Endorsing a Conciliatory Policy toward Ireland, 25 November 1779*
The affairs of Ireland, which had furnished so much matter of conversation in the course of the debate, afforded a subject of the first importance. He begged leave to remind their lordships of the part he had uniformly taken in that House, respecting the state of that kingdom. He had often delivered his sentiments on the subject. He should not now repeat or restate what they were. The opportunity was passed, never again to be recalled. What Ireland was, he ventured to assert she would never be again, a dependent nation, imploring relief, and exciting pity in the heart, of every man who had a heart to feel for misery and oppression. He wished to pass over this subject, it was a melancholy one; other prospects opened to the view of that insulted and oppressed country. While he said this, he could not help declaring his own particular sentiments, which he begged leave to assure their lordships arose solely from a mutual regard for both the countries, which could be founded, in his opinion, only in a reciprocity of interests; for he was free to say, that local advantages, or partial benefits, would in the end be found destructive of the views of either kingdom; and it was with much concern that he heard any expression fall from the noble lords, which might admit of an interpretation, indicative of national prejudices, or promoting partial interests.
The noble lord who sat next him (Lyttelton) had opened his speech with great candour and distinguished abilities, respecting the state, condition, temper, and disposition of the kingdom of Ireland, from which he had recently returned. By the tenor of his speech, and his particular assertions, the industry he had exerted in order to make himself fully informed upon these particular points, all which were further confirmed by the addresses of both houses of parliament of that kingdom, and private communications received by himself, had done his lordship great honour. He was firmly persuaded, that the Irish nation would not be satisfied with any concession short of a free trade. The noble lord who came that day into office, and who partly avowed himself to be the minister by whose counsels the affairs of Ireland were to be more particularly administered, had not attempted to invalidate what had been urged by his noble friend; but seemingly acquiescing in the propriety of the claims of Ireland, took up a distinction, by saying it was the wish of the King’s ministers, to give Ireland an equal trade. His noble friend, conceiving the distinction to be equivocal, pressed the noble lord to explain what he meant; and in a masterly manner, pointed out the difficulties which must arise, to obstruct the carrying into execution such a measure, if the words “a free trade” meant any thing
* Parliamentary History, XX, 1057–61.