Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub

Motion in favour of legislative independence. 19

While these military patriots were thus, out of doors, sedulously preparing the country for the restoration of its liberty*, the few patriots in the legislature, who still stood firm in their country's cause, and at the head of which noble band the illustrious Grattan placed himself, were co-operating to produce a similar influence in parliament. On the 19th April, 1780, Mr. Grattan, in a speech that never, perhaps, was excelled in ancient or modern times, which "fulmined over" Ireland like a thunder-bolt, moved, that the house should resolve, and enter on the Journals, "That no power on earth, save the king, lords and commons of Ireland, had a right to make laws for Ireland." Of this celebrated oration the following is the best report extant; and we insert it here as containing the first distinguished effort of that great man in behalf of his country; but the unanimous testimony of all who heard him concur in declaring, that it affords only a very faint outline of the matchless whole. Mr. Hardy says, that "the language of Milton or Shakspeare can alone describe its effects."

* On the 9th of June, 1780, the Dublin volunteers, the Duke of Leinster (the premier nobleman of Ireland) in the chair as president, resolved, "That the king, lords and commons of Ireland only were competent to make laws binding the subjects of this realm; an that they would not obey or give operation to any laws save only those enacted by the king, lords and commons of Ireland, whose nights and privileges, jointly and severally, they were determined to support with their lives and fortunes."

#t

[ocr errors]

1

" SIR,

"I have intreated an attendance of the house on this day to protest against the usurpation of the parliament of Great Britain, and to join with me in lifting up their hands and voices against such usurpations. Two millions of people out of doors were to be satisfied; and had I a son, I would, like the father of Hannibal, bring him to the altar, to swear the sacred maintenance of the peoples' rights. I would move them to as full and ample a declaration as could be done without shaking the pillars of the state. It is impossible to stop the voice of millions; the public voice is not at ease-enough is not done. You are the guardians of the public liberty, you owe your country that liberty, and she calls upon you to restore it; she calls upon you to make Great Britain revoke the injustice of her laws, and restore your political as she has your commercial freedom. In passing the bills for liberating your trade, the British minister has made use of the words, that it was expedient to allow Ireland to export her own products. Expedient is a word of great reserve. Expedient Expedient is a word fatal to Great Britain; by such a word she lost America, and plunged her country in scenes of blood. By this reservation your trade is in the power of England, whenever she may think proper to take it away. We were allowed a moment of satisfaction, but not a relief from slavery.

God has afforded you an opportunity to emancipate yourselves and your posterity; wait not the issue of a general peace, when the direction of her power on this fated island may again lay you in bondage. For the honour of your countryfor the honour of human nature-by the memory of your sufferings-by the sense you feel of your wrongs-by the love you owe your posterity-by the dignity and generous feelings of Irishmen-I beseech you to seize the auspicious occasion, and let this be the hour of your freedom! The doctrine of parliamentary supremacy Great Britain now finds to be nonsense-parliamentary supremacy has been the bane of Great Britain. Her enemies are on all sides pouring in on her. The sea is not her's; the honour of her councils and arms is tarnished. She has no army-no fleetno admirals—no generals. A supineness pervades her measures, and distractions attend her councils. Parliament is the only spring to convey the native voice of the people; never did this or any other country behold a senate possessed of so much public confidence. There is an ardent combination among the people, a fire which animates the nation to its own redemption-a sacred enthusiasm, unconveyed in the language of antiquity, and which only belongs to the natural confidence of freedom. Forty thousand men in arms look up to the result of this day's deliberation. Let the lovers of freedom rejoice at that martial с

VOL II,

spirit which has operated to national happiness. If ye refuse to comply with the resolution of this day, you belie the desire of your constituents. A providential conjunction and the hand of God seem to demand and direct it. Grasp at a blessing which promises independence and happiness. Yesterday the servants of the crown were asked, whether a standing army of fifteen thousand Irishmen were to be bound in this kingdom by English laws and the servants of the crown have asserted that they shall. The servants of the crown have dared to avow that they shall be bound by English laws. This is the consequence of your rejoicing at a partial repeal of the laws which oppressed you your exultation betrayed your rights. The courtier may have his salary-the landed gentleman may have his rent-you may export the commodities of your country, and bring the returns of another-but liberty-liberty, the consummation of all trade, is wanting. The superstructure is left without a base-you have commerce without a full trade, and a senate without a parliament. When I found a prohibition upon glass and other commodities, when I found an act of the 6th of George the First, which expressly claimed a power of binding this kingdom-the king, without its parliament, enacted a law to bind the people of Ireland, by making laws for them-it was time to call the authority of England a rod of tyranny. I call upon the judges of the land, the justices of the peace, the officers of the army,

[ocr errors]

to say whether they do not act under the direction of English statutes? A present and explicit declaration of rights must remove all this. Three millions of people must feel how necessary it is to be as free as the people of England. They must behold with veneration a parliament superior to every other, and equal to that which passed the bill of rights. A senate composed of men that would do honour to Rome, when Rome did honour to human nature.

's

}

"The enemies of Ireland may call the efforts of the people the proceedings of a mob. A mob stopped your magistrates in their obedience to English laws, and vindicated your abdicated privileges. I shall be told this was the turbulence of the times; and so may every effort for freedom in the history of mankind be called. Your fathers were slaves, and lost their liberties to the legislature of England ;-the kingdom became a plantation-the spirit of independence was banishedthe fears of parliament made it grant, in a strain of trembling servility, whatever was demanded. Men of overgrown fortunes became the very jobbers of corruption; they voted an embargo, which brought bankruptcy on the prince and misery on the people. The people saw nothing but starving manufactures, a corrupt senate, and a military combination. The courtier was glad to petition for a free trade, and England to grant it; but the unconstitutional power of an English attorneygeneral, and an English parliament, still remains.

« ÖncekiDevam »