In the following Pamphlet I have omitted all general arguments in favor of a Parliamentary Reform, which equally apply to England and Ireland, and have confined myself almost entirely to such as exclusively apply to our own country. The general question has been so often and so ably handled, that the public mind is sufficiently informed; and it is by no means my wish to swell my book, and fatigue my readers by compiling arguments, which, however powerful, have been repeated, until we may pronounce that, if they have not convinced, conviction is hopeless. I have argued therefore, little on the abstract right of the people to reform their Legislature; for after PAINE, who will, or who need, be heard on that subject?
It may be necessary to premise, that, when I use the term Government, I do not mean by it the Legislature, as it exists in theory but a certain junto of men of both countries, some of them Members of our Legislature, and others not, who possess the supreme power in this country.
Before I proceed to the object of this book I think it necessary to acquaint the reader that I am a Protestant of the Church of Ireland, as by law established, and have again and again taken all the customary oaths by which we secure and appropriate to ourselves all degrees and professions, save one, to the utter exclusion of our Catholic Brethren. I am, therefore, no further interested in the event than as a mere lover of justice and a steady detester of tyranny whether exercised by one man or one million.
The present state of Ireland is such as is not to be paralleled in history or fable. Inferior to no country in Europe in the gifts of nature; blest with a temperate sky and a fruitful soil intersected by many great rivers; indented round her whole coast with the noblest harbors; abounding with all the necessary materials for unlimited commerce; teeming with inexhaustible mines of the most useful metals; filled by 4,000,000 of an ingenious and a gallant people, with bold hearts and ardent spirits; posted right in the track between Europe and America, within 50 miles of England, 300 of France; yet with all these great advantages, unheard of and unknown, without pride, or power or name, without ambassadors, army, or navy; not of half the consequence in the empire of which she has the honor to make a part, with the single county of York, or the loyal and well regulated town of Birmingham!
These are, or should be, to every true Irishman, mortifying considerations. It remains to examine what can be the cause of our so shameful depression, to discover and to apply with temper and with firmness the remedy, and thus to restore, or if not restore, to create a rank for our country among the nations of the earth.