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her far in the path of national life. the inscription, “Free Trade or Few bodies have been the subject this.” In the winter of 1779-80 of more extravagant laudation; of this imperious and just demand few is it harder to form a just was conceded, and complete free opinion. Perhaps the fairest tes- trade granted by Lord timony on the subject is that of North. In the autumn of 1781 Lord Clare, who, at any rate, had came the final blow of the Amerno undue bias in their favour. In ican war, in the surrender of his great speech in support of the Lord Cornwallis, the only efficient Union, he says :
British general, with his army
at York Town. This was follow“On the old Irish volunteers I ed up by the volunteers of the desire to be understood not to convey anything like censure. Their con
Dungannon Convention of Febduct will remain a problem in his- ruary 1782, formed by delegates tory; for without the shadow of from all the Ulster corps, and remilitary control, to their immortal presenting a force of 23,000 armed honour it is known, that from their men. After grave and decorous first levy till they disbanded them- debate, this assembly declared that selves, no act of violence or outrage « The claim of any body of men, was charged against them; and they other than the King, Lords, and certainly did-on every occasion where their services were required— Commons of Ireland, to make laws exert themselves with effect to main- to bind this country, is unconstitain the internal peace of the country. tutional, illegal, and a grievance.' The gentlemen of Ireland were all in After a series of resolutions upon their ranks, and maintained a decided all the burning questions of the influence upon them. But I shall never cease to think that the appeals day, they concluded, Protestant as made to that army by the angry poli- they were, by affirmingticians of that day were dangerous and ill-judged in the extreme ; and
“That we hold the right of private that they established the precedent judgment in matters of religion to be for rebellion, which has since been equally sacred in others as in ourfollowed up with full success."ı
selves. That as men and as Irishmen,
as Christians and as Protestants, we In 1779 this force had grown rejoice in the relaxation of the penal to very large dimensions, and was laws against our Roman Catholic felvariously estimated at from 40,000 low-subject, and that we conceive the to 100,000 strong. They were a measure to be fraught with the hapvehemently loyal and wholly Pro- piest consequence to the union and testant body. They devoted their prosperity of the inhabitants of Ire
land." full strength to political agitation. Their aims were free trade in the It is to be observed in passing, first place, and constitutional lib- that this resolution to the erty in the second. Their de- Catholics is simply retrospective. mands for free trade were couched It rejoices in the relation of the in no measured terms. At the cele- penal laws which had already bration in Dublin of the birthday taken place, but by no means imof William III., among the most plies a desire for the removal of prominent features in the demon- all the remaining Catholic disastration were two
with bilities. Within a week Flood
1 Speech of Lord Clare in the Irish House of Lords, roth Feb. 1800, p. 21– republished by the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union.
2 Mitchell, History of Ireland, vol. i. p. 138.
labouring the distinction as possible from satisfying the between rights of property and views of the Nationalists. rights of power; and to the con- Grattan's Parliament was, durcession of these last the leaders ing its whole existence, a purely of the volunteers were for loug Protestant Parliament. after opposed.
Roman Catholics had no vote in A few days after Grattan, in elections, and till the end of its the Irish House of Commons, existence no Roman Catholic could moved an address, declaring the sit in it. It was composed almost independent legislative rights of exclusively of the English and the Ireland. A postponement was landed interest, and was in general carried by the Government, but wholly subservient to the Viceroy the principle of the motion was and his Executive. Neither was strenuously upheld even by the this a mere accident, which could most zealous of their supporters, have been remedied by Reform and it was obvious that the mo- Bills, or have been altered by anytion itself could not be resisted. thing short of a complete alteraIn the following month came the tion of the Constitution. resignation of Lord North and If the Parliament had not been the accession to power of Rocking- subservient to the Executive, there ham, Shelburne, and Fox.
would have been a deadlock. The It was little use for the new Irish Parliament was not supreme. Government to consider whether It could not, like the Imperial the concession of legislative inde- Parliament, get rid of a Minister pendence was wise or not. It with whom it differed. The Irish was impossible even to dwell on Viceroy and the Irish Government terms and conditions. Great Brit- did not depend on the confidence ain, in her then state of prostra- of the Dublin Parliament, but retion, was unable to resist a de- tained office during the pleasure mand put forward by an over- of the Parliament at Westminster. whelming majority of the Protes- The Irish Parliament not tants of Ireland, and backed by even independent in legislation. the only organised force in the Measures passed by the Irish kingdom. Wise or unwise, the Parliament had to be sent over to wishes of Ireland had to be com- London to be confirmed by the plied with; and the merits which British great seal, which was only Fox and Shelburne can claim is, affixed by the Crown on the adthat they put a good face upon a vice of his British Ministers, supnecessity, and yielded with a good ported by the British House of
case where effective Commons. resistance was hopeless.
Such a system was only workWe often hear nowadays of the able on condition of the complete wisdom and beneficence of Grat- subordination of the one party to tan's Parliament; we sometimes the other, of the legislature to hear sighs for its restoration. I the executive. have no wish to abuse it. If I The history of the period is full had, I could find no bitterer lan- of instances of this subordination, guage that that of patriot and but the treatment of the Catholic Nationalist writers. The truth is, question by the Irish House of that it was an anomally which Commons is perhaps the best excould not be restored ; and if it ample. In 1792, following their were restored, it would be as far own instincts, they rejected, by an
grace in a
overwhelming majority, a petition despatch to the Duke of Rutland, for Catholic emancipation. In the then Lord Lieutenant:1793, at the express bidding of Pitt and Dundas, they passed al- mind at present inclines (open to what
“I own to you the line to which my most as large a
with ever new observations or arguments only three dissentients to the may be suggested to me) is to give Iresecond reading.
land an almost unlimited command of In February 1795, when the commercial advantages, if we can refeeling of the country was certain- ceive in return some security that her ly not more liberal than in 1793, and that she will contribute from ti e
strength and riches will be our benefit, they were prepared at the bidding to time in their increasing proportions of Lord Fitzwilliam to vote for to the common exigencies of the emabsolute Catholic equality. A pire; and having, by holding out this, month later, on his departure, the removed, I trust, every temptation to sarne proposals were thrown out Ireland to consider her interests as by a majority of a hundred. separate from England, to be readyObedience such as this was the while we discountenance wild and un
constitutional attempts which strike only condition which the
at the root of all authority-to give clumsy system would work, and real efficacy and popularity to Governobedience such as this is hardly ment by acceding (if such a line can what modern Home Rulers desire. be found) to a prudent and temperate At the same time, the executive reform of Parliament, which may was hampered and weakened at guard against, or gradually cure, real every turn by having to secure sufficient regard for the interests, and
defects and mischiefs; may show a the conformity of a nominally in
even prejudices, of individuals who dependent body, and the methods
are concerned; and may unite the adopted for the purpose were not Protestant interest in excluding the always such as would bear the Catholics from any share in the replight.
resentation or the government of the The friction between West- country.”) minster and the Castle, between
While this passage proves the the Castle and the Parliament generous views which Mr Pitt held House, was overpowering. The towards Ireland, the last lines question of commercial relations show that he had not yet reached with Ireland is an example of this. the liberal spirit of Catholic emanThe matter had been left open in cipation which distinguished him 1782, when the Duke of Portland a few years later. The instruchad been anxious to settle these tions to the Duke of Rutland are relations on a firm and permanent summed up in the following strikbasis; but Grattan most unwisely ing passage which occurs in the declared that the rights of Ireland same despatch:were not subjects to be haggled “Let me beseech you to recollect over in a treaty.
that both your character and mine In 1784 Mr Pitt took up the for consistency are at stake, unless question. The spirit in which he there are unanswerable proofs that the approached both the commercial
case of Ireland and England is differ
ent, and to recollect also that however problem and that of parliament- it is our duty to oppose the most deterary reform will be best shown by mined spirit and firmness to unfound
extract from his confidential ed clamours and factious pretensions,
i Pitt to Duke of Rutland, 7th Oct. 1784. Mahon's liistorical Essays, P. 253. Quarterly Review, Sept. 1842, p. 299.
it is a duty equally indispensable to known. The Irish Parliament, on take care not to struggle but in a right the other hand, were anxious to cause."
appoint the Prince regent instantly Acting in this spirit, he brought and without any limitations. Fitzforward in the beginning of 1785 gibbon, the future Chancellor, and a set of propositions which were the Earl of Clare, alone opposed. justly regarded in Ireland as a The Crowns of the two countries most liberal and favourable solu- had heen declared inseparable, but tion of the questions at issue. this was to separate them. ConstiBut for this very reason they were tuted as it was, the government of vehemently opposed on high Pro- the country could never go on untectionist grounds by the whole less they followed Great Britian mercantile and manufacturing in- implicitly in all regulations of terests of Great Britian. Pitt imperial policy. found it impossible to carry them without considerable concessions
“Do you suppose,” he said, "the
British nation will submit to the to these interests. The English
claim now set up by the Irish Parliaopposition at once shifted their ment? If the address of both houses ground, and declared that the re
can invest the Prince of Wales with solutions in their new form com- royal power in this way, the same promised Irish independence. The address could convey the same powers cry was taken up by indignant to Louis XVI., or to His Holiness Irish patriots, and thus was the Pope, or to the right honourable jected the best offer which Ireland
mover of this resolution.
committing ourselves ever had, and no commercial ar
against the law and against the rangement was arrived at till after constitution, and in such a contest the union.
Ireland must fall." 2 The failure of this negotiation is made the occasion of the bitterest He warned them that such a accusations of treachery against course must lead to the alternative Mr Pitt; but there is not the of separation or union, and theresmallest ground for these attacks, fore would be more effectual in or for questioning the plain fact forcing forward a union that if that Pitt was a strong Free Trader, all the sluices of corruption were genuinely anxious to make a more opened at once. liberal bargain with Ireland than The House of Commons refused he could induce the British Parlia- to listen to this reasoning, and dement to endorse.
clared the Prince of Wales Regent In 1789 a still more acute dif- with full kingly powers. Fortu ficulty arose.
link nately, however, by the time the between the countries was the deputation from Dublin reached Crown and the administration. London, the king was already reBut in consequence of the illness covered, and the Prince of Wales of George III., it became necessary could only thank the Irish Parliato elect a regent. The Prince of ment for their kindness. The Wales was the proposed regent. danger of the situation is stated In England, Government thought by no one with more clearness it necessary in various ways to and cogency than by Mitchell, limit his powers, and the history the honest though bitterly antiof the conflict that ensued is well English historian :
1 Massey, Hist. of England, iii. 275.
2 Froude, English in Ireland, ii. 507.
"This dangerous dispute was thus the same scale, and sent his sonended for that time. Its dangers an alley only tolerated for the sake were twofold. First, the Prince of his father-to Dublin. Grattan might have refused the
and his friends supported the same limited powers; in that case, the English Parliament would certainly view, but the Protestant party at have made the Queen regent, and the large were opposed to it. Pitt and Prince might have accepted the Irish Dundas tried argument and advice, regency with unlimited powers; but the relations between Catholics there would then have been two and Protestants were too embittered regents, and two separate kingdoms. to be revolutionised peaceably withSecondly, the Prince might have ac
out the intervention of direct force. cepted the regency precisely on the terms offered him in each country ;
In 1792 a small measure in favour he would then have been a regent of the Catholics was carried by Sir with limited powers in England, and H. Langrishe, but a petition askwith full royal prerogative in Ireland; ing more complete relief aroused unable to create a peer in England, most violent opposition from the but with power to swamp the House Ascendancy party through the kingwith new peerages in Ireland; unable to reward his friends with cer
dom, and was rejected by a majortain grants, pensions, and offices in ity of 208 to 23, though it had England; but able to quarter them all the countenance of the British upon the revenue of Ireland. The Government. The following year, peril of such a condition of things was however, witnessed a narvellous fully appreciated, both by Mr Pitt and change. Mr Pitt and the British by his able coadjutor in Ireland, Mr Government by no means shared Fitzgibbon. They drew from it an
the views of the Ascendancy argument for the total annihilation of Ireland by a legislative union. party and the Irish Executive. Others who watched events with equal By their direct orders (Dundas to attention, found in it a still sounder Westmoreland, 230 January 1793 ; argument for total separation."1 Froude's English in Ireland,' iii. Mitchell's position is inexpugnable, 73) a large measure of emancipaand no fact went further to con- tion was early in 1793 introduced vince British statesmen that sepa- and carried through both Houses ration or union were the only pos- by the votes of the Court party, sible alternatives.
Dr Duigenan and Lord Clare alone, After a pause, during which protesting audibly. Europe watched the progress of By this measure the parliamentthe French Revolution, the next ary franchise was given to Roman critical question that came to the Catholics, and all the more oppresfront was that of Catholic Eman- sive restrictions that lay on them cipation. The worst of the penal were removed. The chief disabillaws had been removed in 1778, ity that remained was that the right but abundant disabilities remained. to sit in Parliament was still withThe question had hitherto lain like held. Pitt and Dundas were not a sunken rock, on which schemes anxious to maintain even this reof parliamentary and other reform striction; and there can be little had suffered shipwreck, but it now doubt that, if the course of British showed above water. In the end affairs had continued smooth, this of 1791 the claims of the Catholics also would have been removed in were being pressed on the Irish no long time, and complete legal Government by Pitt and Dundas. equality introduced. Burke threw his whole weight into But now began the most severe
1 Mitchell, Hist. of Ireland, i. 177.