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Ireland, having formally abdicated the privilege which might have once existed, of enforcing any internal regulation in that country, having solemnly divested ourselves of all right, of whatever nature that right may have been, to make laws in any respect for Ireland; I say, Sir, by what particular means will he undertake to make it appear that it now remains for us to declare, what laws shall affect that country, and to dictate the precise modifications which he proposes to take place in the fixed principles of the legislature itself? In the year 1782, having given to Ireland a distinct and independent legislature, having, with every solid testimony of good faith, laid aside all pretensions to interference in the internal concerns of the nation, can any person now point out a subject to which Ireland should look with such well founded jealousy, as the subject presented to the consideration of the house by the right honourable gentleman's motion ? I am ready to admit, that the address, proposed as it is, does not exactly say so; but, Sir, it conveys too much by implication, not to call for the attention of the house in a serious manner, Let us for a moment compare it with the speech of the mover,
and if we proceed upon that just and reasonable ground, to which the right honourable gentleman himself can have no objection, as his speech forms the ground-work of his motion, it will in that case be found to convey what ought not to be stated in general terms, but expressed clearly and fairly.
The motion submitted to the house is, Sir, if I recollect right, for an address to his Majesty, that he will be pleased to take into his gracious consideration the present disturbed state of Ireland, and to adopt such healing and lenient measures as may restore it to tranquillity. But what can be the effect of such an address? Will it be maintained that the situation ot Ireland has not been the frequent subject of his Majesty's thoughts? · Can it with the shadow of propriety be urged, that the royal mind has been at any time exempt from those.considerations which
promote the happiness of his people? What then can be the object of the address? It proposes to his Majesty the propriety of adopting measures for the restoration of the tranquillity of his
subjects of Ireland. But such, Sir, must be his Majesty's disposition: and to what purpose will our advice tend? No man can presume to say, that such is not the firm desire, as it most undoubtedly is the interest, of the executive government. During what part of his Majesty's reign has there appeared any mark of neglect to the interests of the people of Ireland ? On the contrary, Sir, the most solid testimonies have been given of the sincerity of his intentions to promote the happiness of that country, not by promises, not by declarations, but by deeds and acts which have been received with grateful satisfaction by the whole nation. The most minute attention has been paid to the commerce, to the agriculture, to the manufactures of the country; and what was at the time considered as the most valuable measure, the independence of the legislature was recognized beyond a possibility of doubt. The whole has been one conti. nued succession of concessions, and to such an extent, that during the present reign, they have exceeded all the preceding ones put together since the revolution.
But, Sir, if further concessions are demanded, if the object of the address consists in soliciting these concessions, I must contend, that while it does not precisely point out the particular measures, which are to be adopted, it is, in the general state in which it now stands, nugatory and superfluous. If, on the other hand, the address is compared with the right honourable gentleman's speech, which indeed must be viewed as the chief ground of the motion, I maintain that it would be absurd and impossible to express propositions any way conformable to the sentiments delivered in the course of that speech. In the first place, let us consider them politically. If they mean, that the lord lieutenant of Ireland is accountable for any misconduct during his administration of public affairs there, as the servant of the crown, and it shall be urged that the controul of abuses of that kind remains with this country, I answer to that-granted, If in another point of view they go, as was in a certain degree conveyed by the honourable baronet who seconded the motion, to arraign his Majesty's ministers for gross errors and crimes committed in the government of Ireland, and to bring them to trial, I again answer-granted. But, if they are calculated to express and recommend measures which are not within the province of the executive government of Ireland, it is but fair and also necessary to ask, are these measures so recommended to be carried into execution by his Majesty, who is only a part of the legislative authority of Ireland, and what must seem still more extraordinary, are they to be so adopted by the desire of the parliament of Great Britain? I beg leave to demand, whether his Majesty is not bound to act in what concerns the internal regulation of Ireland, in consequence of the advice of the legislature of that country? Our assenting to the address would therefore be highly unconstitutional with respect to Ireland, and we could not for a moment entertain such an idea, without being guilty of an unjustifiable interference in the duties of the legislative and executive government of that nation. Such, Sir, is the real ground on which I oppose
the address. There certainly have been many other collateral topics brought forward, with which the right honourable gentleman has judged it proper to embellish his speech, but which do not apply to the question, and the discussion of which may do much mischief, without producing one single advantage. I will not, therefore, enter into a review of all the various statements and arguments that have been used, nor will I declare whether the right honourable gentleman's assertions are right or wrong; but I will leave it to the justice and to the candour of the house to decide, whether any one point he has this night proposed, can be carried into effect by any other means than by the voice of the Irish legislature? I must also observe, that he has, in the course of his speech, gone into a long historical narrative, and has attempted to shew, that the Irish legislature is so framed as not to be adequate to perform its functions for the practical happiness of the people ; that the principles on which it acts are radically defective, and that while it remains in its present state, the nation, or at least the majority of the nation, cannot enjoy the essential blessings of a free constitution. In answer to this, Sir, I must beg leave to direct the attention of the house to the great and important consideration, that the parliament of this country has completely recognized, and solemnly established the independence of that of the kingdom of Ireland, which is as entirely distinct and as incapable of being controuled by us, as we are independent of them. Yet the right honourable gentleman proposes an interference in the internal concerns of those who now have as inuch right to dictate to us, as we can possibly have to prescribe rules of conduct to them. Does it, Sir, become us now to say, that they are not qualified to act for the good of the people of Ireland, and that they are not entitled to the confidence of their constituents?-We who told the same people upwards of fourteen years ago, that they were completely adequate to promote the public happiness, that they were framed to secure the frosperity of the country, and what cannot be too often stated, that they were unchecked by any external controul to deliberate and decide on the great business of legislation! If we speak thus to that parliament, (and such must be our language, if we give our assent to the address moved this night) I confess, Sir, it does appear to me the most extraordinary and singular line of conduct that can be adopted by one independent parliament against another independent parliament,
But allowing, for the mere sake of argument, that we are authorized to dictate in the manner proposed by the honourable gentleman, is it reasonable that we should proceed in the way he has' pointed out on the bare suggestions which he has stated to the house ? Should we, supported by assertions alone, assume the power, which by his motion he seems to suppose we possess, of watching over, and superintending the parliament of Ireland? With regard to what may be termed the practical part of the right honourable gentleman's speech, though it is very far from my wish to enter into a discussion of the various topics contained in it, yet I only follow him to shew, that, by agreeing to his proposition, however you disguise it by any specious name, however you gloss it over by any artful expression, you do nothing less than attempt directly to controul the legitimate authority of the parliament of another country, and to trespass on the acknowledged rights of another distinct legislative power, But, taking the honourable gentleman's arguments in a different point of view assuming for a moment that he has made out his case in an incontrovertible manner, and that he has fully proved to our satisfaction that the parliament of Ireland was, in the year 1782, in every respect competent to perform its functions, and is at this time directly the reverse, I wish to know what is the practical conclusion he draws from my admission; and in what manner does he propose to remove the evil which I thus suppose he has clearly made out? What remedy, Sir, does he attempt to point out? Does he give us a single idea to guide us in the execution of the task which he wishes to impose on us? It is our duty to inquire what the principles are on which he invites us to proceed; and what the precise limits are within which the subject is to be confined. With respect to these questions and I trust every gentleman will readily allow them to be questions, not only of great importance, but of absolute necessity, the right honourable gentleman has left us entirely in the dark; and he appears so ļittle impressed with the urgency of them, that he has not even hinted at them in the whole course of his speech.
Having, Sir, noticed the first point to which the honourable gentleman has called the attention of the house, I now come to the other parts on which his observations have been made, relative to the divided state and jarring interests of Ireland. He has first dwelt on the discontents of the Roman catholics; and in the next place he has described at some length the grievances of the protestants of the northern parts. He has, in the redress which he proposes to make to both sides, admitted, that concessions ought to be made to both parties; and from the state. ments of the right honourable gentleman, who thus wishes to reconcile opposite claims, I am confirmed in my opinion that he only desires, and is eager to effect an alteration in the frame of the parliament of Ireland, as far as it may arise out of the pretensions of the catholics, and out of the demands of the inhabitants of the north. And here, Sir, I feel myself called on to