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Chap. tem. Hence erroneous petitions to parliament, sup
XXXIX - .
v , * v'j ported, sometimes contrary to their private judgement, by the representatives of trading" towns. Hence perseverance in the slave trade, which will assuredly draw after it the chastisement of Heaven: for, that national sins are followed by national punishments, is clearly deducible from the whole course of history. Misceiime- Resolutions not to import manufactured goods ton*. from England were in general renewed, and attempts of the populace to enforce them occasioned some tumults, and some alarm to administration. Previously to the prorogation of parliament in the September of 1785, the speaker, Perry, resigned from the infirmities of age, and was succeeded in this office by the right honourable John Foster, by the unanimous vote of the house, the last speaker of i<86. the Irish commons, In the next session of parliament, which commenced in the January of 1786, the principal of the bills enacted was one for the establishment of a police in the city of Dublin, inr stead of its former watch, Great, but unavailing, opposition was given by the patriots to this bill, by which a heavy tax was imposed on the citizens for the maintenance of police officers nominable by the crown, whose influence in the corporation of Dublin, diminished by the efforts of Lucas, was thus augmented. In the beginning of the following year, 1787, the parliament, prorogued from the eighth of May to the eighteenth of January, wa* presented with a new object of discussion.
. A species of insurrection, originating in the county c- H A P.
of Kerry, extended in 1786 through that of Cork v.vX^i and other parts of Munster, so systematically con-R'sj^ggy*' ducted as to demonstrate the advice of persons legally informed, though the poorest class only of peasants were seen as actors in the plan. They marched in bodies of some hundreds, often of some thousands, without arms, quietly permitting any single magistrate to seize any among them charged with a crime, but administering oaths to the people, whereever they went, to obey the commands of an imaginary leader whom they styled Captain Bight, whence they were termed Right-boys, to pay not more than a certain price for each acre for tythe, to per- ,
mit no proctors, and not to suffer the minister to draw his tythe. So long as their plan was confined to the defalcation of the clerical revenue, they seem to have met with little opposition, although they had perpetrated on obnoxious persons the same atrocious cruelties as the Whiteboys: but when they proceeded to limit the rents of lands, to raise the price of labour, and to pppose the collection of hearth-money, the alarm of insurrection was loud on all sides. An act pf parliament was passed in the beginning of the following year for the prevention of tumultuous assemblies and illegal combination. On this occasion the attorney-general, the right 17g7_ honourable John Fitzgibbon, declared that, from the best information, the clergy were found to be so far from the practice of extortion, that instead of Jhe tenth, their legal demand, hardly one of them ,\% - received
Chap, received the twentieth: that the peasants, ground to
vJ-y^J powder by enormous rents, were so far from being able to pay'their dues to the clergy, that they pos-» sessed not food and raiment for themselves: that some landlords had incited their tenants to rob the clergy of their tythes, not for the alleviation of their own distresses, but with a view of adding these to the merciless rack-rents already imposed: and that the peasantry of Munster, bound to pay six pounds an acre in rent, and to work with their land* lords for five pence a day, could no longer exist int the extreme wretchedness under which they then laboured. Change of In the October of 1787, died the duke of Rutjreland. land, in the thirty-second year of his age, from the effects of an intemperate mode of living, a viceroy beloved by the Irish for his open, liberal, and convivial demeanour, the period of whose government is remarkable in our annals for an impression on the manners of the Irish nobilily and gentry, an impression permanent in a principal point even to this day. Never was the poet's phrase, Decipit exemptar Vitus imitabile, more fully verified than in the effects produced by the excessive gaiety of this noblemai^ and of his elegant and beautiful duchess. To assume an air of excessive sprightliness, or levity of deportr ment, not always unaccompanied with oaths, was for some time a fashion with ladies who affected a high style of manners. If the duchess indulged her natural flow of spirits to such a pitch as to give countenance to any fashions of this kind, her design 2 , niigh$ might havebeen.to try how far might* be carried the Ciiap.
propensity of the Irish gentry to ape the manners s««.v-U» of the viceroy and his consort; in like manner as a certain great personage is said to have exhibited the exercise of a child's plaything, called the quiz, in consequence of which the citizens of London and Dublin were for some time ridiculously employed in this puerile sport, whenever they appeared in the streets: whence to quiz a man came to signify to dupe him sportively into a ridiculous mistake. The most permanent effect of the duke's example was a change to immoderately late hours for conviviality or amusement. Gentlemen, whose time of dinner had before been from four to five o'clock, imme» tliately adopted the custom of dining between six and seven, and some even at eight or nine o'clock, a custom still in force, notwithstanding that a different example was set of early hours, sober pleasures, and domestic virtues, by the duke's immediate successor, the marquis of Buckingham, and his consort. To appropriate the night to amusement, and the early part of the day to sleep, is an unfortunate choice for the votaries of gaiety, since, from the nature of the human frame, by this mode of living, health, spirits, and female beauty, are most materially injured, and finally destroyed. Why, for social enjoyment, late hours, with forced spirits, are preferred to early, with genuine cheerfulness, the result of health, and consciousness of living according to nature's chctates, appears no otherwise accountable than from an aftectation of being as much as
Ch A p. possible distinguished from the lower classes of the v^-v-**/ community.
Buckin The ear^ Temple", now created marquis of
ham,sadmi-Bucltjno-}iam wh0 met the Irish parliament in 1788,1
i'88- on the seventeenth of January, carried a severe and requisite scrutiny into the various fiscal departments; and offices of the castle, a duty so neglected by former viceroys, that the system of peculation was al» together enormous. Thus the military stores were openly embezzled; arms, condemned as useless, carried, away through one gate of the castle, and brought back through another, as newly purchased. From a fraudulent plan^ long established, clerks in subordinate offices., with salaries not exceeding a hundred pounds a year, were enabled to live in a splendid style. Struck with a violent panic at the viceroy's investigation of their accounts, and his demand of the immediate payment of the money due, some of the defaulters fled the kingdom, some by intreaties and promises eluded the blow^ and some chose the horrible refuge of suicide. If the marquis had been enabled to extend his plan of reform and economy, on a great national scale, to pensions, places, and other main channels of expenditure, his administration would have formed a happy period in the annals of this country. But this would have been totally inconsistent with the plan of government adopted, perhaps necessarily, for Ireland by the British cabinet. To maintain such an influence in parliament, as always to command a majority in favour of the court, was the great busi* i ness