Page images
PDF

or death. And because I think that to flog, picket, and half-bang any of our fellow-subjects, in order to extort confession, is "a putting to torture," and, therefore, not only outrageous to humanity, but directly against, Magna Charts, the great corner-stone of our laws and liberties. And whoever have dared to put to torture any of our fellow-subjects in Ireland, or elsewhere, have violated the great charter, have betrayed their country, and ought speedily to be brought to condign punishment for these their treasonable and detestable practices. And whoever have dared openly and publicly to justify torture, upon the ground of policy, deserve the same execrations from their countrymen as have been usually given to the cruellest inquisitors of Rome.

3. Because, whenever our brethren and fellow-subjects in Ireland, or elsewhere, are flogged, picketed, half-hanged, and otherwise tortured, in order to extort confession, I hold it to be the bounden duty of every man, in his different station, to use all the legal

, means in his power to declare his adhoirence of such diabolical and tyrannical measures.

4. Because I bold, that when an Irishman is tortured, an Englishman is tortured ; for the same men, who, in violation of the laws of their country, and of every dictate of humanity, dare to put Irishmen to torture, will not hesitate, whenthey think it expedient, to put Englishmen to torture also.

5. Because it is a moral truth that cannot be denied, that if men have been driven, by flogging and by tortures, contrary to all law and reason, into open resistance, the guilt and consequences of that resistance are imputable to those who

flog and torture contrary to all law and reason, and not to those who are thereby driven to resistance.

6. Because, to flog aud torture men into open resistance, for the sake of employing a power in the hands of those who flog and torture, to crush that resistance, and thereby to make themselves more secure, is not only a refinement of cruelty, against which "law, reason, justice, humanity, and nature, cry aloud; but which the experience of all times teaches us will never answer.

7. Because the history of the world tells us, that it is no small matter which provokes a people to throw off their allegiance ; and that when they have thrown off their allegiance, attention to their just demands, and protection in the enjoyment Of their rights, liberties, and properties, are the ouly means by which an allegiance worth having can be recovered.

8. Because I think the times call for a declaration of these principles; and that to act upon them is the only method of healing the present discontents, and preventing the speedy ruin of our country.

Oxtord And Mortimer.

Protest against the Assessed-Tax Bill, House of Lards, January 18, 1798.

The question was put, that this bill be committed. It was agreed in the affirmative

Dissentient, Because we conceive, that in the present circumstances no grant of money by parliament can alone be sufficient to extricate the country from its alarming and critical situation.

When

When the exigencies of the state are such, as to demand large supplies from the people, our duty is not confined to the bare consideration of the necessity of the case, or the mode of levying the money. We are not, from the pressure of circumstances, and the approach of danger, hastily to concur in laying additional burthens on our fellowsubjects, without insuring to the public a wise application of the money so raised, and without due precautions for directing the efforts of the people to their only legitimate object, the benefit of .the community. A neglect of this, the most important of all parliamentary duties must produce, and, in our opinions, it has already produced, consequences the most fatal to the dignity of the nation, the stability of the government, and the interests of the people. In the unconditional compliance with the demands of the executive government,, again proposed as the remedy, we perceive the real and fatal source of the evil. Year afterycar his majesty's ministers have grounded their application to parliament upon the urgency of the occasion, and the extraordinary exigencies of the Hate. To satisfy their demands, to enable them to encounter the dangers, and remove the difficulties in which we were involved, every article of luxury or convenience has been taxed, the resources of the country have been exhausted, and sums unparalleled in history have been entrusted to their disposal; yet, year after year, the occasion has become more urgent, the exigencies more pressing^ the difficulties more alarming, and the dangers more immediate. The security of the nation has been shaken in the same proportion as the prosperity cf the country has been im

paired, external danger has kept pace with internal distress, and the exertions which have impoverished the people, and shaken our credit, have purchased nothing but the loss of national honour, the defection of allies, and the failure of ever* great object of the war.

If the whole force of Great Britain and Ireland, aided by grants lavished beyond the example of the most improvident times, assisted by the most powerful raonarchs of Europe, has proved insufficient in the bands of ministers to secure the blessings of peace, or even to avert the present awful circumstances of the country, it seems inconsistent with reason to expect that the painful efforts of an empire, whose means are exhausted by taxation, whose spirits are damped by failure, and whose affections are in part alienated by oppression, can, without a single ally, under the direction of the same men, resist with effect a powerful and exasperated enemy, elated with success, strengthened by conquest, and supported by the united powers of Holland and Spain. In this situation of affairs, to persevere in the system which has produced it, to confide in the ministers who, with the aid of so many millions, have been unable to avert it, evinces, in our opinion, a total disregard of the common maxims of prudence, a wanton rejection of the lessons of experience, and a determined neglect of the most important of our parliamentary duties. Under the persuasion, therefore, that the dangers with which we are now threatened are the resultof force, directed to objects at once impracticable and foreign to the interests of this country; that they are the necessary consequences of a misapplication of the public money, and the.

natural natural fruits of the incapacity and profusion of those to whom it has been improvidently entrusted; we deemed it our duty not to sanction but he also feels it indispeusably necessary to desire the house of commons to consider, without delay, of such further measures as may be necessary to enable his majesty to defeat the machinations of the wicked and traitorous persons within this realm, and to guard against the designs of its enemies abroad and at home.

any grant to the executive government, until a pledge was given to the house, by the removal of bis majesty's ministers, of a complete alteration in his councils. We beld it neither just tc> impose, nor reasonable to require, any additional sacrifices from our fellow-subjects, until sorne prospect was held out to the people of a reform of that house which bad granted, and a censure of those ministers who have lavished, sums so enormous, without any benefit resulting to the community. We thought, that while his majesty's affairs were conducted by those who originally engaged in this calamitous contest, and who can neither carry on war or negociations with honour, advanSage, or success, no grant of money by parliament, no sacrifices on the part of the people, ri-iujjprii-r'l a reasonable-hope that the^lessings of peace would be speedily restored, or permanently secured. We imagined, thatjuntil some earnest was given .of a radical alteration of the system of terror and coercion in Ireland, of the repeal of the two bills, the one entituled, "An "act fur the safety and preservation *' of his majesty's person and go"vernment against treasonable and "seditious practices and attempts;" and the other intituled," An act for "the more effectually preventing "seditious meetings and assem*' blics," of economy in public expenditure, and diminution of the enormous patronage and influence of the crown, we were not warrunted in expecting that cheerful co-operation of the people, which, being at once the indication and result of a recipro

cal confidence between the government and the governed, can only be restored by the restoration of the ancient and happy practice of a constitution endisfigured by coercive laws—of a parliament speaking the sense of the people—and a ministry dependent on the voice of the parliament.

Because it appears to us, that any attempt to raise the supplies within the year, in the present exhausted state of the country, mutt be attended with the greatest difficulty and danger.

Because, were we to allow that the principle of raising the supplies by contribution instead of loan, was just, wise, and expedient, yet, under the present ministers, it would appear to us attended with the utmost danger, as the real expences of the year have generally exceeded, by nearly one half,- their calculation; and thus any regulations for the equal distribution of the burdens, which were adopted upon the first calculation, might be rendered ineffectual by subsequent and most extensive demands.

Because, if the bill is intended as a tax upon expenditure, its retrospective operation is arbitrary and cruel iu the extreme, and altogether repugnant to the usages of our ancestors, the faith of civilised governments, and the common dictates of humanity and justice. If it is intended as a tax upon income, in our opinion the criterion proposed is objectionable and inadequate; and, above all, as income is of various descriptions, sometimes arising from permanent and disposable capital, sometimes from precarious or temporary possessions, and sometimes from labour, talents, or industry, we deem any attempt to proportion the burden to the income in itself unjust, unequal,

and

and impolitic. If it is intended us a tax upon property, neither in t'.ifc original criterion, viz. the assessed taxes of l7i)J, nor in the proposed relief, do we recognise any just principles of taxation, or perceive any fair or adequate method suggested for the impartial distribution of the burden.

Because the relief proposed in the bill to those who may, by the increase of their assessed taxes, be liable to pay more than the tenth of their income, requires a disclosure of their pecuniary circumstances, which is contrary to the customs and prejudices of Englishmen, and repugnant to the principles of the constitution ; aud which to persons engaged in commerce or trade must be attended with yet greater inconveniences than the payment of more than the tenth of their income. Furthermore, this regulation appears to us an indirect breach of the faith so often and sacredly pledged to the stockholder; for, should the whole of the income of any individual claiming this relief consist in a dividend upon stock, a tenth of that'income is immediately sacrificed, and the dividend, in violation of the faith of the parliament and the nation, diminished one-tenth by the intervention of government.

Because the operation of this bill is not confined to a definite peViod of time, but, by the most wanton violation of justice, remains in force till a certain sum is produced; thus .exacting from the honest the deficiencies which may have been occasioned by accidental circumstances, by the designs or the distress of individuals, by the favour or the neglect of the collectors. (Signed) Holland.

Oxforc.

Message from his Majesty to Parliament, delivered by Mr. Dundas, April 20, 1798.

G. R.

His nmjesty thinks proper to acquaint the house of commons, that, from various advices received by his majesty, it appears that preparations are making on the part of the French government, by the emrJarkation of troops and warlike stores, and by the increasing activity of the fleets in the ports of France, Flanders, and Holland, with the design of invading his majesty's dominions; and that in such design they have been encouraged by the communications and correspondence of certain traitorous and disaffected societies in these kingdoms.

To render fruitless such designs, his majesty places the firmest reliance on the bravery of his fleets and armies, and on the zeal, patriotism, and un&haken courage of his people, which has ever been manifested in their general exertions for the defence of the country, arid which are more than ever necessary when called upon to defend all that is most dear to them.

His majesty, in pursuance of the act of parliament for raising a body of cavalry, has thought it right to give directions for such regiments of cavalry as are embodied to be drawn out; and it is his intention to order such parts of the supplementary militia as are not yet embodied to be forthwith embodied -and drawn out, in pursuance of the communication already made to the house of commons on this subject.

His majesty thinks it incumbent on him to make the fullest use of the means provided by parliament for the defence of the country;

but

[ocr errors]

Speech of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on opening the Session of Parliament, January 16", 1798.

My lords and gentlemen, I have his majesty's commands to asemble you in parliament at this importauj period, and to resort to your deliberation and advice.

When I reflect on the tranquillity which attended the late general election, I have just ground to believe that the wisdom and firmness which were manifested by the late parliament were felt and approved by the nation at large, and that your conduct will be actuated by similar principles in defence of our happy constitution.

It must have given you great concern to learn that his majesty's endeavours to restore the blessings of peace have been again frustrated by the desperate ambition of the French government. I have his majesty's commands to lay before you his royal declaration, and the various papers which passed in the course of the late negotiation, in which the magnanimity and moderation of his majesty were so eminently displayed, as to lc;«cno pretext or colour for the insidious conduct and fallacious statements of the enemy.

His majesty relies with confidence on the spirit of his people of Ireland, who are sensible of their duty to their God, their sovereign, and their country. He knows they are incapable of being intimidated by any threats, or deluded by any offers; and be implicitly depends on the valour of his regular and militia forces, the active loyalty of the district corps, the courage of the nation, and the prowess of his fleets and armies, for defeating every hostile attempt which may be made on this kingdom.

The late signal victory of admiral lord Duncan over the Dutch squadron, achieved, on their own coasts with such professional skill and heroic gallantry, has not only added fresh lustre to the glory of his majesty's navy, but has given new strength and security to all bis majesty's dominions.

Gentlemen of the house of commons, I have ordered the public accounts, and the estimates for the ensuing year, to be laid before you; I lament that additional burdens are still necessary, in order to maintain the honour and security of the empire in the present exigency ; and although from the state of preparation in which this kingdom stands, some of the demands of former periods will not recur, yet I fear the general expence of the ensuing year will not admit of any considerable reduction. When you reflect on all you have to preserve, and all you have to expect from the enemy you have to combat with, I doubt not the supplies will be cheerfully granted. I shall endeavour, on my part, that they shall 'be faithfully applied.

My lords and geutlemen,
In consequence of the addressee

« PreviousContinue »