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public conduct, and in connection with those dreadful measures, of which, for twenty-five years, your Lordship has been an uniform supporter. “Be just before you are generous” is a maxim full of wisdom, and never could it be addressed more pertinently than to your Lordship upon this occasion.
When I read of three thousand pounds having been given, by any body, to the suffering people of any part of the kingdom, and when I hear that the fine flour intended for them was thought to be wasteful, and that the meal of oats, that rice, and other articles of I know not what quality, had been substituted, I am not to stand gaping in admiration of the act itself; but, if I have any regard for my countrymen, either in their happiness or their honour, I am to inquire what has been the cause of this state of distress and degradation ; and this is particularly incum. bent upon me, if the blazoned forth act belongs to a person who has had, for more than twenty-five years, a great portion of power in tho managing of the affairs of the nation.
It is a curious thing to behold you held up as the warm and kind friend of any portion of the Irish people, when it is perfectly notorious that you formed part of that very Ministry who framed that memorable Act of Parliament, in virtue of which Irishmen are shut up in their houses from sun-set to sun-rise on pain of dreadful punishment, and in virtue of which Irishmen may be transported beyond the seas without trial by jury, and without the sentence of any of the regular Judges; and which tremendous Act of Parliament was drawn up by the hand of Mr. Grattan, who was well known to have been put into the Parliament, by what is called in the slang of the day, the interest of your Lordship, he being a Member for one of those very Boroughs, of which the petition of 1793 complained as of the most intolerable grievances. But, it is not of the measures relative 10 Ireland exclusively, that it becomes me to speak to you upon this occasion. It is of the measures applicable to the whole kingdom; those measures, which have caused all those miseries, a trifling portion of which your agent has been ordered to relieve. It is of those measures that I am to speak to you, and again and again I repeat, that your Lordship has been a prominent and a powerful actor in them all.
It is impossible for any man to cast his eye over the kingdom; to take even a glance of its happy climate, the industry of its inhabitants, their punctuality and their perseverance, the good faith that prevails between man and man, the quickness and cleverness with which every thing is executed, the improvement which is made by every hand that has but the most trifling encouragement to improve; the farms which are so many gardens on the top of the land, and the inexhaustible mines which are beneath ; and, to crown all, the example of many centuries of ancestors, with whom independence in circumstances was one of the great objects of life, and who regarded debts and a dependence upon others as the greatest of all possible evils. Taking the kingdom as a whole, and thus casting one's eye over it, it is impossible for any impartial man not to conclude, that the present ruin in the middle ranks of life, and the indescribable misery amongst the labouring classes, have proceeded from some gross, if not wicked, mismanagement of the nation's affairs. When we see a family, descended from wealthy and virtuous ancestors, fallen into decay; its property dissipated, bit by bit; its members scattered here and there, becoming street-sweepers, beggars, or playactors and actresses, living their whole lives marked out by the law as
vagrants by profession; when we behold a sorrowful spectacle like this, we conclude, without hesitation, that the affairs of such family have been mismanaged, and that the head of it has been a drunkard, a slothful man, a squanderer, or a knave. We do not, in such a case, think inquiry necessary. We conclude at once; and, if we accidentally discover that any unavoidable misfortune, that any act of despotism, has produced the melancholy effect, we find it very hard indeed to believe that the compassion of mankind would not have stepped in and mitigated, at least, the ultimate consequences.
And, my Lord, was there ever in this whole world, a family over whose affairs the father possessed a power more absolute than the fillers of the seats in Parliament have possessed over the affairs of our country? It was said of some Roman, that he found the city slone, and that he left it mar. ble. It was said of Pitt, that he found England gold, and that he left it paper. It may be said of your Lordship and the rest of the seat-fillers, that you found the people flesh and blood, and that you have brought them to skin and bone ; that you found them happy and free, and that you have brought them to be miserable slaves. That you found them with poor-rates amounting to two millions a year, and that you have brought them to poor-rates of twelve millions a year. That you found them shunning the workhouse, and shunning parish-relief as they would shun pestilence or infamy, and that you have brought them to crowd pell-mell, to obtain from parish-officers the bare means of sustaining life. You found them safe under the protection of those sacred laws gained by the valour and cemented by the blood of their forefathers, and you have brought them to be placed at the absolute mercy of such men as SiDMOUTH, CASTLEREAGH and CANNING, as far as regards their personal liberty, while you have made their very lives hang upon the tongues of such men as Reynolds, Oliver and Castles.
Such is the change which the affairs of the kingdom have undergone under the management of your Lordship and your associates. It would be quite enough to state this, all the facts being so notorious as they are; but it is for me upon this vccasion to show, that your Lordship has been a great actor in the producing of this change. It is very notorious that all the present evils of the country have their foundation in an enormous ex. penditure of the resources of the people. They have been ascribed by one set of men to a sudden transition from war to peace; and, if we could allow this to be true, and that there were no other cause, we should have a right to go back and inquire, whence came the war ; who fomented it; who persevered in it; and what were the grounds of it, pretended and real. We should still find the same original cause, only the development would be more complicated than truth and justice demand.
As I have proved more than a hundred times over, that the poor-sates and all the miseries of the labouring classes arise from taxation, heavy taxation, I will say less upon that subject now; and, indeed, less will be necessary, because the whole of that faction to which your Lordship is supposed to belong, are now forward not only to confess, but to proclaim, that the taxes are the cause of the people's suffering, and that there is no remedy but a diminution of taxation. Indeed, the grand subject of what is called Opposition now, is, economy. It is for economy that your Lordship's son, and all those who want the places of the Ministers, are continually crying: economy, economy, even Lord MILTON and your protege, Mr. WM. ELLIOTT, do continually cry! Mr. CROKER's two huo. dred and fifty pounds was thought by the former gentleman, worthy of a general muster and a long debate. But, my Lord, what economy can make the annual charge of the Debt less than forty-four millions a year ? What economy can make the army cost less than sixteen or seventeen millions a year, unless you are willing to trust to the laws for the peace of the country, in Great Britain, and unless you could collect the Revenue in Ireland without the aid of the military? What is meant by economy, if the late Speaker is still to retain bis sinecure; if the younger branches of the great families are still to swallow such immense sums; if 80 many of your dependants are to be pensioned; and if the public money is still to be squandered in the same way that it is upon the executors of BURKE ? To talk of economy while these things are to be suffered to exist, is to merit, for the talkers, the old most apt and most comprehensive charge of “ saving at the spigot while they spend from the bung-hole;" a saying worth fifty volumes of the verbose declamation of him, whom you unfortunately took for your friend, your philosopher and your guide.
Nothing can be more clear, than that taxes, in whatsoever degree they are taken, tend to impoverish all those who live by their labour, or out of their own means, of any sort, and who have no participation in those taxes. I have proved this so often, and in a manner so clear, that I will not now go into the illustrations again; but I will observe, and no man will deny the truth of the observation, that the fact has been proved by the experience of all the nations in the world of whom we know any thing, In all despotic States, which are also military from necessity, the people have always been in the most wretched state, so as hardly to possess any thing of their own, though in quantity the most trifling. This was the case in France, before the Revolution. The military, the Seigneurs, the lazy part of the clergy, all the innumerable dependants upon the Court, lived in ease and in splendour, while the people, the mass of the people, were clad in the coarsest of dress ; while the habitations of a very considerable part of them were wholly unworthy of horses, and while their food, of frogs, chesnuts, snails, roots and berbage of all sorts, was such as was fit for a lean hog, but which was wholly incapable of fattening an animal of that species. There were two classes of men; one living in the greatest of luxury, and the other living in the deepest of misery. How should it have been otherwise, when the whole system was simply that of taking from those who laboured to give to those who did not labour? Such is very nearly the state, into which you and your associates have brought our own country. In order to make the people of France endure such intolerable oppression, it was necessary to employ force; it was necessary to have an immense standing army in time of peace; it was necessary to have Bastiles and lettres de cachet ; it was necessary to have an execrable police; it was necessary to have spies and informers; it was necessary to have licensed booksellers and a licensed press! If your Lordship does not hang your head upon being reminded of these facts, aod upon reflecting on the proud boast of England in former days, your heart must have been hardened much more than I really hope and believe that it is.
I am quite certain that the people of England will recover their liber. ties, and that despotism, all over Europe, will wither to dust soon after that change shall take place. But, in the meanwhile, we have to inquire into the cause of their present sufferings, and to put the result of our inquiries upon record. There may be men, who may hereafter wish
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their present deeds to be forgotten. I trust I shall be found amongst those, who will wish their present deeds to be remembered.
The American war left a heavy debt and a deep wound on the prosperity and liberties of England; but that war was triling in its consequences, compared to the war of which you, my Lord, were one of the principal authors, and for which great injury to your country your recent conduct is by no means calculated to atone. To see the French nation, after so many ages of suffering, rising and shaking off its oppressions, was a sight, one would have thought, to have gladdened the heart of an English nobleman, especially a nobleman priding himself upon being a Whig, and claiming the right to resist oppression. I appeal to all the political writings of the English nation for centuries back; rot only to all her political writers, but to all her parliamentary speeches ; to all her poets; to all her lawyers, from Fortescue downwards. I appeal to all the maxims, the proverbs, the toasts, the songs, the pictures of the nation. All these remind me that the English nation, down to the very year of the French revolution, regarded the French king as a tyrant, his clergy as bloody persecutors, and his people as wretched slaves. What, then, was ever so unnatural as for England to become the head and heart and hand and soul of a combination to smother the liberties of France in the cradle, to restore that same clergy, and re-throne that same ds. nasty of kings? This was the time, my Lord; this was the important epoch, when the fate of England was decided; then it was that that series of measures commenced, which have finally produced all that we now behold, and, amongst the rest, that huge mass of human woe, a small particle of which, it appears, your Lordship has been endeavouring to diminish. Out of the decision of that day have arisen all the bar. racks, all the academies for training dependants up to be military com. manders, distinct from all common feeling with the people; all the laws for shutting up and transporting the people of Ireland; all the dispensations with juries; all the police establislıments; all the employment of soldiers to collect the revenue; all the Dungeon Acts; all the innumerable restraints upon the press; all the employment of foreign troops in the heart of our country; all the spies, all the informers; nine-tenths of the crimes, ninety-ninth hundredths of the ignominious deaths, and such a scene of general misery, compared to the former happy state of the people, as never was before witnessed since the creation of the world. And you, my Lord! what hand had you in the fatal decision of that day? I assert broadly, that you had more to do with it than any man then living. Your Lordship formed one of the great and powerful members of a poverful opposition then existing to Mr. Pitt. If you, the Duke or Port. LAND, Lord Spencer, and the rest of those persons who went over to Mr. Pitt upon that occasion, had remained in the opposition, and had opposed a war against France, that war never could have taken place. But, this was not all, for it was you and the persons just named, who compelled Mr. Pitt to go to war, or to quit the seat of his power and his ambition. He was indisposed to the war; a fact clearly proved liy the correspondence of M. Maret, and confirmed hy the unequivocal declaration of his associate, Dundas. Your defection from the opposition compelled him to yield against his judgment and against his inclination ; a circumstance that only tends to render his memory the more hateful. But though your Lordship was only an associate with the DUKE OF PORT. LAND and others as far as direct and open power went, you are much
more than an associate in the origin of that fatal step. It .was your Lordship who fostered BURKE; it was your Lordship who had put him into Parliament; it was your Lordship for whom he wrote; and it was your Lordship who obtained for him, out of the public money, all those immense sums which he and his executors have received as a reward for being the trumpeter to that bloody and long crusade, which has at last ended in destroying the liberty and peace of mind of every man in the kingdom ; which has saddled the nation with a debt that it never can pay, and which, having deprived even your Lordship, as you appear to imagine, of the sacred protection of the laws, has hung your star and your parchment deeds upon the point of the bayonet.
What I have stated here is all so notorious, that the nation needs only to be reminded of it by the bare niention of the facts. Other circumstances may not be so notorious; and, therefore, let those who sing forth the praises of your donation, follow you through your other acts of the last twenty-five years. From 1793 to 1801, they will find you one of those Ministers who made it high treason to send a bushel of potatoes from England to France, or to send relief or assistance of any sort even to a brother, a father, or a mother. They will find you proposing to the Parliament grants of millions of the people's money to be given to those who had fled from the people of France, and from that just indignation excited by their long oppressions and cruelties. They will find you putting in force all the Power-of-Imprisonment Acts passed during that period, and afterwards joining in voting a Bill of Indemnity to yourself and your colleagues for the deeds which you had done, outstretching the pokers given even by those Acts. In that transaction of transcendant injustice, that unparalleled violation of law and good faith, the protecting the Bank of England against the demands of its creditors, they will find your Lordship's name at the head of the list of those who signed the Order in Council. And, glad to hurry on to the close, they will find your name amongst those of the Members of that Secret Committee, who were unanimous in making that report, which was contradicted by Mr. Cleary's petition, and for the Bill founded upon which report, you voted, notwithstanding that petition. Let those who are engaged in blazoning your bounty forth to the world, add these facts to the tail of their ac. count, and then your Lordship will appear in your true and proper colours.
There is something, too, in this eulogium on your bounty, which is objectionable, as conveying a kind of censure upon other proprietors of estates, for not doing as you have done. The eulogium says that your liberality“ is most singular." And, in another place it says, that this " act will place the noble Earl conspicuously amongst those who have “ embarked in the cause of humanity in this period of general distress “ and embarrassment." Now, my Lord, though I have no pity for the trodden-down gentry of the kingdom, who, in their turn, would tread the people to death, there are some gentlemen, and even some noblemen, who have not the power of imitating you in this respect, and yet who deserve much greater praise than it appears to me is merited by your Lordship. All the world knows, that my Lord HOLLAND, for instance, cannot toss down three thousand pounds to a parcel of the starving people; but, my Lord Holland has taken no share in the passing of those Acts which have deprived the people of all the benefits of law and justice. On the contrary, he has done all that he was able to do to