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very full account of everything, and the wind has been constantly
adverse. I hope, however, you will be speedy in your resolutions.
I promise you the case admits of no delay. The House of Com-
mons is adjourned to Monday, and perhaps they will immediately
proceed to bring in bills for these purposes. Long debates in your
Cabinet upon these matters will be very dangerous.

'^ Adieu.
"Yours affectionately,

"R. F."

" P. S. Since writing all this, I have received a message from
Grattan, through Sheridan, and shall see him to-morrow; from
Sheridan's conversation I have better hopes than I had conceived;
for Grattan is of opinion to let us proceed without hurry, and wait
till we hear from you, and, besides that, I believe that, from having
changed the mode from resolutions to address, he considers some
part of the matter as still open to fair discussion, not, however,
the repeal of George I. ; certainly, however, he seems strongly
disposed to abate at least the rapidity of his proceedings, and I
am convinced that the real disposition of L-eland is to an indis-
soluble connection.''

[It is very evident from this clear and circumstantial letter,
that to obtain an adjournment of the Irish Parliament before
some resolution or address, declaratory of the claims of the Irish
people, had been carried, was become impracticable. It had been
thought otherwise by some members of the English Government.
Lord Shelburne, in a letter to Mr. Fitzpatrick, written before
what had passed in Ireland was known in England, seems to think
it still possible to prevail on the Irish Parliament to adjourn with-
out the previous discussion of these questions.] "As to your
affairs," he says, in a letter to Mr, Fitzpatrick, of the 19th of
April, "it will give me a bad opinion of Mr. Grattan's head, who


am inclined to have a very good one both of his head and heart,
if he objects to the adjournment. The only thing I fear of you,
is giving way too easily. It is incredible how much is got by argu-
ing and persevering. Tell them that peace may be made in a
moment, and it behooves them to make the most of the instant,
and conclude on reasonable terms. I beseech you, above all
things, be distinct and explicit.''

[After these efforts of the Lord-Lieutenant and of his Secretary,
to procure an adjournment of the Irish Parliament, till they had
instructions from England how to act, it is not a little surprising
that Mr. Dundas should have ventured to assert in the English
House of Commons, that the address moved by Mr. Grattan ori-
ginated from the Irish Government. A flat contradiction to this
assertion was given to this on the spot by Mr. Fitzpatrick ; and
the following letter of Mr. Grattan, of a later date, not only places
the matter beyond a doubt, but explains the motives of his perti-
nacity on that occasion.]


'' March 21, 1785.
*' Dear Sir : —

" I was favored a few days ago with your letter of the 10th. ^
I had, before I received it, intended to have taken some opportu-
nity in debate to declare what I did in private to several gentle-
men, that the Address of the 16th of April, 1782, did not origi-
nate with Government ; that the Duke of Portland's Administra-
tion had expressli/ informed me that they were not responsible for
it, either to England or to Ireland; that, therefore, it could not
be moved as an original address in answer to the King's message;
that if I chose to move it by way of amendment, I might, but the
Administration could not, and would not, be responsible for it.
So little did I conceive the then Government originating the Ad-
dress of the 16th of April, 1782, that I went to the House under

1 Published in Memoirs of Mr, Grattan, vol. ii. p. 276.
VOL. I. — 27


some apprehension of an opposition to it from them. Their ob-
ject, I recollect, was adjournment, as my object was not to lose one
hour, inasmuch as I knew perfectly well that the Government
could not defeat us. I considered the principles of your Adminis-
tration very benign to our rights ; but I know you did not wish
at that period specifically to pledge the English Government to

" In this manner I stated the transaction, which is exactly as
your letter represents. Mr. Fitzgibbon could not know it ; he had
not then the smallest wish to misstate, but was not circumstan-
tially apprised of the transaction."

The day after Mr. Fitzpatrick's letter of the 17th, Mr. Grattan
wrote to Mr. Fox.^

" Aj)ril 18, 1782.
^' Sir :—

^' I shall make no apology for writing ; in the present posture of
things I should rather deem it necessary to make an apology for
not writing. Ireland has sent an Address, stating the causes of
her discontents and jealousies; thus the question between the two
nations becomes capable of a specific final settlement. We are
acquitted of being indefinite in discontents and jealousy; we have
stated the grounds of them, and they are those particulars in which
the practical constitution of Ireland is diametrically opposite to the
principles of British liberty. A foreign legislationy a foreign
judicature, a legislative Privy Council^ and 2i, perpetual army. It
is impossible for any Irishman to be reconciled to any part of such
a constitution, and not to hold in the most profound contempt the
constitution of England. Thus you cannot reconcile us to your
claim of power, without making us dangerous to your liberty; and
you also will, I am confident, allow that, in stating such enormities
as just causes of discontents and jealousy, we have asked nothing
'which is not essential to our liberty. Thus we have gained another

^ Published in the Life of Mr. Grattan, by his son, vol. ii. pp. 243-248.


step in the way to a settlement. We have defined our desires and
limited them, and committed ourselves only to what is mdispensa-
hie to our freedom; and have this further argument, that you have
thought it indispensable to yours. One question then only re-
mains — whether what is necessary for us to have, is safe and
honorable to Grreat Britain ?

" The perpetual Mutiny Law, and the legislative power exer-
cised by the councils of both kingdoms, it is scarcely necessary to
dwell upon, inasmuch as I make no doubt you hold them to be
mischievous or useless to England. The legislative power of the
Council can't be material to the connection, though the necessity
of passing bills under the seal of Great Britain may be so. The
power of suppressing in the Irish, and of altering in the English
Council, never has been useful to England ; on the contrary, fre-
quently the cause of embarrassment to British Government. I
have known Privy Councillors agree to bills in Parliament, and in
Council alter them materially by some strong clause inserted to
show their zeal to the King, at the expense of the popularity of
Government. In England, an Attorney-General, or his clerk,
from ignorance, or corruption, or contempt, may, and often has,
inserted clauses in Irish bills which have involved Irish Govern-
ments in lasting consequences with the people ; for you must see
that a servant of Government in Great Britain, uninformed of the
passions of Ireland, may, in the full exercise of legislative power,
do irreparable mischief to his King and country, without being
responsible to either.

" I could mention several instances, but a Mutiny Bill ren-
dered perpetual is a sufficient one, to show how impolitic that law,
which commits the machine of the constitution and the passions of
the human mind, to the hand of one man. The negativing our
bills is a right never disputed ; the poisoning them is a practice we
do most ardently deprecate, from sound reason and sad experience.
I brought to Parliament a list of the alterations made, for the last
ten years, in Irish bills by the Privy Council or Attorney-General,
and there was not a single alteration made upon a sound legisla-
tive motive ; sometimes an alteration to vex the Presbyterians,


made by the bishops ; sometimes an alteration made by an over-
zealous courtier, to make Government obnoxious, and to render
himself at the same time peculiarly acceptable to the King ; some-
times an alteration from ignorance, and not seldom for money.

"I shall, therefore, suppose the power of the Council no object
to a principled Administration, and no vital question between the
two kingdoms. We shall have then cleared the way to the great
question of supremacy ; for I conceive the legislative and judica-
tive supremacy to be one question. If you retain the legislative
power, you must reserve the final determination of law, because
you alone will determine the law, in support of your claim ;
whereas, if you cede the claim, the question of judicature is one
of private property, not national ascendency, and becomes as use-
less to you as it is opprobrious to us. Besides, there are circum-
stances which render the appellant judicature to you the most
precarious thing imaginable. The Lords of Ireland have on their
journals a resolution, that they are ready to receive appeals ; so
that, after the final settlement with England, if the judicature was
not included, any attorney might renew the contest. The decrees
of the Lords of England, and of the King's Bench likewise affect-
ing Ireland, are executed hi/ the officers of the Courts of Justice of
Ireland. The judges of Ireland are now independent. Two of
the barons, or judges, may put a total stop to the judicature of
the Lords of England, by refusing to lend the process of their
Courts; so that, in order to determine your final judicature, it
would be unnecessary to go further than the authority of a few
judges, independent of England by their tenure, dependent on
Ireland by their residence, and perhaps influenced by conscience
and by oath. Besides, the 6th of George I. is enacting, as to the
appealing, as well as the judicative power. If the former part
stands, we are divested of our supreme judicature by an actual
exercise of your supreme legislative power, and then a partial
repeal would be defective upon principles legislative, as well as
jurisdictive. You can't cede yoHr legislative claim, and enjoy
your jurisdictive under its authority and exercise; and the whole
law must (if the claim of legislature is ceded) fall totally. The


question then between the two nations is thus reduced to one
point : Will England cede the claim of supremacy ? You seem
willing to cede it. Your arguments have led to it. When I say
your arguments, I mean the liberal and enlightened part of Eng-
land. Both nations, by what they have said — one by what it has
admitted, and the other by what it has asserted — have made the
claim of England impracticable. The reserve of that claim of
course becomes unprofitable odium, and the relinquishment is an
acquisition of affection without a loss of power. Thus the ques-
tion between the two nations is brought to a mere punctilio : Can
England cede with dignity ? I submit she can ) for if she has
consented to enable his Majesty to repeal all the laws respecting
America, among which the Declaratory Act is one, she can with
more majesty repeal the Declaratory Act against Ireland, who has
declared her resolution to stand and fall with the British nation,
and has stated her own rights by appealing not to your fears, but
your magnanimity. You will please to observe in our Address a
veneration for the pride, as well as a love for the liberty of Eng-
land. You will see in our manner of transmitting the Address,
we have not gone to Castle with volunteers as in 1779. It was
expedient to resort to such a measure with your predecessors in
office. In short, Sir, you will see in our requisition nothing but
what is essential to the liberty and composure of our country, and
consistent with the dignity and interest of the other. These
things granted, your Administration in Ireland will certainltj meet
with great support. I mean national as well as parliamentary.
In consequence of these things, some laws will be necessary — an
act to quiet property held under former judgments or decrees in
England; a Mutiny Bill; a Bill to modify Poynings's Law. Pos-
sibly it might be judicious that some of these should be moved
by the Secretary here — it would contribute to his popularity. It
will be perhaps prudent to adjourn to some further day, until the
present Administration have formed.

" Before I conclude, I will take the liberty to guard you against
a vulgar artifice^ which the old Court (by that I mean the Carlisle
factioii) will incline to adopt. They will perhaps write to Eng-



land false suggestions, that Ireland will be satisfied with less, and
that the Irish Administration are sacrificing to Irish popularity
British rights, and then they will instigate Ireland to stand upon
her ultimatum, and thus embarrass Government and betray the
people. I know this practice was adopted in Lord Buckingham's
Administration, by men mortified by his frugality.

" Might I suggest, if you mean (as I am well inclined to be-
lieve, and shall be convinced by the success of our application) a
Government by privilege ; that it would be very beneficial to the
character of your Government in Ireland, to dismiss from their
official connections with Government some notorious consciences, to
give a visible, as well as real, integrity to his Majesty's Councils
in Ireland, and to relieve them from a certain treachery in men,
who will obey you and betray you.

" It would be prudent to exhibit to the public eye a visible con-
stitutional Administration. The people here have a personal
antipathy to some men here who were the agents of former
corruption, and would feel a vindictive delight in the justice of dis-
carding them. When I say this, I speak of a measure not neces-
sary absolutely, if the requisitions are complied with, but very
proper and very necessary to elevate the character of your Govern-
ment, and to protect from treachery your consultations ; and when
I say this, it is without any view to myself, who, under the consti-
tutional terms set forth, am willing to take any part in the Admi-
nistration, provided it is not emolumentary. Your minister here
will find very great opportunities for vigorous retrenchment, such
as will not hazard him in the House of Commons, and may create
an enthusiasm in his favor without doors.

" I am running into immoderate length, and beg to conclude
with assurances of great constitutional hopes, and personal admi-
ration, and am, with great respect,

^' Your most humble and obedient servant,




" Grafton Street, April 27, 1782.
" Sir :—

"I have received the honor of your letter of the 18th inst.,
and am exceedingly obliged to you for it. The business of Ire-
land becomes so very important that it would be very imprudent
in me (especially as it is not within my drpartment) to give any
direct opinion upon the various points which make the subject of
your letter. What I do think myself at liberty to say is, that it
is my ardent wish that matters may be so settled as to give satis-
faction to both countries ; and above all, that whatever settlement
is made, may be so made as to preclude all future occasions of
dispute between two nations upon whose mutual union the pros-
perity of both so unquestionably depends. That as close a con-
nection may subsist between us as the nature of the case will
admit, must be my wish as an Englishman. That this connec-
tion may be such as may consist with the liberty and happiness
of Ireland, I must wish as a Whig, and as one who professes to
hold the natural rights of mankind far more sacred than any local
prejudices whatever. I am sure I share those feelings in common
with your Lord-Lieutenant and his Secretary, and if ever you
should think it worth while to inquire into my political sentiments
upon any point, you may always be pretty sure of them when you
know those of these two persons. With respect to the last part of
your letter, I can have no scruple to say, that it gives me the
greatest degree of pleasure ; because whatever measures may be
pursued, I am certain no Government can have the confidence of
the people while it has the misfortune to reckon the most bril-
liant talents, and the most respectable characters, among the num-
ber of its opponents. I differ very widely indeed from Mr. Eden,
who seems to consider an opposition of less importance in propor-
tion to the virtue and character of those who compose it. Pray
give my best respects to Lord Charlemont, and believe me to be,

with great truth and regard, &c.,

"C. J. FOX."

» Published in the Life of Mr. Grattan, by his son, voL ii. p. 252.


"With the answer to Mr. Grattan was sent the following letter
to Mr. Fitzpatrick : —

"St. James's, April 28, 3782.
^' My dear Dick : —

'' As I understand a messenger is to go to-night to Ireland, I
shall send this by him, and can therefore write with entire confi-
dence upon the affairs of both kingdoms. First, with respect to
those of Ireland, I am sadly afraid that we do not understand one
another rightly. You seem to expect, and to be impatient for a
determination from hence, while we rather wait for further sugges-
tions from the Duke of Portland. His last letter, though a most
excellent account and description of what had passed at Dublin,
does not contain or even hint at the measures he wishes to be
pursued, so that we are in point of future measures just where we
were when he left us. It would have been very lucky if he had
explained, whether he thought it advisable to enter into any treaty
with Ireland, and if he did, what mode of treating would be
most pleasing. If nothing of this sort is to take place, I wish he
had suggested what steps he could wish to be taken here, whether
a mere repeal of the 6th of George I. would do. I own I still
adhere to my opinion, that giving way in everything, without any
treaty or agreement which shall be binding upon both countries,
can answer no end but that of obtaining quiet for a few months.
You know how strongly some people here object to a Parliament-
ary Commission, and yet I see no other tolerable way out of the
business. We who are for it should have been very much
strengthened, if we had had the Duke of Portland's opinion for
such a measure ; and if it is not his opinion, we should have been
glad to relinquish it and to adopt his ideas, if we knew them. As
the matter now stands, I am very apprehensive of misunderstand-
ings. The answer to the Address ought neither to please nor dis-
please any, otherwise than as the laying of the addresses before
the English Parliament certainly seems to look to the repeal of
English statutes. But when they are laid, you will probably ex-
pect us to take some step upon them ; whereas we think, we


ought to wait till something is done with you, or at least till we
hear from you. My opinion is clear for giving them all that they
ask, but for giving it them so as to secure us from further de-
mands, and at the same time to have some clear understanding
with respect to what we are to expect from Ireland, in return for
the protection and assistance which she receives- from those fleets
which cost us such enormous sums, and her nothing. If they
mean really well to their country, they must wish some final ad-
justment which may preclude further disputes; if they mean no-
thing but consequence to themselves, they will insist upon these
points being given up, simply without any reciprocal engagement,
and as soon as this is done, begin to attack whatever little is left
in order to continue the ferment of the country. In one word,
what I want to guard against is Jonathan Wild's plan of seizing
one part in order to dispute afterwards about the remainder. I
have had a long letter from Grattan, a copy of which I send you
inclosed. I like very much the latter part of it, and approve
quite of his idea of removing obnoxious persons, or, as he calls
them, in his very strange and affected language, notorious con-
sciences. Unless you can give your Government quite a differ-
ent face from that of your predecessors you cannot make that
figure which you ought to do ; and though I do not understand
rightly what share it is that Grattan means to take in it, yet if
you can make him take any, I am sure it must be of infinite
utility. The people of every country always do, and always must
look to meiiy and will never believe you to be cordial in adopting
any measure as long as you continue in hostility with the friends
to it, and in friendship with its enemies. You will observe that
a great part of his letter is spent upon the Judicial supremacy of
England, the retaining of which, in a national view, I do not
think worth one farthing when the legislative is gone. Many
people think it better for Ireland that it should remain ; if so, let
the Irish desire it, not we to whom it can be of no importance.
I have inclosed you my answer to Grattan, which is perfectly
general, but which I hope he will not consider on that account as
unfriendly, because he must see how very improper it would be



in me to give him my opinion upon such important points, before
that of the Lord-Lieutenant and the rest of the King's servants
is declared. I do not think the difficulties upon commercial points
will be great, nor do I believe the interests of the countries can
clash in that respect more than in others, if they are considered
with any degree of enlargement and liberality. Grattan seems to
be very willing to give time ; but the misfortune is, that till we
hear more from you we do not know what use to make of that

From this period the affairs of Leland began to brighten. On
the same day that Mr. Fox complained to Mr. Fitzpatrick of the
silence of the Irish Government on the measures to be adopted in
England, the Duke of Portland wrote to him as follows : — *

''Dublin Castle, April 28, 1782.
^^ My dear Sir : —

^^Lord Strangford is a very poor and a very sfiahhy peer, but I
will let him know that you have sent me his letter, and that his
application shall be attended to at a proper time. I have written
so fully to Lord Shelburne that it is almost unnecessary for me to
trouble you upon the same subject ] but, as I conceive somewhat
better hopes than I would venture to express to Lord S., and as I
know that that circumstance will not induce you or the some of
you to delay or to haggle, I may own to you, that I do not believe
the people of this country inexorable or determined to reject all
ideas of treaty. I do not mean to say that some preliminaries
need not be granted before the negotiation takes place, because I
am convinced that they will not listen to any propositions until
the independence of the legislature is promised, and the necessary
(for so it appears to me, as an Englishman) alteration of their
Mutiny Bill is agreed to. These two points conceded, and an en-
gagement on your parts to enter into a fair discussion for the pur-

* Published, with inconsiderable omissions, in the Life of Mr. Grattan,
by his son, vol. ii. p. 272.


pose of settling the judicature and Poynings's Law, would, I believe,
compose their spirits and incline them to adopt measures and modes
of treating, without which I do not see a possibility of terminating
the business. I foresee very considerable difficulties in drawing
the line of that independence which I advise to be conceded, and
for which they so earnestly contend, and I must add, that the em-
barrassment will increase every day the question is kept open j
but yet I am sanguine enough to hope that an appearance of the
sincerity, which I am sure our friends possess, would go a great
way in removing the difficulties which this state of suspense tends
daily to create. Fitzpatrick has sent you as regular information
as the wind would permit; but without being upon the spot, I
will venture to say, that no man can judge of or foresee the varia-
tions, or rather advancement, in the demands and expectations
which frequently occur to us. I am more sanguine than he is
inclined to be, and to expect more from the two concessions I re-
commend to be speedily made, than he thinks me authorized or
entitled to hope for. I foresee great difficulties on your side in

Online LibraryCharles James FoxMemorials and correspondence of Charles James Fox (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 31)