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Accession of the Rockinghain whigs to ministers. 223 essentially unlike in their end and in their means. The united Irishmen of 1794, sought only a 'reforin in parliainent and emancipation for their catholic fellow subjects: that was the utmost aim of their association. The united Irishmen of 1798, would have gladly produced separation between the two countries, and endeavoured to accomplish their wishes by treason and civil war. They sprung from the fermenting dregs of the people worked into malignant action by some real grievances, but more by the seditious efforts of unprincipled agitators.
Much good was augured to Ireland from the remarkable changes that happened at home this year, by the accession of a large part of the Rockingham whigs to Mr. Pitt. The French revolution and war were the known causes of this defection and the " dwindled phalanx of opposition,” as Burke petulantly denominated those whom he had left, and who still adhered to their principles, were arraigned for their motives with very little tenderness.
When the new born proselytes were provided for, it became necessary to pay some attention to the disturbed condition of Ireland. Lord Westmoreland was to be recalled, and at the express wish of the Duke of Portland (who had joined the ministry) Earl Fitzwilliam was appointed his successor. It was understood that Lord Fitzwilliam was to be invested with full power for tranquillizing the country by all practicable means, and especially by conceding the
catholic question *. Some political intrigue, how. ever, characterised the proceedings. As late as August, 1794, Mr. Pitt, had assured Lord Westmoreland he should not be recalled : (it was in July, that the coalition took place,) but when it was found impossible to continue him in his situation, Mr. Pitt then fixed upon Lord Cainden as his successor. The appointment of Earl Fitzwilliam, therefore, was not made with the concurrence of Pitt, and his going out could only be to answer a temporary purpose. The people of Ireland, however, were sanguine in their hopes, especially as some of the leading members of opposition (Ponsonby, Grattan, &c.) were invited over to England to concert with Mr. Pitt, upon the measures to be adopted. It seems pretty certain, however, from Lord Fitzwilliam's letter to
* It appears, however, from a debate in the British house of Lords in 1799, upon the question of Union, and in which Lord Fitzwilliam took an active share, that he was not empowered to concede the Catholic question. We have the best authority for this his lordship's own words.
" Yielding," to the argument of not wishing to entangle government in difficulties, upon the subject at that period, I admit that under orders clearly understood by me, not to give rise to, or bring forward the question of catholic emancipation on the part of government, I assumed the government of Ireland. But, in yielding to this argument, I entered my protest against resisting the question if it should be brought forward from any other quarter; and I made most distinct declarations, that in case of its being so brought forward, it should receive my full support, With these declarations I assumed the government of Ireland,"
the Earl of Carlisle, that he and his friends, particularly the Duke of Portland, were somewhat deluded as to the power they were to have in settling the affairs of Ireland.
Administration of Lord Fitzwilliam-His pro
ceedings render hiir very popular-Beloved by the Irish, who anticipate great advantages from his government-Mr. Grattan brings in the Catholic Bill-Debate on it-Recall of Lord Fitzwilliam-Regret of the whole nation at that event-Earl Camden appointed his successor-Proceedings of the United Irishmen.
LORD Fitzwilliam took possession of his go vernment, on the 4th of January, 1793, and began with sincerity to accomplish, what he believed he had been sent out to accomplish, the tranquillity of Ireland; unconscious of the secret influence and preconcerted measures of Mr. Pitt to thwart all his endeavours. His first acts were certain dismissals from office which created general alarm at the Castle. Among contemplated dismissals were those of the attorney and solicitor generals, who were to retire upon ample provisions, and to be succeeded by Messrs. Ponsonby and Curran, the former as attorney general, the latter as solicitor general. Mr. Beresford also was removed as filling a situation greater than that of the lord lieutenant.
The viceroy met the parliament on the 22nd of January, 1795, and in his speech alluded to the critical situation of the British empire, under which eventful circumstances he called upon them to afford their aid. Mr. Grattan, the "self awowed minister" of Lord Fitzwilliam, as the Earl of Clare called him, because he had accepted no responsible office, moved the address in a speech of great eloquence and argument, which was carried without a division. The catholic question immediately afterwards occupied the attention of parliament. On the 24th of January, Mr. Grattan presented a petition from the catholics of Dublin, praying to be restored to the full enjoyment of the constitution, by a repeal of all the penal laws still affecting the catholics of Ireland. It was ordered to lie on the table, and it was soon followed by numerous other petitions, from every distinct body of catholics throughout the realm. ». On the 25th of February, Mr. Grattan obtained leave to bring in the bill, which was opposed only by Dr. Duigenan, Mr. Ogle, and iColonel Blacquiere. į It soon appeared, however, that the measures pursued by Lord Fitzwilliam were not acceptable to Mr. Pitt, though they were not made the ostensible cause of difference. On the 9th of February, that minister wrote to his lordship expostulating on the dismissal of Mr. Beresford, and on the negotiation with Messrs. Wolfe, and Toler, (the attorney and solicitor general, after