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The Attorney-general proposed an amendment to adjourn the question until the first day of September next.”
The right honourable Mr. Burgh, notwithstanding the report of his illness, attended in his place, and with an eloquence to which it would be impossible for us to do justice, most ably supported the motion, combating and refuting whatever was urged from the side of Government against it. He said he owed no favour to Administration ; they knew it; for he had scorned what they offered : nor would he oppose administration, to embarrass them; and he hoped every gentleman would support them when right. He acted he said, from pare constitutional motives, to support the rights and pivileges of his country, which, he hoped, he ever should do.
The question before the House was no less than the very paladium of the Irish constitution; and gentlemen seemed to rely much on the impropriety of urging a decision, because a similar resolution to that now moved for appeared upon the face of their journals in the month of July, 1641, and, as the question of adjournment had been moved, he would beg leave to offer an amend ment, which, he hoped, would conciliate all parties. The amend. ment was to this purport, " that there being an equal resolution on the books with the one nowe moved, the same may be, for that reason, adjourned to the first day of September next."
Mr. GRATTAN (on being pressed by the Government party to withdraw his motion) said, he never could consent to withdraw the proposed declaration of rights, when a great law officer had asserted, that the Parliament of England had a right to bind the people of Ireland. It was impossible to wave the declaration ; as to the person who made the assertion in favour of England, he was an unhappy man-another gentleman had presumed to call the sense of eighteen counties, Faction, Riot, Clamour-He hoped such idle babble-such idle babble would have no weight against the rights of a people.
The amendment of the right hon. Hussey Burgh to the Attorneygeneral's motion for adjourning the question to the first of September, being a truism, could not be controverted, and the ministerial side, though from the complexion of the House it was evident they had a majority, were afraid to let the question on Mr. Burgh's amendment be put; as if it was carried, it entirely established the declaration of right, let Mr. Grattan's motion then go as it would : their embarrassment was at last put an end to by the right hon. Hussey Burgh, who, at twenty minutes past six in the morning, moved, “that the House be adjourned,” which preceding every motion, was of course immediately put, and carried unanimously.
Bill, wbich they allowed to be made perpetual in Ireland, though that in England had always been cautiously passed from year to year. Mr. Grattan took great pains to set forth the bad tendency of the act; and these representations of his, first opened the eyes of the Irish nation to its enormity. And on the 13th of November, 1781, he moved that leave be given to bring in heads of a bill to explain, amend, and limit an act, entitled, “An act to prevent Mutiny and Desertion in the army, which he prefaced by the following observations :
- In the 18th century, however astonishing it must appear, I rise to vindicate Magna Charta, sanctified as it is by the authority of 600 years. I call upon gentlemen to teach British privileges to an Irish senate. I quote the laws of England, first, because they are laws; secondly, because they are franchises ; and they are the franchises of Irishmen as well as of Englishmen. I am not come to say what is expedient, I come to demand a right; and I hope I am speaking to men who know and feel their rights, and not to corrupt consciences and beggarly capacities. I beg gentlemen to tell me why, and for what reason, the Irish nation was deprived of the British constitution ?-The limitation of the Mutiny-bill was one of the great hinges of the constitution; and onght it then to be perpetual in Ireland ?
- No man could doubt as to the point of right respecting the army; I will even resort to the question of necessity. We want not an army as Great Britain does; for an army is not our protection.—Was your army your protection when Sir RICHARD HERON told you, you must trust to God and your country?-You want it not for defence, you want it not for ambition--you have no foreign dominions to preserve, and your people are amenable to law. Our duties are of a different nature to watch with incessant vigils the cradle of the constitution, to rear an infant state, to protect a rising trade, to foster a growing people.--We are free, we are united-persecution is dead-the Protestant religion is the child of the constitution—the Presbyterian is the father-the Roman Catholic is not an enemy to it-we are united in one great national community. What was our situation formerly? We were a gentry without pride, and a people without privilege.
The British constitution lay upon the ground like a giant's åpmour in a dwarf's custody. The
6 At length the nation asserted itself, and though the Declaration of Rights was not carried, which I proposed as a measure safe and innoxious; yet our spirit made us a nation.--British supremacy fell upon the earth like a spent thunderbolt-the Minister feared to look at it-the people were fond to touch it. I SSIMO
" Yet though we hare no necessity for an army, aud have asserted our freedom, we have followed that assertion by erecting martial law, and a perpetual dictator for ever.-I laugh at the argument that this law is the charter of our freedom.-Is the 6th of George I, repealed ?-Why does not the Minister come forward and declare our rights ?--No, all is mystery, all is silence,
Besides, the preseat Mutiny.law is defective--10 enacting part--and articles of war are become the law of the land; by which there is no safety left either to England or Ireland--we have suffered an armed prerogative to issue out of a claim of righte
- Besides, the power of the purse is given up already by the hereditary revenue, that original sin of your ancestors, which visits you from generation to generation-This is a very alarming consideration to those that love liberty better than the profits of office. Yet we have added the tide of power to the sink of influence, and have bid majesty to govern by either. The power of the purse you have long lost-you have now lost the power of the sword. The question is--will men prefer a biennial to a per: petual Mutiny-bill? Will men lay their hands upon their hearts, and decide the question ?
“Suppose that a company of British merchants should peti. tion an English Parliament to restrain your trade again, and that the requisition should be acceded to, what would you do--without any resources to support your right? without a navy. You could not resist such a mandate; and every idea of coping with such tyranny would be in vain, when you have resigned the sword. When two-thirds of your revenue are granted in perpetuity, the power of Parliament cannot preserve the Free Trade of the kingdom. Be assured that England will never grant to your meanness what she refuses to your virtue. In the infancy of this very act, why did not the advocates of its present form come fora wurd, and propose it a perpetual Mutiny-bill? No. They knew such language would ill suit the ears of Parliament, as it then stood disposed in the public service.
"If you are competent to regulate your commerce, why not competent to regulate your own army ? Commissioners have been sent to America, to offer a branch of the British empire, in arms against the parent state, unconditional terms to tax ihemselves, and reSilale their own army. Two of the Commissioners have been sent over to govern this kingdom--Will his Excellency, or the right hon. gentleman his Secretary, say that Ireland is not entitled to the terms offered to America ?- That the loyal and affectionate sister of England is not entitled to the indulgence held outto the enemy of England—to the ally of France? It is impossible.--I therefore move, “That leave be given to bring in heads of a bill to explain, amend, and limit an act, entitled an Act to prevent Mutiny and Desertion in the Army.”
On a division, there appeared 77 for Mr. GRATTAN's motion, and 133 against it.
An universal disgust against the spiritless con. duct of Parliament now took place, and the hopes of the people were once more turned on the volunteers. The reviews in 1781, exceeded those of the former year; the spectators were struck with the novelty and grandeur of their appearance, and they became more than ever the object of esteem and admiration. A re. port having arisen that the kingdom was to be invaded by the combined fleets of France and Spain, they shewed their alacrity to serve their country in the field; and for their spirited behaviour on this occasion, they a second time received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. Thus though the Castle found it no difli cult matter to obtain a majority in Parliament, it found it impossible to repress the spirit of the nation.—The volunteers, exasperated at Government refusing to repeal the obnoxious parts of the Mutiny Bill, and rejecting some modifications of Poyning's law, resolved at once to do themselves justice, and were conscious that they had the power to do so. At a meeting, on the 28th December, 1781, of the officers of the southern battalion of the Armagh regiment, commanded by the Earl of Charlemont, they entered into several very spirited resolutions, declaring, that the most effectual measures ought to be pursued to root corruption out of the legislative body and requesting a meeting of delegates from all the volunteer associations, to be held at Dun. gannon on the 15th February, 1782, 6 to deliberate on the alarming situation of public affairs." As soon as this bold call appeared, the Castle took the alarm, and every possible means were used to frustrate the object of the requisition, but in vain.—As the awful 15th of February ap. proached, doubt and anxiety appeared in every countenance; men of every description were deeply concerned in the event, and perhaps there never was a period more critical to a nation.
The meeting, in consequence of this requisition, was one of the most important transactions in the modern annals of Ireland.
On the 15th of February, 1782, the represen. tatives of 143 Volunteer corps met at Dungan. non, and entered into several resolutions, *
*“ WHEREAS it has been asserted, that Volunteers, as such, cannot with propriety debate or publish their opinions, on political subjects, or on the conduct of parliament, or publie men.
- Resolved unanimously, That a citizen, by learning the use of arms, does not abandon any of his civil rights.
“ Resolved unanimously, That a claim of any body of men other than the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland, to make laws to bind this kingdom, is unconstitutional, illegal, and a grievance.
“ Resolved (with one dissenting voice only,) That the powers exereised by the Privy Council of both kingdoms, under, or under pretence of, the law of Poynings, are unconstitutional, and a grievance.
• 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 burthen thereupon, or obstruction thereto, save only by the Parliament of Ireland, are unconstitutional, illegal, and a grievance.
• Resolved (with one dissenting voice only.) That a Mutiny Bill, not limited in point of duration from session to session, is unconstitutional, and a grievance.