Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

to a thousand accidents ; it depends now upon the violence of the moment; it may be governed, as I have said already, upon, views of temporary popularity, or upon the personal convenience of a few individuals, a tenure upon which the happiness' of a nation ought never to depend. I am not stating these things without foundation, but am referring to what was done by two champions of parties in that country and in this, the one of whom* had a large pecuniary reward for his labours, and the othert was the subject of great panegyric in that country and in this. They were satisfied when the legislature of Ireland was declared independent of this country. True it is, that the parliament of that country was declared independent of this. It had what was supposed to be, sovereign power; it has the power of dictating to the executive authority upon the questions of war and peace, in the same controlling manner as the parliament of this country has: but what security is there that they will both agree upon all questions hereafter, in which the general interest of the British empire is involved ? Is it a difficult thing to suppose a case in which they may clash, and become perhaps as hostile to one another as any two independent bodies politic in Europe ? I have, no difficulty in saying that such a case might possibly happen, nor do I think that much was gained by the declaration of the independence of that parliament, or ever will be gained to the British empire, until there is some security that both legislatures will go on harmoniously together upon all questions in which the general interests of the British empire are involved. Neither do I much admire the philosophy of that person who thinks he has completed a beautiful new fabric when he has only completeed the destruction of an old one; who calls that destruction" the most stupendous pile of human wisdom that ever was exhibited to the world.” When I find such a man after the act was passed which declared the independence of the Irish parliament, assenting to the principle of a resolution of a committee, stating that the connexion between the two countries should be established by mutual consent on a solid and permanent basis, and when

+ Mr. Fox,

* Mr. Grattan.

I find that such a resolution was carried to the throne, as I have said already, and when I reflect that nothing was afterwards done upon that resolution to carry it into effect, I have the authority of that person and his friends that what was done in declaring the parliament of Ireland independent, was defective in a point which is indispensable for the happiness of the people of Ireland, and indeed of both countries. I think then I may say that the onus is upon those who oppose the measure now before us 10 shew its bad tendency, rather than upon us to shew its probable good effect, for their own conduct proclaims the absolute necessity of something being done; it is incumbent upon all those who took a part in the discussion of that subject, and who approved of the measure the childish measure of the independence of the parliament of Ireland !--without any security that the parliament of that country and of this would never differ essentially upon any point in which the happiness of the British empire may be involved, to shew it, and upon the honourable gentleman who moved this amendment, as much as any one, for he took an active share in the parliamentary proceedings to which I have just alluded.

How stands the case in point of experience? Is there a probability, or is there not, that the parliaments of the two countries may differ upon a point that may be essentially interesting to the British empire ? I say you have a guide upon that subject. You may profit by experience. I mean by the case of the regency. The honourable gentleman says that there was no difference between the two parliaments as to the regent. Why, no, Sir, there was no difference as to the person who was to be regent ; but there was an essential difference as to the principle on which that person was to be regent; the Irish parliament decided on' one principle, the English parliament on another, and their having agreed on the person was accidental; and upon the distinct principles on which the two parliaments proceeded, they might as well have differed upon the person who was to be, as on the powers to be granted to the regent. Now let any man tell me that this is not an instance of an essential difference upon a point

that was essential to the welfare of the British empire: and let any : man shew me what security there is that an essential difference upon some other object may not hereafter occur between the two parliaments, That they have not hitherto differed in the great and momentous events which have been agitated before parliament, is a good fortune which has arisen from one general cause, that? of all descriptions of persons having united against one common enemy, with the exception only of a few, whose counsels, happily for both countries, and for the civilized part of the world, have lost all their influence. But will any man tell me, that such difference as was manifested in the time of the regency will never occur again ? Will any man tell me, when we come to treat of peace, for instance, or to consider any subject of alliance with any foreign power, or upon any question of trade or commerce, that then the local prejudices, I say prejudices, for they have great influence, may not occasion a difference between the legislatures upon points that may be essential to the welfare of the British empire ? No matter what the cause of the difference may be, it is enough that there may be such a difference. A party in England may give to the throne one species of advice by its pare lianient; a party in Ireland may advise directly opposite, upon the most essential points that involve the safety of both

upon alliance with a foreign power, for instance ; upon the army; upon the navy; upon any branch of the public service; upon trade; upon commerce; or, upon any point that night be essential to the empire at large. Let any nian tell me, what would have been the consequence to both England and Ireland, had the dissensions in Ireland been the same in point of force against the executive government in parliament, since the cormencement of the present war, as they were at the time the Irish propositions were rejected ? Had these men who were at the head of opposition either in that country or in this, possessed the confidence of any considerable part of the public, will any man

minister would have been able to save this country or Ireland from destruction? But happily for us, happily for every part of the civilized world, the iniquity of the common

that any

tell me,

enemy united us all; else all the evils which I have already stated, together with the poison of jacobinism, would have come upon us, and such a complication would have soon completed the ruin of our empire; but fortunately, I say, the counsels of those who favoured such principles were rejected with disdain by the good sense of mankind at large. But when that cement by which the two legislatures have been held together, shall cease to operate, whạt security is there for the continuance of cordial co-operation? None whatever: the probability of its continuance is more than doubtlul; for I do say, for the reasons I have alleged already, that the present state of society in Ireland, as well as its representation, which partakes of the nature of that. society, is radically defective,

I am aware, Sir, that I have spoken at a greater length on this subject than might have been expected in its present stage. I have thought a great deal upon this subject, and what I have said has been nothing but the result of my own observations. I am bound to convey to this house every information, which it may be in my power to give ; but however acceptable to the one or to the other side of the house, however acceptable or otherwise to those whom I respect on the other side the water, my sentiments upon this subject may be, my duty compels me to speak them freely, I see the case so plainly, and I feel it so strongly, that there is no circumstance of apparent or probable difficulty, no apprehension of popularity, po fear of toil or labour, that shall prevent me from using every exertion which remains in my power to accoinplish the work that is now before us, and on which I am persuaded depend the internal tranquillity of Ireland, the interest of the British empire at large, and, I hope, 1 may add, the happiness of a great part of the habitable world,

The amendment was negatived without a division, and the motion for the address was then put and carried.

January 31, 1799.

The order of the day being read for taking into further consideration his Majesty's message relative to an Union between Great Britain and Ireland,

“ GEORGE R. “ His Majesty is persuaded that the unremitting industry with which our enemies persevere in their avowed design of effectiug the separation of Ireland from this kingdum, cannot fail to engage the particular attention of parliament; and his Majesty recommends it to this House to consider of the most effectual means of counteracting, and finally defeating, this design; and he trusts that a review of all the circumstances which have recently occurred (joined to the sentiment of mutual affection and common interest) will dispose the parliaments of both kingdoms to provide in the manner which they shall judge most expedient, for settling such a complete and final adjustment as may best tend to improve and perpetuate a connexion essential for their common security, and to augment and consolidate the strength, power, and resources, of the British empire;

G.R." MR. Pitt, rose, and spoke as follows.

Sir-When I proposed to the house, the last time this subject was before them, to fix this day for the further consideration of bis Majesty's message, I certainly indulged the hope that the result of a similar communication to the parliament of Ireland would have opened a more favourable prospect than at present exists, of the speedy accomplishment of a measure which I then stated, and which I still consider, to be of the greatest importance to the power, the stability, and the general welfare of the empire; to the immediate interests of both kingdoms; and more particularly to the peace, the tranquillity, and the safety of Ireland : in this hope, I am sorry to say, I have for the present been disappointed, by the proceedings of the Irish house of commons, of which we have been informed since this subject was last under cousideration.

I feel and know that the parliament of Ireland possesses the power, the entire competence, on the behalf of that country, alike to accept or reject a proposition of this nature-a power which I am by no means inclined to dispute. I see that at the present momeut one house of parliament in Ireland has express

« ZurückWeiter »