My Lords,—It has devolved upon me to present to your Lordships a Petition from so distressed and deserving a body of men, that I feel particularly concerned at not having it in my power conscientiously to support their wishes. My Lords, this petition is from a class denominated the Trades of the Town and Borough of Boyle, in the county of Roscommon, most humbly praying your Lordships for a Repeal of the Union between England and Ireland. These poor people had been led to imagine, that such a measure would be a panacea for all their wants, and have therefore strongly urged me (as proprietor of the place) to lay their Address on your Lordships' Table, and I have considered it my duty to acquiesce. My Lords, I must here briefly observe, that your Lordships may expect an inundation of petitions to the same effect, as soon as a question of vital importance has been disposed of in another place, and which the people consider must lead to a dissolution of the Union—a full equivalent, in their opinions, for the heavy disappointment arising from the results of the Emancipation Bill. To meet these evils, my Lords, I would exhort your Lordships, as an act of policy, common justice, and humanity, to institute an immediate inquiry into the causes of the dire distress which pervades Ireland—a distress very far beyond what your Lordships can have any idea of. I do not mean here to allude to the dreadful famine and pestilence which ravage a portion of the Western District, though no doubt highly aggravated by the general bad system, but to the misery and distress which are to be met with, at all times and in all places, and which must tend in an extraordinary degree to alienate the Irish population from British connection, and thus render them willing tools in the hands of base demagogues, whose ulterior object is a 1304 total separation between the two islands. My Lords, it has been most invidiously impressed upon the minds of the people, that the principal source of their wretchedness is having to support two Churches, and one of them heretical. This is a sad delusion. No, my Lords, it is not the two Churches, but the two Governments which exist in Ireland, that occasion the deplorable and disgraceful condition of that part of the empire, and till the legitimate Government of the country stands forward, in a firm and decided manner, and effectually puts down that imperium in imperio, which has more than once been alluded to by me in this House, so long, I say, must Ireland continue to be a thorn in the side of England, instead of being her chief resource, which she might so easily be made. In moving, that this petition be received, and laid on your Lordships' Table, I shall only further say, let constant and general employment be found for the people of Ireland, and let the landlords be taxed for the purpose of carrying so desirable an object into effect.
The Marquis of Westmeath
thought it right to take this opportunity of calling their Lordships' attention to the declaration of the gentlemen of the county of Roscommon, with respect to the subject to which this petition related. The declarants stated, that in consequence of the excitement which had been created in some parts of Ireland on the subject of the Repeal of the Union, they felt themselves called upon to declare, that they were decidedly adverse to the Repeal of the Union, and determined to adhere to the British connection, which, in their opinion, could not be put an end to without the greatest calamity to Ireland, and without leading to a dismemberment of the empire. The meeting at which this declaration had been agreed upon, was attended by four Peers and forty-one Magistrates, and represented property to the amount of 120,000l. a-year. He had also to notice, that a meeting had been called by the High Sheriff, to consider of the propriety of Repealing the Union. At this meeting a petition was agreed to, praying for the Repeal of the Union, but it was attended only by four Magistrates, and represented property only to the amount of about 4,000l. a-year. As to the agitation which had been excited in Ireland, in reference to this subject, if the object of it was, to call the attention of 1305 Government forcibly to the state of Ireland, with a view to remedy the evils and the distress under which a great portion of that country laboured, he must say that the plan had been overacted. If the intention was really to bring about a Repeal of the Union, then he said, that a serious attempt to effectuate the object would lead to a prostration of Ireland for twenty-five years to come, and would deluge the country with blood, without accomplishing the object which those who supported the Repeal had in view, for it was impossible for any rational man seriously to expect that Ireland, single-handed, could carry the repeal against the force of Great Britain, which would certainly be exerted to resist the repeal.
§ Petition to lie on the Table.