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1795] LORD FITZWILLIAM'S DEPARTURE
139 their authority. They could do more by a silent vote that night than by brilliant orations afterwards. His bold, brave spirit was not, however, to prevail. Tighe, Smith, Egan, and Dr. Brown spoke in support of a method which had been employed on critical occasions before with success. But the ministerialists pleaded that the delicacy of their position should be considered; the secretary feared the comfort such an act might give to France. Grattan, unhappily, kept silence, feeling himself also a minister unattached. But their enemies had no respect for such scruples, and rejoiced when they found the short money Bill supported by only 24 resolute men, as against 146. Mr. Connolly, however, immediately moved that Lord Fitzwilliam "has by his conduct, since his first arrival in this kingdom, merited the thanks of this House and the confidence of the people." This was passed, nemine contradicente, and a similar resolution was sanctioned by the Lords. Thus, whilst the English Cabinet was recalling the Lord-Lieutenant, apparently on account of the Catholic Relief Bill, the Irish Protestant Parliament and merchants expressed their full approval of his conduct, and indignation at his removal. But a great opportunity had been lost, and, though the city and country joined in the protest by the voice of meetings and by deputations to the king, nothing availed. On March 25 Lord Fitzwilliam's carriage was drawn by the hands of the citizens to the shore, through a metropolis in mourning. Two parties, however, were gratified: the Ascendency faction, and the republican separatists.
The former saw that Grattan had pledged the country against France—that extra taxes and supplies had been granted, and votes given for a great increase of the land and sea forces. Jacobinism seemed eradicated. They cried, “Victory!” “They say," wrote Burke, "that no evil can happen from the disgrace of the Lord-Lieutenant, and from your being set aside; that by what you have done you have disarmed your opposition; that they have you fast; that they have nothing now but to enter quietly into their old possessions, and to enjoy the fruits of your
labours."i The London Cabinet could then get all the credit for concessions to the Catholics, and enhance their value by holding them over. There was another object in view. Of all the ministers of this period the most perfidious was, not Mr. Pitt, but the Duke of Portland. He had already attempted an intrigue, in 1782, with Mr. Ogilvie against the independence of the Irish Parliament, of which he was ostensibly the faithful friend. Now he sought to involve Lord Fitzwilliam in another intrigue of like nature, urging on him privately a postponement of the Catholic question, for that "was not only a thing to be desired for the present, but a means of doing a greater service to the British empire than it has been capable of receiving since the Revolution, or at least since the Union." This pointed reference to the Anglo-Scottish Union was quickly taken as a revival of the purpose of an Anglo-Irish Union. Lord Fitzwilliam (February 21) charged his grace with calculating on the confusion arising from a postponement of the concessions, to induce the people to adopt a union. “It will be union," he added, “not with Great Britain, but with France." This correspondence lay in the bureaux of the ministers, but its purport leaked out. Not only did young Valentine Lawless (Lord Cloncurry) hear of the project of a union, when dining in Baker Street with Pitt, but the Catholic Committee heard of it, and denounced it. At a meeting in Francis Street Chapel (April 9), to receive a report of their deputation to the king, Keogh observed that he hoped the legislature would be roused to a sense of its own dignity, as the proceedings showed that internal regulations for which it was alone competent had to be adjusted by a British Cabinet. This gave offence to the Government.3 Edward Hay, a Catholic delegate, states that it was proposed by the British Cabinet to his lordship, “to carry the Union at a time when he had got the money Bills passed.... It was even suggested that these"
1 Edmund Burke Grattan, March 3, 1795. 2
Cloncurry, “ Personal Recollections,” pp. 38, 39. Dublin, 1849. 3 Plowden, vol. ii. p. 512.
141 (certain popular) “measures might go hand-in-hand with the union.” i At the meeting, the passage from Portland's letter was read, and another expressing a desire to defer the Catholic question until the peace, in order to gain advantages not otherwise attainable. It being discerned that these expressions could admit of no other meaning than that of a meditated union between Great Britain and Ireland, the Catholic meeting came to the following vigorous resolution :-"Resolved unanimously, that we are sincerely and unalterably attached to the rights, liberties, and independence of our native country; and we pledge ourselves, collectively and individually, to resist even our own emancipation, if proposed to be conceded upon an ignominious term of an acquiescence in the fatal measure of a union with the sister kingdom."2
1 Edward Hay, M.R.I.A., “History of the Insurrection in the County Wexford, 1803," p. 32.
2 Rev. Denis Taaffe, “Impartial History of Ireland,” vol. iv. p. 567, Dublin, 1811. “Whilst this debate was going on, a very large party of the young men of the (Trinity) College came into the chapel, and were most honourably received. Some of them joined in the debate. They came that hour from presenting an address to Mr. Grattan, to thank and congratulate with him on his patriotic efforts in the cause of Catholic Emancipation and the reform of abuses," etc. (Plowden, vol. ii. p. 512.)
EVOLUTION OF REBELLION
With Lord Fitzwilliam departed all prospect of peace. He left the country flourishing, as an enemy confessed. “ What is the state of Ireland at this moment ?" said Mr. Cuffe (April 21, 1795). "A state of unexampled prosperity. The landlord gets his rent to the hour; the tenant finds money for the purchase of his land the moment he brings it into the market; and the manufacturer finds employment and payment to his satisfaction. Ireland has the constitution of England, without its debt.” 1 The Ascendency junto, despotically placed in power against the will of the people, soon changed the aspect of affairs. In a brief time, sect was set against sect, and class against class; constitutional agitation was forbidden, and conspiracy engendered; refusal of promised redress was followed by an attempt at revolution, and the Irish people, who had been willing to "stand and fall with England," who had granted great supplies of men and money to assist her in danger, were now, by the inconstancy of Pitt and the perfidy of Portland, converted into desperate enemies, seeking and obtaining the aid of France to support an organised insurrection. The prosperous country was made indigent and loaded with debt.
The new administration assumed power amid the execrations of the citizens of Dublin. Beresford, notwithstanding his malversations, was restored to the revenue board; even Pelham, the new secretary, murmured. He could not defend the job; the interest of a clique should not prevail against the country's peace. His superiors
1 “Parliamentary Debates," vol. xv. p. 168.
A POLICY OF DISSENSION
thought otherwise. He found Dublin indignant over the Union innuendo in Portland's letter to Fitzwilliam, declared it was a false construction, and expected that his chief, Lord Camden, would deny it in Parliament. Portland directed him to be silent on the subject, and to protest that the correspondence of statesmen should be "kept religiously secret." 2 Lord Fitzwilliam had brought the plot into daylight, but they were to act in the dark. Camden came over with distinct orders from Portland to stir up the dying embers of Protestant bigotry into a flame. That this was necessary shows how tolerant, enlightened, and large-minded the Irish Protestants had become. It is additional evidence that they would have voted for Grattan's Bill of complete emancipation had Fitzwilliam remained. Portland, the recreant Whig, wrote that "great firmness” would be “necessary to rally the friends of the Protestant interest." They had grown too placable and peaceable-were "enervated," in fact. “You must therefore," continued his grace, "hold a firm and decided language from the first moment of your landing." This was to "give the tone,” and to excite them to exert themselves "against the further claims of the Catholics." “At the same time,” observed the deceitful minister, "you will satisfy the Catholics of the liberal and conciliatory disposition entertained towards them. You will do this," he added naïvely, “the best way you can."3 They might be promised some of the benefits of the Relief Act of two years ago (if practicable); perhaps seminaries and salaries for the priests might be considered. Accordingly, when Grattan moved his Catholic Bill (May 4), the solicitor-general was put up to "give the tone" by denouncing it, and demanding whether a trace was to
1 Ibid., March 30, 1795.
3 Instructions to Lord Camden, March 10 (Froude, vol. iii. pp. 138, 139). Yet on February 16 he had written a private letter to Fitzwilliam, saying “it was going too far to infer from anything he said that Lord Fitzwilliam was desired to undertake the task of deferring" the Catholic question until the peace. (Portland to Fitzwilliam, Grattan, “Memoir," vol. iv. p. 194).