I shall not here examine the interesting question, whether the mission of Lord Fitzwilliam was wholly due to the action of those Whig statesmen who were friendly to the war, but disinclined to a junction with Mr. Pitt except on condition of a fundamental change in the administration of Ireland. Nor shall I dwell upon his sudden, swift, and disastrous recall. But I purpose here to invite attention to the most remarkable fact in the whole history of the Irish Parliament. When the Viceroy’s doom was known, when the return to the policy and party of ascendency lay darkly lowering in the immediate future, this diminutive and tainted Irish Parliament, with a chivalry rare even in the noblest histories, made what can hardly be called less than a bold attempt to arrest the policy of retrogression adopted by the Government in London. Lord Fitzwilliam was the declared friend of Roman Catholic Emancipation, which was certain to be followed by reform; and he had struck a death-blow at bigotry and monopoly in the person of their heads, Mr. Beresford and Mr. Cooke. The Bill of Emancipation was introduced on the 12th of February, with only three dissentient voices. On the 14th, when the London Cabinet had declared dissent from the proceedings of their Viceroy without recalling him, Sir L. Parsons at once moved an address, imploring him to continue among them, and only postponed it at the friendly request of Mr. Ponsonby. On the 2nd of March, when the recall was a fact, the House voted that Lord Fitzwilliam merited “the thanks of that House, and the confidence of the people." On the 5th the Duke of Leinster moved, and the House of Peers carried, a similar resolution.
At this epoch I pause. Here there opens a new and disastrous drama of disgrace to England and misery to Ireland. This is the point at which we may best learn the second and the greatest lesson taught by the history of Ireland in the eighteenth century. It is this, that, awful as is the force of bigotry, hidden under the mask of religion, but fighting for plunder and for power with all the advantages of possession, of prescription, and of extraneous support, there is a David that can kill this Goliath. That conquering force lies in the principle of nationality.
It was the growing sense of nationality that prompted the Irish Parliament to develop its earlier struggles for privilege on the narrow ground into a genuine contest for freedom, civil and religious, on a ground as broad as Ireland, nay, as humanity at large. If there be such things as contradictions in the world of politics, they are to be found in nationality on the one side, and bigotry of all kinds on the other, but especially religious bigotry, which is of all the most baneful. Whatever is given to the first of these two is lost to the second. I speak of a reasonable and reasoning, not of a blind and headstrong nationality; of a nationality which has regard to circumstances and to traditions, and which only requires that all