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sive arrangement, in consequence of which a large portion of a numerous protestant tenantry were compelled to throw up their farms, and driven into a state of destitution. They sought redress by a rising, and took the name of “ Hearts of steel.” Acts of dangerous concession increased their confidence, and multiplied their force; and, as usual with mobs of every country imperfectly governed, they presently set up to redress general grievances of every kind. They were put down by the necessary measures. But we only notice this rising to mention the result. Many thousand protestants emigrated to America, where they exerted no slight influence in exciting the spirit of resistance which soon after began to appear.
Of the American war we shall have to say more hereafter; but it must now be briefly noticed as the critical event on which the most important changes of the period were to turn.
The financial difficulties of the English government had, owing to various causes, unnecessary to detail in this place, been accumulating in an increasing ratio, during the two previous reigns ; and various means were adopted, of which some were calculated to postpone and increase the difficulties; until at last the administration of lord Townshend conceived the unfortunate yet specious expedient of taxing the American colonies. The colonies, as ought to have been foreseen,resisted, and the resistance awoke and brought into action, those revolutionary elements with which the American states were then surcharged. From one step to another, resistance grew on from the stamp act in 1765, till the tax on tea, ten years later, terminated the prolonged dispute in war.
The effects bore with destructive pressure on Ireland. In England a great and most unhappy error prevailed as to the resources of this country. As her internal wealth was measured by a trade, which, contracted and impeded as it was, yet bore a disproportioned ratio to the state of the people, there was comparatively little internal consumption, and the means and produce of the country were poured nearly whole into the foreign markets. The public, considered with reference to wealth, consisted of the mercantile community alone, who (if we may transmute a well-known phrase,) constituted "patriam in patria.” In 1773, a large debt had been created, and Irish rents, with the interest of this debt, were spent in England. So that when trade fell off, there was neither export nor internal consumption; and a universal poverty, with all its frightful concomitants, pervaded every class.
In an address at this time moved in the Irish house, we find several statements upon this distressed condition of the country, which may be regarded as the most authentic. The Irish debt is there stated to be £994,890, at the end of the previous session, with considerable arrears; on which a great exertion was made by loans and new duties, to equalize the revenue with the expenditure. The address states, that they adopted the calculations of the administration, and relied on the promises of ministers in vain. That they were now under the necessity of informing his majesty, that the result of all their efforts was only to show that they had arrived “at that point of taxation, where the imposition of new duties lowers the old ones.” They represent the funds on which they might borrow as exhausted, and their only resource, a tax on spirits, as the last sad proof of their duty and zeal. The expenses for the last two previous years, ending Lady-day 1775, had exceeded the revenue by £247,749,* and the expedient of a tontine was again adopted to raise £175,000. Among the disadvantages attendant on this method of raising money, it was observed that the subscribers being almost all London merchants, the annuities were an additional exhaustion of the Irish specie.
A very general interest was felt in the progress of the American war. One incident may help to show the nature of this public sentiment. Lord Howard of Effingham, on learning that his regiment was destined for the American service, resigned his command, for which the city of Dublin voted him its thanks, for having like a true Englishman refused to draw his sword against the lives and liberties of his fellow-subjects in America ; and soon after, the guild of merchants presented him with another address of a still more decided character. This guild also addressed the peers of the opposition, who, “in support of the constitution, and in opposition to a weak and wicked administration, protested against the American restraining bills." These are but a few specimens of numerous indications of the same tendency.
In February 1766, a proclamation of the lord-lieutenant and council was issued, laying an embargo on Irish provisions of every kind, except to Great Britain and British dominions not in rebellion, not otherwise restricted. This proceeding was considered illegal, and was resisted by a member in the house, the honourable George Ogle, who made a large shipment of beef to Bourdeaux.
We are reluctantly compelled to pass much that is important and interesting in the occurrences of this year, as quite inconsistent with the main scale of our history. The effects of the embargo were most extensive and afflicting. We should indeed have simply to repeat the foregoing statements with added force, but no great variety of details. The complaints of 1766 are but louder, more widely spreading, and sadder echoes of 1765.
Lord Harcourt was recalled, and lord Buckinghamshire sent in his room. As the Irish parliament had been latterly manifesting signs of an intractable spirit, great efforts had been made to secure and extend the influence thus endangered. Many new peerages restored the balance in the house of lords; no less than 18 new peers having been created in one day. The new viceroy himself, not without moderate talents and soine knowledge of business, brought over with him as his secretary, a Mr Heron, the agent of his estates,-a person totally incapable of even comprehending, much less endeavouring to meet, the complication of difficulties and distresses of the country at a season of unparalleled emergency
But more decisive events and more over-ruling influences, were at the same time in rapid preparation. And the struggle on which the future destiny of Ireland was to depend, seems to have passed into other
* This motion was rejected, but is not the less authoritative, as it expresses the truths which it was the policy of the Irish council to suppress.
hands. The British administration at last thoroughly convinced of the critical state of Ireland, entered directly and liberally on the question of her sufferings and interests; and it is plain that in the English council there existed a disposition to do the fullest justice. And we must here add, that though in the first efforts, this liberal disposition was frustrated by the interests and prejudices of the English people; we are still inclined to refer to it many of the salutary measures, and even concessions which were afterwards attributed to more immediate and ostensible influences.
On the motion of lord Nugent, a committee was appointed in the English house of commons, to consider the trade of Ireland, and several resolutions were made in its favour, on which bills were framed. We do not enumerate them, as they were interrupted by very violent petitions from several of the most influential of the English trading towns, which were alarmed at any extension of the trade of Ireland. On this a very violent and protracted opposition took place, and the struggle was, for the occasion, compromised for some enlargements in favour of the linen trade.
The same liberality was more effectively exerted upon a question on which there was happily a prevailing unanimity of sentiment. The gentry of the Roman church were at last freed from the oppression of a law, at the same time cruel and inefficacious, which compelled them to hold their estates by evasions and connivances, insulting to their feelings and disgraceful to the legislature. Hitherto, their main resource against this unfortunate law had been fictitious conveyances to their protestant relations and friends, and a story is told that in one of the southern counties, a great part of the landed property was thus vested in a poor barber. The Irish judges also had to the utmost extent of their discretion, interrupted the operation of these iniquitous statutes, chiefly by the obstacles which they contrived to throw in the way of informers. And in some cases of great hardship, where there was no other resource, the legislature itself interfered by special acts. It was, under any conceivable modification, a dismal state of things, when the most respectable persons were compelled to stand in awe of the basest. “This species of universal subserviency," writes Mr Burke, “that makes the very servant who stands behind your chair, the arbiter of your life and fortune, has such a tendency to degrade and debase mankind, and to deprive them of that assured and liberal state of mind, which alone can make us what we ought to be, that I vow to God I would sooner bring myself to put a man to immediate death for opinions I disliked, and so get rid of the man and his opinions at once, than to fret him with a feverish being, tainted with the jail distemper of a contagious scrvi. tude, &c.” A bill was introduced by Mr Luke Gardner, in 1778, “ for the relief of his majesty's subjects of this kingdom professing the popish religion.” By this bill all the severe enactments of William and Mary, affecting the tenure of property, with other penal regulations, were entirely removed. A similar measure was introduced by Sir George Saville, in the British house of commons, and passed without a single opposing vote. On this liberality it is here just to remark, that it went to the utmost extent, which, according to the political opinions of that period, was consistent with the safety of the kingdom. Nor were the nobility and gentry of the church of Rome of a different opinion. The language of the Romish aristocracy in England was moderate and reasonable; they simply put forward, as with truth they might, their own unshaken and unsuspected loyalty. “We have patiently," they stated, “submitted to such restrictions and discouragements as the legislature thought expedient. We have thankfully received such relaxations of the rigour of the laws, as the mildness of an enlightened age, and the benignity of your majesty's government have gradually produced; and we submissively wait, without presuming to anticipate either time or measure, for such other indulgence as those happy causes cannot fail to effect." This meritorious spirit of patient moderation, thus shown, had long acted upon the national good sense and good feeling of the English nation; there no unhappy recurrences of party appeal to religious animosity had kept alive, the prejudices of earlier times, till they had long survived their substantial causes. The English Romanists were but British subjects, and one among the numerous communions which acknowledge one crown, constitution, and standard. When the measure of Sir G. Saville was proposed, it was met with one sentiment of approbation. From Mr Burke's public statement already quoted, we learn in the most authoritative form, that not only the whole house of commons, but the “whole house of lords, the whole bench of bishops, the king, the ministry, the opposition, all the distinguished clergy of the establishment, all the eminent lights, (for they were consulted), of the dissenting churches; all were unanimous in their agreement.” Happily then, this was not a great question the ground of contending factions, and implicated with a dangerous complexity of considerations—it could be, and was, met simply on its own simple grounds.
We have now at length arrived at the critical point of Irish history, and may proceed more freely onward. The state of Ireland had become such as to make it apparent, that the game of expedients was at an end. From end to end, poverty, distress, and insolvency, lay like a cloud upon the land—the plainest statements drawn from the custom-house, and compared with the remittances of public money, exhibited the then startling fact, that these remittances amounted to more than double the sum accruing to Ireland from her entire exports. It was felt by every one at all conversant in public affairs, that such a state of things could not continue. The distress of England gave added force and weight to the cry of Ireland, and to the clamour for justice and relief which came monthly louder and louder over the channel. And while heated discussions on Irish rights were introduced and thrown out in the British parliament; and the Irish parliament, more within the sphere of the national sufferings, was assuming a firmer and less factious tone-incidents from without gave the ultimate direction to events.
The Irish channel was now become infested by American privateers which seized on trading vessels within sight of the shore. The Irish traders were, for the first time, compelled to sail under convoy along the very coast; and a great part of the English trade was compelled to be carried on in foreign bottoms. For a little time the British public was enabled to shut its eyes to the danger-the trade attendant
on the war itself cast a gleam of delusion on eyes willing to be deluded, while unequivocal symptoms of ruin affected all the permanent branches of trade, and bankruptcies thickened in every quarter. France continued to temporize, and, while she in every underhand manner abetted the Americans, still held out the language of pacific intention. A play of remonstrances and illusory compliances continued for some time to be carried on till May, when France having gained all the objects of procrastination, declared a treaty of commerce with America, in which the colonies were considered as independent, and concluded with a very intelligible intimation of preparations to act in concert with America for the maintenance of their treaty. And never did ambition and political bad faith more surely lay the fatal train which was to eventuate in a dreadful retribution, than the French court, when it thus cast its weight and sanction into this commencement of a great revolution, in the vortex of which it was in a few years more to occupy the bloody centre. In this critical moment, “ when transatlantic liberty arose,"
“ Not in the sunshine and the smile of heaven,
But wrapt in whirlwinds and begirt with woes," duplicity, and rashness, extravagance, financial blundering, and despotism, singularly combined with the admission and encouragement of political and philosophical charlatanism, and the normal school of sedition, that sent out its emissaries into all the surrounding countries, made France the depository of collecting woes and crimes for the evil day that was ere long to rise for her chastisement.
Ireland, to which, from time immemorial, the enemies of England had directed the artifices and resources of secret intrigue, had not in the beginning of the great strife been overlooked by either America or France. But here the spirit of the people had widely changed, and there was a general sense entertained, that a more fair and liberal disposition towards the country had already begun to grow in England. The motions which had recently been made in the British house of commons, in favour of Irish interests, though frustrated by local opposition, had yet plainly manifested the friendly disposition of the higher authorities and the better classes—liberal concessions too, had actually been made, and a general sentiment was awakened of hopeful expectation; with this there was a gloomy recollection that rebellion had only woven and rivetted chains, and laid waste the very sources of renovation. The addresses of America had excited temporary heat; but the better and then more influential portion of the Irish people reciprocated the maxims and precepts of patriotism and of freedom, neither in the hostile temper of America, nor in the fanatic, mystical, and rationalizing temper of the volatile Parisians, but after their own peculiar spirit with a religious frame of heart, and bent of opinion, on which, infidelity, the great relaxer of all principles, could not tell with any wide effect,-a native shrewdness not easy to be fooled by new delusions, though not proof against as strong a tendency to old prejudices,-a natural though mixed and variously tempered loyalty, and a rising hope of better times. These saner influences operated at the moment with some conditions of a differ