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witness to the infirmity he had mentioned, and that it showed little candour to make a nocturnal attack upon that infirmity. But he was not afraid to meet the right honourable member at any time, or upon any ground. He would stand poorly in his own estimation, and in his country's opinion, if he did not stand far above him. He did not come there dressed in a rich wardrobe of words to delude the people. He was not one who had promised to bring in a bill of rights, yet neither brought in the bill, nor permitted any other person to do it. not one who had threatened to impeach the chief justice of the king's bench for acting under an English law, and afterwards shrunk from that business. He was not the author of the simple repeal. He had not come at midnight, and attempted, by a vote of that house, to arrest the progress of reason, and stifle the voice of the people. He was not the mendicant patriot, who was bought by his country for a sum of money, and then sold his country for prompt payment. A man of warm imagination and a brilliant fancy might sometimes be dazled with his own ideas, and for a moment fall into er. ror ; but a man of a sound head could not have made so egregious a mistake, and a man of an honest heart would not have persisted in it after it was discovered. For himself, the whole force of what had been said against him rested upon this, that he once accepted an office. But was a man the less a patriot for being an honest servant to the crown? He had taken as great a part, with the first office of the state at his back, as ever the right honourable gentleman did with mendicancy behind him.
Replied particularly to several of the charges made upon him by Mr. Flood. But it was not the slander of the bad tongue of a bad character that could defame him. He maintained his reputation in public and in private life. No man, who was not himself dishonoured, could say he ever deceived him ; no country had ever called him a cheat. But he could suppose a man of different character, a man, not now in that house, but who formerly Inight have been there. He would suppose it his constant practice to abuse every man who differed from him, and to betray every man who trusted him. He would suppose him active, and he would divide his life into three stages. In the first he was intemperate, in the second corrupt, and in the third seditious. Suppose him a great egotist, his honour equal to his oath, and he would stop him, and say, “Sir, your talents are not so great as your life is infamous. You were silent for years, and you were silent for money. When affairs of consequence to the nation were debating, you might be seen passing by these doors, like a guilty spirit, just waiting for the moment of putting the question, that you might drop in and give your venal vote. Or you might be seen hovering over the dome, like an illomened bird of night, with sepulchral notes, a cada verous aspect, and a broken beak, ready to stoop and pounce upon your prey. You can be trusted by no man. The people cannot trust you ; the ministers cannot trust you. You deal out the most impartial treachery to both. You tell the nation it is ruined by other men, while it is
sold by you. You fled from the embargo ; you fled from the sugar bill ; you fled from the mutiny bill. I there. fore tell you, in the face of your country, before all the world, and to your beard, you are not an honest man."
Mucu, he said, had been argued relative to the extent and spirit of this proposition. The event and conclusion of those arguments on both sides of the house warranted him now in asserting that it went in the fullest extent to a complete resumption of the right of external legis. lation so lately exercised, but so solemnly renounced, by Great Britain over Ireland. The settlement was final and perpetual. The contracting parties being presumed to act with perfect foresight of the consequence of their irrevocable engagements, neither party could recede from any of the stipulations without breach of faith. Such an infraction in the stronger power would be an act of despotism and oppression, and in the weak. er would authorise all the rigour of coercion. It was a miserable sophistry to contend, that, as the ceremony was permitted to Ireland of placing our commercial laws upon their own statute-book, it was the Irish and not the British statute that bound the people of Ireland. For his part, if he were a member of that parliament, he should prefer the measure of meeting the immediate operation of the navigation laws by one decisive vote, and should choose to avoid the mockery of pronouncing without deliberation, and deciding where there was no power to dissent. Where fetters were to be worn, it
was a wretched ambition to contend for the distinction of fastening our own shackles.
Mr. Sheridan adverted to the situation in which the two kingdoms stood with respect to each other, in consequence of the alterations that had taken place within a few years past. It had been solemnly stipulated between them, “that the right claimed by Ireland to be bound in all cases whatever only by laws made by the king, lords, and commons of Ireland, should never more be questioned or questionable.” Mr. Fox and the administration of that day were blamed by Mr. Pitt, for permitting Ireland to assert the freedom of her constitution unconditionally, and without reserving to Great Britain a necessary controul over her trade and navigation. Fortunately for the peace and future union of the kingdoms, no such miserable and narrow policy had then entered into the minds of our statesmen. They had disdained the injustice of bargaining with Ireland on such a subject, nor would Ireland have listened to them if they had attempted it. She had not applied to purchase a constitution, and if a tribute had been demanded in return for what was then granted, those patriotic spirits who were at that time leading the oppressed people of that insulted country to the attainment of their just rights, would have pointed to other modes of acquiring them, and would have called to them in the words of the old Roman, to “ take up arms, and to purchase their liber. ties, not with gold, but with the sword.”
Mr. Sheridan enlarged upon the period and the manner in which the new claim contained in the fourth proposition had been brought forward. It was so far from being any part of the offer made by Ireland, that it had not even been hinted at or alluded to in the Irish parliament. It had never once been glanced at by Mr. Orde It had not been mentioned in the speech at the opening of the session; it was not to be found in the report of the committee of council; and Mr. Pitt himself, in opening the business to that house, had not utter
ed a word to show that this proposition was essential to the settlement proposed between the two kingdoms. Ireland was treacherously encouraged to demand a benefit, and then a price was exacted of greater value than any favour Britain had to bestow. It was therefore for the consideration of that house, whether this country should insidiously, collaterally, and by surprise, make a proposal, which would argue in her a repentance of the justice which she had done to Ireland, and which might for ever destroy all confidence in that country towards Great Britain, If the English government really thought it was essential to the good understanding and the common interests of the two kingdoms, that the power of legislating for particular objects should be lodged in one for the common benefit of both, it should have been distinctly so stated in the first overture made to the Irish parliament, as the basis of a permanent agreement. Instead of this, all had been delusion, trick, and fallacy. A new scheme of commercial arrangement was proposed to the Irish as a boon, and the surrender of their constitution was tacked to it as a mercantile regulation. Ireland, newly escaped from harsh trammels and severe discipline, was treated like a high mettled horse, hard to catch; and the Irish secretary was to return to the field, soothing and coaxing him with a sieve of provender in one hand, and a bridle in the other. But it was folly to believe that this political jockey ship could ever succeed. It was not enough to say that the parliament of Ireland ought not, and dared not, to agree to it. They had not the powers to accede to it.
It would be a concession beyond the limits of their trust. The Irish nation would spurn at the bondage to which their degenerate representatives had no authority to engage their submission.
With regard to the state of Ireland, Mr. Sheridan said it was ridiculous to argue that the circumstances of that country called for or justified the present arrangement. Two or thrce acts were cited by the committe of coun