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willing that an estimate should be made of the revenue affected by this measure for the last three years, and a resolution, that if, on the next year, it is diminished, parliament will make good the difference. He then read the following resolutions
"That a principal cause of the excessive use of spirituous liquors, is the low price thereof.
"That to remedy said evil, it is necessary to impose such duty or daties on spirituous liquors, as render the same too dear for the consumption of the lower orders of the people.
"That it is necessary that all licenses whatsoever should be granted by the quarter sessions only; and that a considerable duty should be imposed on licenses for the sale of spirits; and all persons taking out licenses should enter into a recognizance for the order and regularity of his house.
"That it is advisable, that no license should be granted except to persons of a certain description, and that the quarter sessions should have the power of withdrawing all licenses; and, during the interval of their sitting, the magistrates of suspending them.
"That it is necessary to give the magistrates, with respect to all houses selling unlicensed spirits, summary' powers to convict and punish.
That, in order to give the lower orders of the people a wholesome and nutritious liquor, it is necessary to give the brewery of his kingdom decisive advantages.
"That, for this purpose, it is necessary that the duties affecting the brewer should be reduced, and the restrictions and regulations whereby he is now restrained taken off.
"That it is advisable to take off the whole excise from beer and ale, and in the place thereof lay a moderate tax on malt.
"That it is advisable, that the justices of the peace should make a report to the grand jury of all the houses selling unlicensed spirits, that the grand juries may, on proper information, present the same.
"That it is necessary a committee should sit at the opening of the next session, to inquire into the effect of the above regulations, and take such further steps as may be found requisite to carry into execution the first resolution of the House, to banish the excessive use of spirituous liquors".
Mr. Grattan then moved the first resolution.
Mr. Beresford stated, that the proposed plan embraced too wide a range to be Lecided on at present. He admitted that the breweries should be encouraged and restraints imposed on distillation of spirits. He set forth an account, frem which it appeared that the number of stills had greatly decreased In the year
1781, they were 1212; there contents were 295,127 gallons; and they paid duty for 1,787,295 gallons; the proportion of which, to their contents, was as six to one. The excise paid that year was £71,612. In the year 1790, the number of stills was 246; the excise paid that year was £170,729. Thus the number of stills was reduced from 1212 to 246, and the revenue increased from £71,612 to £170,729.
The Speaker (Foster) and Mr. Hobart agreed in principle with Mr. Grattan. The former strongly recommended that the breweries should be encouraged, which he contended, were every year sinking, owing to some radical error in the laws.
Mr. Grattan's first resolution passed without a division; and as it appeared to be the sense of the House that further time should be given to consider the rest, the motion, that the chairman should report progress, was put and carried.
SALE OF PEERAGES.
February 8, 1791.
I PROPOSE three questions for the right honourable gentleman's consideration: First, is not the sale of peerages illegal? Second, Is it not a high misdemeanour and impeachable offence? Third, Whether a contract to purchase seats for persons named by the ministers of the Crown, with the money arising from the sale of the peerage, is Dot in itself an illegal and impeachable transaction, and a great aggravation of the other misdemeanours?
I wait for an answer. Does the right honourable gentleman con tinue in his seat? Then he admits these transactions to be great and flagrant breaches of the law. No lawyer I find so old and hardy, so young and desperate, as to deny it. Thus it appears that the administration of this country, by the acknowledgment of their own lawyers, have, in a high degree, broken the laws of the land. 1 will now discuss the nature of the transactions admitted to be illega I know the prerogative of conferring honours has been held a fruga way of rewarding merit; but I dwell not on the loss of any collateral advantages by the abuse of that prerogative, but on the loss of the essence of the power itself, no longer a means of exalting, and now become an instrument of disgrace. I will expostulate with his Excellency on this subject; I will bring him to an eminence from whence he may survey the people of this island. Is there, my lord, of all the men who pass under your eye, one man whom you can exalt by any title you may think to confer? You may create a confasion in names, or you may cast a veil over families; but honour,
that sacred gem, you have cast in the dirt! I do ou ask you merely, whether there is any man in the island whom you can raise ? but I ask you, is there any man whom you would not disgrace, by attempting to give him title, except such a man as would exalt you by the acceptance-some man whose hereditary or personal pretensions would rescue his name and dignity from the apparent blemish and ridicule cast on him by a grant from those hands to whom his Majesty has most unfortunately abandoned, in Ireland, the reins of government?
The mischief does not go merely to the credit, but may affect the existence of the nobility.
Our ministry, no doubt, condemn the National Assembly, in extinguishing the nobility of France, and I dare say they will talk very scrupulously and very plausibly on that subject. They certainly have not extinguished the nobility of Ireland, but they have (as far as they could) attempted to disgrace them, and by so doing have attempted to lay the seeds of their extinction. The Irish ministry have acted with more apparent moderation; but the French democracy have acted with more apparent consistency. The French democracy have, at one blow, struck from the nobility, power, perquisite, and rank. The Irish ministry have attempted to strike off honour and authority, and propose to leave them their powers and their privileges. The Irish ministry, after attempting to render their honours as saleable as the seats of justice were in France at the most unregenerated period of her monarchy, propose to send them abroad, to exact deference from the people as hereditary legislators, hereditary counsellors to the King, and hereditary judges of the land; and if hereafter any attempt should be made on our order of peerage, look to your ministry; they are the cause-THEY—THEY— THEY WHO HAVE attempted, without success, but with matchless perseverance, to make the peerage mischievous, and, therefore, are guilty of an eventual attempt to declare it useless.
Such a minister is but a pioneer to the leveller; he composes a part of his army, and marches in the van, and demolishes all the moral, constitutional, and political obstructions of principle and purity, and all the moral causes that would support authority, rauk, and subordination.
Such a minister goes before the leveller, like sin preceding the shadow of death, shedding her poisons and distilling her influence; .nd preparing the nectar she touches for mortality. I do not say, that such a minister with his own hands strips the foilage off the tree of nobility. No; he is the early blight, that comes to the
island to wither your honours in the first blast of popular breath, and so to scatter, that at last the whole leafage of nobility may descend.
This minister does not come to the foundations of the House of Lords with his pick-axe, nor does he store all their vaults with trains of gunpowder. He is an enemy of a different sort. He does not purpose to blow up the houses of parliament; he only endeavours to corrupt the institutions, and he only undermines the moral props of opinion and authority; he only endeavours to taint nobility; he sells your Lords and he buys your Commons. The tree of nobility!— that it may flourish for ever, and stand the blight of ministers and the blast of popular fury, that it may remain on its own hill rejoicing, and laugh to scorn that enemy, which, in the person of the minister of the crown, has gone against the nobles of the land; this is my earnest prayer. That they may survive, survive to give counsel to those very ministers, and perhaps to pronounce judgment upon them. But if ever the axe should go into that forest; if, on the track of the merchantman, in the shape of the minister, the political woodman, in the shape of the leveller, should follow; if the sale of peerage, as exercised by the present minister, becoming the ordinary resource of government, should prove a kindred extreme, and give birth to a race of men as unprincipled and desperate in one extreme as they are in the other, we shall then feel it our duty to resist such an effort, and as we now resist the minister's attempts to dishonour, so shall we then resist the consequence of his crimes-projects to extinguish the nobility.
In the mean time, to prevent such a catastrophe, it is necessary to destroy such a practice, and, therefore, necessary to punish, or remove, or intimidate, and check your ministers.
I would not be understood to speak now of a figurative sale of honours; I am speaking of an actual one in the most literal sense of the word. I know that grants of honours have been at certain times made for influence distinct from pretensions; but not argent comptant the stock purse. It is not title for influence, but title for money to buy influence. You have carried it to the last step, and in that step have gone beyond the most unscrupulous of your predecessors; they may have abused the prerogative, but you have broken the laws. Your contract has been what a court of law would condemn for its illegality, and a court of equity for its turpitude.
The ministers have endeavoured to defile the source of honour; they have also attempted to pollute the stream of justice. The sale of a peerage is the sale of a judicial employment, which cannot be sold
without breach of an express act of parliament,—the act of Richard the Second and Edward the Sixth.
I know the judicial power is only incidental to peerage, but the sale is not the less against the spirit of the act; indeed, it is the greatest possible offence against the spirit of the act, inasmuch as the judicial power in this case is final, and comprehends all the judgments and decrees in all the courts of law and equity. If I am injured in an inferior court, I can bear it; it is not without remedy. But there, where everything is to be finally corrected; where the public is to be protected and rescued from the vindictive ignorance of a judge, or the little, driving, arbitrary genius of a minister; the last oracle of all the laws, and the first fountain of council, and one great constituent of the legislature; to attempt to make that great repository a market; to erect at the door of the House of Lords the stall of the minister, where he and his friends should exorcise their calling, and carry on such an illicit and shocking trade! That a minister should have cast out of his heart all respect for human institutions so far, as to attempt to post himself at the door of that chamber, the most illustrious, select, and ancient of all institutions we know of; to post himself there with his open palm, and to admit all who would pay for seats; is this the man who is to teach the Irish a respect for the laws, and to inculcate the blessings of the British constitution?
History is not wanting in instances of gross abuses of the prerogative in the disposal of the peerage; the worst ministers perhaps have attempted it; but I will assert, that the whole history of England does not furnish so gross and illegal an exercise as any one of those bargains contracted for by the minister of Ireland. In the reign of Queen Anne there was, by the Tories of the times, a great abuse of that power-twelve peers created for an occasion. In some particulars there was a similitude between that and the present act; it was an attempt to model the House of Lords; but there was no money given. The turpitude of our transaction was wanting in the act of the ministry of Queen Anne; it was an act of influence purporting to model one House of Parliament; but it was not the sale of the seats of one House to buy those of the other, and to model both.
The second instance is the sale of a peerage by the Duke of Buckingnam in the reign of Charles the First. It was one of the articles cf his impeachment, a peerage sold to Lord Roberts for £10,000; it was a high misdemeanour, a flagrant illegality, and a great public