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Sir, the situation of this country is, God
knows, deplorable enough; but if we turn
our eyes to Ireland, we shall find the des-
potism completed there, of which the foun-
dations deep and broad are laid here.
Painful as is the recital of the woful mea-
sures pursued by ministers in Ireland, they
are too important to be passed over, or to
be lightly touched on. They must be
fully exposed to the view of this House,
and of the people of England, who, I am
sorry to say, are either wholly ignorant of
the transactions that have taken place in
that ill-fated country, or, what is worse,
have received a false account of them,
propagated with uncommon assiduity by
ministers and their agents. To remove
this prejudice, and to enable the House to
form an impartial opinion of the conduct
of ministers, it will be necessary to take
ground as far back as the cause which
gave rise to these events. At the conclu-
sion of the American war (a war under-
taken precisely on the same principles as
that against France), out of 12,000 men,
composing the standing army of Ireland,
9,000 were transported across the Atlan-
tic to fight the battles of England in Ame-
rica;
and Ireland, left to herself, exhibit-mation of a national debt, the establish-
ed the grand spectacle of a volunteer army, ment of a national bank, which at first
self-raised, self-paid, self-clothed, self- pleased the vanity of the inconsiderate,
armed, not subject to martial law, a de- were, in fact, stores gathered from the
bating army, choosing its own officers, people, and swept into the granaries of
canvassing public measures, submitting to the English minister, to be distributed by
no other articles of war than public opi- the hands of his factor, known by the name
nion, to no other mutiny bill than private of secretary to a lord lieutenant, for the
honour. Then, too, France threatened purpose of corrupting the self-constituted
invasion, but received no encouragement, representative; which supplies so to be
because the people, though mal-treated, distributed were so abundant, that the
hoped the time of their deliverance was price of a seat for one election only, rose
at hand, and that an honest parliament, from 800l. to 2,000l. in the Commons'
such as they believed then sat, would re- House, and in the Upper House, from
dress their grievances, which were listened little or nothing to three, four, and five

to with attention, and discussed with tem-
per and moderation. There were no laws
passed to prevent public meetings, or to
throw obstacles in the way of petitions;
the Habeas Corpus act was not suspended;
there were no burnings, rapes, or massa-
cres; military tribunals did not usurp the
place of courts of justice; free quarters
were unheard-of; torture was unknown.
There were no Indemnity bills, govern-
ment and its agents having committed
none of those crimes which have since
driven the people to madness. These
were the reasons why France, if ever she
had entertained an idea of a descent on
Ireland, had not the temerity to put it in
execution, well knowing that a nation so
defended by citizen soldiers was invinci-
ble, and that discomfiture and shame must
have attended the undertaking. And that
war ended without any such attempt hav-
ing been made by France, and that parlia-
ment closed its labours, after having effected
the settlement of 1782, of which we have
lately heard so much. A very short time,
however, had elapsed before the Irish
people perceived that the owners of the
representation, for it was then, too, private
property, were the only gainers; that the
nation had, only exchanged the direct le-
galized control of the English parliament,
exercised at a trifling charge, for the in-
direct corrupt management of the British
minister, worked at an enormous cost;
and that the system, always radically bad
was rendered still more vicious, by holding
out a greater temptation to the parliament,
from the increased wages of corruption,
to betray the interests of Ireland, which
have unfortunately, from a short-sighted
policy, been always thought incompatible
with the interests of this country. The
people were quickly convinced by the
multiplication of places, the appointment
of monopolist natives to fill them, the for-

ed; for the frequency, long continuance,
and facility of its suspension, has totally
annihilated the confidence of the subject
-an army of spies and informers-an in-
quisition of property-an inquisition of
political opinion a shackled and corrupt-
ed press-a gagged and beggared people
-pensioned justices-eventually salaried
judges-vague laws-threatened juries
an executive magistrate not accountable
-a degraded aristocracy-a confiding
parliament, and irresponsible and indem-
nified ministers. What is there in this
system so admirable, to recompense the
people of England for the immense sacri-
fices they are called upon daily and hourly
to make for its support.

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and to avoid all religious prejudices, the rock on which reform had hitherto split. To effect this, some of the most enlightened and strenuous advocates of reform composed a test, conceived in the following terms: "In the awful presence of God, I

declare that I will, as far as in me lies, "endeavour to promote a brotherhood of "affection and union amongst Irishmen of

every religious persuasion; and that I "will persevere in my endeavours to pro"cure a full, equal, and adequate repre"sentation of all the people in Ireland in "parliament." Thus the work of reconciliation and union was in rapid progress ; many societies of the coalesced sects, better known by the name of United Irishmen, were formed, and every thing wore an aspect favourable to peace, mutual affection and reform. The parliament having itself, in 1793, taken up the subject, seemed to evince so much firmness in the entertainment of it, that no fewer than eleven committees of the House of Commons sat in the session of that year, for the purpose of taking the state of the representation into consideration. These were alarming measures; Irishmen united were not to be endured; and the right hon. gentleman, who had studied reform, one may suppose, only with a view of learning the most efficacious mode of counteracting it, here took his stand, threw down the gauntlet of defiance to the Irish people, and commanded the independent parliament to pass, not a resolution for reform, but the notorious Convention bill, the object of which was, to quash the united societies, and to prevent all political meetings. From this time the meetings which had hitherto been held openly were convened privately; became numerous in proportion to the means taken to obstruct them, and perseveringly maintained their principles of union and reform. Attempts at reform without union would not have alarmed: religious bigotry would have easily frustrated them: it was the union of Irishmen that struck terror to the soul of ministers, because, by the disunion of the Protestant, the Catholic and the Presbyterian, they were enabled to hold Ireland in a state of abject slavery. Recourse therefore was had to the disunion of the sects, and the papering and racking system was adopted, which expelled from their habitations thousands of families, by a process the most atrocious. A paper was pasted against the doors of the cottages of the Catholics commanding the inhabitants to

thousand pounds. The people, at first gratified by the sound of an independent parliament, found, to their cost, it was of them the parliament was independent, and wholly dependent upon the will of the British cabinet.

Thus deluded, the people of Ireland," taught by the eloquence of the late minister, were convinced of the absolute necessity of reform; and, as I have been told, and to the honour of those persons be it spoken, many of the proprietors of boroughs were convinced of that necessity, and offered voluntarily to relinquish their unconstitutional and usurped power. But the right hon. gentleman having in the mean time become prime minister of England, strengthened by troops returned from America, and supported by a majority of the owners of the representation, whose fortunes and whose families were made by this system, resisted every movement towards that reform to which he before led the way. But though the right hon. gentleman had changed his sentiments with his situation, though he had suffered his interest to extinguish his principles, though he might have been very anxious to throw the veil of oblivion over the speeches of the thatched house orator; those speeches, replete with common sense and truth, had made too deep an impression to be easily effaced: on the contrary, the more rapid were his strides through the mire of corruption, the more deeply were his former sentiments engraved on the minds of the people, whom every day's experience more and more confirmed in the necessity of reform; towards the attainment of which desirable end, considerable progress had been made, when it was suddenly arrested by those who, having monopolized the power of the country, were against every species of real and wholesome reform. Though the progress of reform was thus arrested, the principle was never for a moment abandoned; and in this state of corruption on the part of the British minister, of bare-faced, unblushing venality on the part of the Irish parliament, and of anxious hope and expectation on the part of the people, did things remain from the year 1783 till the year 1791, when the people determined to use every exertion to obtain a fair representation, which the right hon. gentleman had told them ought to be the express image of the people. To effect this purpose, it was necessary to embrace every description of persons,

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quit in five or ten days, and to proceed to the province of Connaught, or they should be sent to hell; and this was the revival, after a century, of that faction known under the name of Orange-men. These mandates not being at first com. plied with, the fanatics who had issued them repaired to the houses of the unfortunate Catholics, ousted the whole family, and racked and set fire to the miserable hovel and its contents. Such transactions could not fail to attract notice. Many of the authors of them were committed to prison; and his majesty's attorney-general was sent to the theatre where these tragedies had been acted, to prosecute the offenders who were all acquitted, except one, and he was pardoned. After this farce, which served as a manifesto to every ruffian agent of government; after such a pardon, which may be considered as an act of outlawry against the whole Catholic body, it is not to be wondered at, if those Catholics who had not yet been papered and racked, should, dreading a repetition of the same system, and having no protection from law, proceed to deprive the Orange-men, who were the authors of these proceedings, of their arms, themselves having been kept disarmed.

English Fencibles, Ancient British, Hessians, and Hanoverians, were all let loose upon the people, committed such abominations of plunder, arson, rape, and massacre, that the whole island groaned beneath the weight. To the executive, backed by these auxiliaries, the parliament surrendered the country, and abolished the small remnant of law; and upon the representation of martial magistrates, that the country was in a state of disturbance, or likely to become so, martial law, as it was called, was set up, or rather all law was pulled down. Under cover of this, private enemies were proscribed in the name of public justice, all Ireland was proclaimed, and military execution closed the scene. Such was the state of the army, halloed on by ministers upon the people, that Abercromby, when placed at the head of it, declared it was formidable to every one except the enemy. When he accepted that appointment, little did he imagine the first order he should be required to issue would be for the distribution of the army at free quarters upon the people. And little did ministers, who dared to make that requisition, know of the good and gallant Abercromby; he was a soldier of honour, and had embraced the profession of arms, when the duty of a British officer was, to protect the lives of his fellow citizens, to contend against the foreign enemy, to soften the horrors of war by keeping those under his command within the strict bounds of discipline, and due subordination; instructing them not to practise cruelties, or shed unnecessary blood. These were the maxims Abercromby had learned; these he taught; these he practised: he disdained to be made the instrument of such a minister, for such a purpose, and resigned his appointment to an army of which he was not allowed the command. More compliance was easily found in those whọ succeeded the virtuous Abercromby; and the pack unkennelled, flushed in blood, prowled at free quarters over the face of the land, the object of which was, as avowed, to drive the people into premature insurrection. Still the people forbore to rise: a more active stimulus was employed; torture was introduced; triangles were erected in the very court yard of the vice regal palace; the cries and groans of the tortured assailed the ears of the viceroy, and as he rode through the gates of his castle, his horse's hoofs were bathed in the blood of the people. At length the

This proceeding answered the purpose of ministers; it afforded an opportunity of disuniting Irishmen of different persuasions; of protecting one sect, and of stirring it up to take vengeance on the other. But as the ordinary forms of law were tedious and uncertain, they determined to fling off the cumbrous load of statute, and let loose upon the people a deluded army, the officers of which were to serve as a magistracy, erected a military tribunal, where they sat, tried, sentenced, and condemned, without law, not a few individuals only, but whole tribes whom they hurried on board tenders. And this conspiracy of British ministers was not only indemnified, but an act was passed, in addition to their former acts, empowering magistrates to commit, according to law, similar outrages to those they had before perpetrated contrary to law. And by the operation of this law, which was not a dead letter, was the great body of an unarmed people put out of the protection of law, and consigned to the mercy of a licentious army. Thus having committed the parliament against the people, Ireland was invaded, upon pretence of supporting that parliament with troops of all descriptions, Scotch Fencibles,

the bare recollection of which makes humanity shudder.

unarmed people rose; thousands were killed in the field of battle, where no prisoners were made, no quarter Sir, I have gone so much into this degiven; and thousands were barbarously tail, because it has been asserted, that butchered afterwards in their huts, and in Irish union and reform were generated by the fields. It was after the battle was over, the French revolution; that the principle that the horrors of war began. The was a French principle; a new doctrine excesses of the people I will not stop to created by the French war. But facts consider; they are equally the disgrace of speak for themselves, and every fact speaks the government; suffice it to say, the the reverse of this assertion. The neces worst passions of the human soul were sity of reform was felt by the Irish people called forth on every side: in the dread- during the American war. The motives ful catalogue of crimes committed by to reform were strengthened by the reathe ministers and people, the people soning and eloquence of the right hon. however have not to answer for the gentleman himself, before he became miviolation of women, or torture of men. nister, and by the Letter of the duke of The insurrection (an unequivocal proof Richmond, before he was appointed masto the minister of the cordial hatred of the ter-general of the ordnance, to colonel people for their parliament), being put Sharman, chairman of the celebrated meetdown, the time was arrived for the coming of the Irish volunteers at Dungannon, pletion of his original design; and, as he convened for the express purpose of rehad before conspired with the parliament form. The question was again and again against the people, he was now to conspire discussed in the House of Commons itself, with the army against the parliament. That and occupied the attention of all Ireland army which the Irish parliament foolishly ten years before the French revolution. imagined had invaded Ireland for the pro- And what produced it? The very contection of its political power, was now to be stitution of that parliament; representaturned against the parliament for its politi- tives of their own property, and owners cal extinction; that parliament upon which of the representation, plundering the nathe minister was wont to lavish praises for tion; its matchless venality and corrup its firmness, wisdom, and magnanimity; tion; its uniformly betraying the interests that independent parliament, which he of Ireland to the British cabinet; its resaid had by its energy preserved Ireland sistance to the moderate, just demands of to the British empire; that parliament, the people. These were the reasons, which never ceased to revile and libel the growing out of the system and organizaIrish people, was now in its turn to be tion itself, that impressed on the minds of stigmatised; to be represented, by its the people of Ireland the absolute necesformer panegyrist, as a corrupt assembly, sity of reform. And who can deny those full of provincial ignorance, local preju- reasons to have been just? Their House dice, ungovernable passions, incompetent of Commons has been proved to be private to legislate for that country: it had property; it has been paid for, bought brought the nation, he said, to the brink and sold, and the bills for the purchaseof a precipice, and had endangered the money now lie upon your table. But British connexion itself. And all these the right hon. gentleman himself saw the acts which I have related, to the commis- necessity of reforming this corrupt and insion of which it had been excited by competent parliament. The people of Ireministers, and which are recorded in blood land and the minister only differed as to the in the chronicles of Ireland, were now species of reform. They were of opinion, produced as evidence of its guilt. And that a native resident parliament, having having given these acts in evidence, the same feelings and the same interest the minister put the parliament to the with the people, and not representing torture, as it had tortured the people, their own private property; they were of to confess. It did confess, and he sen- opinion, that this was the true character tenced the self-convicted traitor to die of a constitutional House of Commons. by its own felonious hand. And this act But the right hon. gentleman, formerly the of compelled political suicide, he called great reformer, was now of opinion, that their assent to a union. To effect this a foreign parliament, composed of men, revolution was the Irish parliament excited between whom and the people there by ministers to declare war against the existed no sympathy, no identity of inpeople, and to wage that war in a manner terests, ignorant and regardless of their

wishes, wants, and character, receiving | into such unprecedented conduct? And information of that people through the shall we allow ministers, by a miserable medium of those very persons whom he juggle and sham change of administration represented as so full of prejudice, local amongst their own creatures and partisans, animosity, heat and passion, as not to be to escape unquestioned? and the people fit to govern Ireland. This is the species of England and Ireland to be disgraced of reform, according to the right hon. abroad and enslaved at home? Hitherto, gentleman's opinion now, best suited to the failure abroad, and unconstitutional acts people of that country; and to project at home, have been deemed good parliathis species of reform, projected by him mentary grounds of inquiry. It is high at the time of the regency, has he strode time to inquire into, and have defined, the over mountains of carcases, and waded real object of the late war. It is fit to through oceans of blood. inquire, if such a peace as the present is safe and honourable, why negotiation even was rejected before.

Thus, then, have ministers, though they have failed in their foreign objects, been far from being altogether unsuccessful. Though they have failed in their attempt to conquer France, they have made a shameful conquest of the rights and liberties of England. They have flogged, tortured, and massacred the people of Ireland. They have bought the representation of that country, and made a complete revolution in the representation of this. This is their indemnity for the past, and security for the future. This compensates for every other disgrace, failure, and disaster. This is the reform which the right hon. gentleman promised us. He did indeed formerly promise us a hundred knights; but he did not at that time tell us he would bring them from Ireland.

Sir, when I reflect upon the enormities which have been committed in that country, I really feel ashamed of my speciesashamed of being a man! but when I consider that they have been supported by English power, I feel ashamed of my country. When I recollect that a British minister, in a British House of Commons, has dared to vindicate the use of torture, which even the Inquisition has at length, through shame, abandoned, the last of infamies seems to be an Englishman. The bloody monster Robespierre, who only inflicted death upon his victims, appears, by a comparison with him, to be an angel of mercy. No Sicilian tyrant, not one, nor all the twelve Cæsars together, none of the monsters who have hitherto appeared in human shape, and been held up to, and inherited the execration of mankind, ever exceeded the cruelties practised under the late ministers, which have covered Ireland with blood, and England with infamy and disgrace.

!

And can we permit this to be washed in Lethe and forgotten? Is not the time yet arrived, or is there no time for inquiry

But, Sir, the whole situation of the country, external and internal (the latter infinitely more important), demands immediate inquiry. The scandalous imprisonments, the cruel tortures, the disaffection of Ireland, the distresses of the people of England, the monstrous corruptions, profligate expenditure, prisons, courts of justice (all the productions of that wicked administration), all cry aloud for inquiry.

This, Sir, is a melancholy picture of the situation of this country. A situation in many respects similar to that in which it stood at the end of the American war. At that time, the country was threatened with dangers unprecedented before, though trifling in comparison with the dangers and difficulties that threaten us now. Then too, as now, and as is natural after a wicked and unsuccessful war, there was, apparently, a division and difference of opinion amongst ministers; of whom the right hon. gentleman gave the following description:-"There is only one thing," said he, " in which they seem to agree, in their resolution to destroy the empire they were called upon to save; and this, I fear, they will accomplish before the indignation of a great and suffering people shall fall upon their heads in the punishment they deserve. May God grant that punishment be not so long delayed, as to involve within it a great and innocent family, who, though they can have had no share in the guilt, may, and most likely will, be doomed to suffer the consequences!" So said the right hon. gentleman then. So say I now. At that time, he unquestionably, in my mind, spoke the language of patriotism and truth, and met with that support from the people of England, which that language undoubtedly deserved. And what was that language?

* See .vol. 22, p. 845.

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