« PreviousContinue »
mediately forwarded; but for these details, which were to have the most decisive weight, no delay was made. A cabinet meeting decided that the lord lieutenant should be recalled; and this decision the duke of Portland was made the instrument of communicating.
To the catholic question, however, earl Fitzwilliam by no means attributed his recal; for, did it require, he says, that this letter should be accompanied, as it was by one from Mr. Pitt, of the same date, accepting, in fact, the alternative I proposed to him, (the dismissal of the Beresford party, or his recal,) declaring himself prepared for the worst, however be might lament it. "It is true, indeed, that for the very first time, he mentions the catholic business, and declares his concurrence in the general desire of the cabinet, to prevent any further progress being made in Mr. Grattan's bill, till they should receive and consider the information which they thought it their duty to call for; but by the desertion of all my friends, and by the prospect of my falling alone, Mr. Pitt was prepared to throw out this, as a matter on which to amuse his colleagues for the moment, and the public at a future period; while to myself, without allowing a moment's further deliberation, he boldly and peremptorily pronounces on what I had determined to be the point to decide on my government. On the subject of arrangements, he felt bound to adhere to these sentiments, not only with respect to Mr. Beresford, but to the line of conduct adopted 'in so many instances towards the former sup
YOL. IV. 4 B
porters of government; by these sentiments, he must, at all events, be guided, from a regard to the king's service, and to his own honor, however sincerely he might lament the consequences which must arise from the present situation."
The recal of this nobleman was no sooner credited, than an universal despondency seized the nation. Meetings were held throughout the kingdom, in order, if possible, to avert the national calamity. The freemen and freeholders of the city of Dublin, agreed to petition the king, and transmitted it by delegates; the catholics of Dublin did the same. The merchants and traders also, with Mr. Abraham Wilkinson, the then governor of the Bank of Ireland, at their head, expressed their sorrow at the unfortunate event, and their entire concurrence in the removal of all religious disabilities. These remonstrances being too voluminous for insertion, the following may serve as a specimen of the popular feeling on this ominous occasion.
Address of the Catholics of Dublin to the Right Hon.Henry Grattan, on the nth of February, 1795.
We are instructed by the Catholics of Dublin, to offer you their humble tribute of thanks and gratitude, as well for the eminent services you have rendered to this kingdom, ou various occasions, as for your able and generous exertions in their cause. It is not easy to do justice to the merits of a man, whose name is connected with the most brilliant events of his time; and who has already obtained the highest of all titles, the Deliverer of his Country. But, though it is impossible to add to your fame, by any terms we can employ, it must be grateful to you to learn, that you have a place* not only iu the admiration, but in the affection of your countrymen.
To be thus loved and admired, is surely an enviable dis. tinction. It may not, perhaps, be sufficient to preserve or purchase station and power, at court, but, to a well-formed mind, it is a source of purer satisfaction, than the favour and protection even of monarchs or their ministers.
Few men have had it in their power to do so much for their native land, as you have done for Ireland. When you first entered into public life, garrison habits, and provincial prejudices, were opposed to Irish interests and feelings; and, what was still more discouraging, the different descriptions of people in this country, far from being ready to meet in a common point for their mutual advantage, were kept asunder by perverse and unintelligible antipathies of a religious nature. Into this chaos of contradictions, you infused your spirit, and brought order, in some measure, out of confusion.
The first effort of your eloquence was, to rouse the Irish parliament to assert its own independence; and, not with. standing the habits of subjection which particular causes had induced, you were successful.
At present, you are engaged in a pursuit, equally honourable to your head, and still more to your heart. As mover of the Catholic bill, you are endeavouring to inculcate the necessity of moderation and justice, where you before inspired courage; and urging men who triumphed over foreign supremacy, to an act of much greater dignity and difficulty, a sacrifice of the prejudices of their youth and education.
In this work, so full of genius and public spirit, and which goes to the creation of a people, as your former exertions went to the forming of a constitution, you have already made considerable progress; and when you and your illustrious friends were called to the councils of a virtuous viceroy, we looked with confidence to the accomplishment of your patriotic intentions.
Some enemy, however, to the king and the people, has interposed his malignant and wicked suggestions, and endeavoured to throw obstacles in the way of our total emancipation. But we are far from giving way to sentiments of despondency and alarm. We f«el the justice of our pretensions, and we are persuaded, that what is just will prevail over the arts of perfidy and falsehood.
What gives us the most sensible satisfaction is, the general union of sentiment that pervades all ranks and descriptions of Irishmen on the present occasion. Never before did Ireland speak with a voice so unanimous. Protestants and Catholics are at this moment united, and seem to have no other contest, but who shall resent most the outrage that has been offered to Irish pride, in the intended removal of a patriotic viceroy from the government, and you and your friends from the councils of this kingdom.
For our own part, it shall be our study to cultivate an union so happily begun. We have no selfish or narrow views: -we do not wish to acquire privileges for ourselves, in order to abridge the privileges of others; for we know, that in matters of liberty and constitution, to give is to gain.
With regard to the men who may have the hardihood to take the situations which you and your friends are about to lay down, if, unfortunately for this country, such an event should happen, we shall only say, that we do not envy them the sensations which they must take up at the same time. That man's temper must be of steel, who can hold up his head amidst the hisses of a betrayed and irritated nation.
As to you and your friends, your departure from power will not disturb the serenity of your minds. The veneration and gratitude of the people will attend you in retirement, and will preserve you from reflections, which must be the portion of those who may be your dismal and melancholy successors.
THOMAS BRAUGHALL, Chairman.
To which Mr. Grattan returned the following answer:
Gentlemen, In supporting you I support the Protestant; we have but one interest and one honour, and whoever gives privileges to you, gives vigour to all. The Protestant already begins to perceive it; a late attack has rallied the scattered spirits of the country from the folly of religious schism to the recollection of national honour, and a nation's fends are lost in a nation's resentment. Your emancipation will pass—rely on it, your emancipation must pass—it may be death to one viceroy; it will be the peace-offering of another, and the laurel may be torn from the dead brow of one governor to be craftily converted into the olive of his successor.
Let me advise you by no means to postpone the consideration of your fortunes till after the war; rather let Britain receive the benefit of your zeal during the exigency which demands it, and you yourselves, while you are fighting to preserve the blessings of a constitution, have really and bona fide those blessings.
My wish is, that you should be free now. There is no other policy that is not low and little; let us at once instantly embrace, and greatly emancipate.
On this principle I mean to introduce your bill, with your permission, immediately after the recess.
You are pleased to speak of the confidence and power, with which, for a moment, I was supposed to have been possessed.
When his Majesty's ministers were pleased to resort to our support, they took us with the incumbrance of our reputation, and with all our debts and mortgages which we owed to our country.
To have accepted a share of confidence and council with. out a view to private advantage, will not meet, I hope, with the disapprobation of my country; but to have accepted that share without any view to public advantage, would have been refinement on the folly of ambition. Measures, therefore, public measures and arrangements, and that which is now disputed, were stipulated by us, were promised in one quarter, and, with assurances, they were not resisted in another, N
In the service of government, under his excellency's administration, we directed our attention to two great objects, the kingdom and the empire. We obtained certain beneficial laws, the discovery and reformation of certain abuses, and were in progress to reform more; we obtained a great force, and a great supply, with the consent and confidence of the people. These were not the measures of courtiers; they were the measures of ministers. His excellency Lord Fitzwilliam may boast, that he offered