Page images
PDF
EPUB

affect only the masters of families, not the servants; and he was sure no man would turn away any servant for half-a-crown." To this

Mr. Sheridan replied, that the right honorable gentleman had certainly mistaken the point in question, as no one had supposed that a family would turn off a servant for half-a-crown; but that where three were kept, one of them would probably lose her place; that the tax, which would otherwise be thirty shillings, might by that means be reduced to ten consequently the tax fell on the female, whom, in this manner, it deprived of bread.

"

6 The house divided on the resolution; ayes 97; noes 24; majority against the women 73.

MAY 23.

IRISH PROPOSITIONS.

The house having resolved into a committee, the Chairman read the following resolution:-" Resolved, that it is highly important to the general interests of the British empire, that the laws for regulating trade and navigation should be the same in Great Britain and Ireland; and therefore that it is essential towards carrying into effect the present settlement, that all laws which have been made, or shall be made in Great Britain, for securing exclusive privileges to the ships and mariners of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British colonies and plantations; and for regulating and restraining the trade of the British colonies and plantations, shall be in force in Ireland (by acts to be passed in the parliament of that kingdom) in the same manner as in Great Britain; and that proper measures shall from time to time be taken for effectually carrying the same into execution."

Mr. SHERIDAN asked if the words "by acts to be passed in the parliament of Ireland," had really been moved on Friday last; for he did not recollect to have heard them till the moment the Chairman had read them.

Mr. Taylor replied in the affirmative.-Lord Beauchamp proposed, as an amendment, to leave out the words from “ Ireland," to the words " and that proper measures should be taken," &c.

Mr. Sheridan rose next, and contended that it was fair to argue, that the proposition was a direct attempt to legislate for Ireland; and not the less so

in consequence of the amendment. It was therefore, he said, insidious in the last degree, for Mr. Orme not to have stated it to the Irish parliament, to whom the business had been opened in a very different manner. Mr. Sheridan declared that the voting resolutions to bind Ireland down to pass such and such laws, without enabling her to go even into a committee with the bills, was crippling that right of legislation which she had claimed, and we had admitted; and leaving her the mere shadow of independence, as a sovereign state, instead of the substance. He therefore contended that it was probable, in the highest degree, that the resolution under consideration would cause great alarm, and excite much constitutional jealousy in Ireland.

The house divided on the amendment, ayes 36; noes 194.

MAY 30.

IRISH PROPOSITIONS.

It was moved by Lord North, that the resolutions should be carried up to the lords. On their being read, when the clerk came to the second, viz. "that it is the opinion of this committee that a full participation of commercial advantages should be permanently secured to Ireland, whenever a provision, equally permanent and secure, shall be made by the parliament of that kingdom towards defraying, in proportion to its growing prosperity, the necessary expenses in time of peace, of protecting the trade and general interests of the empire." The right honorable W. W. Grenville moved, as an amendment, that the first line of the resolution," That it is the opinion of this committee" should be left out, and in its stead the following words be inserted, " "That it is consistent with the general interests of the revenue, manufactures, commerce, and navigation of this country." This amendment was carried without opposition.

Mr. SHERIDAN observed, that the latter part of the resolution appeared to him very objectionable; inasmuch, as it went to tie Ireland down to a specific provision for the support of the navy, which, in all probability, would in the end prove much less beneficial to this country, than if parliament had trusted to the generosity and liberality of Ire

land. This part was objectionable on more accounts than one. In the first place, the provision was to be secured in the time of peace only, so that in war, Ireland might stand neuter. He would suppose, however, that it was expected, that in time of war, that country would make exertions in favor of this; the consequence of course was, that in this instance, England, instead of stipulating for any specific assistance, relied entirely upon the generosity of Ireland. Why then should there not be the same reliance in time of peace? Why should there exist an appearance of distrust? Why make Ireland fancy she had room to think, that whilst England, by not having her power diverted by foreign war, felt herself able to insist upon treaties, would stipulate for certain services; but would not speak of stipulations for assistance in war; as if conscious, that in such a case, she should not be able to enforce the observance of the stipulation? It were folly indeed to expect, that Ireland, accustomed during peace to act according to the letter of a specific agreement, and with a friend who placed no confidence in her, should, in time of war, act upon principles of liberality. The way to obtain liberal succours at all events was, at no times to betray marks of diffidence in the honor and generosity of those we have to deal with. The Irish, when they saw limits placed to the confidence that ought to be reposed in them, would naturally set bounds to their own generosity, and never exceed in their grants the letter of their agreement with this country. But this stipulation for a specific provision from Ireland, under the regulation marked out in the restriction, was not, in his opinion, less constitutional than impolitic.

The constitution of Ireland was the same as that of England; and what would violate one, would, of course, amount to a violation of the other. In England, a vote of a perpetual army, or even of a perpetual navy, over which parliament was to have no

control, would effectually destroy the constitution, and render the parliament unnecessary. Now, what was proposed to Ireland? Nothing less than that she should vote, or give by an irrevocable act to the crown, a specific sum of money, for the support of either army or navy; and consequently an army, or body of seamen, might be employed, not only without the consent of parliament, but even in spite of it. He was right in assuming, that seamen or soldiers might be employed constantly, and paid out of this perpetual and irrevocable fund, which would render the crown independent of the people; because, though the right honorable gentleman (Mr. Pitt) had said, on a former occasion, that the money arising from the surplus of the sinking fund, should be laid out in Ireland, in purchase of provisions, &c. for the use of the navy; yet it might so happen, that Ireland would not always be a provision country, which she certainly would not, if by the present plan she should so improve in manufactures, as to turn her thoughts to them from feeding of cattle. In that case, the money, if laid out in that country, must be expended in the maintenance of soldiers or sailors; and then there would exist a body of men over whom the parliament could have no control. The extent of the numbers made nothing to the principle, which would be as much violated by a vote in perpetuity of a support of three regiments of guards, as for a perpetual army. He concluded by moving an amendment of the resolution, that the following words be left out, viz. "Whenever a provision equally permanent and secure shall be made by the parliament of that kingdom, towards defraying, in proportion to its growing prosperity, the necessary expense in time of peace, of protecting the trade and general interests of the empire:" and that instead of them be inserted, "Great Britain confiding in the well-known generosity and liberality of Ireland, that in proportion to her growing prosperity, she will contribute towards defraying

the expenses both in peace and war, of protecting the trade and general interests of the empire." To this amendment he presumed there would be no objection in Ireland; as it was founded on an expression of that nature, in an address moved by Mr. Grattan, in the Irish house of commons.

Mr. Sheridan in a subsequent speech observed that previous to a determination on this question, he wished to explain some circumstances which he conceived to have been misunderstood, and which he was anxious the house should attend to. There would, in consequence of these regulations, be many duties which at present were only temporary in Ireland, that in order to bear with the like duties in England, which were securities for the public debts, must now be rendered perpetual. This would add principally to the hereditary revenues of Ireland; and would be applicable to the purpose of keeping a standing army. Here then arose a double consideration;-first, a great and important sum would be entrusted, where the constitution of the country was always jealous it should be placed, particularly for such purposes; and secondly, this perpetual provision being made, there would no longer exist a necessity for assembling the parliament, as frequently as the safety of our constitution and that of Ireland required. It might be answered, that parliament must be assembled, in order to bring in the bills, and take the regular estimates laid before them; but he had experience to bear him out, in apprehending that this principle, important as it was, would be liable to violation;-for notwithstanding a resolution of the last parliament of England constituted it a high crime and misdemeanor for any person to expend any sum of the public money, except such as had been already appropriated; the right honorable gentleman at the head of the treasury, in defiance of that resolution, was bold enough to employ very large sums to such purposes as he thought proper,

VOL. I.

M

« PreviousContinue »