[Footnote 123: The entry in the “Parliamentary History,” November 20, 1788, is: “Both Houses met pursuant to the last prorogation. Later meetings were in consequence of successive adjournments.”]
[Footnote 124: In the Commons by 183 to 33; in the Lords by 119 to 11.]
The Affairs of Ireland.—Condition of the Irish Parliament.—The Octennial Bill.—The Penal Laws.—Non-residence of the Lord-lieutenant.—Influence of the American War on Ireland.—Enrolment of the Volunteers.—Concession of all the Demands of Ireland.—Violence of the Volunteers.—Their Convention.—Violence of the Opposition in Parliament: Mr. Brownlow, Mr. Grattan, Mr. Flood.—Pitt’s Propositions Fail.—Fitzgibbon’s Conspiracy Bill.—Regency Question.—Recovery of the King.—Question of a Legislative Union.—Establishment of Maynooth College.—Lord Edward Fitzgerald.—Arguments for and against the Union.—It passes the Irish Parliament.—Details of the Measure.— General Character of the Union.—Circumstances which Prevented its Completeness.
In describing the condition of Ireland and the feelings of its people, in the latter years of the reign of George II., Mr. Hallam has fixed on the year 1753 as that in which the Irish Parliament first began to give vent to aspirations for equality with the English Parliament in audible complaints; and the Irish House of Commons, finding the kingdom in the almost unprecedented condition of having “a surplus revenue after the payment of all charges,” took steps to vindicate that equality by a sort of appropriation bill.
There were, however, three fundamental differences between the Parliaments of the two countries, which, above all others, stood in the way of such equality as the Irish patriots desired: the first, that by a law as old as the time of Henry VII., and called sometimes the Statute of Drogheda, from the name of the town in which it was first promulgated, and sometimes Poynings’ Act, from the name of Sir Henry Poynings, the Lord-deputy at the time, no bill could be introduced into the Irish Parliament till it had received the sanction of the King and Privy Council in England; the second, that the Parliament lasted for the entire life of the King who had summoned it—a regulation which caused a seat in the House of Commons to be regarded almost as a possession for life, and consequently enormously increased the influence of the patrons of boroughs, some of whom could return a number of members such as the mightiest borough monger in England could never aspire to equal. The third difference, of scarcely inferior importance, was, that the Parliament only sat in alternate years. But, though these arrangements suited the patrons and the members of the House of Commons, it was not strange that the constituencies, whose power over their representatives was almost extinguished by them, regarded them with