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body, made no scruple to enter their lists. Government also engaged several of their friends in the volunteer cause. New companies, were therefore raised ; but whatever might be the political sentiments of the officers, the private men were universally attached to the popular cause. The national spirit was likewise kept up by several patriotic publications, particularly the letters signed Owen Roe O'Neal, which in an especial manner attracted the public attention; nor was the pulpit backward in contributing its part in the same cause.
To give the greater weight to their determinations, the volunteers now began to form themselves into battalions ; and in a very short time they were all united in this manner, excepting a small number of companies, which, from accidental causes, continued separate. The newspapers were filled with resolutions from the several corps, declaring Ireland to be an independent kingdom, entitled by reason, nature, and compact, to all the privileges of a free constitution; that no power in the world, excepting the king, with the lords and commons of Ireland, had or ought to have, power to make laws for binding the Irish; and that, in support of these rights and privileges, , they were determined to sacrifice their lives and property.
Notwithstanding all this zeal, however, the representatives of the people in Ireland seem yet to have behaved in a very supine and careless manner, and to have been entirely obedient to the dictates of government. One of the house of commons declared in the month of April seventeen hundred and eighty, that " no “ power on earth, excepting the king, lords, and commons of “ Ireland, had a right to make laws to bind the people." “ Every member in the house (says Mr. Crawford,) one “ excepted, acknowledge the truth of the proposition, either in
express terms, or by not opposing it; and yet, however “ astonishing it may appear, it was evident, that had the “ question been put, it would have been carried in the negative. “ The matter was compromised. The question was not put: “ and nothing relating to it was entered on the journals.”
This inattention, or rather unwillingness, of the majority to serve their country, was more fully manifested in the case of a mutiny bill, which they allowed to be made perpetual in Ireland, though that in England had always been cautiously
passed only from year to year. After it was passed, however, some of the zealous patriots, particularly Mr. Grattan, took great pains to set forth the bad tendency of that act. He observed, that standing armies in the time of peace were contrary to the principles of the constitution and the safety of public liberty; they had subverted the liberty of all nations excepting in those cases where their number was small, or the power of the sovereign over them limited in some respect or other; but it was in vain to think of setting bounds to the power of the chief magistrate, if the people chose by a statute to bind themselves to give them a perpetual and irresistible force. The mutiny bill, or martial law methodized, was directly opposite to the common law of the land. It set aside the trial by jury and all the ordinary steps of law ; establishing in their stead a summary proceeding, arbitrary crimes and punishments, a secret sentence, and sudden execution. The object of this was to bring those who were subject to it to a state of implicit subordination, and render the authority of the sovereign absolute. The people of England, therefore, from a laudable jealousy on all subjects in which their liberty was concerned, had in the matter of martial law exceeded their usual caution. In the preamble to the mutiny act, they recited part of the the declaration of right, " that standing armies had martial law in time of peace, without “ the consent of parliament, are illegal.” Having then stated the purity and simplicity of their ancient constitution, and set forth the great principle of magna charta, they admitted a partial and temporary repeal of it: they admitted an army, and a law for its regulation, but at the same time they limited the number of the former, and the duration of both ; confining the existence of the troops themselves, the law that regulated them, and the power that commanded them, to one year. Thus were the standing forces of England rendered a parliamentary army, and the military rendered effectually subordinate to the civil magistrate, because dependent on parliament. Yet the people of England considered the army, even thus limited, only as a necessary evil, and would not admit even of barracks, lest the soldier should be still more alienated from the state of a subject; and in this state of alienaton have a post of strength, which would augment the danger arising from his situation. When
the parliament of Ireland proceeded to regulate the army, therefore, they ought to have adopted the maxims of the British constitution, as well as the rules of British discipline. But they had totally departed from the maxims and example of the English, and that in the most important concern, the government of the sword. They had omitted the preamble which declared the great charter of liberty; they had left the number of forces in the breast of the king, and under these circumstances they had made the bill perpetual.
It is probable that the bulk of the Irish nation did not at first perceive the dangerous tendency of the bill in question. The representations of Mr. Grattan and others, however, soon opened their eyes, and a general dissatisfaction took place. This was much increased by two unsuccessful attempts in the house of commons; one to obtain an act for modifying Poyr- , ing's law; and the other for securing the independency of the judges. A universal disgust against the spiritless conduct of parliament now took place; and the hopes of the people were once more set on the volunteers. . • As it became now somewhat probable that these companies might at last be obliged to assert the rights of their countrymen by force of arms, reviews were judged necessary to teach them how to act in larger bodies, and to give them more exact knowledge of the use of arms. Several of these reviews took place in the summer of one thousand seven hundred and eighty. The spectators in general were struck with the novelty and grandeur of the sight; the volunteers became more than ever the objects of esteem and admiration, and their numbers increased accordingly. The reviews in the following year exceeded those of the former; and the dexterity of the corps who had associated more early, was now observed to be greater than that of the rest. More than five thousand men were reviewed at Belfast, whose performances were set off to peculiar advantage by the display of thirteen pieces of cannon. They showed their alacrity to serve their country in the field, on a report having arisen that the kingdom was to be inyaded by the combined fleets of France and Spain; and for their spirited behaviour on this occasion they received a second time the thanks of both houses of parliament.
Such prodigious military preparations could not but alarm the British ministry in the highest degree; and it was not to be doubted that the Irish volunteers would come to the same extremities the Americans had done, unless their wishes were speedily complied with. Still, however, it was imagined possible to suppress them, and it was supposed to be the duty of the lord lieutenant to do so. It was during the administration of the duke of Buckingham that the volunteers had grown into such consequence: he was therefore recalled, and the earl of Carlisle appointed in his place. Though it was impossible for the new governor to suppress the spirit of the nation, he found it no difficult matter to obtain a majority in parliament. Thus every redress was for the present effectually denied. Neither the modification of Poyning's law, nor the repeal of the obnoxious parts of the mutiny bill, could be obtained. The volunteers, exasperated at this behaviour, resolved at once to shew that they were determined to do themselves justice, and were conscious that they had power to do so. At a meeting of the officers of the southern battalion of the Armagh regiment, commanded by the earl of Charlemount, the following resolutions were entered into, December 28th, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-one.-1. That the most vigorous and effectual methods ought to be pursued for rooting corruption out from the legislative body. 2. For this purpose a meeting of delegates from all the volunteer associations was necessary; and Dungannon, as the most central town in the province of Ulster, seemed to be the fittest place for holding such a meeting. 3. That as many and lasting advantages might attend the holding such a meeting before the present session of parliament was much farther advanced, the 15th of February next should be appointed for it.
These resolutions proved highly offensive to the friends of government, and every method was taken to discourage it. On the appointed day, however, the representatives of a hundred and forty-three volunteer corps did attend at Dungannon; and the results of their deliberations were as follow :-1. It having been asserted, that volunteers, as such, cannot with propriety debate or publish their opinions on political subjects, or on the conduct of parliament, or public men, it was resolved unani
mously, that a citizen,. by learning the use of arms, does not abandon any of his civil rights. 2. That a claim from any body of men, other than the king, lords, and commons of Ireland, to make laws to bind the people, is illegal, unconstitutional, and a grievance. 3. Resolved, with one dissenting voice only, that the powers exercised by the privy council of both kingdoms, under colour or pretence of the law of Poyning's, are unconstitutional and a grievance. 4. Resolved unanimously, that the ports of this country are by right open to all foreign countries not at war with the king ; and that any burden thereupon, or obstruction thereto, excepting only by the parliament of Ireland, are unconstitutional and a grievance. 5. Resolved, with one dissenting voice only, that a mutiny bill, not limited in point of duration form session to session, is unconstitutional and a grievance. 6. Resolved unanimously, that the independence of judges is equally essential to the impartial administration of justice in Ireland as in England, and that the refusal or delay of this right, is in itself unconstitutional and a grievance. 7. Resolved, with eleven dissenting voices only, that it is the decided and unalterable determination of the volunteer associations to seek a redress of those grievances; and they pledged themselves to their country, and to each other, as freeholders, fellow-citizens, and men of honour, that they would, at every ensuing election, support only those who had supported them, and would support them therein, and that they would use all constitutional means to make such pursuit of redress speedy and effectual. 8. Resolved, with only one dissenting voice, that the minority in parliament, who had supported those constitutional rights, are entitled to the most grateful thanks of the volunteer companies, and that an address to the purpose be signed by the chairman, and published with the resolutions of the present meeting. 9. Resolved unanimously, that four members from each county of the province of Ulster, eleven to be a quorum, be appointed a committee till the next general meeting, to act for the volunteer corps, and to call general meetings of the province as occasion requires. 10. The committee being appointed, and the time of general meetings, and some other affairs of a similar nature settled, it was resolved unanimously, that the court of Portugal having unjustly refused entry to certain Irish