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and extent the legislature should deem expedient. This was resisted, as a real abandonment of their object, and negatived by ninety to seventeen. These negatived resolutions, the minority embodied into an address to the lord-lieutenant, and, with fifty-seven additional signatures, presented it on the 27th of December. The general committee published counter resolutions, severely censuring the sixty-eight addressers. These proceedings gave birth to the discussion of politics by the Irish catholics in a distinct capacity.
Meanwhile the session commenced. Mr.Grattan's speech on the address is deserving of perusal, bringing into a focus the most important transactions that occurred since the Volunteer era; incontrovertibly establishing the grievances of which the nation complained, and the United Irishmen embodied to redress. "It is now ten years (said he) since you recovered your constitution, and three since, in the opinion of some, you have lost it. Your present ministers made two attempts on your liberties; the first failed, and the second has succeeded—you remember the first—you remember the Propositions The second attempt was modelling of the parliament. In 1789, fifteen new salaries, with several new pensions to the members thereof, were created at once, and added to the old overgrown parliamentary influence of the crown—in other words, the expenditure of the interest of half a million to buy the house of Commons—the sale of the peerage, and the purchase of seats in the Commons— the formation of a stock-purse by the minister, to monopolize boroughs, and buy up representation. This new practice, whereby the minister of the crown becomes the common borough broker of the kingdom, constitutes an offence so multitudinous, and in all its parts so criminal, as to call for radical reformation, and exemplary punishment. Whether the persons concerned be lord Buckingham or his secretary, or those who became the objects of his promotion, because they had been the ministers of his vices,—it was a conspiracy against the fundamental laws of the land, and sought to establish, and has established, in the place of a limited monarchy, a corrupt despotism; and if any thing rescues the persons so concerned from the name of traitors, it is not the principles of law, but its omission, that has not described by any express provisionary statute, that patricide, of which these men, in intention and substance, are guilty. They have adopted a practice, which decides the fate of our parliamentary constitution. In vain shall we boast of its blessings, and of its three estates, the King, the Lords, and the Commons, when the King sells one estate to buy the other, and so contaminates both. The minister has sent one set of men packing into the Peers, and another set of men packing into the Commons; and the first he calls the hereditary council, and the latter, the grand council of the nation, and both, that once great and august institution—the parliament. Such a condition, I say, puts the constitution of Ireland not below a republic, but any other form of genuine and healthy government—it is not mixed monarchy, with parts happily tempered, and so forth—the cant of grave and superannuated addresses; but a rauk, and vile, and simple, and absolute government, rendered so by means that make every part of it vicious and abominable—the executive who devours the whole, and the other two parts which are thus extinguished; of such a constitution, the component parts are debauched by one another. The monarch is made to prostitute the prerogative of honour by the sale of honours— the Lords by the purchase; and the Commons prostitute their nature by being the offspring not of the people, but of a traffic, and prostitute themselves again by the sale of their votes and persons....By this trade of parliament the king is absolute—his will is signified by both houses of parliament, who are now as much an instrument in his hand as a bayonet in the hands of a regiment. Like a regiment, we have our adjutant, who sends to the infirmary for the old, and to the brothel for the young, and men thus carted as it were into this house, to vote for the minister, are called the Representatives of the people....See its effects."—After enumerating them, he concludes: "Sir, whenever freedom shall be properly understood, depend upon it, the gentlemen of this country will be ashamed of the condition they bear, and the questions they have made upon it—in the mean lime I can account for their patience— the Irish are accustomed to be trodden upon— uniformly, says Junius, has Ireland been plundered and oppressed. It is not so in England: defective in some particulars as the constitution of England may still be, yet with all those defects England has a constitution, and she has also maxims, as well as laws, to preserve it. They have not been blessed in England with a succession of lord lieutenants, secretaries, whose sole occupation has been to debauch the political morality of the gentlemen of the inland. No minister will venture to tell the gentlemen of England, that they must be bought: no man will venture to say, that the best minister is he who
buys parliament the cheapest The people of
this country suppose, that England acceded to their liberties, and they were right; but the present ministry have sent the curse after that blessing—hear the curse! "You have got rid of the British parliament, but we will buy the Irish— you have shaken off our final judicature; but we will sell yours—you have got your free trade, but we will make your own parliament suffer our monopolists in one quarter of the globe to exclude you; and you shall remain content with the right, destitute of the possession. Your corporate rights shall be attacked, and you shall not stir: the freedom of your press, and the personal freedom of the subject, shall be outraged, and you shall not arraign: your city shall be put under contribution to corrupt its magistracy, and pay a guard to neglect and insult her: the seats of justice shall be purchased by personal servitude, and the qualification of your judges shall be, to have borne their suffrage aud testimony against the people. Taxes shall be drawn from the poor, by various artifices, to buy the rich: your bills, like your people shall be sold; you shall see the genius of your country neglected; her patriotism dismissed from commission, and the old enemies of your constitution made the rulers of the realm."
The extent of the relief to be granted to the catholics, their early friend, and the uniform supporter of government, Sir Hercules Langrishe, set forth in the following resolutions. "1. He would give them the practice and profession of the law, as a reasonable provision, and application of their talents to their own country. 2 He would restore to them education, entire and unrestrained, because a state of ignorance was a state of barbarity. 3. He would draw closer the bonds of intercourse and affection, by allowing intermarriage, repealing that cruel statute that served to betray female credulity, and bastardize the children of a virtuous mother. 4. He would remove those obstructions to arts and manufactures, that limited the number of apprentices, which were so necessary to assist and promote trade." The catholic committee, in addition to these concessions, petitioned for the elective franchise; the Dissenters of Belfast petitioned that the catholics should be placed on an equal footing with their protectant fellow-subjects: these petitions were rejected: the bill passed. The limits of this work not allowing room for more of the debates than what set forth historical matter with force of argument, the following extract, from the concise and elegant speech of Mr.Smyth, on the catholic question,will notdisplease. "From the line of my profession I have, upon several