Now you must remember that the Irish Judges in those days held their offices at the pleasure of the Crown - fixity of judicial tenure not being then considered desirable at this side of the Channel, though it was found very useful in England - and, as a Judge usually dislikes descending from the Bench and resuming practice at the Bar, we need not be surprised that the next step in this complicated business was an injunction from the Court of Exchequer to the much harassed sheriff, ordering him to reinstate Annesley.
Whether the sheriff was a truly patriotic man, or whether he considered the Irish Lords stronger than the English Lords and the Court of Exchequer put together, and therefore thought it safer to obey the former, we cannot tell. But, whatever may have been his motive, he treated the Exchequer injunction with contempt. The Court imposed a heavy fine on him, but the Lords gave him very effective support, for they sent all the Barons of the Exchequer to jail, and transmitted an elaborate state-paper to the King, in which they pointed out the rights of Ireland, and the independence of their own jurisdiction.
The King sent this document to the English Lords, who, on receipt of same, were very indignant indeed. Many of these Lords had large estates in Ireland: disputes as to title might arise, and it was obviously expedient to keep the ultimate tribunal in their own hands. They therefore resolved to maintain their proceedings.
This was the contest which produced 6 Geo. I., whereby it is enacted That the kingdom of Ireland hath been, and of right ought to be, subordinate unto, and depending upon the Imperial Crown of Great Britain; and that the Kings Majesty, by and with the consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal and Commons of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled, hath had of right, and ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the kingdom and the people of Ireland. Another clause took away all jurisdiction from the Irish House of Lords. In fact, this statute and Poynings laws, taken together, reduced the Irish Parliament to something like the English House of Convocation at present - a collection of grown-up men, playing at legislation. Even the effective power of a veto, which Poynings had left us, was removed by this Act of Geo. I. - an Act which was not only in direct opposition to the whole spirit of parliamentary legislation, but, as I said, completely ignored the dictum of the English Judges, that the Irish are not bound by English statutes, because they have no representatives here. Even John Fitzgibbon (Earl of Clare) once stated in a letter to the electors of Trinity College - I have always been of opinion that the claims of the British Parliament to make laws for this country is a daring usurpation on the rights of a free people.
The Irish Parliament had really just as good a right to pass an Act declaring that the Kings Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal and Commons of Ireland, in Parliament assembled, hath had of right, and ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the people and the kingdom of Great Britain. The only effective difference between such an Act and that of George I. is simply based on the famous principle of Mr. Hobbes and Mr. Froude, that Might makes Right.
So far indeed as Right is concerned, the Irish had this advantage, that their kingdom is of the higher antiquity. Archbishop Ussher, in his Discourse of the Religion anciently professed by the Irish and British, points out that, in 1417, at the Council of Constance, a dispute having arisen concerning precedence between the legates of Henry V. of England and Charles VI. of France, the English orators, on the authority of Albertus Magnus, alleged that Europe is divided into four kingdoms, namely, the Roman for the first, the Constantinopolitan for the second, the third the kingdom of Ireland, which is now translated unto the English, and the fourth the kingdom of Spain. Whereby it appeareth, that the King of England and his kingdom are of the more eminent ancient kings and kingdoms of all Europe, which prerogative the kingdom of France is not said to dbtain.* Here it is obvious that England claimed precedence, through, and on account of, her connexion with Ireland.
* Ussher s Works, Vol. iv. p. 370.
But, after all, this 6 Geo. I. was little more than a sentimental grievance. It merely declared authoritatively on the part of England the existing state of things in this country. Practically, the Irish Parliament had been for years under the heel of her British sister; it is not hard to show that the results of this were, in the highest degree, unsatisfactory.
A well-known Irish statesman, writing in 1779, observes, that If, in a period of fourscore years of profound internal peace, any country shall appear to have often experienced the extremes of poverty and distress - if, at the times of her greatest supposed affluence and prosperity, the slightest causes have been sufficient to obstruct her progress, to annihilate her credit, and to spread dejection and dismay among all ranks of her people, and if such a country is blessed with a temperate climate and fruitful soil, abounds with excellent harbours and great rivers, with the necessaries of life and materials of manufacture, and is inhabited by a race of men, brave, active, and intelligent - some permanent cause of such disastrous effects must be sought for.*
* The Commercial Restraints of Ireland Considered. This work, though published anonymously, is known to have been written by John Hely Hutchinson, Provost of Trinity College.
It would have been better if he had said some causes, for, in truth, there were several. But certainly no single cause was more effective in bringing about the poverty and distress of our country, than the atrocious commercial laws which the English forced upon us.
A nation of traders is always likely to adopt a selfish line of policy. Notwithstanding innumerable instances of princely liberality among the great mercantile classes, we may safely say, that the commercial spirit of getting as much, and giving as little for it, as possible, which pervades all bargaining, must exercise a contracting influence on the mind. And this contracting influence must have operated much more powerfully for evil, at a time when the modern theory of free-trade had not as yet made it manifest that to act up to the old adage - Live and let live - is not only sound in ethics, but profitable in business.
Whenever the mercantile classes have overwhelming influence in Parliament, the foreign policy of a nation is likely to be hard, narrow-minded, and grasping. And it is probable, that no nation, since the creation of this world, has experienced this sad fact more sharply than has Ireland at the hands of Great Britain. Whenever we hear an Englishman sneering at the poverty of this country, we can, at all events, inform him that it was the reckless and undisguised selfishness of his ancestors, which, deliberately and unconstitutionally, reduced us to such a state.
We may date from the reign of Charles II. the commencement of this revolting system. Before that period, the commercial laws appear to have been, in the main, fair and reasonable. The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were really far ahead of the seventeenth in their political economy. The Act 17 Ed. III. allows all sorts of merchandizes to be exported from Ireland, except to the Kings enemies. And this freedom of commerce was beneficial to both countries. Ireland was found very serviceable to Edward III. in supplying armed vessels for transports to France. And in 3 Ed. IV., although, on complaint from certain English artificers, that they could not live for the bringing in of divers wares ready wrought, an Act was passed excluding many manufactures, yet Ireland was specially exempted from its operation; and it was provided that all wares and chaffers made and wrought in Ireland and Wales may be brought in and sold in the realm of England as they were wont before the making of this Act. England, under those mediaeval sovereigns, was as careful of the commerce and manufactures of her ancient sister kingdom as she was of her own.
In the early part of the seventeenth century, a great part of the Irish trade consisted in the exportation of live cattle to England. Some English landlords took it into their heads that this was lowering their rents; and, by their influence, a law was passed (15 Chas. II.), to prohibit the trade. The Irish, reduced to great distress by this enactment, had no resource but to work up their own commodities, to which they applied themselves with great ardour. They increased their sheep, and at the time of the Revolution possessed very numerous flocks. Vast numbers of these perished in the troubles which followed, but they were replaced, at great expense, and became more numerous and flourishing than ever. The woollen manufacture was cultivated in Ireland for ages before, and for several years after the Revolution, with hardly any appearance of jealousy on the part of England; and the country, towards the close of the seventeenth century, was rapidly recovering in wealth and prosperity.*
* Hutchinsons Commercial Restraints, p. 96.
But in the month of June, 1698, the English House of Commons presented to the Crown an address, which none of us need hold in any grateful remembrance. They informed King William III. that, being sensible that the wealth and peace of this kingdom do, in a great measure, depend on preserving the woollen manufacture, as much as possible, entire to this realm, they think it becomes them, like their ancestors, to be jealous of the establishment and increase thereof elsewhere, and to use their utmost endeavours to prevent it; and, therefore, they cannot without trouble observe that Ireland, dependent on, and protected by England, should of late apply itself to the woollen manufacture, to the great prejudice of the trade of this kingdom, and so unwillingly promote the linen trade, which would benefit both them and us.
The consequence whereof will necessitate your Parliament of England to interpose to prevent the mischief that threatens us, unless your Majesty shall find means to secure the trade of England, by making your subjects of Ireland to pursue the joint interest of both kingdoms. And we most humbly implore your Majestys protection and favour in this matter, and that you will make it your royal care, and enjoin all those you employ in Ireland to make it their care, to hinder the exportation of wool from Ireland, except to be imported hither, and for the discouraging of the woollen manufacture, and encouraging the linen manufacture in Ireland, to which we shall be always ready to give our utmost assistance.
The Lords sent a perfectly similar address, and to these disgraceful specimens of short-sighted selfishness William replied: I shall do all that in me lies to discourage the woollen trade in Ireland, and encourage the linen manufacture there, and to promote the trade of England.
He acted accordingly; and, by Government influence, the Irish Parliament passed an Act imposing a prohibitory duty on all woollen manufactures, except frieze - for which Ireland had been famous before the reign of Edward III. But the British monopolists were not content; and, in the following year (1699), the English Parliament passed a new Act w hich utterly destroyed our trade.
Now it is to be particularly observed that this wicked Act, consigning to starvation and misery thousands of thriving families, was passed, not on account of actual distress in England, but through fear of possible dangers. This is quite plain from the words of the address; and I may observe that, eighty years later, this cowardly spirit on the part of the traders manifested itself in an actually ludicrous manner.
In 1778, owing to the rising spirit of the Irish, consequent on the American war, measures were introduced into the British Parliament for relaxing the rigorous code by which the trade of Ireland was shackled. Among these measures was a Bill for the importation of sail-cloth from Ireland. One universal howl of rage and despair burst forth from the manufacturers all over the kingdom. Parliament was nearly swamped with petitions against this dreadful Bill. If the Irish sail-cloth were once admitted, the devil would sail away with the whole country - the sun of England would set in darkness, and rise again no more for ever.
But Parliament adjourned for the Easter holidays, and, during the recess, Edmund Burke ascertained that his new Bill was really a work of supererogation. There was on the English Statute-roll a law of long standing, never repealed, which authorised the Irish to send any amount of sail-cloth to England. In the debate which followed, he laid great stress on this discovery; and argued that, at all events, in the case of sail-cloth, it was evident that the petitioners had not felt from the reality what they dreaded in the idea. And hence he inferred, with very good reason, that the other matters of apprehension contained in the petitions were as groundless as this.
This narrow-minded selfishness, instanced in the woollen trade, pervaded all the British legislation for Ireland till the defeat of General Burgoyne at Saratoga (October, 1777), and the rise of the Irish Volunteers opened the eyes of the Government to the necessity of some change in their policy. And the virtual abdication of the Irish Government, expressed in a letter of the Secretary, Sir Richard Heron, to the Chief Magistrate of Belfast in 1778, may be regarded as the immediate cause of the organisation of independent Companies. The Lord Lieutenant himself explains it in a letter to the English Home Secretary (May 24th, 1779).
As much has been observed in England, he writes, respecting the forming and existence of these Companies, your lordship will permit me to throw together, as concisely as possible, what at different times has occurred to me upon that delicate subject. Upon receiving official intelligence that the enemy meditated an attack on the north parts of Ireland, the inhabitants of Belfast and Carrickfergus, as Government could not immediately afford a greater force for their protection than about sixty troopers, armed themselves, and by degrees formed themselves into two or three Companies. The spirit diffused itself into different parts of the kingdom, and the numbers became considerable, but in no degree to the amount represented.*
* Life of Grattan, by his Son, Vol. I., p. 307.
No political philosopher, however disposed to limit the sphere of Government interference, has ventured to deny that the public defence is one indispensable function of all sovereignty. We must hold, therefore, that the Secretarys letter, informing the magistrates of Belfast that they must rely on the townsmen for protection against the national enemy, was a virtual act of abdication. And the Government was not only bankrupt in troops, but bankrupt also in money. In April, 1778, the bank of La Touche propped up their shattered credit by lending them L20,000 - but on a renewal of the Government application for relief in the following month, the bankers returned the answer, that it was not in their power, though very much in their inclination.
Such being the state of the Administration, the rapid progress of the Volunteers is not surprising. But the perplexity of the Government at this new movement is apparent in every line of the correspondence between the Castle and the English Minister. Discouragement has been given on my part, as far as might be without offence, writes the badgered Viceroy. He was afraid to encourage them, but he was still more afraid to offend them; and before long they had complete military possession of the country.
How utterly Arthur Young misunderstood the state of affairs in 1779 will appear from his remarks on the Volunteer movement. Speaking of the commercial Act of that year, he regrets its not having been done upon principles of sound policy, rather than at a time when it can bear the construction, true or false, of being extorted. To suppose that Great Britain is at the mercy of Ireland, and that an Irish congress may arise, supported by forty thousand bayonets, is mere idle declamation. Those who are so wild as for a moment to conceive an idea of this sort must surely have forgot the Roman Catholics in that kingdom. It would be easy to enlarge on this point but for every reason improper.*
* Tour in Ireland, Vol. II., p. 212.
Thus writes Arthur Young; and indeed it is not at all surprising that he should have regarded Ireland as a smouldering volcano. For the state of the Catholics, at the time we are considering, was absolutely shocking. Their lives had been left them, but not a great deal more. Parliament after Parliament, in direct violation of the Civil Treaty of Limerick, had heaped up ferocious statutes against the prostrate population. Every attribute of liberty, civil, political, religious, was denied the Catholic. He was eligible to no office much above the social position of common hangman. He could not vote at an election. If he had a dispute with a Protestant, he must be tried by an exclusively Protestant jury - and here he was actually in a worse position than an alien; for a foreigner might claim a jury with six foreigners on it. One Statute prohibited a Papist from instructing another Papist; another prohibited a Protestant from instructing a Papist; a third provided that no Papist should be sent out of Ireland to receive instruction. If these three laws had only been capped by a fourth, ordering for immediate execution every Papist who neglected to provide a first-class education for his children, the whole edifice would have been beautifully complete and symmetrical.
But the most shocking of all the penal laws was that which enabled a son, by turning Protestant, or by feigning to do so, virtually to disinherit his father - a contrivance which must be described as hardly less than fiendish. In fact, the whole code affords perhaps the most striking instance in history of the effects of fear in producing savage legislation. For, it must be remembered that nearly all of these laws were the work of the Irish Parliament. The members were of course exclusively Protestants. They knew that they formed a small minority in a country where the mass of the people were grievously oppressed, and therefore discontented. A proposal to remove the discontent by discontinuing the oppressions would most likely have consigned the proposer to a lunatic asylum; and accordingly, to weaken and degrade the Catholics, then regarded as the dangerous classes, was an obvious act of self-defence.
This is the true key to the whole of that disgraceful history. In the debates of the British Parliament (1778) of which I have just been speaking, one of the members, supporting the proposed relaxations of trade, took occasion to express a hope that some indulgence might be extended to the Irish Catholics. But the English Minister replied that the proposed redress was not within their province; it properly belonged to the Parliament of Ireland; the laws which were so severe against the Roman Catholics had originated there, and redress of domestic grievances should likewise of right originate from them. The penal laws of that kingdom were the consequence of apprehensions, a cause which, however groundless, always produces the most severe and cruel policy.
Seeing, then, what was the sort of legislation provided for the Catholics, it is certainly remarkable that they gave their hearty support to the Volunteer movement. Perhaps one cause of this was the protection to Irish manufactures which formed a leading feature in the programme of the independent Companies. This protection would abate, - or at least was intended to abate, - a common grievance. And thus the non-importation agreements, like the late University Bill, had, at all events, the merit of uniting all classes of Irishmen. However, whatever was the reason for it, there is no doubt that the Catholics falsified Arthur Youngs prognostications by standing manfully to the Volunteers; in some counties they even commenced enrolling themselves into separate companies, and, when this was ungraciously prohibited, they contributed liberally for the purchase of arms and ammunition for the Protestants.
Moreover they sent many addresses to the Government, professing their readiness, in case of invasion, to do their duty as loyal subjects. These addresses, in fact, were so loyal that not a few individuals fell into the mistake of supposing that the Catholics were actually quite contented with their wretched position. A few years later, Sir Boyle Roche, who so distinguished himself by discovering the strange relation between birds and space, presented the Volunteer convention with an address, professing to emanate from the Earl of Kenmare and a large number of other Catholics, in which they asserted their perfect content, and, on the whole, delight, in the existing laws. But it turned out that the learned metaphysician had been hoaxed; and a large meeting of Catholics, presided over by Sir Patrick Bellew, proclaimed that they had not so completely lost the common feelings of human nature, as to remain contented, though they might be submissive, in a state of virtual slavery.*
* Parnells History of the Penal Laws.
We may date the historical importance of the Volunteer organization from the election of the Earl of Charlemont as General-in-Chief of the independent companies. As long as these remained isolated from each other, they could not bring much pressure to bear upon the Government; but the case was altogether different when the key-stone, which was wanting to convert them into an army, was once supplied.
Had James, Earl of Charlemont, been a man of different type from what he proved to be, our past history - whether for better or for worse - would certainly have been different. His character was that of an amiable, high-minded, and honorable nobleman, patriotic and liberal according to his lights, profoundly attached to the British constitution, but as utterly destitute of military talents as Mr. Carlyles Courageous Wooden Pole with Cocked Hat. That a man of this description should have been entrusted, at such a crisis, with the command of the Volunteers, was a matter of vital importance in our troubled history. If Lord Charlemont had possessed both personal ambition and military ability, it is next to impossible that the proceedings of 1783 could have terminated without a direct collision between the Irish Parliament and the Volunteer army, which must have resulted either in Revolution or in unsuccessful civil war.
Meanwhile the organization of the new force proceeded rapidly. The non-importation, and non-consumption agreements were strictly carried out, and sorely perplexed the Government. A great meeting of the freemen was held in Dublin, at which it was unanimously agreed That we will not, from the date hereof, until the grievances of this country shall be removed, directly or indirectly, import or consume any of the manufactures of Great Britain; nor will we deal with any merchant or shopkeeper who shall import such manufactures.
We cannot blame the people for such measures of retaliation, though the enforcement of protection by the process of Lynch-law can hardly be justified. The Dublin newspapers of the day abound in accounts of the outrages and tumults which were constantly taking place through the carrying out of the agreement; and they also abound in articles which must have had no small tendency to stimulate such outrages and tumults. Thus Faulkners Dublin Journal for Saturday, December 27, 1783, writes - We have been told of one hundred and seventeen sharpers, pickpockets, and footpads who have emigrated hither from England within the last twelve months. The number is undoubtedly alarming, their designs detestable and dangerous. But though these predatory travellers are commonly set down among the worst kind of imports, yet all of them put together are not as pernicious enemies to Irish prosperity as the importers arid wearers of foreign goods.
Tarring and feathering the delinquents, and parading thern in this unsatisfactory condition about the streets, appears to have been the usual punishment; though, in aggravated cases, they sometimes gave the offender a few dozen lashes as a preliminary. And the non-importation laws seem to have been what the lawyers call not strictly but liberally construed for, on one occasion, Lord Muskerry, regardless of expense, having imported a magnificent new chariot from London, the mob held it to come under the Statute, and accordingly tarred and feathered it also, and drove it about the streets to utter ruin and destruction.* The Volunteers too were careful that their uniforms should be of Irish manufacture; but they showed unmistakeably that what they wanted was the removal of commercial restraints - their cannon were labelled, Free-trade or -.
* New Annual Register, 1784, p. 62.
But the commercial question was not the only source of disturbance in the metropolis. After Grattan had carried his famous Free-trade amendment to the Address to the Lord Lieutenant (Oct., 1779), he brought in a most effective measure, called the Short Money Bill, by which the supplies, instead of being, as usual, voted for two years, were granted for six months only. This was a formidable check on the Government; and was, therefore, very popular throughout Ireland. And on the fifteenth of November, the Dublin mob, growing impatient at parliamentary delays, resolved to take the matter into their own hands. A serious riot broke out.* It was openly announced that to destroy the enemies of Ireland was the surest way to success. The rioters took particular trouble to murder the Attorney-General, Mr. Scott, first seeking him at his own residence, which they nearly destroyed, then at the Four Courts, and finally at the House of Commons; but not succeeding in finding him, they swore all the members they could catch to be true to Ireland, and to vote for Short Money. At last the Volunteer corps of the lawyers, being requested by the Lord Mayor, agreed to disperse the mob; which they easily did, by going among them unarmed, and advising them to go home quietly. Scott was naturally indignant at these proceedings; and a very sharp personal altercation took place in the House of Commons between him and Mr. Yelverton, the commander of the lawyers regiment. The Attorney averred that the Volunteers had not shown sufficient alacrity in suppressing these outrages, and he described Mr. Yelverton as the Seneschal of Sedition - to which the latter replied by calling Scott the uniform drudge of every administration.**
* Annual Register, 1779.
** Lord Mahons History of England, Vol. VII., p. 152.
Just at this crisis the British Government took a step, the policy of which can only be compared with that of the American Stamp Act. No constitutional safeguard had been more cherished than that of the Annual Mutiny Bill, by which the Crown is effectually prevented from maintaining a standing army without the consent of Parliament. Ireland had always been included in this Bill; but now the growing independence of the nation rendered the people adverse to the operation of an English Act, without the sanction of the Irish Legislature. And thus the name of Ireland was omitted in the English bill, and, in conformity with Poynings law, the heads of a separate Mutiny Bill were transmitted to England.
But the Cabinet of Great Britain was so infatuated as to alter the Bill from an annual to a permanent Act; the Irish Parliament was subservient enough to pass it; and thus, at the very time when the Irish nation was most sensitive as to her rights, and most jealous of the supremacy of England, she was deprived of this fundamental bulwark of the Constitution - a bulwark which the English themselves would rather have been put to the sword than surrender.
This Perpetual Mutiny Bill was one of the leading causes of the famous meeting at Dungannon, February 15, 1782, the precursor of the still more famous Declaration of Rights, which was carried unanimously by the Irish Parliament, on the sixteenth of April in the same year.
I take it for granted that, addressing an Irish audience, it is needless to delay with the history of those momentous days. You all know how it was decreed that No Parliament hath any authority or power of any sort whatever in this country, save only the Parliament of Ireland, and how the British Parliament surrendered, and registered the decree. But I may observe that it is a serious mistake to assert, as many English historians have done, that this surrender was the result of wise and liberal views respecting the government of Ireland. Here is the description given by a very fair and liberal writer, Sir Thomas Erskine May: -
The Irish Parliament unanimously claimed for itself the sole authority to make laws for Ireland, and the repeal of the Permanent Mutiny Act. These claims the British Parliament, animated by a spirit of wisdom and liberality, conceded without reluctance or hesitation. The concession was gracefully and honourably made, and the statesman (Fox) who had consistently advocated the rights of Ireland, while in opposition, could proudly disclaim the influence of intimidation. The magnanimity of the act was acknowledged with gratitude and rejoicings by the Parliament and people of Ireland.*
* Constitutional History of England, Vol. II., p. 527.
The concession, he says, was gracefully and honourably made. Can he have forgotten that the British army had recently expired in America, and that Ireland was in military possession of forty thousand Volunteers, whose cannon were standing on the bridges of Dublin, whose battalions were parading before the Senate-house, while the debates were in progress. A man sentenced to be hanged, who knows that all resistance is hopeless, and who, when the day of execution arrives, walks peacefully to the gallows, is not usually described as making a graceful concession to the outraged laws of his country. But he makes just as graceful a concession as did the British Parliament on the day they repealed 6 Geo. I. It is true there was no fighting about it, but, none the less, the repeal was a capitulation to physical force.
And now the question arises - was this triumph of the Volunteers a resurrection of the long-dormant nationality of Ireland? I cannot believe that it was. When Grattan stood up in the House of Commons and said, I am now to address a free people. Spirit of Molyneux, your genius has prevailed! Ireland is now a nation - his words were premature. We may say more truly that the legislation of 1782 placed in the hands of Ireland the power of making herself free; but she lost her opportunity, and she has never found another.
No doubt, the British Parliament acknowledged, by the Acts of 1782-3, in words as unambiguous as any that could be written, that the Parliament of Ireland alovie had any power or authority to legislate for Ireland, - that the Parliament of Ireland alone ever should have such authority. But I cannot bring myself to recognise, as our national Parliament, an assembly in which not only were three-fourths of the people avowedly unrepresented, but in which fully three-fourths of the members, ostensibly returned by the small minority that was left, were, either directly or indirectly, the corrupt nominees of the British Government.
And such was the composition of the House of Commons emancipated by Grattan and the Volunteers. The members, all being Protestants, and elected by Protestant voters exclusively, represented barely one-fourth of the nation. But they could claim to represent this one-fourth, only on the assumption that the elections were all bona fide - which is exactly what the elections were not. Corrupt as was the English House of Commons at that time, the Irish was far worse. Two peers, between them, nominated no less than sixteen of our so-called representatives; and altogether the number of members elected freely by the small Protestant constituency, has been computed at less than one-fourth of the House.
So we may estimate that, of the natural constituency of Ireland, the part which had any voice at all in the House of Commons was about a fourth of a fourth of the whole. And the knowledge of this fact throws additional light on the graceful readiness with which the British Cabinet assented to the repeal of the usurping Acts of Parliament. None knew better than they did, how much the hard problem of bringing into harmony the two independent legislatures would be simplified when the members of the smaller body were readily amenable to the power of the national purse.
But that this peculiarity in the mode of electing the House of Commons should have been equally satisfactory to the Volunteer army could not reasonably be expected. Their officers very quickly came to the conclusion that, unless a sweeping measure of parliamentary reform were speedily carried, the triumph they had just won would be little more than illusory. They caused to be printed and circulated lists of the House of Commons which contained a variety of useful information - but it was a kind of information that the patrons of boroughs would, on the whole, rather have concealed. These lists proclaimed to an ungrateful public the self-sacrificing efforts of the borough proprietors to provide the nation with a thoroughly reliable House of Commons. They indicated the mode of election of each member; the number of persons who nominally returned him; the name of the individual who really returned him; and, as far as it could be ascertained, the amount of the money consideration which was paid for such unconstitutional representation. I need hardly say that the publication of these lists had no tendency to allay the discontent; agitation increased; numerous angry meetings were held; at last a second meeting of the Volunteer delegates assembled at Dungannon, - a very memorable meeting was this; for these delegates brought on the crisis from which we must date the decline and fall of the great independent army.