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MR. SHERIDAN'S SPEECH
OCTOBER 22, 1806.
Mr. SHERIDAN having declined Earl PERCY was chosen without opposition; but parliament was dissolved by proclamation on the 24th of October, before his Lordship could take his seat for Westminster. The general expectation of this event induced Mr. SHERIDAN on the 20th, to solicit the support of the Electors, as he was no longer prevented by any former considerations from entering the course, which, he said, every motive of duty, gratitude, and fair ambition called on him to pursue.
56 I make no professions,” he added : “ I am confident you do not expect any from me. What I have been, I shall continue to be. The maintenance of the principles of Mr. Fox is now more than ever a sacred duty. It is a solemn trust bequeathed especially to those who shared his confidence, gloried in his friendship, and followed in his steps, while living. Such efforts as I can make to execute my
humble share in that trust will, in my estimation, at all times be overpaid by the continuance of your protection and approbation.”
Two days after [October 22] a numerous meeting of Mr. SHERIDAN's friends dined together at the Shakespeare Tavern, when the health of the favorite candidate being proposed by the chairman, and received with great applause by the company, Mr. SHERIDAN rose, and spoke nearly thus :
« GENTLEMEN, “ Having very recently occupied the attention of the Electors of Westminster at some length, and having within the last few days published an address to them, I do not now feel it necessary long to trespass upon your time or indulgence. My honorable friend, the Chairman, who has, I feel, been too complimentary to me, has stated that the lustre of the star is only visible when the sun has set *. Apply this observation to me; for whatever rays I may be capable of shedding forth to illuminate your horizon, you must rather attribute to the gloom created by the setting of that great sun whose loss you all deplore, than to any peculiar merit of mine. For twenty-four years have I stood by that illustrious man :-throughout my political life, has he been the object of my adherence and admiration. Before I entered Parliament, I sought him out, and had the honor to enjoy his cordial friendship, and that friendship I have the pride and pleasure to think was never for a moment interrupted to the latest period of his life. It is upon the same ground which urged to look after, and enabled me to enjoy, that friendship, that I am now induced to solicit your support. An attachment to freedom, and a determination to persevere through life in the principles of Mr. Fox, are the only grounds upon which I can rest a pretension to your confidence. My honorable friend in the chair has talked of supplying the loss of the great man we deplore ; but that is quite impossible. For, even in the scale of gradation, all men with regard to him are on a level; and thus I must pronounce my total disqualification. But yet, I will yield to no man in a zealous regard for that sacred liberty, which, however its cause may have been betrayed by treachery bedewed with blood, or profaned by sacrilege in other nations, shall ever stand in my estimation as the highest gift which the Great Creator ever conferred upon man. In devotion to this principle alone do I presume to think myself in any degree equal to your late illustrious representative-to that man, who in powers of mind stood completely unequalled--who, in my judgment, was, as a statesman, superior in intellect, not only to any this country has ever produced, but to any the world has ever witnessed."
* Mr. Moore, the chairman, having concluded a short panegyric on Mr. SHERIDAN, with modestly stating the disadvantages which he himself felt, when speaking in such a presence—“ before a man so distinguished for the splendor of his talents,” and observing, “ that the star shone brightest when the sun was not seen."
Mr. SHERIDAN concluded with repeating the words of his late address, before quoted—“ What I have been, I shall continue to be. The maintenance of the principles of Mr. Fox is now more than ever a sacred duty."
THE EARL OF MOIRA'S SPEECH
ANNIVERSARY MEETING OF THE SOCIETY OF ST. PATRICK,
MARCH 17, 1803,
When his Majesty's message on the eighth of March, 1803, concerning the military preparations then making in the
ports of France and Holland, was taken into consideration in the House of Lords, the Earl of Moira expressed himself with so much animation and energy as did more than excite applause: he infused the spirit, which he himself felt, into all his hearers: he made them ardent and determined to vindicate the abused confidence and insulted honor of the nation—to prove the competency of England to grapple single-handed with a restless, vaunting, inordinately ambitious, and implacable enemy-to
shew the world that British bosoms were fired with the same courage, and British valor nerved with the same energies, which had at all times distinguished their ancestors.
A few days after, at the anniversary meeting of the benevolent Society of St. PATRICK, where his lordship presided as chairman, he availed himself of a seasonable opportunity to diffuse the same sentiments in a fine strain of popular eloquence. He began with some remarks on the happy effects of the institution. “ But,” said he, “ I do not mean to allude to its ordinary design, or that which so peculiarly recommends it as one devoted to charitable purposes. There is something in the present crisis of affairs so awful, and there is something in the circumstances of this meeting so different from the ordinary course, that it places all other considerations out of the question. It is at a moment like this, that such a meeting is likely to be productive of the most essential advantages. I look with sanguine expectations to the effect which will be produced throughout Ireland by the sentiments unanimously expressed by a meeting so respectably constituted as this is. I do not wish to sow jealousies ; but it is vain for any man to pretend not to see what is the present state of Ireland. It may be said, that an assembly like this is not the proper place for political discussions. I hope I shall not incur the censure attached to such an observation by any thing I shall address to you. I feel on the contrary', a strong persuasion, that every endeavour to impart and diffuse the spirit by which this meeting is actuated, must ‘be of the utmost service to the interests of the empire in general, and particularly of Ireland.
“ I consider you my countrymen, as the representatives of Ireland on the present occasion. The people of Ireland, speaking of you, will say, These are men met to celebrate a festival in which we are essentially interested: let us see what are their sentiments : let uis determine from their
expressions what we are to do : they are nearest to the source of government and authentic information: they form a body uncontrolled by ministerial influence, unseduced by power, and unawed by fear : it is from their opinion (I am speaking the language of the people of Ireland) we will take the tone of our political sentiments. I will then say, let this meeting communicate the tone of its sentiments to the people of Ireland. Although we can come to no resolution, yet the sentiments we shall express will be immediately felt throughout every part of Ireland. I know that the words I utter will carry with them the force and weight which the sanction of this meeting can alone impart.
“ It is, therefore, as the organ of this meeting, that I would say to the people of Ireland—Regard the policy of those whom I will not at present call our enemies, but who certainly have endeavoured to throw a cloud over the prosperity of the country. Reflect that the advantages, which they have uniformly held out, have been founded upon the principles of sowing the seeds of dissention among nations. I will say to the people of Ireland, From what has passed, dread the future. I will say, What have any classes of you in Ireland to hope from the French? Is it your property you wish to preserve ? Look to the example of Holland ; and see how that nation has preserved its property by alliance with the French! Is it independence you court? Look to the example of unhappy Switzerland : see to what a state of servile abasement that once manly territory has fallen, under France! Is it to the establishment of Catholicity that your hopes are directed? The conduct of the first Consul in subverting the power and authority of the Pope, and cultivating the friendship of the Mussulmen in Egypt under a boast of that subversion, proves the fallacy of such a reliance ! Is it civil liberty you require ? Look to France itself crouched under despotism, and groaning beneath a system of sla