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attention to the situation of the Roman Catholics, had his most hearty approbation; and he hoped whatever should be done might be so done, as to promote union of sentiment amongst all his Majesty's subjects.
After some further debate, Mr. Grattan withdrew his amendment.
Four days afterward the question of reform was introduced by Mr. Ponsonby, and supported by Mr. Conolly. After some observations thereon, Mr. Grattan moved, "that a committee be appointed to enquire whether any, and what abuses have taken place in the constitution of this country, or the administration of its government, and to report such temperate measures as may appear most likely to redress the same." The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that though the question of parliamentary reform had been postponed in England, he did not disapprove of its introduction here, attended as it was, with propriety, temperance and decorum...Whenever the subject was brought forward, they would enter fairly into its merits, and whatever the decision might be, he trusted that itshould procurestrength to the constitution and that tranquillity to the nation, which were so much desired. The right hon. W. B. Conyngham considered, that parliamentary reform and catholic emancipation ought to go together, and a trial be made, whether a great reform might not be made in the constitution; and promised the gentlemen pledged every assistance in his power. Lord Kingsborough was happy to see two such respectable gentlemen the
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originators of the measure, whose support it formerly had not: whenever brought forward, it should have his warmest approbation. Mr. M. Beresford said, the resolution, as it now stands, shall have my decided negative...I voted against a parliamentary reform in 1783, when a bill had been attempted to be obtruded on parliament by an armed convention; and perhaps I will again vote against it, if any ready-made plan should be dictated by a similar association; but I never voted against the principle of a parliamentary reform, and I declare that I never will. My only doubt is, whether we should proceed on the subject by committee, or by commissioners chosen from ourselves, to investigate the business, and to make a report. The latter mode would not be so speedy, but it would be much more effectual. The opposition arrogated too much to themselves, if they thought that the want of their place, pension, and responsibility-bills, had caused the disturbances in the country. They were produced by far different causes. The people were only unanimous in the demand of a parliamentary reform. It was the pen of Paine, and the sword of Dumourier, that had carried confusion into Great Britain and Ireland. The discussion of parliamentary reform will, I hope, be conducted with such temper, as to render it effectual. I trust, also, that all things will be forgotten; that there will be a general amnesty; that no persons will be questioned how they have obtained their seats, or others how they have transferred their influence. The measure would tend more than any
thing else to quiet the country. I hope to see all legislators employed upon the subject; for if it was adopted in one country, it must in the other.
Sir Lawrence Parsons.—If ever there was an occasion when truth and reason alone should dictate to every man who speaks, it is the present. Our oldest members tell you, that they never remember so awful a crisis for Ireland. For my part, I have thought with the deepest anxiety, both by night and by day, upon the present state of this country, and the result of my reflections is, that a reform in parliament is absolutely necessary to the very being of the state. When you are conferring favours on the catholics, do not neglect the protestants: let there be one great act, bearing freedom to the whole people; one great charter of liberty for all Ireland; one solemn covenant, in which we shall all be united, and in the attainment of which every sect and religion shall be interested; and let this be, a reform in parliament. If this crisis is favourable to liberty, shall it be wasted in merely giving liberty to catholics? No: give liberty at once to all Ireland, and this will be the most glorious era for your country, though it now appears the most awful. The Attorney-general pledged himself to a parliamentary reform, on no other principle than that of property.
Sir H. Cavendish.—Sir, I desire to know what a parliamentary reform is? I have read many books upon the subject, and have conversed with many persons, and yet none of them could give me a satisfactory answer to the question. All the people, I declare, have it in their heads. A short time since I went into a shop, to buy an article of manufacture; I objected to the quality, and the answer the shopkeeper gave was, " Give us a parliamentary reform, and you shall have better." It was the common conversation in the streets; and the labourer cried to his fellow, " Paddy, we are going to be happy, they are going to give us a parliamentary reform." Men and women talked upon the subject, and children lisped out parliamentary reform. The first thing which they should determine was, who are to elect, and who to be elected; care should also be taken, that the bouse of commons should be composed of gentlemen. The Hon. Robert Stewart said, that, without the smallest disinclination to the catholic bill, but with every wish for its final success, it should be postponed, until the deliberations and determination on a parliamentary reform, that first and great object of all our electors, should be brought to a conclusion. The Hon. D. Browne had not a doubt, that the people of Ireland are not fully represented; but doubted the expediency of parliamentary reform at that time. In Leinster, Connaught and Munster, the situation of the catholics is complained of as a grievance; but this great body of the people confined themselves to complaints of their own situation; they have neither complaints to make of, or encomiums to lavish on, a constitution of which they have no part. Where then does this complaint come from? from the town of Belfast. What is the proceeding, and who are the people of that town, that
send ui this measure? Military associations, that join with their schemes of reforming the constitution of Ireland, an approbation of the proceedings of France; that declare they will keep the constitution of king, lords and commons, provided they are not put to any trouble in settling those bodies in the manner most pleasing to themselves; if they are, they will dismiss them all; they call on every man, who cannot serve their cause, which they call the cause of this country, with his person, to forward it with his money. For this purpose, a military chest is established, for the declared purpose of buying arms and ammunition. In a very animated debate in that town, the Rev. Mr. Kilburn informs us, that lords are a grievance, and ought to be dismissed, because wisdom is not hereditary; that kings and lords ought to be dismissed, because they were two to one against the people; which proceedings ought to be reprobated by parliament.
Mr. Sheridan begged leave to say, that nothing less than a reform in the representation would restore peace to the country. Do we not all know, said he, in what manner many are brought into this house? are there not many among us, who could not find the way to the place they represent? who at times cannot recollect the name of it? I do not much relish anecdotes on serious subjects, but there is one, which is very true and apposite. By a curtesy of the house of commons in England, members of the Irish parliament are admitted to hear the debates; a friend of mine, then a member, wishing to avail himself of the privilege,