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Permit me now to exhort you, by that manly spirit of freedom, which taught you to demand your right from another country, not to suffer yourselves to be reproached, that, while you were clamorous for your privileges as a nation, you refused to restore a great majority of your fellow subjects to their liberties as freemen, and to their great common law rights, as members of the British constitution. Unite with the Roman catholics—you will become a great people, formidable to your enemies, respected by Great Britain—remember the old political axiom—
"Concordia Res parva; crcscunt,
On the 27th of July, 1782, his excellency the lord lieutenant concluded the session with the following speech from the throne:
"My lords and gentlemen—The great and constitutional advantages you have seen secured to your country, and the wise and magnanimous conduct of Great Britain, in contributing to the success of your steady and temperate exertions, call for my congratulations, on the close of a session which must ever reflect the highest honour on the national character of both kingdoms."It must be a most pleasing consideration to you, to recollect, that in the advances you made towards the settlement of your constitution, no acts of violence or impatience have marked their progress. A religious adherence to the laws confined your endeavours within the strictest bounds of loyalty and good order; your claims were directed by the same spirit that gave rise t
and stability to the liberty of Great Britain, and could not fail of success, as soon as the councils of that kingdom were influenced by the avowed friends of the constitution.
"Such a spirit of constitutional liberty communicating itself from one kingdom to the other, must naturally produce that reciprocal confidence and mutual affection, of which we already begin to feel the most salutary effects. A. grateful zeal and generous ardour have united this whole kingdom in the most cordial and vigorous exertions, which promise effectually to frustrate the designs of our common enemy, and to re-establish and secure the glory of the whole empire.
"Gentlemen of the house of commons—When I consider the very active and liberal part you have taken in contributing to these great and glorious events, I must as distinctly express to you his majesty's sense of the last effusion of your generosity for the defence of the empire, as I must return you his most gracious thanks for the supplies which you so chearfully voted at the beginning of this session. His majesty's royal example not only secures to you a most just and ceconomical application of the aids you have granted him, but affords you a most solemn pledge of attentive investigation into every means which the circumstances of this country will afford to alleviate the burdens of his loyal and grateful people. To co-operate with you in carrying into effect this most benevolent disposition of his majesty, will afford me the highest gratification; and manifest to you the sentiments I shall
ever maintain, in return for the confidence you have reposed in the sincerity of my professions for your welfare.
"My lords and gentlemen—In contemplating the services which your unremitting assiduity has rendered to the public, I must indulge myself in the satisfaction of specifying some very important acts, which will most materially strengthen the great constitutional reform you have coinpleated, and which will for ever distinguish the period of this memorable session. You have provided for the impartial and unbiassed administration of justice, by the act for securing the independency of judges. You have adopted one of the most effectual securities of British freedom, by limiting the mutiny-act in point of duration; you have secured that most invaluable of all human blessings, the personal liberty of the subject, by passing the Habeas Corpus act; you have cherished and enlarged the wise principles of toleration, and made considerable advances in abolishing those distinctions, which have too long impeded the progress of industry, and divided the nation. The diligence and ardour with which you have perserved in the accomplishment of these great objects, must ever bear the most honourable testimony of your zeal and industry in the service of your country, and manifest your knowledge of its true interests.
"Many and great national objects must present themselves to your consideration during the recess from parliamentary business; but what I would most earnestly press upon you, as that on which your domestic peace and happiness, and the prosperity of the empire at this moment most immediately depend, is to cultivate and diffuse those sentiments of affection and confidence which are now happily restored between the two kingdoms. Convince the people in your several districts, as you are yourselves convinced, that every cause of past jealousies and discontents is finally removed; that both countries have pledged their good faith to each other, and, that their
BEST SECURITY Will be, an INvrOLABLE ADHERENCE To That Compact; that the implicit reliance which Great Britain has reposed on the honour, generosity, and candour of Ireland, engages your national character to a return of sentiments equally liberal and enlarged: convince them, that the two kingdoms are now one, indissolubly connected in unity of constitution and unity of interests; that the danger and security, the prosperity and calamity of the one, must equally affect the other—that they stand or fall together."
This was truly the revolution of Ireland, as Burke used to call it; not that of William, so long and so foolishly commemorated. No doubt, this memorable aera may be looked back to with pride, by an Irishman. It presents a magnificent frontispiece: a patriot parliament, a nation, a patriot volunteer army, corporations, grand juries, all with one accord, one voice, moderate but firm, calling upon proud, monopolizing England, for the restoration of Ireland's rights. What aspect could be more imposing, more worthy of the majesty of a great and ancient people? To grace the triumphs of 1782, with an honorary institution, an order of chivalry was established, entitled, Knights of the illustrious order of St. Patrick. Alas! who could conceive, on those days of triumph and exultation, the deplorable catastrophe, that followed in a few years, when be might exclaim with the prophet, "How is the best of gold changed, yea, changed into dross!"
Hitherto, the progress of Ireland, in the acquisition of its rights, was commanding the respect of surrounding nations; and nothing more was wanting, to complete the triumph of the Volunteers, than aright use of the advantages already obtained. The revolution of 1782, was to be secured, by reforming the constitution in parliament; and, by giving the catholic population an interest in its conservation. But, unfortunately for the cause of Ireland, it was found more arduous to overcome bigotry, than the legislative supremacy, and commercial monopoly, of England. Through this unwise, unchristian disposition, parliamentary reform was lost, and eventually, all the glories of 1782. For, when the government found, that the armed convention at the Rotunda was divided on the question of catholic rights, they soon found means to disperse them.
The conduct of the Irish parliament, on that occasion, abundantly proves, that private, not public interest, obtained the consent of boroughmongers, to the demand for a free parliament.