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sure in favour of power, the seed of a principle which impeacbeth the succession of the crown in the present illustrious family? But so ioterwoven, fortunately I think it, is the title of the king with the liberties of his people, that no man can be the notorious and intemperate and blasted enemy of the one, without at the same time suggesting a question against the other. Such melancholy and gross ignorance does this act betray of the history of both countries, and such a total and shocking disregard to every trace of sound constitutional principle, without which no man can be a safe lawyer, or a good citizen. Blackstone speaks of this law of redress; the law of redress ascertained as at the revolution, and the law of redress unascertained, as in those cases where the governing powers betray their trust, and conspire against the commonweal, such as the modesty of the law will not suppose, and therefore against which it does not provide a remedy, but leaves the redress open to the exigency; and it is this which lord Bolingbroke means, when be says the constitution of Great Britain cannot be destroyed, even by parliament. Kings, like James II. may abdicate; parliaments, like his parliament, may betray their trust, butthe resources of this constitution are such that the people cannot be enslaved, until they themselves are universally corrupt: bow then are they to redress themselves when they are betrayed by parliament; how, insuch a case? How, but by resorting to what this bill makes a misdemeanor, the appointment or delegation of some body or bodies who may confer and communicate.
This bill, I therefore submit, is not only a declaration of law false and ignorant, but highly criminal and mischievous, as a provision against those popular resources, which Ireland found necessary once, and England found necessary also, and without which neither had been free: resources which should neither be prohibited nor encouraged. Let me suppose, that the persons, who gave their early and almost infant voice against a motion to declare the rights of the Irish parliament, had succeeded so far as to prevent the house, in the end, from adopting that measure: let me suppose, that the same persons, who proposed to give back the substance of those rights, on the question of the memorable propositions, attended as that question was with a senseless petulance of speech, against the character, as well as the pretensions, of Ireland: let me suppose, that they at that time had prevailed: let me suppose, that those who denied the substance of that declaration of right on the question of the regency, and maintained that a British convention could make a law for the people of Ireland, and that this country was governed by the great seal of England: let me suppose, that they had been able, at that time, to impose their empty quibble as law, and their shameless assertion as constitution: let me suppose, that he who bad declared, in this house, that the Irish parliament had been once bought for half a million, and that it might be made necessary to buy it again, for the same or a greater sum: let me suppose, that he had been able to establish the
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profligacy of this principle, the violence of audi measures, or the corruption of such practices, as permanent maxims of government: let me suppose, that those who, by the precipitation of their temper, inflamed, misled, and finally exposed, the protestant interest, as they have since endeavoured to alienate the catholic interest, by the petulance of their language: let me suppose, that they bad prevailed in any, and, still more, in all of their desperate enterprises against their country: in such case or cases, might not a convention have been necessary? It is true, the good sense of some of his majesty's ministers has checked the arbitrary genius that inspired such sentiments, governed his temper, and renounced bis bigotry, and, by taking reconciling steps, has rendered a convention at present unnecessary, improper and improbable. But in a country where such practices have been resorted to, and such avowal of such profligacy publicly made, shall we say that, in no time to come, there shall ever be a convention? Such a practice, and such an unabashed avowal of such a practice, is the subversion of all government, of English government in Ireland, or of any government, because it is the subversion of those principles, moral and religious, without which there can be no government. The minister, therefore, who proclaimed, that it was the custom of the British government to buy the Irish parliament with half millions, proclaimed, by necessary deduction, the necessity of an Irish convention. Happily, I say, that principle is changed, and a convention unneceswy and unwarranted: but in a country where such a thing could even have been publicly advanced by administration, will you pass an act against any convention at any time to come, or any representation of any description of the people, for any specific public purpose? Sir, if this bill had been the law of the land, four great events could never have taken place: the independency of the Irish parliament; the emancipation of the Irish catholics; the revolution in Great Britain; and the great event that flowed from it, the succession of the Hanoverian family. The enacting part is a bill of popular incapacities, instead of a constitution of popular resources; the enacting part is a proviso against future redress, in cases of emergency, as the declaratory part is a declaration against the legality of past redress. In this latter light it must be considered as a libel on the revolution; on your own meeting at Duogaonon; on all the proceedings of your volunteers, and on the catholic convention. Where is the use of stigmatising the volunteers by act of parliament, if, in the cause of liberty, they sometimes went too far; if the ardour of youth could not, at all times, command the precaution of old age. Draw a veil over the infirmity; remember the essential service; respect the soldier's memory, and do not now, when he is dead, assemble round his grave with the little enemy of his cause and his fame, to write on his tomb this dirty indictment. Some of the gentlemen who now hear me were of the lawyers' corps memorable committee. Do they recollect it? That committee was a deputation of armed men, representing armed men, and assuming to represent the knowledge of law, as well as its battalion, for the purpose of questioning and investigating a matter touching the state, and already decided in parliament. I am not defending such a meeting; it stands on its own ground, and distinct from others; but if I had gone so very far as to be a member of that committee, I would not now prove false to my colours, and pay the minister such a compliment, at the expence of my corps and my cloth, as to acknowledge that my proceedings and theirs, influenced by their leaders, were in the face of the law. The catholic convention is another object libelled by this bill. Where is the use of the reflection? Not only they who elected, and they who composed that convention, but his Majesty, who received its deputies, comes in for his share of the obloquy. It is very evident, that one of the many views of this bill is, to attack the catholics. As to any evil designs which the catholics maybe said to entertain, I believe they have none; sure I am that the charges which have been made against the body of the catholics are false; if there are grounds, state them. Let that which is to appal us all appear. It has proved nothing but vague assertion; nor can we suppose, that the catholics, who, under the penal code, preserved their allegiance, should become disaffected at the moment in which they had acquired such solid and inestimable advantages, and, through the agency of the government, which they are falsely charged