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pernicious perversion, to minister to their diseased fancies. So it was with the people of Ireland at this period. They laboured under a few real grievances; they imagined they were encompassed by numberless ones. They were principally irritated at the failure of their favourite scheme of parliamentary reform ; and a more limited class (chiefly manufacturers) exclaimed against the rejection of certain protecting duties. Even the salutary and necessary check imposed upon the licentiousness of the press was aggravated into monstrous tyranny, which no free subject ought to endure. Several excesses were committed by the populace, and in Dublin the insurrection became so audacious that the members were attacked in their passage to the house, and the sanc: tity of the house itself violated by tumultuously forcing into the gallery. The mayor of Dublin (Mr. Green) was thought to be so remise in his duty on this occasion (for notice of an expected riot was sent him by the secretary, Mr. Orde,) that the house passed a censure upon him. Among the excesses to which the populace resorted may be mentioned the barbarous one (imported from America) of “tarring and feathering,” and a still more savage one, that of hougbing the soldiers, whenever any stragglers could be surprised. This was done by the butchers of the metropolis, a set of miscreants who required no other qualification for their infamous business “than a strong arm,
Further proceedings for parlianzentary reform. I 19 a sharp knife, and a hard heart *.". The soldiery had, indeed, been rather unadvisedly called in 19 suppress a tumult, when they exercised unneces, sary rigour, and this sanguinary retaliation was the consequence.
The principal objection that had been urged against Mr. Flood's bill for parliamentary reform was, that it had originated with an armed body, and as such could only be rejected by the house. There was a solid constitutional argument in this objection, which the promoters of the measure felt they could not easily refute; it therefore only remained to obviate it by prosecuting their plan in a manner more consonant to the established forms of parliament. It was accordingly resolved, thạt regular meetings should be convened by the sheriffs of the different counties and towns for the purpose of taking into consideration the necessity of atending the defective representation of the people in parliament. The first meeting was held in Dublin on the 7th June, 1784, where the high sheriffs presided. Ten rę. solutions were entered into, .expressive of the necessity of a more equal representation, of the grievance of long parliaments, and of the excel. lence of annual ones. By one of the resolutions it was declared highly desirable, that the elective franchise should be extended to the Roman
* These words were used by General Luttrell, (afterwards Lord Carhampton,) who moved for leave to bring in a bill to restrain this barbarous practice.
catholics, still, however, preserving in its fullest extent the present protestant government of the country.”. A committee was appointed to" draw up an address to the people at large, calling upon them to unite with the inhabitants of Dublin in furthering the great cause. The address was accordingly prepared, and it went into all the usual topics. The constitution was in danger-the balance between the three estates was destroyed the members did not represent the people, but an overgrown aristocracy, in whose hands were con'centrated the greater part of those boroughs which returned members -seats were sold-and finally, the best proof of the necessity of a reform was to be found in the inany wanton and reiterated acts of oppression committed by the commons in the session that had just closed. Under such circumstances they called upon the nation at large to join with them in obtaining a redress of the grievances they complained of; and they proposed, that a national congress should be held at Dublin on the 25th of the October ensuing, consisting of five persons to be elected from each county, city, and great town in the kingdom, " there to deliberate, digest, and determine on such measures as might seem to them most conducive to re-establish the constitution on a pure and permanent basis, and seeure to the inhabitants of the kingdoın, peace, liberty, and safety."
After this they unanimously agreed upon a pe.
Petition to the king :). 191 tition or remonstrance to the king, which of course involved a repetition of the same topics, adding, however, a prayer, that his majesty would be pleased to dissolve the parliament then existing, This request' was put, indeed, under the specious form of hoping that his majesty“ would adopt with decision and effect whatever he should colJect to be the sense of the people;” and it was confidently anticipated, that throughout Ireland the example of Dublin would be followed in resolving on the necessity of a dissolution.
This petition was presented to the lord-lieutenant by the bigh sheriffs, with an address to his excellency, requesting it might be transmitted. To this they received the following answer:
GENTLEMEN, " At the same that I comply with your request in transmitting to his majesty a paper signed by you, entitled A Petition of the Freemen, Freelolders, and Inhabitants of the City of Dublin, I shall not fail to convey my entire disapprobation of it, as casting unjusť reflections upon the laws and parliament of Ireland, and tending to weaken the authority of both."
This was rather an aukward reply to the profound politican's and sagacious reforiners of the city of Dublin; it was a chill and nipping frost that blighted all their buds of legislation, and destroyed their hopes of trying the dexterity of
unpractised hands upon the sound body of the constitution. Nor was this all. Though the proceedings in Dublin were seconded by those of many other places throughout the country, the whole business of regeneration was unkindly stopped by the vigorous interposition of governmeut.
Prosecutions by information, &c. were cominènced against the several persons by whom such aggregate meetings had been assembled. The bigh sheriff of the county of Dublin was sentenced to fine and imprisonment by the court of king's bench, which, operating with a few other wholesome rigours, checked the rising spirit of disaffection, which was walking abroad clothed in the specious and sacred garb of the constitution.
Notwithstanding, however, the hand of power was thus heavily raised against them they still struggled. A petition to the king from Belfast, nearly similar to the one from Dublin, was forwarded to Mr. Pitt, the avowed advocate for re-, forn *, though not exactly the reforın these gen
• The plan of reform, as devised by this great statesman, may be collected from the following propositions, which he submitted to parliament on the 7th of May, 1783:
" 1. That it was the opinion of the house, that measures were highly necessary to be taken for the future prevention of bribery and expence at elections.
^ . That for the future, when the majority of votes for any borough shall be convicted of gross and notorious core ruption before a select committee of that house, appointed to try the merits of any election, such borough shall be disfranchised, and the minority of voters not so convicted shall be