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Parliament of Ireland



Dublin Castle, October 10, 1775.

This day, the Parliament having met, according to the prorogation, his Excellency Simon, Earl of Harcourt, the Lord Lieutenant General and General Governour of Ireland, went in state to the House of Peers, and being seated on the Throne, with the usual solemnity, the gentleman Usher of the Black-Rod was sent with a message from his Excellency to the House of Commons, signifying his pleasure that they should immediately attend his Excellency in the House of Peers; the Commons being come thither accordingly, his Excellency made the following speech to both Houses:

My Lords and Gentlemen:

Your distinguished loyalty to the King, your just attention to the honour and dignity of his Government, and your well regulated zeal for the peace and happiness of your Country, have made so sensible an impression on my mind, during a three years' residence amongst you, that, encouraged by the experience of what I have seen, it is with the most sincere satisfaction I meet you again in Parliament.

I am persuaded that you entertain a grateful sense of the blessings you enjoy under the mild and firm Government of the best of Sovereigns; and His Majesty relies on the known zeal and loyalty of his subjects of Ireland, that, whilst his Government is disturbed by a rebellion existing in a part of his American Dominions, you will be ready to show your inviolable attachment to his person and Government, in the assertion of his just rights, and in the support of his legal authority.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons:

I have ordered the proper accounts and estimates to be laid before you, that you may be enabled to judge of the provisions necessary to be made for the ordinary expenses of His Majesty' s establishments, and for discharging an arrear which has been unavoidably incurred.

My Lords and Gentlemen:

I am happy to inform you, that, since your last meeting, His Majesty' s tender concern for the welfare of this Kingdom hath induced him to pass several laws in the British Parliament, highly beneficial to your commerce, your manufactures, and your agriculture.

By the act which extends the great advantages of British fisheries to Ireland, a source of industry and wealth is opened to you, which has made other Nations great and flourishing: let me, therefore, recommend to your earnest attention the improvement of advantages tending so obviously to promote your navigation and trade, in the pursuit of which you may depend upon my warmest assistance and support.

The act which allows the clothing and accoutrements necessary for His Majesty' s forces, paid from the revenues of this Kingdom, to be exported from Ireland, is a particular


mark of the royal favour; and even that which allows the importation of rape-seed into Great Britain, from this Kingdom, under certain regulations, connected with those salutary laws passed in your last session, form such a system of agriculture and improvement as will, I trust, secure riches and plenty to the people of Ireland.

A bounty granted by Great Britain upon the importation of flax-seed is so marked a recommendation of the linen manufacture, that it becomes needless for me to urge the most persevering application to that staple of your Country.

The Protestant Charter Schools, an institution established on the principles of wisdom and humanity, and so peculiarly adapted to the present state and circumstances of this Kingdom, are eminently entitled to your consideration and care.

On my part, you may be assured that I shall continue faithfully to represent your loyalty and zeal to His Majesty; and that I shall cheerfully co-operate with you in whatever may tend to advance the prosperity and happiness of this Kingdom.

Sir Charles Bingham enlarged on His Majesty' s goodness to Ireland, and the grateful sense his subjects ought to entertain of the same, which demanded a stronger expression of zeal and duty than ordinarily; adding, that these acts had been principally obtained by the attention of Lord Harcourt, and the assiduity of Sir John Blaquiere. He thought, if the House were cold on the affair of America, it would make the Americans persist longer in their rebellion; but if unanimous in their loyalty, it would bring it soon to an end, and prevent other Nations from assisting them. He then moved for an address to His Majesty, which he read; and it was, as usual, a repetition of the speech in every point, with thanks for continuing Lord Harcourt as Lord Lieutenant.

The address was seconded by Mr˙ Townley Balfour.

Mr˙ Ponsonby rose to oppose agreeing to that part of the address relative to the Americans, which he was sorry was brought into question there, as it was highly imprudent to do, since the House could not decide upon it, as no man there was master of the subject, for want of proper materials and proper evidence; nay, even if they had both, it was a subject too nice, too delicate, and too high, for the Commons of Ireland; nay, it was also premature, as the British Parliament would meet in a few days, and they ought to wait for their determination. Besides, they might, by intermeddling, make themselves subject to requisitions for assistance not in their power to give; that taking notice of American affairs was like embarking on the wide Atlantick Ocean, without a compass to steer by, or provisions for the voyage. He instanced the social war of the Romans, which was forced to be compromised, to avoid destruction to the Empire. He then moved, as an amendment, in lieu of the paragraph in the address, to say, "the Commons were concerned to see differences arise between His Majesty' s Parliament of Great Britain and his Colonies; that they relied on his paternal care to heal this breach; and though they had hitherto been silent on this affair, they should now be wanting in their duty, if they did not express their hopes of a reconciliation; and if, after the offer of conciliatory measures, the Americans should still stand out, his faithful subjects of Ireland would do their utmost to support him."

Mr˙ Conolly seconded this amendment, and said he had, in the British Parliament, opposed every act against the Americans; that they ought not to promise any thing on that head, as it would tend to a demand for a supply, to enable Britain to subdue the Colonies, and the next step would be to tax Ireland in the British Parliament; for it had been already asserted there, that they had an absolute right to do so, without their consent.

Mr˙ George Ogle urged it was wrong to bring even the idea of America into the House — for if you take the part of the Americans, you irritate England; and if you assist Britain, you thereby vote away your own liberties — that they ought not too hastily fix the stain of rebellion on two millions of fellow-subjects; that the English longed for the Risk-lands, and if you vote the Americans to be rebels for resisting a taxation where they are not represented, what can you say when the English will tax you?


Sir Edward Newenham spoke on the same side of the question, and observed, if they voted against America, whenever matters were decided, the Americans would remember it, and not take a yard of our linen, nor send us any of their flour, in any extremity.

Sir John Blaquiere replied, that the address was only to testify our loyalty, and nothing further; that the original dispute was now lost in the consequences; that he was not empowered to call the Americans by any other name than that of Rebels; that no supply would be asked or expected on their account; and that, on the Scottish rebellion, and all other wars, the Commons always addressed to declare their loyalty. He added, that any mention in the English House of a right to tax Ireland was only the rash opinion of some individuals, not that of Government, and was wrong-founded; and this address would be of great effect to end the quarrel, when the Rebels found they could have no countenance from hence.

Mr˙ Conolly spoke again, adding, that the promise made at the augmentation, of leaving twelve thousand men always here, for our defence, was now broken.

Mr˙ Yelverton said he expected a different motion from the gentleman who made it; that he could not call the Americans rebels, without at the same time allowing the right and authority of the British Parliament to tax them; and no slavery can be more perfect than to be taxed where men are not represented. He dwelt on the same arguments with Mr˙ Ponsonby and Mr˙ Ogle, and said he would agree to the amendment, rather than the original address; but had rather every thing relative to America should be totally omitted.

Mr˙ Dennis Daly observed, that the idea of taxing Ireland was to be found in the King' s speech at the opening of the last sessions of Parliament; but, indeed, they might permit Ireland to have one, whilst the members would be tools to fleece the publick.

Mr˙ Hussey Burgh said the motion was too sudden, and they had not time to determine. No money could be voted without passing through a phalanx of Committees; but here a vote of the utmost consequence to their liberties was urged in a moment. It might be a feather in the cap of the Minister, but it had a poisoned dart to the interests of Ireland joined to it. Gentlemen might argue on declarations against taxing Ireland; but should thirty thousand English swords enforce that doctrine, the eloquence of gentlemen would be but a weak defence against them. On what authority could they vote the Americans rebels? On none but newspapers; and he hoped the right honourable gentleman would move, that the proper officers (printers' devils) should lay them before the House.

Mr˙ Bushe said such an address would most infallibly produce a requisition for a supply to enforce the war against America; and if we agree to it, the next step will be to tax Ireland in the British Commons.

Mr˙ Hussey Burgh agreed it would be best to leave out the entire mention of America.

Mr˙ James Brown spoke against the amendment.

The question was put, and the House divided: Ayes, for the amendment, forty-nine; noes, against it, ninety-nine.

Mr˙ Gardiner then moved, that the whole clause relative to the Americans should be expunged.

Colonel Brown opposed it, and said the whole troubles there arose from a speech of Lord Chatham' s, which was as unintelligible as St˙ Athanasius' s Creed.

The House divided: Ayes, for keeping the clause, ninety; noes, for expunging it, fifty.

Captain Wilson, just before the question was put, said, no reward the King could give could satisfy his conscience, if he voted for the clause.

Mr˙ Hussey Burgh then opposed the promise of granting for arrears, and moved the question for adjournment, on which the House divided: Ayes, for adjournment, thirty-nine; noes, against it, eighty-two.

Mr˙ Charles Bingham agreed to add the word unavoidable before arrears; and then the House agreed to the address, and a Committee was appointed to draw it up.

Colonel Ross moved an address to the Lord Lieutenant; which was carried; and the House adjourned, as it was near twelve o' clock.