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Let me ask you, Mr. Speaker, how was the rebellion of 1798 put down? By the zeal and loyalty of the gentlemen of Ireland rallying around-what? a reed shaken by the winds, a wretched apology for a minister who neither knew how to give or where to seek protection? No-but round the laws and constitution and independence of the country. What were the affections and motives that called us into action? To protect our families, our properties, and our liberties.
What were the antipathies by which we were excited? Our abhorrence of French principles and French ambition.-What was it to us that France was a republic?—I rather rejoiced when I saw the ancient despotism of France put down. What was it to us that she dethroned her monarch? I admired the virtue and wept for the sufferings of the man ; but as a nation it affected us not. The reason I took up arms, and am ready still to bear them against France, is because she intruded herself upon our domestic concerns-because, with the rights of man and the love of freedom on her tongue, I see that she has the lust of dominion in her heart-because wherever she has placed her foot, she has erected her throne, and that to be her friend or her ally is to be her tributary or her slave.
Let me ask, is the present conduct of the British
minister calculated to augment or to transfer the antipathy we have felt against that country. Sir, I will be bold to say, that licentious and impious France, in all the unrestrained excesses which anarchy and atheism have given birth to, has not committed a more insidious act against her enemy than is now attempted by the professed champion of civilized Europe against a friend and an ally in the hour of her calamity and distress—at a moment when our country is filled with British troops-when the loyal men of Ireland are fatigued with their exertions to put down rebellion-efforts in which they had succeeded before these troops arrived—whilst our Habeas Corpus Act is suspended-whilst trials by court-martial are carrying on in many parts of the kingdom-whilst the people are taught to think that they have no right to meet or deliberate, and whilst the great body of them are so palsied by their fears, and worn down by their exertions, that even the vital question is scarcely able to rouse them from their lethargy—at a moment when we are distracted by domestic dissensions—dissensions artfully kept alive as the pretext for our present subjugation, and the instrument of our future thraldom!! These are the circumstances in which the English government seeks to merge the national legislature of Ireland in her own.
Sir, I thank the administration for attempting this measure. They are, without intending it, putting an end to our dissensions. Through this black cloud which they have collected over us, I see the light breaking in upon this unfortunate country. They have composed our dissensions, not by fomenting
the embers of a lingering and subdued rebellionnot by hallooing the Protestant against the Catholic, and the Catholic against the Protestant; not by committing the north against the south; not by inconsistent appeals to local or to party prejudices—no -but by the avowal of this atrocious conspiracy against the liberties of Ireland, they have subdued every petty and subordinate distinction. They have united every rank and description of men by the pressure of this grand and momentous subject; and I tell them, that they will see every honest and independent man in Ireland rally round her constitution, and merge every consideration in his opposition to this ungenerous and odious measure.
For my own part, I will resist it to the last grasp of my existence, and with the last drop of my blood; and when I feel the hour of my dissolution approaching, I will, like the father of Hannibal, take my children to the altar, and swear them to eternal hostility against the invaders of their country's freedom. Sir, I shall not detain you by pursuing this question through the topics which it so abundantly offers. I should be proud to think my name might be handed to posterity in the same roll with those disinterested patriots, who have successfully resisted the enemies of their country-successfully, I trust it will be ; in all events, I have my 'exceeding great reward '-I shall bear in my heart the conciousness of having done my duty, and in the hour of death I shall not be haunted by the reflection of having basely sold, or meanly abandoned, the liberties of my native land. Can every man who gives his vote on the other side,
this night, lay his hand upon his heart, and make the same declaration? I hope so-it will be well for his own peace the indignation and abhorrence of his countrymen will not accompany him through life, and the curses of his children will not follow him to his grave.
TRIBUTE OF MR. BURKE TO THE
SPIRIT OF THE NEW ENGLAND COLONISTS.
As to the wealth, Mr. Speaker, which the colonies have drawn from the sea by their fisheries, you had all that matter fully opened at your bar. You surely thought these acquisitions of value, for they seemed even to excite your envy; and yet the spirit by which that enterprising employment has been exercised, ought rather to have raised your esteem and admiration. And pray, sir, what in the world is equal to it? Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner in which the people of New England have of late carried on the Whale fishery.
Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay, and Davis' Straits, whilst we are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are at the antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the South Falkland Island, which seemed too re
mote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of their victorious industry.
Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging to them, than the accumulated winter of both the poles. We know that, while some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the longitude, and pursue their gigantic game along the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed with their fisheries. No climate that is not witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of Holland, nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous and fine sagacity of English enterprize, ever carried this most perilous mode of hardy industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent people ; a people, who are still, as it were, but in the gristle, and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood.
When I contemplate these things; when I know that the colonies in general owe little or nothing to any care of ours, and that they are not squeezed into this happy form by the constraints of a watchful and suspicious government, but that, through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection; when I reflect upon these effects, when I see how profitable they have been to us, I feel all the pride of power sink, and all presumption in the wisdom of human contrivances melt and die away within me. My rigor relents. I pardon something to the spirit of liberty.