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leaving the interests of Ireland at the mercy of a British cabinet.
Mr. FitzGERALD of Kerry totally differed from the late prime-serjeant. He maintained the necessity of an union from the disordered state of Ireland and the great risque of a separation; and, on the point of parliamentary competency, he contended that such a power could not be denied without elevating beyond due bounds
the authority of the people. Mr. LEE was convinced that the sacrifice of the Irish constitution would not promote the tranquillity or welfare of the country, but would, on the contrary, produce alarming discontent, and fan the flames of rebellion. If the minister should attempt to enforce such a surrender, language would hardly afford a name sufficiently expressive of his crime. Even already, he had resorted to fraud and force—to fraud, in discarding the old servants of the crown, because they were unwilling to violate their conscience—to force, in the introduction of a foreign army for the purpose of over-awing the people. If he should persist in such conduct, he would not find the Irish tame or passive: they would defend their liberties with hardihood and vigor; and, if they should be in want of aid, they might easily obtain it from the rulers of the French republic, who would be pleased with an opportunity of wounding Britain through Ireland. This was an extremity against which the former kingdom ought scrupulously to guard. As there were apparently some radical errors in the system of Irish government, they ought to be examined and corrected; or the seeds of discontent might fructify for ever. The British nation ought also to be particularly on its guard against the introduction of a body of Irish o members,
members, as the minister, by the addition of this corps to his company of Scots and his party of sepoys, might be enabled to overwhelm all remains of opposition. He was proud of being one of the first who opposed this unjustifiable measure. If he should be blamed for having resisted it without knowing the terms, he would answer that he cared not about specific articles, when there was such a degree of turpitude in the thing itself, that no terms could reconcile it to his conscience or his feelings. It was a question of principle, not of terms. How were the conditions to be adjusted How could the liberty of a nation be appreciated Could its value be determined by arithmetic, or measured by a gaugingrod He declared it to be his opinion (and he staked his professional character on the justness of the remark) that the parliament was not competent to the change which it was desired to enact. The constitution, in an affair of this magnitude, required an appeal to the public; and nothing but the will of the people, signified in new elections of representatives, could give the legislature the authority necessary for the extraordinary occasion. Mr. SAINT-GeoRGE DALY vindicated the competency of the parliament to the enactment of a measure of this kind, though he allowed that it had no authority to violate the rights of the people. An union, he said, would not annul or infringe their rights; and it was the only settlement that promised to heal the distractions of the country. Mr. BARRINGtoN, in declaiming against an union, gave way to such a freedom of reflexion, that he was repeatedly called to order; but he continued his bold career in defiance of all interruption. The secretary had had recommended the most dispassionate coolness, and had supported his advice by example; but the present speaker observed, that, though such behaviour might become the assailant of liberty, it was not very appropriate to her defender, and that he who could argue with apathy against a daring attempt to violate a free constitution, must be more or less than man. He had been duped into a support of some less important measures of the cabinet; but, on this occasion, he thought it his duty to oppose the court with vigor and perseverance. The house was not competent to discuss the question thus smuggled on its consideration; and, even if it were, the means which had been used to influence the votes of members would preclude the legality of its decision, by preventing it from speaking the sense of the people. Neither the parliament nor the country had had fair play. Letters had been written to obstruct provincial meetings: the inhabitants of the commercial towns had been deceived by misrepresentations; and, while menaces were thrown out by the emissaries and hirelings of the court, promises and artful insinuations were employed in their turn. Indeed, the business was a tissue of meanness and iniquity. He accused the ministers of having checked the rising prosperity of the country; and affirmed that they had stimulated two sects or parties to mutual attacks, in the hope of rendering both too weak to withstand the arbitrary views of the cabinet. It was not merely their purpose, he added, to destroy the constitution of Ireland: they wished also to annihilate the liberties of Great-Britain. They pretended that an incorporation of the realms would extend the trade and augment the accommodations and the happiness of the Irish ; but this was a delusive assertion, and the consequence
would be the reverse of the statement. The hint of such a scheme was an insult to the house; and he trusted that the people, forgetting all political and religious differences, would unite to baffle the aims of unprincipled and profligate statesmen. The example of North-America would teach them how to act, if the measure should be pressed in repugnance to their inclinations. Mr. Dobbs acknowleged, that, when the project was started, he was dazzled with the advantages which its patrons held out, and was disposed to sacrifice his ideas of national pride to what he conceived to be the national interest: but, when he had maturely considered the subject, and had weighed the arguments adduced on both sides, he was convinced that the scheme did not merit the favorable notice of the Irish, and that, even if it should prove less injurious to them than he had reason to think it would be, he and his representative brethren could not be justified in surrendering the rights of their constituents and of posterity, and transferring the parliament to another country. Mr. G. KNox, in florid language, opposed the discussion of a question so dishonorable and prejudicial to Ireland, and fulminated his anathemas against all who should promote the execrable measure. Lord CAsti. EREAGH thought it unnecessary to particularise the advantages which an union promised to Ireland and to the empire, as a detail would at this time be premature. He affected to be surprised at the high tone assumed by the speakers of opposition, at the illiberality of their reflexions, and at the weakness of their reasoning. What, he asked, were the objects of the measure but such as must excite the approbation of every loyal subject and the applause of every patriot To tranquillise and improve Ireland, and consolidate the strength and glory of the empire, were the real aims of its projectors, who deserved to be hailed by public gratitude, rather than attacked by malice and calumny. The miseries of the country were indisputably great; and, for want of a speedy remedy, it might even be ruined. Its state and government exhibited no fixed principles on which the human mind could rest, no one standard to which its different prejudices could be accommodated. Without an union, it might become a province of France: at present, it was seemingly independent, but required, for its protection against foreign and domestic foes, a British army which it had not the means to support. It had not the benefit of the English constitution, which, indeed, was incompatible with the state of the connexion; for that constitution . did not recognise separate and independent legislatures under one crown. By an incorporation with Britain, a common interest would be established; and the welfare of one country would be that of the other. Religious dissensions would be allayed; jealousy and prejudice would subside; trade would greatly flourish; a respectable set of men between the landlord and the mere peasant would arise; and the morals of the lowest class would be improved. The increase of the number of absentees, and other incidental inconveniences, would be of very trifling import, compared with the safety and prosperity that would result from the mea