repeal, England and Ireland would hereafter stand towards each other, have the limits of their respective authorities quite unsettled, and have no known arbitration to refer to for the peaceful adjustment of their differences. Whenever, therefore, the success of the Repealers shall be inevitable, I shall be very much inclined to say to them, "Gentlemen, let us part in peace; arrange your own form of Government for Ireland; establish a Republic if you please, or replace on the Throne of Ireland (if monarchy be more acceptable to 91 you) the descendants of your ancient Kings." Not, Sir, that I would presume to interfere in their choice of a Sovereign; oh, no! I would carry to its utmost limit the doctrine of non-intervention; but, speaking as an impartial and disinterested witness, with some scanty knowledge of the ancient history of Ireland, I may, perhaps, be allowed to say thus much: that if the Throne shall be vacant, I know no one better entitled to fill it than the learned member for the county of Cork (Mr. Feargus O'Connor). Far be it from me to prejudice any other claim that may be advanced, but in return for the courtesy which I have uniformly experienced from the learned Member, I am bound to say, that at present, I know no better claim to the Monarchy than his. I find it recorded by an ancient historian of Ireland, whose very words I quote, that shortly before the invasion of Strongbow, in the reign of Henry 2nd, this very unpleasant circumstance occurred: "Dermot Macmurrough," says the historian, "King of Leinster, halt and lecherous, vowed dishonestly to serve his lust on the beautiful Queen of Meath, and, in the absence of her husband, allured the woman so far, that she condescended to be stolen away. This dishonourable wrong to avenge, O'Rorick, the King, her husband, besought assistance of Roderick or Roger O'Connor, King of Connaught, at that time general Monarch of all Ireland." From this Roderick O'Connor, the general Monarch of all Ireland, I conclude the learned Gentleman is descended. Still, Sir, I am bound to admit the fact, that there appear to have been at least two other Kings in Ireland at the same time, a King of Leinster and a King of Meath. The descendants of these Kings may, for anything I know to the contrary, prefer their claims; and I am bound in a spirit of perfect candour to confess, notwithstanding my leaning to the pretensions of the learned Gentleman, that if these claims shall be preferred, it will be his solemn duty, I do not say to abdicate, I do not say to dissolve the Monarchy, but acting on this valuable precedent, and in the very words of the present Motion, to consent to the appointment of a Select Committee, "to inquire and report an the means by which the dissolution of the Monarchies of Meath and Leinster was effected: on the effects of that measure upon those provinces, and upon the labourers in husbandry, and operatives in manufactures in Connaught, and upon the probable consequences of continuing 92 the general Monarchy of Ireland." Now, to prove still further my perfect good-will towards the learned Gentleman, notwithstanding his strenuous efforts in the cause of Repeal, I have extracted from the very same historian who seems to establish his claim to the Monarchy, an account of the refined and impressive ceremonial which was observed in Ireland on the Coronation of her ancient Kings, and which will, of course, be revived and faithfully adhered to in the person of the learned Gentleman. According to this venerable authority, "The ancient Irish thus used to crown their King. A white cow was brought forth which the King must kill, and seeth in water whole, and bathe himself therein stark naked; then sitting in the same caldron, his people about him, he must eat the flesh and drink the broth wherein he sitteth, without cup or dish or use of his hand. So much for their old customs." I do not hesitate to place this valuable record in the hands of the learned Gentleman, to be reserved for future use if occai on should require it.
One more appeal, and only one, I will make to the House. It is to their feelings, perhaps, rather than to their cold unimpassioned judgment; but the foundations of society and of civil government are weak indeed, unless they repose upon the warm feelings of the heart, as well as upon the dictates of sober reason.
Thirty-three years have now elapsed since the passing of the Act of Union—a short period if you count by the lapse of time; but it is a period into which the events of centuries have been crowded. It includes the commencement and the close of the most tremendous conflict which ever desolated the world; in the course of which many ancient dynasties were overthrown, and every country of Continental Europe, with scarcely a single exception, was exposed to invasion and the occupation of a hostile force. Notwithstanding the then recent convulsions in Ireland; notwithstanding the dissatisfaction expressed with the Union, the United Empire that had been incorporated only three years before the commencement of the war, escaped the calamities to which other nations were exposed. The extravagant and unreasoning ambition of Napoleon, which sent half a million of men across the Continent, to the invasion of Russia, never ventured to assail even the weakest point of these countries, lying within a few hours sail of the shores of France, In our gallant armies no dis- 93 tinction of Englishmen and Irishmen were known; none of the vile jealousies which this Motion, if successful, would generate, impaired the energies which were exerted by all, in defence of a common country. That country did not bestow its rewards with a partial hand: it never inquired the place of birth of the heroes on whom it lavished its admiration and gratitude; it did not, because they were Irishmen, pay a less sincere or less willing homage to the glorious memory of a Ponsonby and a Pakenham. The benefit to both parts of the empire was reciprocal. We gained the full contribution of Irish valour and Irish genius; and to Irish valour and Irish genius was opened the arena of the world, and they expanded with the new and boundless horizon. Castlereagh and Canning fought in the same ranks with Pitt, and Grattan took his place in the great contests of party, by the side of Fox. The majestic oak of the forest was transplanted, but it shot its roots deep in a richer and more congenial soil. The glowing eloquence of Grattan lost nothing of its spirit; but it was chastened by a milder wisdom and a more comprehensive benevolence, that commanded, not merely the applause, but the affectionate esteem, even of political opponents. Above all, to an Irishman—to that Arthur Wellesley, who, in the emphatic words of the learned Gentleman (Mr. Sheil), "eclipsed his military victories by the splendour of his civil triumphs,"—to him was committed, with the unanimous assent and confidence of a generous country, the great and glorious task of effecting the deliverance of the world.
The peace which was conquered by the sword of Wellington, was settled and confirmed by the patient and conciliatory wisdom of Castlereagh. An Irishman was selected to represent in the Congress of Europe that united empire, which, fifteen years before, had been incorporated mainly through his own undaunted exertions; and, Sir, there was not one British heart throughout the land that was defiled by the base and sordid spirit of national jealousy—that recollected, with a grudging and envious feeling, that the great parts that were then acting on the theatre of the world, were committed, not to Englishmen, but to Irishmen.
Oh! Sir, who is that Irishman who can review these events, who can reflect on the glorious interval that passed between the day when his own countryman, the Duke of Wellington, stood with his back to the 94 sea on the rocks of Lisbon, and saw before him the whole of Europe lying prostrate in subjugation and despondency; and that day, when having never paused in the career of victory, he had broken every fetter, and had turned despair into triumph and into joy.—Who is that Irishman, who, recollecting these things, has the spirit and the heart to propose, that Ireland shall be defrauded for the future of her share of such high achievements—that to her the wide avenues of civil and military glory, shall be hereafter closed—that the faculties and energies of her sons shall be for ever stunted, by being cramped within the paltry limits of a small island? Surely, Sir, we owe it to the memory of the illustrious brave, who died in defending this great empire from dismemberment by the force and genius of Napoleon, at least, to save it from dismemberment by the ignoble enemies that now assail it.
In conclusion, let me intreat the House to bear in mind, that the consideration is not whether you shall re-establish the state of things which existed before the Union, but whether you shall sever a connexion that has subsisted for the third part of a century, and violently disturb the new relations that have grown up in the confidence that the Union was indissoluble. The question, whether the Union ought to have taken place is perfectly distinct from the question, whether, having taken place, it ought to be dissolved. Measures have been enacted in the interval, Catholic Emancipation, and Parliamentary Reform, constituting changes in the state of society in Ireland, which never, probably, would have been contemplated, never, certainly, could have been safely adopted, had Ireland retained her separate Legislature. Those changes oppose new obstacles, in addition to all to which I have before referred, to the measure of Repeal. They will aggravate every danger with which the system of Government that existed prior to the Union was pregnant. They will destroy every check upon the influence of numbers and physical strength, as opposed to the influence of property, and station, and character.
Beware how you act in the presumptuous confidence that you can restore by artificial devices the equilibrium that has been thus disturbed—that you can launch the new planet into the social system—can set bounds to its librations—can so adjust the antagonist forces which are to determine its orbit, that it shall neither be drawn 95 back into violent contact with the mass from which it has been severed, nor flame through the void of space a lawless and eccentric meteor. To do this is far beyond the grasp of your limited faculties—far beyond any intelligence, save that of the Almighty and Omniscient Power which divided the light from the darkness, and ordained the laws that regulate in magnificent harmony the movements of countless worlds.
§ The Debate was again adjourned till the following Monday.