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The Attorney-general then moved, “That the said publication, in asserting that this House is not free and independent, contains a libel on, and is a violation of, the privileges of this House.” This passed in the affirmative; and Mr. M.Donnel was ordered to be taken into the custody of the sergeant at arms.
PROCLAMATION OF THE LORD LIEUTENANT.
January 31. 1793.
ON N the 29th, Mr. Hobart (secretary) presented to the House, by order of His Excellency, the following Proclamation:
“ Westmorland, “ Whereas we have received information, that divers ill-affected persons have entered into illegal and seditious associations in the county and city of Dublin, to withstand lawful authority, and violently and forcibly to redress pretended grievances, and to subvert the established constitution of this His Majesty's realm; and with a view to carry into effect these their seditious purposes, have by colour of laudable associations heretofore formed in this. kingdom by His Majesty's loyal subjects, for repelling foreign invasion and maintaining peace and good order, publicly declared their intention to appear in arms, to avow their approbation of tumult and disorder, and to encourage the citizens of Dublin to follow their evil example, and have also conspired together to raise, levy, and muster within the county and city of Dublin a number of armed men, to parade in military array, with various devices and ensigns of disaffection to His Majesty and the constitution, and have actually ordered uniforms and accoutrements to be made and provided for such persons as they shall be enabled to seduce from their allegiance, to enter into the said illegal associations; and whereas these dangerous and seditious proceedings tend to the disturbance of the public peace, the obstruction of good order and government, the great injury of public credit, and the subversion of the constitution, and have raised great alarms in the minds of His Majesty's loyal subjects.
“ Now we, the Lord-lieutenant and council, being determined to maintain the public peace, against all attempts to disturb the same, and being desirous to forewarn all such persons as might unadvisedly incur the penalties of the law in this behalf, by concurring in practices of a tendency so dangerous and alarming, do hereby strictly charge all persons whomsoever, on their allegiance to His Majesty, to abstain from committing such offences.
“And we do charge and command the lord mayor, magistrates,
eriffs, bailiffs, and other peace officers within the county and city of Dublin respectively, to be careful in preserving the peace within the same, and to disperse all seditious and unlawful
assemblies ; and if they shall be resisted, to apprehend the offenders, that they may be dealt with according to law.
Given at the Council-chamber in Dublin, the 8th Dec. 1792. Fitz-Gibbon C. Clonmell J. H. Hutchinson D. Latouche Bective Loftus
R. Hobart Bellamont Carleton Lucius O'Brien Arth. Wolfe Carhampton Mountjoy W. Conyngham Ja. Fitzgerald Dillon
J. Foster H. T. Clements H. Langrishe." Pery
J. Beresford R. Cunningham On this day the proclamation against the newly formed volunteer corps was taken into consideration, when Lord Headfort, after stating that notwithstanding this proclamation, some corps attempted to parade on the Sunday preceding, but by the interposition of the magistrates they were prevented, it became of course the duty of the House to give their sanction to the proclamation, to enable government to carry it into full effect. He accordinglymoved, “ That an humble address be presented to His Excellency the Lord-lieutenant, thanking him for communicating the proclamation issued on the 8th of December, 1792; and to assure His Excellency, that we consider the same as a timely and judicious mark of His Excellency's vigilant attention to the tranquillity of this metropolis; and that His Excellency may depend on our most cordial support in such measures as may be necessary to carry the said proclamation into effectual execution, and that we applaud the wisdom which, in the said proclamation, distinguished the corps who armed in defence of their country and the constitution, from those whose declared objects were sedition, tumult, or disaffection to His Majesty."
Mr. Prendergast Smith seconded the motion : it was supported by Mr. Denis Browne, Mr. Burton Conyngham, Mr. Stewart, (of Killymoon,) the Attorney-general, and Mr. George Ponsonby he approved of the distinction made between the old volunteers and the modern corps, who used disaffected emblems: he thought the noble lord wrong in alluding to the affair of the goldsmiths' corps, as that was one of the old corps whose conduct had hitherto been laudable. Mr. Hobart condemned the conduct of the goldsmiths' corps. He read their summons, issued previous to the proclamation. It was as follows:
“ Citizen-soldier, in consequence of the unanimous resolution of delegates, from all the volunteer corps in the city and county of Dublin, you are requested to parade at Ship-street, on Sunday next, to celebrate the victory of the French army, and the triumph of universal liberty, over despotism. To a man who desires or deserves to be frec, it is unnecessary to say more.
“ Signed by order,
• Mat. DOWLING, Sec. “ Dated last year, would to God I could say last moment, of slavery."
Mr. Hobart also read an address from a society, called “ United Irishmen,” to some volunteer corps in December last, and also the resolutions of the goldsmiths' and two other corps, thanking the society for that publication.
Mr. GRATTAN said: I approve of the proclamation as much as I condemn the use which the minister now attempts to make of it. The proclamation arraigned a certain body of men, whom it describes to be an association assuming devices and emblems of disaffection. The minister applies that to the volunteers of the city and the county: under that colour proposes to disperse them; and, in order to justify that project, he produces a formal charge; that charge is confined to two heads; first, a summons purporting to be that of the corps of goldsmiths, reciting that the delegates of the corps were to assemble, to celebrate the retreat of the Duke of Brunswick, and the French victory in the Low Countries, and inciting the goldsmiths' corps to attend. I do not ask how far it was perfectly discreet to celebrate such an event, particularly if we consider the conscquences to which such an event might possibly lead; but I ask, was it a ground for dismissing the volunteers? Do ministers mean to say, that they will disperse all the volunteers of Ireland who celebrate the French victories in Brabant. I ask, also, of any man who can read, whether such a celebration brings these obnoxious corps within the description of the proclamation ? Whether such a celebration was assuming the ensign or devices of disaffection ? And it is the more obvious that such an event was not judged by the council who signed the proclamation a good reason for including the corps of the city, because after that event had taken place it expressly excepted them: it has saved the laudable associations, under the description of the old volunteers, and has confined the proclamation to the national guard. The style of the summons has given offence: ministers do not approve of it. It begins, “ Citizen-soldiers;" they are French terns, or rather terms of French foppery, below our imitation. The date has also given offence; "the last year, or the last moment, of slavery !" Here again is the French style or frippery introduced : but is that or the other
expression, or both, sufficient ground for the minister to disperse the corps, or is it such an offence as comes within the description of the proclamation ? No man who reads, can say it is. . The minister himself, aware that his first charge was insufficient, has produced another. He has read a long address from a society called the United Irishmen, inviting the people of Ireland to assemble in a national convention, and containing an abundance of other matter; and he then produces a succession of resolutions from some of the corps of Dublin, one of which resolutions returns thanks to the society of United Irishmen. Without giving any kind of approbation of the matter of that address, I must say, that I think a minister would be highly indiscreet and presumptuous who should say that the volunteers had, by those thanks, brought themselves within the description of the proclamation, or that they were guilty of assuming emblems and devices of disaffection; as little should I think him justified in dispersing them, merely on account of those thanks. If so, you give the minister a right to disperse every volunteer corps in the city and county, if he does not approve of their politics. Now, though in the many resolutions which young men may adopt, some will be, and many were exceptionable, yet I would not wish to establish over them in the minister an authority to take away their arms, if he disapproves of their politics. I know the evil use that he will make of that power, and the dangerous consequences and confusion to which it leads. Permit me to ask this right honourable gentleman, who has arraigned the old volunteer corps, is it his intention to multiply volunteers ? If so, I apprehend he is adopting the means; if the city and county corps are not intimidated, but increase by the attempts of the government todisperse them, if they stand to their arms, and are supported by their brethren, what becomes of his project? But if, on the other hand, they should disperse in the capital, does he imagine the volunteers will be deterred in the north ? He ought to prove that the way to recruit for volunteers in the north was to attack them in the city. They will consider his attack as an affront, and think that the cause of a part is the cause of the whole. The minister is, therefore, doing the very thing which he wishes to prevent; he is provoking a general armament; he is doing more; he is detaching that armament from Parliament. In his charge against the volunteers he has mentioned a national convention. I hope this House will, by reforming the Parliament, prevent such an assembly, the consequences of which may be very unfortunate; but if the minister wishes to give such an assembly an army at its back, he is taking the method, by committing this House as well as himself with the volunteers, and attempting to detach them from the established constitution. The object of the right honourable mover, in 1779, of resolutions of thanks to the volunteers, was to attach them to the House of Commons. I think the object was a right one; that of the minister now is to detach them from the House. I think his object is an evil one; and the manner in which the minister proceeds, convicts him of imprudence. He does not, in this proclamation, venture to arraign the old corps; he does not, in the address approving of the proclamation, attempt to arraign them; on the contrary, they are the objects of commendation in both; but when he comes to speak, he departs from the address and proclamation, and proposes such an interpretation of both, as goes against the spirit and letter of either, and such as would enable him to disperse the old corps, under the seeming approbation of this House. Thus does he endeavour to lead this House much farther than it intends, making the House at once praise the old corps, and then putting such a comment on that praise as amounts to a proposal to disperse them for disaffection. I, therefore, desire, in giving my approbation to the proclamation, to be distinctly understood. I approve of it, because it did propose to disperse the national guard, and because it did not propose to disperse the volunteers.
Although I unequivocally condemn the insolence, disaffection, and the dangerous tendency of the counter-proclamation, published by the United Irishmen; though I am grieved that the corps should seem to testify any approbation of it, yet still I would not treat an old corps with severit for any idle or indiscreet resolution. I beg gentlemen to consider that warm and inexperienced young men frequently make up a large part of a corps; that resolutions might be adopted on a sudden and without consideration, which, upon reflection, they would be anxious to recant. This I say in extenuation of their fault; and further, I do not think they come within the meaning of the proclamation; but if any corps whatever should manifest principles of disaffection, either by exhibiting emblems of sedition, or publishing treasonable resolutions, I think government called upon to use all its power to suppress them.
The question was then put on the address; and it passed without a division,
REFORM IN PARLIAMENT.
MR. GRATTAN SUBMITS HIS RESOLUTIONS ON THE SUBJECT OF
A REFORM IN THE REPRESENTATION.
February 11. 1793.
THE House, pursuant to order, resolved itself into a committee,
to enquire into the state of the representation of the people in Parliament, Sir Michael Cromie in the chair.
Mr. GRATTAN rose to propose certain resolutions :
I will not say that this is the most important subject that was ever agitated in this House; I do remember, in 1782, an