Page images

were springing up, would so entirely engross the attention of their opulent, interested and ambitious adversaries, as that they and their proceedings would pass unnoticed., They well knew, that in the midst of disputes for power, places and emoluments,' neither the great nor their connexions would condescend to bestov> a thought upon despised malcontents, or the advances of an obscure system. They, therefore, not unwill'.i gly, assisted in keeping the attention of government, and of the nigher ranks, occupied with party contests; aad even themselves yielded to that indignation, which disinterested spectators naturally feel, at the commission of perfidy and injustice.

Thus a very general expression of popular dissatisfaction wat produced by the rumoured recall of Lord Fitzwilliam. In the house of commons, on the 26th of February, Sir Lawrence Parsons and Mr. Duquery, who had, in some instances, opposed the measures of his administration, were the foremost to prove their sorrow and alarm, by moving and seconding an address to his excellency, imploring his continuance in the country. This was withdrawn at the earnest request of Mr. George Ponsonby. On the second of March, Sir Lawrence moved to limit the money bills to two months, in consequence of the conduct of tire British cabinet; but Lord Milton and Mr. George Ponsonby deprecated the measure, and after a long debate, it was rejected. The house of commons, however, unanimously resolved, that his excellency had by his conduct, since his arrival, merited the thanks of the house and the confidence of the people.

Out of parliament the discontent was more manifested. The catholics, from every part of Ireland, had petitioned for a repeal of the remaining popery laws; not because they felt any extensive interest, or great anxiety, that their rich merchants and landed gentlemen should have an opportunity of selling themselves, in a corrupt parliament, or of acquiring high offices and commissions, which could .ifford no bene-fit to the poor or

middling «

middling classes; but these laws were a violation of rights, a remaining badge of inferiority, and a leven for fermenting religious differences. The catholics, therefore, felt affection and gratitude to his excellency for his intentions in their favour, and a strong sense of insult offered to themselves, when they found those intentions made the pretext for his recall.

i : \

Those of that religion in Dublin, impelled by such feelings, assembled on the 27th, the second day after the disagreement was made public, and voted a petition to the king, on the subject of their own claims, and for the continuance of Lord Fitzwilliam in his office. This, from motives of delicacy, they forwarded by delegates. It is, however, not unworthy of remark, that they appointed as secretary to this delegation, Mr. Tone, whose talents and services to their cause, were unquestionably of the utmost importance, but whose connexion with Mr. Jackson and whose intentions with regard to France, were matters of public notoriety. The catholics in most parts of the kingdom met, and by resolutions or addresses, expressed the game sentiments'.

The protestants too assembled extensively, and as warmly tpoke their indignation at what they considered ministerial treachery and a public calamity. The freemen and freeholders of the city of Dublin, like the catholics, agreed to a petition to the king, and transmitted it by delegates. The merchants and traders of that city, with Mr. Abraham Wilkinson, the then governor of the bank of Ireland, at their head, expressed their sorrow at the rumoured recall of his excellency, and their entire concurrence in the removal of all religious disabilities.

The corporation, indeed, faithful to its principles, raised its voice against the catholic claims; but this measure of monopoly experienced a more formidable opposition than could have been expected in the sanctuary of the proteatant ascendency. Many ,P etW <>ther parts bf the kingdom, such as the counties of KildareV Wexford, Antrim, Londonderry, Sec. followed the example of the freemen and freeholders in the capital; and the same sen* timents seemed to pervade every part of the kingdom.

But whatever were Jtfte- motives for recalling lord Fitzwilliam, they had more weight in the British cabinet than those expressions of dissatisfaction on tine part of the Irish people. As the noble viceroy still continued to maintain the measures he had adopted for the government of Ireland, a cabinet council was held on the 1 Oth of March, in which the duke of Portland, who had been himself almost determined to enter in person upon a crusade, against what he did not hesitate to call the execrable ■system, by which that country was ruled, concurred in the vole, and submitted to be the official instrument of transmitting the letters, recalling his second self-Air nearest and dearest friend-— •wham he had persuaded to accept the Irish government-—and to whom he had committed the important office of reforming the mani« fold abuses in that government. Earl Camden was appointed his successor, and sworn in the next day* He arrived in Dublin and assumed his office on the 31sU

The expression of dissatisfaction was not repressed in Ireland* even by its being known that the determination of the cabinet was fixed and irrevoeablej Resolutions of sorrow and regret were now as general, as had been petitions and addresses. The workings of discontent appeared also, from certain minute traits, to be leading to' an extensive adoption, or at least, to a covert approbation of the United Irish system. The words " union of the people"—" united with our brethren," are every where studiously introduced, and almost always distinguished by capi« tals or italics.

The catholics of .Dublin met on the 9th of April, to receive the report of their delegates; and their resolutions would not \ > ''■ '. affovdi afford an unfair inference of the sentiments entertained by the generality of their persuasion. They unanimously thanked Mr. Tone, for the many important services he had rendered to the c atholic body: "services which they truly declared, no gratif' tude could over-rate, and no remuneratipn could overpay."—>• f« We derive consolation," said they, "under the loss which «« we all sustain by the removal of the late popular administraf« tion, in contemplating the rising spirit of harmony and co* f' operation among all sects and descriptions of Irishmen, so rai I' pidly accelerated by that event; and we do most earnestly f recommend to the catholics of Ireland, to cultivate, by all

possible means, the friendship and affection of their prqtestant ?' brethren; satisfied as we are, that national union is national *' strength, happiness and prosperity." Referring toi passages in lord Fitzwilliam's letters, which appeared to imply an intimation from the cabinet, that if the repeal of the remaining popery laws was then withheld, it might, at a future opportunity, be used as the means of procuring a legislative union between the two countries, they unanimously adopted the following resolution; "That we are sincerely and unalterably attached to "the rights, liberties and independence of our native country; "and we pledge ourselves, collectively and individually to resist, *' even our own emancipation, if proposed to be conceded upon

the ignominious terms of an acquiescence in the fatal measure V of an union with the sister kingdom,"

If these resolutions had stood in need of interpretation, they frould have received it, from the eloquent and daring speeches that were made at that day's meeting, by men, some of whose names are now well known to the public. Among the most conspicuous speakers were Dr. Ryan, (who died shortly afterwards, deeply deplored as a national" loss, by those who knew his talents and worth) Dr. Mac Neven and Mr. Kcogh.

Another incident also signalized that day, and was peculiarly characteristic of the public sentiment. It has been the constant

'P 2 CU8tOl» custom with the university of Dublin, to present addresses of congratulation to every newly arrived chief governor: that day was appointed for presenting their offering to Lord Camden.— While the procession was on its way, the students, as if with one consent, broke off, and left the provost and fellows to make what appearance before his excellency they might think fit, while they themselves turned into a coffee house at the Castle gate, and there prepared an address to Mr. Grattan, approving of his public character and conduct. This they presented directly; and having done so, they repaired in a body to Francisstreet chapel where the catholics were assembled. They entered while Mr. Keogh was speaking; and that ready as well as able orator, instantly seized the incident, and hallowed the omen. They were received with the most marked respect and affection; the catholics taking that opportunity of shewing that the language of union and brotherly love, which they were uttering, only expressed the sentiments nearest their hearts.

If the discontent that was raised by the recal of lord Fitzwilliam, proved conducive to the views of the republicans and United Irishmen, their cause was still further promoted, by the entire developement of what were to have been the measures of his administration. These were enumerated by Mr. Grattan, when moving, on the 21st of April, for a committee to enquire ■ into the state of the nation. Besides the catholic bill, he stated "that this administration had paid attention to the poverty of "the people, by plans for relieving the poor from hearth mo«' ney; had paid attention to their morals, by a plan encreasing "the duty on spirits; had paid attention to their health, by pro*' posing a plan to take off all duties on beer and ale; that a "plan for education had been intended; that a more equal trade "between the two countries had not escaped their attention "that an odious and expensive institution, that obtained under "colour of protecting the city by a bad police, was abandoned "by that government, and a bill prepared for correcting the


« PreviousContinue »