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fitted for experiments on the constitution, they may call on the people. I ask you, Are you ready to do so? Are you ready to abide the event of such an appeal? What is it you must in that event submit to the people? Not this particular project; for if you dissolve the present form of government they became free to choose any other-you fling them to the fury of the tempest-you must call on them to unhouse themselves of the established constitution and to fashion to themselves another. I ask again, Is this the time for an experiment of that nature? Thank God, the people have manifested no such wish-so far as they have spoken their voice is decidedly against this daring innovation. You know that no voice has been uttered in its favor, and you cannot be infatuated enough to take confidence from the silence which prevails in some parts of the kingdom: if you know how to appreciate that silence, it is more formidable than the most clamorous opposition-you may be rived and shivered by the lightning before you hear the peal of the thunder!
But, sir, we are told that we should discuss this question with calmness and composure. I am called on to surrender my birthright and my honor, and I am told I should be calm and should be composed. National pride! Independence of our country! These, we are told by the minister, are only vulgar topics fitted for the meridian of the mob, but unworthy to be mentioned to such an enlightened assembly as this; they are trinkets and gewgaws fit to catch the fancy of childish and unthinking people like you, sir, or like your predecessor in that chair, but utterly unworthy the consideration of this house, or of the matured understanding of the noble lord who condescends to instruct it! Gracious God! We see a Pery reascending from the tomb, and raising his awful voice to warn us against the surrender of our freedom, and we see that the proud and virtuous feelings which warmed the breast of that aged and venerable man are only calculated to excite the contempt of this young philosopher, who has been transplanted from the nursery to the cabinet to outrage the feelings and understanding of the country.
But, sir, I will be schooled, and I will endeavor to argue this question as calmly and frigidly as I am desired to do; and since we are told that this is a measure intended for
our benefit, and that it is through mere kindness to us that all these extraordinary means have been resorted to, I will beg to ask, How are we to be benefited. Is it commercial benefit that we are to obtain? I will not detain the house with a minute detail on this part of the subject. It has been fully discussed by able men, and it is well known that we are already possessed of everything material which could be desired in that respect. But I shall submit some obvious considerations.
I waive the consideration that under any union of legislatures the conditions as to trade between the two countries must be, either free ports, which would be ruinous to Ireland, or equal duties, which would be ruinous to Ireland; or the present duties made perpetual, which would be ruinous to Ireland; or that the duties must be left open to regulation from time to time by the united parliament, which would leave us at the mercy of Great Britain. I will waive the consideration that the minister has not thought fit to tell us what we are to get, and, what is still stronger, that no man amongst us has any definite idea what we are to ask, and I will content myself with asking this question-Is your commerce in such a declining, desperate state that you are obliged to resort to irrevocable measures in order to retract it? Or is it at the very moment when it is advancing with rapid prosperity, beyond all example and above all hope-is it, I say, at such a time that you think it wise to bring your constitution to market, and offer it for sale, in order to obtain advantages, the aid of which you do not require, and of the nature of which you have not any definite idea?
A word more and I have done as to commerce. Supposing great advantages were to be obtained, and that they were specified and stipulated for, what is your security that the stipulation will be observed? Is it the faith of treaties? What treaty more solemn than the final constitutional treaty between the two kingdoms in 1782 which you are now called on to violate? Is it not a mockery to say that the parliament of Ireland is competent to annul itself and to destroy the original compact with the people and the final compact of 1782, and that the parliament of the empire will not be competent to annul any commercial regulation of the articles of union?
And here, sir, I take leave of this part of the question; indeed it is only justice to government to acknowledge that they do not much rely on the commercial benefits to be obtained by the union-they have been rather held out in the way of innocent artifice, to delude the people for their own good; but the real objects are different, though still merely for the advantage of Ireland.
What are these other objects? To prevent the recurrence of rebellion, and to put an end to domestic dissensions? Give me leave to ask, sir, How was the rebellion excited? I will not inquire into its remote causes; I do not wish to revive unpleasant recollections, or to say anything which might be considered as invidious to the gov ernment of the country; but how was it immediately excited? By the agency of a party of levelers actuated by French principles, instigated by French intrigues, and supported by the promise of French co-operation. This party, I hesitate not to say, was in itself contemptible. How did it become formidable? By operating on the wealthy, well-informed, and moral inhabitants of the north, and persuading them that they had no constitution; and by instilling palatable poisons into the minds of the rabble of the south, which were prepared to receive them by being in a state of utter ignorance and wretchedness. How will a union effect those predisponent causes? Will you conciliate the mind of the northern by caricaturing all the defects of the constitution and then extinguishing it, by draining his wealth to supply the contributions levied by an imperial parliament, and by outraging all his religious and moral feelings by the means which you use to accomplish this abominable project, and will you not, by encouraging the drain of absentees, and taking away the influence and example of resident gentlemen, do everything in your power to aggravate the poverty, and to sublimate the ignorance and bigotry of the south?
Let me ask again, How was the rebellion put down? By the zeal and loyalty of the gentlemen of Ireland rallying round-what? a reed shaken by the winds; a wretched apology for a minister, who neither knew how to give nor where to seek protection? No! but round the laws and constitution and independence of the country. What were
the affections and motives that called us into action? To protect our families, our properties, and our liberties. What were the antipathies by which we were excited? Our abhorrence of French principles and French ambition. What was it to us that France was a republic? I rather rejoiced when I saw the ancient despotism of France put down. What was it to us that she dethroned her monarch? I admired the virtues and wept for the sufferings of the man; but as a nation it affected us not. The reason I took up arms, and am ready still to bear them against France, is because she intruded herself upon our domestic concerns-because with the rights of man and the love of freedom on her tongue, I see that she has the lust of dominion in her heart-because wherever she has placed her foot she has erected her throne; and to be her friend or her ally is to be her tributary or her slave.
Let me ask, Is the present conduct of the British minister calculated to augment or to transfer that antipathy? No, sir, I will be bold to say that licentious and impious France, in all the unrestrained excesses which anarchy and atheism have given birth to, has not committed a more insidious act against her enemy than is now attempted by the professed champion of civilized Europe against a friend and an ally in the hour of her calamity and distress —at a moment when our country is filled with British troops when the loyal men of Ireland are fatigued with their exertions to put down rebellion; efforts in which they had succeeded before these troops arrived-whilst our Habeas Corpus Act is suspended-whilst trials by court-martial are carrying on in many parts of the kingdom-whilst the people are taught to think that they have no right to meet or to deliberate, and whilst the great body of them are so palsied by their fears, and worn down by their exertions, that even this vital question is scarcely able to rouse them from their lethargy-at the moment when we are distracted by domestic dissensions-dissensions artfully kept alive as the pretext for our present subjugation and the instrument of our future thraldom!
Yet, sir, I thank the administration for this measure. They are, without intending it, putting an end to our dissensions-through this black cloud which they have collected over us I see the light breaking in upon this unfor
tunate country. They have composed our dissensionsnot by fomenting the embers of a lingering and subdued rebellion-not by hallooing the Protestant against the Catholic and the Catholic against the Protestant-not by committing the north against the south-not by inconsistent appeals to local or to party prejudices; no-but by the avowal of this atrocious conspiracy against the liberties of Ireland they have subdued every petty and subordinate distinction. They have united every rank and description of men by the pressure of this grand and momentous subject; and I tell them that they will see every honest and independent man in Ireland rally round her constitution, and merge every other consideration in his opposition to this ungenerous and odious measure. For my own part, I will resist it to the last gasp of my existence and with the last drop of my blood; and when I feel the hour of my dissolution approaching I will, like the father of Hannibal, take my children to the altar and swear them to eternal hostility against the invaders of their country's freedom.
Sir, I shall not detain you by pursuing this question through the topics which it so abundantly offers. I shall be proud to think my name may be handed down to posterity in the same roll with these disinterested patriots who have successfully resisted the enemies of their country. Successfully I trust it will be. In all events, I have my exceeding great reward; I shall bear in my heart the consciousness of having done my duty, and in the hour of death I shall not be haunted by the reflection of having basely sold or meanly abandoned the liberties of my native land. Can every man who gives his vote on the other side this night lay his hand upon his heart and make the same declaration? I hope so. It will be well for his own peace. The indignation and abhorrence of his countrymen will not accompany him through life, and the curses of his children will not follow him to his grave.