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Tracts on the subject of an union between Great Britain and Ireland (Volume 6) online

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o F



I. Speech of the Rt. Hon. W.
Pitt, January 31, 1799.

II. Speech of R. B. Sheridan,
Efq. in Reply to Mr. Pitt, Ja-
nuary 31, 1799.

III. Speech of Rt. Hon. H.
Dundas, January 31, 1799.

IV. Speech of the Rt. Hon. H.
Addington, Speaker of the
Houfe of Commons of Great
Britain, February 12, 1799-

V. Speech of Robt. Peel/'Efq.
February 14, 1799.

VI. Speech of the Rt. Hon.
Lord Auckland, in the Houfe ■
of Peers April 11, 1799.

VII. Speech of the Rt, Hon,

Lord Minto, in the Houfe of
Peers, April 1 1, 1799.
VIIL Speech of the Rt. Hon.
Lord Sheffield, April 22,. 1799.

IX. Speech of Mr. Dobbs, in the
Houle of Commons of Ireland,
March 5, 1799.

X. Speech of the Re. Hon. J.
Forfter, Speaker of the Houfe
of Commons of Ireland, April

K, 1799.

XL A Review of the Speech of
the Rt. Hon, John Foiler,
by William Smith, Efq.

Xn. Speech of the Rt, Hon.
Lord Vifcount CalUereigh,
April II, 1799.








Ktght Hon, fVilliam Pitt^

Wc, fSc.





OP T H »






On offering to the Houfe the Resolutions which he prs"

pofed as the Basis of an Union between

Great Britain and Ireland,

To which are added the Speeches of the R.ight Honourable
JOHN FOSTER, on the 12th and isth of Augufi,
1785, on the BiLL^r effeSiuating the Inter-
course and Commerce between Great
Britain ^«^ Ireland, on permanent and
equitable Principles^ for the mutual
Benefit of both Kingdoms,





Right Hon, William Pitt^

.&c. &c.

The Speaker having read His Majesty's
Message, i;/z.

george rex.
His Majefty is perfuaded thai the unremitting induftry
" with which our enemies per|"evere in their avowed de-
** fign of efFeding the Separation of Ireland from this
*' Kingdom, cannot fail to engage the particular attention
*' of Parliament ; and His Majefty. recommends it to this
*' Houfe to confider of the moft effectual means of counter-
" acting and finally defeating this defign ; and he trufts
** that a review of all the circumftances which have
** recently occurred (joined to the fentiment of mutual
*' affeftion and common intereftj will difpofe the Parlia-
** ment of both Kingdoms to piovide, in the manner
B " which

[ 2 ]

" which they fhall judge mod expedient, for fettling fuch
" a complete and final adjullment as may bed tend to im-
*♦ prove and perpetuate a Connedtion eflential for their
" common fecurity, and to augment and confolidare the
** Strength, Power, and Refources of the Britifti Empire."

G. R.

Mr. Pitt ro/cy and /poke as folIo'Ws :

HEN I propofed to the Houfe, the laft time
this fubjecft was before them, to fix this day for the
further confideration of His Majefty's Meffage, I
certainly indulged the hope that'the refult of a fimi-
lar communication to the Parliament of Ireland
would have opened a more favourable Profpedl than
at prefent exifts, of the fpeedy accomplifhment of
a meafure which I then ftated, and which I ftillcon-
fider, to be of the greateft importance to the power
the (lability, and the general welfare of the Empire ;
to the immediate inrterefts of both kingdoms — and
more particularly to the peace, the tranquillity,
and the fafety of Ireland : in this hope, I am forry
to fay, I have for the prefent been difappointed, by
the proceedings of the Irifh Houfe of Commons, of


' [ 3 ]

which we have been informed fince this fubjeCl:
was lafl under confideratlon.

I feel and'Tcnow that the Parliament of Ireland
poffeffes the* power, the intire competence, on the
behalf of that country, alike to accept or rejedt
a propofition of this nature — -a power which I am
by no means inclined to difpute. I fee that at
the prefent moment one Houfe of Parliament
in Ireland has expreiTed a repugnance, even to the

confideration of ihis meafure. Feeling, Sir,

as I have already ftated, that it is important, not
only as it tends to the general profperity of
the Empire of Great Britain, but (what, under
every fituation, mufl: always be to me an objedl of
the greateft moment) feeling that it was defigned
and calculated to increafe the profperity and en-
fure the fafety of Ireland, I mufl: have {een with
the deepeft regret that, at the very iird mo meat,
and before the nature of the meafure could be
known, it was fo received.

But whatever may have been my feelings upon
this fubjedt, knowing that it is the undoubted

B 2 righ.c

[ 4 ]

right of the Legiflature of Ireland to rejet^l or to
adopt fuch meafures as may appear to them in-
jurious or beneficial, far be it fipm me to fpeak
of its determination in any othei^tenns but thofe
of refpedl. Let it not, therefore, be imagined
that I am inclined to prefs any fentiment, how-
ever calculated it may appear to me to benefit
every member of the Empire, in any manner
■which may lead to hoftile difcuffion between two
kingdoms, whofe mutual happinefs and fafety
depend upon their being ftri(5tly and cordially
united. But while I admit and refpedl the rights
of the Parliament of Ireland, I feel that, as a
Member of the Parliament of Great Britain, I
alfo have a Right to exercife, and a Duty to per-
form. That Duty is to exprefs, as diftind^ly as I
can, the general nature and outline of the Plan,
■which, in my confcience, I think would tend in
the ftrongeft manner to enfure the fafety and the
happinefs of both kingdoms.

While I feel, therefore, that as long as the Houfe
of Commons of Ireland view the fubje(n: in
the light fhcy do at prcfent, there Is no chance


[ 5 ]

i)f its adoption, I do not "think that I ouglit on
that account to abftain from fubmitti ng it to the
confideration of this Parliament ; on the contrary
I think it only the more necelfary to explain
diflinaiy the principles of the Meafure, and
to ftate the grounds upon which it appears
to me to be entitled to the approbation of the

If Parliament, when it is in poifeirion of the
bafis upon which this Plan is founded, and of its
general outline, fhould be of opinion with me,
that it is founded upon fair, juft, and equitable
principles, calculated to produce mutual advan-
tages to the two Kingdoms — if Parliament, T fay,
upon full explanation, and after mature delibera*
tion, (hould be of that opinion, I fhould propofe
that its determination fhould remain recorded as
that by which the Parliament of Great Britain
were ready to abide, leaving it to the Legiflature
of Ireland to rejed or to adopt hereafter, upon a
full confideration of the fubjedl.

There is no man will deny that in a great
^ queflion of this nature, involving in it objeif>s


[ 6 ]

which, in the firfl inftance, are more likely to be
decided upon by paffion than by judgment j in a
queftion in which an honeft but, I muft be allowed
to fay, a miftaken fenfc of National Pride is fo
likely to operate, that much mifconftrudion and
ifiifconception muft inevitably happen. It therefore
becomes the more necelfary that the intentions
of the Government which propofes the Meafure,
and the principles of the Meafure itfelf, ihould be
diftincftly underftood. But, Sir, in ftating that
intention and thofe principles, I look to fomething
more than a mere vindication of Government for
having propofed the Meafure. I do entertain a
confidence, even under the apparent difcourage-
ment of the opinion expreifed by the Trifh Houfe
of Commons, that this Meafure is founded
upon fuch clear, fuch demonftrable grounds of
utility, is fo calculated to add to the ftrength
and power of the Empire, (in which the fafety
of Ireland is included, and from which it never
can be feparated) and is attended with fo many
advantages to Ireland in particular, that all that
can be necelfary for its ultimate adoption is, that
it fhould be ftated diftindly, temperately, and
fully, and that it fhould be left to unpreju-

L / J

diced, the difpaffionate, the fober judgment of
the Parliament of Ireland. I wifh that thofe
whofe interefts are involved in this meafure
fhould have time for its confideration — I wi(h
that time (hould be given to the Landed, to the
Mercantile and Manufaeluring Intereft, that they
fhould look at it with all its bearings, and that f hey
fhould cooly examine and fiFt the papular argu-
ments by vt^hich it has been oppofed, and that
then they Ihould give their deliberate and final

I am the more encouraged in this hope of the
ultimate fuccefs of this meafure, when I fee, not-
withftanding all the prejudices which it has excit-
ed, that barely more than one-half of the mem-
bers that attended the Houfe of Commons were
adverfe to it; and that in the other Houfe of Par-
liament in Ireland, containing, as it does, fo large
a portion of the property of the kingdom, it wa-i
approved of by a large majority. — When I have
reafo^n to believe that the fenfiments of a large part
of the People of that Country are favourable to it ;
and that much of the ManufacTturing, and of the
Commercial Intereft of Ireland are already fenfible


[ 8 ]

how much it is calculated to promote their advan-
tage, I think, when it is more deliberately exami-
ned, and when it is fcen in what temper it is here
propofed and difcufled, that it will ftill terminate
in that wliich can alone be a fortunate refult.

It would be vain indeed to hope that a propo-
fition upon which prejudices are fo likely to ope-
rate, and which is fo liable to mifconception,
ihould be unanimoufly approved. But the appro-
bation I hope for is, that of the Parliament of
Ireland, and of the intelligent part of the Public
of that (lountry. It is with a view to this objedl
that I think it my duty to bring this meafure for-
ward at prefent ; not for the fake of urging its
immediate adoption, but that it may be known
and recorded j that the intention of the Britifh
Parliament may be known, in the hope that it,
will produce fimilar fentiments among our Coun-
trymen in Ireland. With this view it is my inten-
tion not to go at prefent into any detailed ftate-
ment of the plan, becaufe fhould it ultimately be
adopted:, the minuter parts muft neceffarily be-
come the objecls of much diflin(5l difcuflion ; but
to give fuch a general llatement of the nature of

t he

C 9 ]

the meafure as will enable the Houfe to form a.
correct judgment upon it.

I fhall therefore. Sir, before I fit down, open
to the Houfe a firing of Refolutions, comprifing
the general heads of this plan. It will be necef-
fary for me, for the purpofe of difcufling thofe
Refolutions with regularity and convenience, to
move that the Houfe fliould refolve itfelf into a
Committee. And I have already ftated, that it is
not my intention then to prefs the Committee to
come to an immediate decifion upon the Refolu-
tions J but if, upon full and deliberate examina-
tion, the Refolutions which I {hall have the honour
to propofe, and which contain as much as is ne-
ceflary for an outline of the plan, fliall be approv-
ed, my opinion is, that nothing can contribute
more to obviate any doubts and difiatisfaQioii
which may exifi, than that Parliament fhould
adopt thofe Refolutions, and that it fliould then
humbly leave them at the foot of the Throne, leav-
ing it to His Majesty's wifdom to communicate
them to the Parliament of Ireland, whenever
circumftances fliould appear favourable to fuch
a Meafure. I fliall therefore, Sir, proceed as
C fiiortly

[ lo ]

fliortly as I can to ftate to the Houfe the nature
of the Refolutions, and of the Addrefs which
I fhall propofe to accompany them, if it
fhould be the pleafure of the Houfe to adopt

Having now, Sir, explained to the Houfe the
mode I mean to purfue, and my reafons for per-
fifting, under the prefent circumftances, in fub-
mittlng this Meafure to the confideration of Par-
liament, I will endeavour to ftate the general
grounds on uhich it refls, the general arguments
by which it is recommended, and to give a ftiort
view of the particulars of the Plan.

As to the general principle upon which the
whole of this Meafure is founded, I am happy to
obferve, from what paffed upon a former occa-
fion, that there is not a probability of any dif-
ference of opinion. The general principle, to
which both fides of the Houfe perfe6lly acceded,
is, that a perpetual Connedion between Great
Britain and Ireland was eflential lo the interefts of
both. The only Honourable Gentleman who,
when this fubjed was before the Houfe on a


C " ]

former day, oppofed the confideratioii of the Plaa
altogether, ftated, in terms as lirong as I could
wifh, the neceffity of preferving the ftrideft
Connediion between the two Countries. 1 noft
cordially agree with him in that opinion, but I
then ftated, that I do not barely wifli for the main-
tenance of that ConnetRion as tending to add
to the general ftrength of the Empire, but I wifh
for the maintenance of it with a peculiar regard
to the local interefts of Jreland, with a regard to
every thing that can giv e to Ireland its due weight
and importance, as a great member of the Em-
pire. I wifh for it with a view of giving to that
Country the means of improving all its great
natural Refources, and of giving it a full partici-
pation of all thofe bleffmgs which this Country
fo eminently enjoys.

Confidering the fubjed in this point of view,
and affuming it as a propofition not to be con-
troverted, that it is the duty of thofe who wifh
to promote the Interell and Profperity of both
Countries, to maintain the flrongeft connection
between them, let me afk, what is the fituation of
Affairs that has called us to the difcuflion of this

fubjecl ?

C 12 3

fubjevTt? This very connexion, the necefTity of
which has been admitted on all hands, has been
attacked by Foreign Enemies, and by Domeftic
Traitors. The dilfolution of that conne<ftion is
the great objeft of the hoftility of the common
Enemies of both Countries, it is almoft the only
remaining hope with which they now continue the
conteft. Baffled and defeated as they have
hitherto been, they ftill retain the hope, they are
flill meditating attempts, to diflblve that connec-
tion. God grant that in this inftance the fame
favour of Divine Providence, which has in fo
many inftances proteQed this Empire, may again
interpofe in our favour, and that the attempts of
the Enemy to feparate the two Countries, may
tend ultimately to knit them more clofely to-
gether, to firengthen a Connexion, the bed
pledge for the happinefs of both, and fo add to
that power which forms the chief barrier to the
civilized world, againft the deftrudive principles,
the dangerous projei^s, and the unexampled ufur-
pation of Prance. This Connexion has been
attacked not only by the avowed Enemies of both
Countries, but by internal Treafon, ading in con-
cert with the defigns of the Enemy. Internal


[ 13 ]

Treafon, which ingrafted Jacobinifm on thofe dif-
eafes which neceflarily grew out of the State and
Condition of Ireland.

Thinking, then, as we all miift think, that a
clofe Connexion with Ireland is efTential to the
interefts of both Countries, and feeing how much
this Connexion is attacked, let it not be infinu-
ated that It is unnecefTary, much lefs improper,
at this arduous and important crilis, to fee whe-
ther fome new arrangements, fome fundamental
regulations, are not neceffary, to guard againd
the threatened danger. The foreign and domeftlc
Enemies of thefe kingdoms have fhewn, that
they think this the vulnerable point in v/hich they
may be moft fuccefsfuUy attacked ; let us derive
advantage, if we can, from the hoflillty of our
Enemies — let us profit by the dcfigns of an
Enemy, who, if his conda£l difplays no true wif-
dom, at leaft poflTelTes in an eminent degree that
fpecies of wifdom which is calculated for the pro-
motion of mifchief. They know upon what foot-
ing that Connexion refl:s at this moment bctvvxen
the two Countries, and they feci the mofl: ardent
hope, that the two Parliaments Aviil be infatuated


[ 14 J

«tiaugli ndt to render their defigns abortive, by-
fixing that Conneftion upon a more folid balis.

Thefe circumftances I am fure will not be
denied. And if upon other grounds we had any
doubt, thefe circumftances alone ought to induce
us, deliberately and difpaffionately, to review the
lituation of the two Countries, and to endeavour
to find out a proper remedy for an evil, the ex-
iflrencc of which is but too- apparent. It requires
but a moment's reflc6lion, for any man who has
marked the progrefs of events, to decide upon the
true ftate and charadler of this Connexion. It is
evidently one which does not afford that fecurity
which, even in times lefs dangerous and lefs criti-
cal than the prefcnt, wpuld have been neceflary,
to enable the empire t,o avail itfelf of its ftrengtk
and its refources.

When I lafl addreffed the Houfe on this Tub-
jecl, I dated that the fettlement, which was mad^e
m 1782, fo far from dcferving the name of a
Final Adjuflment, was one that left the Connec-
tion between Great Britain and Ireland expofed to
all the attacks of Party, and all the effeds of


[ 15 1

accident. That Settrement confined in the -de-
molition of the Syfleni which before held the two
Countries together. Let me not be underftood^s
cxprefling any regret at the termination of tliat
Syftem. I difapproved of it, becaufe I thought it
was one unworthy the liberality of Great Britain,
and injurious to the interefts of Ireland. Eat to
call that a Syftem in itfelf — to call thai a glorious
fabric of human wifdom — which is no more than
the mere demolition of another Syftem — is a j^er-
verfion of terms which, however prevalent of late,
can only be the ej5e£l of grofs mifconception, or
of great hypocrify. We boaft that we have done
every thing, when we have merely deftroyed all
that before exifted, w^iihout fubftituiing any thing
in its place. Such was the Final /Idj-aftment of
1782; and I can prove it to be fo, not only from
the plaineft reafoning, but I can prove it by the
opinion expreffed by the Britifh Parliament at that
very time. I can prove it by the opinion ex-
preffed by thofe very Miniftcrs by whom it was
propofed and conduced. I can prove it by the
opinion of that very Government who boaft of
having cffeded a Final Adjuftmcnt. I refer, for
what I have faid, to proofs which they will find it


very difEcult to anfwer ; I mean their own afls^
which will plainly fhew that they were of opinion
that a new Syftem would be neceflary. But, Sir, I
will go farther — I will alfo produce the authority
of one of thofe whofe influence, on the prefent oc
cafion, has been peculiarly exerted to prevent the |
difcuflion of the queftion in Ireland — of one, of
whom I do not wifh to fpeak but with refpe6l^
but for whom, neverthelefs, I fhould convey an
idea of more refpeft, than I can now feel to be
due to him, if I were merely to defcribe him as
the perfon who fills the fame fituation, in the
Houfc of Commons of Ireland, which you. Sir, |
hold among us, and of Which on all occafions you
difcharge the duties with a dignity and impartia-
lity which reflcds fo much credit on yourfelf, and
fo well fupporis the charadler and authority of
^he Houfe.

On a former night, I read an Extra6l from
the Journals, to Hiew what was the opinion even
of ihofe by whom the Final Adjuftmcnt Mas pro-
pofed, of that Mcafure. It would there appear,
that the Mcflage was fent to the Parliament of
Ireland, recommending to them the adoption of


[ 17 ]

fome Plan for a Final Adjiiftment between t^e'
two Countries, and wlHiingto know w^^ .
the grounds of the grievances of whicji
plained. In anfwer to this Meliage, the i... i.a. . '
of Ireland ft^ited certain grievances^ the princiv -
of which was, the power claimed by die Pari' ■.-
ment of Great Britain cfniakinsc Lav/stobitid ire-
land; but, with refpecTt ro that part, of the Mef-
fage which related to the propriety of adopting
fome Meafures for a final adjuftment between the
two Countries, they were wholly filent. This
Addrcfswas laid before the Parliament of Greit
Britain, to whom a limilar Mciruge had been
fent, and on that ground was moved theilepeal
of what was called the Declaratory A6^, which
Motion was aflented to by the Britifh Parliament.
This fatisfadiion was complete to Ireland, as tar as
related to the grievance of which her Parliament
had complained, viz. the Power of the Britifli
Parliament of making Laws for Ireland, becanfe^
by the Repeal of the Declaratory Ai5l, that .)o\ver
was given up. But (o far was the Minifter of
that day from coniidering that the Repeal of that
Law finally terminated all differenees, and cita-
|}lifhed the Connection betvvccn the two Coun-

D tries

[ i8 ]
tries upon a foHd bafis, that he thouglit it necef-
fary to mo\ c that a farther Settlement was iiidif-
penfable for the maintenance of that Gonnedtion.

[Mr. Sheridan acrnfs the Table, defired that tha^ part
of the Journals to which Mr. Pitt alluded, might be read.]

Mr. Pitt continued. Sir, I have flated the
fubftance of the Journals corredly ; they were
read on a former night, and the Honourable Gen-
tleman may, if he choofes, have them read again.*
If he dues he will find that they fully juAify the
ftatement I have made, but I beg that at prefent
' 1 may not be interrupted. I do maintain, that
upon a reference to the Journals of the period to
which I have alluded, it will appear that a farther
agreement between Great Britain and Ireland is
there ftated, in the opinion of the Admihiftratioii
of the day, to be abfolutely neceflary.

I besf farther to ftate, that after the Bill of
which fo much has been faid, was piffed, an Ad-
drefs to I^is Majesty was moved and carried,
praying !iim to take fuch further meafures as to
him feeuTed prope' , to ftrengthen the Connection

* Vide: Appendix.


t J9 ]

between the two Countries. Hi3 Majesty's
moft Gracious-Anfwer,' ftating, that in compli-
ance with the Addrefs, he would immediately take
fuch raeafures as might be necefTary for that pur-
pofe, was delivered to the Houfe by an Honour-,
able Gentleman who then filled the office of ^e-
cretary of State, and whom we have not lately
feen in the Houfe, though he ftill continues to be
a Member of it. I do affert, without the leaft
fear of contradiction from any Gentleman what-
ever, that it was in the contemplation of the Go-
, vernmcnt of that day, to adopt fome meafures of
the nature alluded to in the Addrefs; fince that
period, however, no fuch meafure has been taken.
1 do alfo maintain, that that very fyftem which
by thefe very Minifters who brought it forward
was found to be imperft6l, even for the purpofe
of maintaining the Conneclion between the two I
Countries, remains at this moment in the fame
imperfe6l ftate. It leaves the two Countries with
feparate and independent LegiHaturcs, conne61ed
only \vic^ this tie, that the Third Eftate in both
Countries is the fame — that the Executive Go-
vernment is the fame — that the Grown exercifes
itspo.ver of affentingto Iriili Aclsof Parliament
D 2 under

[ ^o ]
tinder the Great Seal of Great Britain, and by the
advice of Britifh Minifters.

This is the only principle of Conncdion wliich
is left by the Final Adjuftmentof 1782. Whether
this is a fufficient tie to unite them in time of
Ptace ; whether in time of War it is fufficicnt to
confoiidate tlieir ftrength againft a Common Ene-
my ; whether it is fufEcient to guard againft thofe
local jealoulles which muft ncceflarily fometimeg
exift between countries fo connedlcd ; whether jt
is calculated to give to Ireland all the important
commercial and political , advantages which flie
would derive from a clofer Conntdtion with Great
Britain ; wliether it can give to both Nations
that degree of ftrength and profperity which muft
be the rcfult of fuch a Meafure as the prefent, I

Online LibraryPhilip ThicknesseTracts on the subject of an union between Great Britain and Ireland (Volume 6) → online text (page 1 of 28)