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would gain additional strength. But a, in the constitution of this country by the strange kind of arithmetical comfort was introduction of 100 members into the offered to the Catholics in a pamphlet British House of Commons. Without published by a gentleman in Ireland, high wishing to impute any improper moin office : "
you are now a very great ma- tives to them, without suspecting either jority; you are now three-fourths of the their character or principles, it must population ; but after a union, you will be naturally be supposed that the amor in a minority; for the Protestants of both patriæ, that the desire to improve the countries will far exceed the Catho condition of their own country, would lics of the united kingdoms.” Would such compel them to act with any minister, state logic satisfy their feelings? Would whoever he might be; they could obtain it not rather provoke the indignation of the nothing for their country by opposing a Irish Catholics ? They might be told that minister; their only hope would be by though they went to bed in a majority, yet joining his party, and thus by such an acby the magic of a piece of parchment, they quisition of strength a minister would beawoke in a minority; but such a flimsy come altogether invincible. The right piece of sophistry would not impose upon hon. gentleman might smile at this lanmen who knew how far they exceeded in guage, and think he was already invincible number the Protestants in Ireland, or tend by his majority without any such aid ; to heal the religious dissentions which but this would be an alarming increase to prevailed in that distracted country. the influence of the crown. There would Another argument in favour of this mea- be a superfluity of patronage when the sure was, the probability of a difference Irish nation was represented by a so much between two independent legislatures smaller number than at present. Some under one and the same executive ma- of this excess the minister would have gistra e upon important questions of im- the power to scatter among the represenperial concern ; and the case of the tatives of Great Britain. Besides there regency was quoted. With respect to might be now two checks on the conduct the
regency, he should not enlarge; for a of ministers, one on the part of Ireland, very able reply on that head had been and another on the part of England; and given on a former night by his hon. friend in that respect the possibility of difference (Mr. Grey); he would only observe, that between two independent legislatures, there was no other instance during the which raised so much alarm, was a great course of seventeen years, that this was a advantage ; but the consequence of this casus omissus in the constitution, and that measure would be, that one of those by an act of parliament passed in both checks would be taken away by the disso. countries, providing that the regent or lution of the Irish legislature, and the regency appointed in England should ipso other would be weakened by the imporfacto become such, and upon the same tation into that House of so many Irish conditions, in Ireland the recurrence of members. As an Eoglishman, therefore, such a situation might for ever be pre- he protested against this measure, bevented. He would however frankly con- cause it tended to destroy the fair balance fess, that it was this part of the subject of the English constitution. But comwhich had raised in his mind more doubts mercial advantages to Ireland had been than any other, for he saw a possibility stated in favour of a union, here he would that such differences might arise; but his beg leave to ask, whether as the number fears had been considerably removed by of absentees would be considerably in. considering, that some plan, borrowed creased, the value of their imports would either from the German or American fe- not suffer, and consequently their exderations, might be adopted, so as to en- ports be diminished? But it was said sure a co-operation on all great points of that this loss would be balanced by the general interest. But even if there were introduction of British capital. This å just degree of apprehension that impor- argument had no weight with him. tant disagreements of opinion between the There would be no increase of British or two legislatures might actually take place, other capital, where the proprietor of it the remedy proposed was worse than the had no consciousness of security. How disorder which had excited such strong could that consciousness exist while reli. fears in the breasts of some gentlemen. gious feuds continued? But we were told The great evil which he apprehended, that the practical advantages of a union was the alteration which would be made were to be seen in the case of Scotland. That Scotland had thriven since the lation was her birth-right, which, in every union was most true ; but he had not yet situation of life, she would assert and heard it conclusively argued, that the maintain. It was obvious that the subsesuccess of Scotland was owing to the union; quent resolution must have referred to for, even in the opinion of Adam Smith, commercial regulations, or other minor who thought that Scotland derived some considerations. He could not, however, benefits from the union, the establish refrain from observing, that gentlemen on ment of banks, by the accommodations both sides had dilated too much on that topic. afforded to the landholder and the mer- Let the adjustment of 1782 be considered chant had, during the thirty years pre- as absolutely final. The parties to any com. ceding the publication of his book, contri- pact might, by common consent, release buted a great deal" to the extension of each other, if they thought it to be for their the commerce and agriculture of that mutual advantage. The competency of country. Besides, Ireland itself had the Irish parliament was affirmed with thriven of late years; and why should it triumph, and the doubts of it were treated change a system under which its popula- with scorn and derision by gentlemen on tion and trade had flourished ? Why the ministerial side of the House, as well should it give up whatenabled it to do well, as by the minister himself. They said, upon the precarious chance of doing bet- that Mr. Foster and sir John Parnell had ter, but which, perhaps, might destroy it studiously avoided a denial of the compealtogether in commerce, as well as in con- tency, and that the only advocates for the știtution ? But we were told, that Ireland incompetency were Dr. M.Nevin and Mr. would not lose her independence. “ Did Lewins, “gentlemen who filled a diplomanot the very act of her meeting to treat re- tic capacity under the executive directory cognize her independence ?" Granted; of the United Irishmen.” But this was but for what object were the commissioners a mistake; for not only sir John Parnell, of the two countries to treat ? Was it not but Mr. Lee, Mr. Barrington, and Mr. for the surrender of the Irish parliament? Plunkett, all lawyers of eminence in their England and Ireland then might meet as profession, had boldly contended, that independent parties; but both of them parliament was not competent, and that would not part as such, if Ireland con- although the union might receive the assented to the bargain. Nor should we sent of the two legislatures, the people wonder if Irishmen received the proposal would not be bound by such an agreement; with indignation; for certain he was, that, and Mr. Lee in particular had said, that if an overture of that nature were made to the only constitutional mode of proceedthe members of the British parliament, ing was, to dissolve the parliament and to they would all rise up and say, “ No, we summon a new one, giving notice at the will never resign the independence of our same time, that they were to be assembled legislature, or, in other words, the free for the express purpose of considering dom of our country, for any advantages this measure. This, in Mr. Lee's opinion whatsoever." This would be the feeling would render the parliament competent, of every true patriot. It was contended because they would have a special authoon one side, that the compact of 1782 was rity to enter upon that business. But final, and that an attempt at union on the without meaning to derogate from the part of England was a breach of faith. It weight justly due to all these gentlemen, was urged on the other, that it was not he would introduce a passage from Mr. regarded as final, because, by a suhse, Locke, who, in his observations on civil quent resolution, the Irish parliament de government, argued thus :-“ The legislaclared itself ready to adopt any farther tive cannot transfer the power of making means to give strength and stability to the laws to any other hands; for it being but connexion with Great Britain. But it a delegated power from the people, they could never be supposed that the parlia- who have it cannot pass it over to others. ment of Ireland would have committed The people alone can appoint the form of such an act of felo de se, as to have passed the commonwealth, which is by constia resolution inconsistent with the compact tuting the legislative, and appointing in by which her independence was esta- whose hands that shall be: and when the blished, and in which she solemnly avers, people have said, we will submit to rules, that no power on earth can make laws to and be governed by laws made by such bind her, except her own King, Lords, men, and in such forms, nobody else can and Commons; and that exclusive legis- say other men shall make laws for them
nor can the people be bound by any laws, experiment. He knew the evils attend- . but such as are enacted by those whom ant upon this doctrine, that it led to anthey have chosen, and authorized to make archy; but the contrary doctrine, namely, Jaws for them. The power of the legis- that the people had no right to resist, led lative, being derived from the people by a directly to despotism and perpetual slavery. positive voluntary grant and institution, In such a choice of evils, the alternative, can be no other than what that positive he hoped, would never be difficult. He grant conveyed, which being only to make was most decidedly convinced of the right laws, and not to make legislators, the le- of resistance in the people in extreme and gislative can have no power to transfer desperate cases, for the defence of their their authority of making laws, and place rights. Mr. H. concluded with saying., it in other hands." —He had heard it as- that the House must be convinced, serted, that great authorities could be cited unless he had failed in what he aimed to on the other side; undoubtedly that was prove, that the parliament of Ireland was the case. Sir M. Hale and Mr. Justice fully competent to the management and Blackstone were great authorities. The care of that country, and that if, for the right hon. gentleman and a learned gen. sake of preventing a possibility of differtleman (Mr. Grant) had deduced the con- ences between the two parliaments of sequences which followed from a denial Great Britain and Ireland, an incorporative of the competency of the Irish parlia- union were adopted, greater evils would ment. They had said, that “ if in this be created, the present state of British instance it were necessary to recur to the representation and the vast patronage of sense of the electors, then their right to the minister being considered, than those decide for the whole nation might be con- which were now so much the object of tested; then a convention of the people alarm, In his opinion this measure, under must be called, who must decide by uni. the existing circumstances of England versal suffrage; and the first question to and Ireland, instead of confidence, would be determined would be, whether the introduce jealousy: instead of affection, sense of a majority should be binding. hatred; instead of strength, weakness ; Hence a scene of revolutionary confusion instead of virtue, corruption. and horror would take place.” He was Lord G, L. Gower said, he could not not anxious to form a decided opinion upon but think, that to two countries, situated this controversy as to the extent of the as Great Britain and Ireland were, their powers of parliament ; for admitting that sovereign, language, and constitution being parliament was adequate to create even a the same, mutual advantages must be denew constitution, without previously tak- rived from a measure which tended to draw ing the sense of the electors, still the so- closer the connexion between them, and vereignty was in the people. Indeed, he consolidate the strength and security of understood the minister himself to enter the Empire. He would agree that it tain the same sentiment, when he talked would be wrong to stir a question of this of the sovereignty of the people in abey- nature, if no existing circumstances re. ance. Even Blackstone, who was so quired it; and that no wise politician strong an advocate for the omnipotence of would, for the sake of supposed advanparliament, had a passage to the following tages, such as advancing the commerce of effect; namely, that the people were a country, propose it, if no practical inentitled to the free administration of the convenience had resulted from the want laws, to petition and remonstrate with the of such a measure. It was not in times legislature, and finally to have arms for like these that he was disposed to risk exthe defence of their liberties." This was periments, or, from mere speculation, a recognition of the sovereignty of the attempt to guard against the evils that people in the last instance; it was an ac- might arise from possible differences beknowledgment that the people have a right tween the two legislatures; but when the to resist their legislature in case it at circumstances under which the present tempted to destroy their liberties. Indeed, measure was brought forward were consithis was a doctrine which formed the basis dered, he thought that it ought to be of all free governments; for if the people treated with every indulgence. A rebel. had no right to resist when their freedom lion had actually broken out io Ireland ; was attempted to be taken away, then they religious feuds raged with great violence; must lose that freedom, whenever the le- and these animosities of contending parties gislature was in the humour to make the had created great evils, for which the legislature found itself unable to impart re- would meet with the countenance of all dress. When France was grasping at those who felt indignation at the tyranny universal dominion, it became the parlia- and oppression of the common enemy, ments of both countries to do every thing and who wished that the British empire to strengthen the resourees of the empire. should hold up a buckler against the inIt seemed strange that, under such cir- roads of that encroaching power. cumstances, this measure should be re- Mr. Peel said, that a regard for cona ceived on the outset with such clamour; sistency made bim anxious to trespass a and it might have been expected that those few minutes on the patience of the House. who opposed it would have suggested some - In the year 1785, Sir, during the displan which would counteract the evils cussion of the Irish propositions I was a which stared them in the face. He would petitioner at your bar against those arnot inquire how far Catholic emancipation rangements; and I am warranted in saying, would answer the purpose; the contrary that I carried with me the sentiments of had been ably stated by the right hon. a great proportion of the trading interests gentleman who filled the chair of the of England. The object of those propoHouse ; and it was the opinion of many sitions, was to open a freer intercourse in Ireland, that this could not be granted betwixt two independent kingdoms; the without endangering the situation of the one possessing great foreign dominions Protestants in Ireland. But, were a union and a universal commerce ; the other to take place, the admission of the Catho- possessing no foreign dominions, and very lics to every political privilege would not little trade; and, consequently, enjoying be followed by their gaining that ascen- separate interests as they always must, dancy of power which would be the case while they have separate legislatures; beat present. Had any concessions or acts cause they may become separate, in fact. of conciliation hitherto tranquillized the It was apparent, then, that those arrangecountry? So far from it, that they served ments, however well intended, would have rather to increase them. He was far from been prejudicial to the manufactures of denying the competency of the Irish par. Great Britain. The support I have given liament to every purpose of legislation ; the present measure, does not arise from but he must say, that their measures had a change of sentiments, but of circumfailed of producing the desired effect. stances. This plan embraces great advanHe could not but lament that the Irish tages, both political and commercial, House of Commons should refuse to give which, by uniting two countries into one, a fair hearing to the proposal of a union. are calculated to add strength and secuIf a local legislature was not calculated to rity to the empire ; and is so essentially relieve one part of the people without en- necessary at this time, when a daring atdangering the safety of the other, nor to tempt has been made, both by intrigue repress insurrection and rebellion without and force, to separate the countries, that the presence and assistance of British inferior considerations ought not to weigh forces, surely every one must be anxious against a plan, which bids fair to frustrate for some new mode, better calculated to such attempts, and to consolidate both the ensure the peace and safety of Ireland, interest and the affections of the sister and the prosperity of the empire. He kingdoms. By a union we shall become had been much concerned to hear of the one people; and though the benefits, in opposition which had arisen to the mea- a commercial point of view, will be chiefly sure, though it was with much satisfaction enjoyed by Ireland; yet, if an opinion he had learned that some counties had may be formed of the sentiments of the come forward in favour of it; and he trading body of this nation, from their trusted that when the Resolutions came patriotic and respectful silence, a disposito be laid before the Irish House, when it tion is manifested to reach out a friendly saw how equitable they were, that false arm to their distressed brethren, to raise national pride would be succeeded by a them from their present unhappy state to different sentiment: he trusted that the a condition of ease and comfort, similar minister's declarations would meet with to our own. This conduct does the British the concurrence of men in the other merchants and manufacturers much honour. country of enlarged minds, and who are - Though a friend to the principle of the concerned for a real, instead of an ideal measure, I think it my duty to draw independence; the latter of which is only the attention of the House to the sixth productive of insecurity: he trusted they resolution. It must be the intention of every one to place both countries on had been by parliament, and strenuously an equal footing; and though nothing insisted on by the other side of the House. can be apprehended unfavourable to this I am the more surprised to find, that the country, during the present low ciro measure of union has been debated by the cumstances of Ireland, it may have an latter on Irish interest only, as if the quesoperation, at a future time, highly preju- tion were finally to be disposed of here, dicial to our domestic industry. Each without being argued elsewhere. There country is to provide for its own public are scarcely two opinions in this House, debt; and that of Great Britain being in respecting the utility of a union at a profinitely larger than the debt of Ireland, per time, and on fair and equitable terms; heavy taxes are necessarily imposed on though several gentlemen have expressed almost every article of consumption, which their marked disapprobation of the mea'. has so strong a tendency to enhance the sure at this period. Considering the state price of labour, that goods manufactured of Ireland, with a weak government, a under such a press, cannot be rendered disunited people, and with the standard on equally low terms with the produce of of rebellion erected in many parts of it, Jabour in places where similar burdens do this plan is calculated to remove such not exist. Unless this objection be re- alarming disorders; and the sooner the moved, the measure cannot be expected remedy is applied the better.-The manto have the concurrence of Great Britain. ner of bringing forward the resolutions is I feel it the more necessary to urge this deemed objectionable. Several gentlemen point, having perceived a want of that are of opinion, that they ought first to liberality in the Irish government, which have been submitted to the Irish parliacharacterizes our own. The commercial ment, before they had experienced a disintercourse pow subsisting betwixt the two cussion here. If the union involved in it countries has lost every feature of reci- sacrifices to be made exclusively on the procity; British manufactures being hea- part of Ireland, the complaint would have vily taxed on their admission into Ireland, been just : the contrary, however, being whilst the goods of that kingdom meet the case, and the concessions confined to with every encouragement here. What Great Britain, such a proceeding would ever may be the conduct of Ireland res. have been highly disrespectful and injupecting the propositions of a union, Irious to this country. The feelings of trust the firmness of administration will be pride and national consequence have been such, as to refuse all concession to me- awakened in Ireland; they cannot reconnace and intrigue; and that the aid which cile themselves to the loss of their sepait may be deemed necessary to extend in rate state, and distinct legislature: these future to that nation, will be received as are valuable privileges, boasted to have the genuine offspring of affection: I always been acquired by their own exertion and will oppose the giving much for nothing, patriotism, aided by the liberality of the when demanded as a matter of right. - British parliament. But let me ask, has Having said thus much as a commercial not Great Britain likewise valuable privi. man, I beg the farther indulgence of the leges, purchased with the blood of our anHouse as a member of parliament. I can- cestors? A distinct kingdom, and an innot compliment the gentlemen opposite dependent legislature ? A people united, on the grounds they have taken in the and removed from every danger, either present debate. The interests of Great foreign or domestic? In forming, therefore, Britain are so deeply involved in this an imperial legislature, Ireland loses no question, that I did expect the nature and rights which are not likewise surrendered extent of the sacrifices to be made on our by Great Britain: the distinct kingdoms part would have been strongly laid down, will be mixed into one compact body, and formed such a contrast to the imperial and thereby derive additional strength and advantages so forcibly stated by the friends security: Ireland will gain by the proof administration, as to have enabled the posed 'union, an imperial legislature, inHouse to come to a matured decision on stead of a local legislature. The small the subject. Not having been so assisted, proportion of Irish members forming a my first impressions are unaltered; and part of the imperial parliament is considered therefore I shall give the measure my con- by many as a surrender of their indepentinued support. ”The independence of the dence. That' an opinion so unfounded Irish legislature having been unequivo- should be entertained by a stranger to the cally acknowledged by ministers, as it character and constitution of the British