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Departure from it must be considered as a slight to the nobility and gentry of Ireland, who certainly were better entitled to the places of honor and trust in their own country, than any absentee could pos. sibly be ; but besides the slight shewn to the nobili. ty and gentry of Ireland, by bestowing plares of honor, of profit, and of trust on absentees, the draft of money from this country, the institution of deputies, (a second establishment unnecessary, were the principals to reside) the double influence arising from this, raised the abuse into an enormous grievance. "66 After the nation bad recovered its liberty, one of the first objects was to bring home the great offices of the State; these had been taken away in an unjust manner, and in violation of native right, wben the country was under op. pression. I do not mean to enter into a question, whether too much was paid for bringing home great employments; I would not dispute the price, as it was the purchase of a principle ; but the principle being once established, that it was wise and honorable in the nation to purchase home
the great offices of the State, and this having · been actually reduced to practice in the instances
of the Chancellorship of the Exchequer, the Vice - Treasurership, the Clerk of the Crown and Ha.
einaper, &c: it followed, as a necessary consequence,
that the granting away again great places to absen- tees must be highly improper, and a gross violation
of the principle purchased by the nation. I“ With regard to the pension granted to Mr.
Grenville, I shall say a few words. Of that . gentleman's merits, in his own country, I
will say nothing'; they could be no reason for granting him a great employment in this, where it was most certain he never would reside ; and therefore, in condemning the grant, no one had a right to argue that it was condemned as a grant to the Lord Lieutenant's brother, but as a grant to a person that must necessarily be an absentee; it must be condemned as a
slight, and an affront to the native resident no. "bility and gentry of Ireland.
66 Is this House ready to submit to such an · insult? is it ready to submit to have the principle . 'which it had purchased, violated ? is it ready · to return to that state of degradation and con.
tempt from which the spirit of the nation had so lately emancipated itself? If you be not, you
will not hesitate to come to a resolution, assert·ing the principle which you have purchased. I : 'will submit such a resolution, worded in the
most guarded manner, not attacking the prero. gative of the Crown * to grant, but condemning the advice by which the Crown was misled to abuse that prerogative.”
Pursuant to the principles laid down by Mr. Grattan in the foregoing statement to be the rule by which the conduct of the Opposition was to be regulated, he proceeded, on the 15th of April, to present a “ Bill for the better securing the freedom of election of Members to serve in Parliament, by disabling certain officers employed in the collection or management of his Ma. jesty's Revenue from giving their Votes at Irish Elections."
A motion being made, on the 21st of April, that the Bill should be committed, the Government collected all their real friends to oppose a measure—which struck at the root of one of the greatest abuses with which power was then afflicting the country. - The Revenue Officers presented their petition complaining, in the language of Freemen, of the threatened violation of their franchises ; and their advocates in Parliament ex- ! hausted the resources of sophistry in their efforts to discover any thing like plausible reasoning against the honest and legislative recommendation of Mr. Grattan in the following Speeeh, which formed the happiest and 'fairest reply
to the futile arguments by which he was op. posed.
He states the objections to the Bill, and gives to
to id: those objections a triumphant refutation. i
“I hope that if any thing falls from the right, honorable gentleman, the first Commissioner, that ; deserves attention, I may be indulged with a reply. I That right honorable gentleman, much connected with, much interested on this subject, promises to . speak to it at large : when he does, and speaks to it argumentatively, I hope I, like him, may be. heard a second time.
“I beg to remind this House, that the Bill now under your consideration did, nearly in the.., same words, pass this House with the entire con. sent of most of those gentlemen who are now i taught to exclaim against it, as an attack on the rights of the people. They themselves then made; that attack: they were guilty of the crime they charged, and they and this House, and the Ministers of the Crown, were involved in this enormity. Such a Bill did pass the Commons-such a Bill did
receive the concurrence of its present vehement opponents—such a Bill was transmitted under the great seal of Ireland—and such a Bill came back under the great seal of England.
" It was lost in the Lords, I acknowledge ; but I'do by no means acknowledge that we are to attribute the loss of the Bill in the Lords to the absurd and preposterous surprise of a right honor able gentleman, who tells us that the Lords on that occasion were champions of the constitution. The Lords threw the Bill out, because the then Ministry were turned out; the Bill and the Ministry both shared the same fate, and the people lost a good Ministry and a good Bill.
6 Sir, tbis Bill bas been now combated on various grounds, and first partiality. It is said that the Bill is partial, because it does not ex. tend to all revenue officers; and partial, because it does extend to all the officers of the Crown, and to all professions, to the law and to the army. To the first part of this objection, the Bill itself is the answer. It does extend to all revenue officers, and a blank is left for such exceptions as may be agreed on; and if the Bill did not, which it does, extend to all revenue oflicers, the imperfection of its formation is no argument agaivst its committal. To the other part of the objection, the answer is to be found in the difference of