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illustrate the improvement of its indepen- / yet I must persist in saying, that those dence and dignity, than by saying, that will ever appear to me to have evinced a her situation will from that moment be more genuine, a more profound and so. precisely the same in all points with that licitous affection for their country, who of Great Britain herself. Unless we sup- have not refused to deliberate on such pose, therefore, Ireland in her present si-mighty interests, but have resisted a first tuation, more independent and less sub- and false impulse, and chosen for their ordinate than Great Britain, we cannot guide rather the slower and less captivatimagine that her independence will be di- ing torch of reason, than the more lively minished by the union. And if it be true, flashes of passion and prejudice. Nor as we have shown, that she is at present can I refrain from adding, that if there be dependent, and subordinate to Great Bri- indeed any individuals, or descriptions of tain in many respects, it is clear, that a men, who, not misled themselves, but far union which shall have the effect of plac- above the influence of those delusions ing the two countries on a footing of per- which they have practised upon the mulfect equality, must improve the indepen- titude, have seen nothing in this great dence and dignity of the inferior, that is question but personal or local interests, to say, of Ireland. Is Ireland then anni. and have sought to mask a narrow prefebilated by these means ? No; Ireland is rence of individual and partial advantage still Ireland, while a new scope is given under this pretence of national pride and to the pride, and a larger field opened to feeling; if such men, I say, with these the patriotism of every Irishman. Let motives at the bottom of their hearts, and me ask, in fine, where we shall discover with the profanation of a great public in the present condition of Ireland, that virtue on their lips, have frustrated the superior degree of independent dignity, wise and paternal counsel given by our which should outweigh the real and solid common sovereign for the permanent and benefits of union: or where we can per perpetual benefit, and not less for the preceive in the change which that union will sent and immediate preservation of the operate on the political situation of Ire- empire in all its parts, and especially of land, the degradation and indignity which their own particular country; I own I should forbid her even to deliberate, and cannot part with this subject, without deraise an inseparable barrier, both to her claring loudly that I envy neither the aggrandizement and happiness
pillows and consciences of those men, nor I do conceive, indeed, how the situation the place they are likely to fill in the hisa of some individuals may be such as to af- tory of their country, ford a greater share of personal conside- There is yet.one objection on which I ration or advantage in Ireland, while con- am disposed to trespass on your lordships fined within its present limits, than they indulgence, rather from the importance might obtain on the greater theatre of the which has been given to it by those who united kingdoms. Even here, indeed, the oppose the union, than from any weight I computation may be fallacious; but how- think it entitled to myself. The point I ever that question may stand with regard now allude to is, a supposed disability in to individuals, I am sure that the inhabi- the respective parliaments of Great Britants of Ireland will gratify a sound love tain and Ireland to sanction such a meaof national dignity, while they procure to sure. This is another objection on which their country unspeakable advantages of the merits of the main question are waved, every other sort, by their accession to the and in which those who have been des noble empire of which the union would feated on that ground, or who are conmake them citizens.
scious that they must be so, would still I must therefore conclude, that although take refuge. It resembles a plea to the I must respect the feelings of those who, jurisdiction; and although I am far from following this instinct of national pride, assenting to a very absurd doctrine which which I have allowed to be in some sort I have heard falsely ascribed to our law, natural, have been blinded to the true that he who pleads to the jurisdiction shall merits of this question, either as it regards abide by that plea : and when it has been the interests or the dignity of their coun- over-ruled shall not plead over, but be try; and although I cannot refuse a con. concluded on the facts and merits of his siderable degree of indulgence even to the cause ; yet I think myself entitled to claim intemperance and violence excited by any thus much from those who resort to this form of patriotism, and even by its errors; objection. That, although after it has [VOL. XXXIV.]
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been over-ruled, and the jurisdiction of limited sovereignty of the British legislaparliament has been established, they shall ture. be at liberty to recur back to the question I am aware of the reply generally made of expediency; yet while we are discuss to this assertion of unlimited power. I
, may told, that powers unlimited in the purpose of that ərgument, the merits theory are yet finite and controlled in shall be granted, The objection cannot practice, and that, in its exercise, the otherwise be placed on its own proper and most unbounded authority is still circun. peculiar ground: for if the competence of scribed, at least within the moral bounparliament were disputed merely on the daries of right and wrong. I assent to ground of inexpediency in the particular this restriction, and even assert it; but act, it must be felt in a moment that the what does my adversary gain by this conquestion of competence, with regard to cession? Parliament ought not to do the union, would stand exactly on the what is wrong, and is to be supposed insame footing as if it related to any other capable of doing it. In this sense, the legislative measure, however clearly within power of parliament is no more limited the acknowledged powers and daily prac. than the Divine Omnipotence itself, which tice of parliament. In order to obtain, is incapable of evil. I say also of Partherefore, a distinct and substantive judy- liament that it is incapable of evil; ment on the question of competence, it and I say it in this sense, that what must be kept pure, and uncomplicated parliament does is not to be accounted with any other consideration ; which can evil, but is to be taken and aconly be done by trying it in a case of ad- quiesced in as right-Why? will it be mitted expediency. I think myself en- said, Is not parliament composed of men, titled, then, for the purpose of this
and therefore fallible ? Yes; but who ment, to assume, that the proposed union must judge the fallibility of parliament, would be beneficial to both countries, and and to whom must its questionable acts I am at liberty to state its advantages, or be submitted ---if it be not to other men, its necessity, as high as I please. In a yet more fallible than themselves ? For word, my adversary in this argument I wish to know where men are to be found must assent to the measure as expedient or in what forms or combinations they and necessary, denying only the authority are to be assembled, to whom such a suof parliament to execute it.
perlative authority could with safety be Now, if a measure be expedient, I am confided, to ask, in the first place, why may it not The more we turn this argument, and be executed by parliament ? And, in the the more carefully it is viewed on all its next place, if parliament is not competent sides and bearings, the more we shall be where shall we find a more adequate au- satisfied that the only security we possess thority? I have for me, the general rule for every thing valuable in the British go. and law of the constitution, which esta- vernment; that all that conduces to order blishes the universal authority of the le. and happiness; that the whole efficacy of gislature, and defines it by no limits or our constitution towards its great and bequalification that I am acquainted with. neficial purposes resides in this single Whatever the whole nation could do, if principle, of the unlimited, unqualified suthere were no parliament, is within the premacy of parliament. There is no apregular and fundamental powers of par- peal acknowledged in the constitution, liament. This is admitted to be the ge- from that authority, because no appellate neral rule; and here I might plant my tribunal can be imagined, habile to such foot, at least until the exception were spe. a jurisdiction; none from which the wise cified, and the principle of that excep. dom of those many ages, which have tion established." The universality of par, brought our constitution to maturity and liamentary power has been characterised excellence, has not already constituted an by the strong and emphatic title of Om- appeal, final and conclusive in all cases nipotence. And, in the theory of our whatever, to that very parliament, from constitution, strong and emphatic as this which you would again appeal back to phrase is, it need not, I think, be deemed them. Observe the vicious circle into merely a bold figure, as it has been called which this appeal from the parliament to by some writers on our government, but the people must lead us. The people at as literally and correctly descriptive of large cannot conveniently, nor safely for parliamentary supremacy, and of the un. themselves, make law, or administer go
vernment. The constitution of parlia-subject; I do not like the solution the menit has therefore been framed, as afford- worse for being somewhat oracular. But ing the most commodfous and perfect organ if a peremptory opinion be demanded, and of law and government, and the best and we must needs pronounce, I think myself most secure depository of the sovereign entitled to answer generally in the lanauthority. But their acts must, it seems, guage of the constitution. No limit has, be questioned, and their authority super- been appointed to the authority of the seded by that very people at large, whose sovereign ; nor any exception specified inability and imaptness have given occa- to the obedience of the subject. The sion to the institution of parliament. The constitution has not foreseen any case of speedy resolution of the argument into resistance, and has made no provision for this contradiction and absurdity, is, there it. Such a case is not, and cannot be, in fore, manifest.
the contemplation of any constitution It is easy to foresee that this claim of whatever. A pre-established, that is to unlimited power may be opposed by the say, a constitutional right of resistance counter-claim of a right to resist an abuse to the constitutional sovereign, is a so. and perversion of authority, however lecism; a mere contradiction in terms. legal." This question of resistance, that is It can exist in no constitution that either to say, concerning the right of the subject is, or ever was, because it is inconsistent to oppose by force the acts or orders of with the very notion of constitution, or the legal sovereign, by which your lord government. We must answer, then, that ships know, I should not mean, in this resistance is illegal, and is contrary to the country, merely the throne, but that I law, in every form of government of which speak of that body in which the full so- law is the foundation. If an extreme case vereignty of any nation resides, according be put to me, I may well refuse to answer to the established constitution of its go-it, until the case arise in practice. Stated vernment, and which, with reference to theoretically, it is always a snare. When this kingdom, would be the parliament; it happens practically, the case will answer the point, I say, thus explained, of re- for itself, and if resistance would not folsistance, at the discretion of the subject, low on the spur of any provocation that to the legal sovereign, is of no trivial can be stated, without the previous sancconcern, and ought not to be rashly or tion of some declared and anticipated auirreverently approached. The question is thorization in the constitution to legalize of high import, and delicate complexion. it, it is a case which we may pronounce, It appears to me, to be one of those mys- by that very criterion, anfit io produce or teries, the acknowledgment of which is justify resistance. Every case of resista much connected with its recluse sanctity, ance must stand, as it were, upon its own and its being withdrawn from daily and individual responsibility, and must be such vulgar contemplation, to be reserved only as to provide for itself, without the aid of for the great occasions which are worthy any antecedent principle to lean upon. to draw it forth, and, “ like a robe ponti. Such cases, whatever may be said of them fical-ne'er to be seen, but wondered at.” by history, whatever may be felt of them I believe it is impossible that any thing by the generous sympathies of mankind, better should be said on this subject, than must look for no support from law, with what I find quoted by an eloquent patriot which they cannot co-exist; they are all' of my own country, Mr. Fletcher, of Sal- without the pale of law, and all illegal ; town, from the mouth of Mr. William they are all extra-constitutional; all in Colvin, whom he styles one of the wisest men direct contradiction with the particular Scotland ever had, and who, speaking of constitution, as well as with the general defensive arms, that is to say, the right principle of government; they are mere of the subject to carry arms, for the pur- solitary, insulated, substantive facts, pose of resisting oppression from the so- equally incapable of deriving from, or gevereign, was used to express himself in nerating any binding analogy of general these remarkable words : -" That it were and permanent authority.
These questo be wished all princes thought them tions are not new in this country. We lawful, and the people unlawful.” No have passed through a century of such wish can be more salutary, and no answer controversies, and have, since that period, to this delicate and important question enjoyed a century more of happiness, the can be more perfectly wise as well as dis- fruit of the wise and profound, as well as creet. I confess, also, that on this single spirited judgment of our ancestors on these debates; a judgment, as your lordships two countries, is an extension of terriknow, equally removed, on one hand, tory, compared with the former bounds from a mean and pusillanimous acquies- and surface of each, since each is respeccence under oppression, and, on the tively augmented by the accession of the other, from those shallow but ruinous ab- other. But this effect of union cannot be stractions which so much pains are taken a ground of disqualification to parliament, to bring once more into fashion. We do since the constitution commits the same not come, therefore, in England, so raw power to a narrower authority, I mean into these discussions, as to be misled by the prerogative of the crown alone. If a the juvenile refinements of political meta conquest be made without any contrary physics, or by the early puerilities of stipulation, the conquered country beThose who may have read their Locke comes subject, ipso facto, to the legislawithout reading history, or who in read. tion of parliament. The king may also ing their Locke have forgot their history, obtain by treaty the annexation of any into errors, which we know to be as fatal new territory to his crown, by which to the practicable blessings of liberty, as means it will fall, of course, under the to the strength and stability of government. government of the British parliament. In We know that an established system and both these ways the dominion of Great theory of resistance is but another word Britain can be enlarged, to any extent, for anarchy; and that, whatever be the by the sole prerogative of the crown excellence of any constitution in other and much more by the king in parliament. respects, however wisely and skilfully con- We must look, then, for some other cir. structed it may be, even for stability, in cumstance in this case to exclude the ge. its other provisions, let there be added neral authority of parliament. this one principle of a permanent and sub- Besides extending the bounds of the sisting right to resist, even in the most kingdom, at present subject to the sovelimited case, since the existence of that reignty of parliament, a legislative union case must, by the very nature of the thing, extends and enlarges parliament itself, be submitted to the discretion of every in- accommodating the size of the legislature dividual in the state, that constitution to the accession of territory. It amounts will bear in its bosom the seed of its own then to an alteration in the frame and condissolution, and a principle of dispersion dition of parliament; and we are to inquire and demolition, utterly irreconcileable with whether parliament is, on that account, the tranquillity or peace of the people, and disqualified from performing it. It may destructive of all tenacity and duration in be worth while to remark, in the first the government.
place, that this formal change is, howBut it will be said, this is not a ques- ever, consonant with the general spirit tion of resistance, and we are inquiring and genius of the constitution. Is it not only whether this measure does not ex- fair, while we are discussing the condiceed the limits of that authority with tions under which iwo countries are to be which the constitution has invested parlia. ucited, to consider what would have been ment. I am, then, to ask, since the the case if they had been one from the power of parliament is general and unde- beginning? Would not Ireland, in that fined, in what respect is this particular act case, have had representatives in the ledistinguishable from others which are ad- gislature? It would not be difficult to mitted to be within its competence, in show from history, that while Ireland was such a manner as to become an exception considered as exclusively under the goto the general rule of the constitution ? vernment of the English parliament, that And here I am under the difficulty of is to say, before the institution of the those who are to combat without an ad- Irish parliament, that country sent memversary, or to combat an adversary whom bers to the parliament of England. The they cannot see. I am to search for my same principle has generally, though I do opponent, or must begin by creating the not say without exception, operated in enemy whom I am afterwards to engage; similar cases, I mean in cases of the ac. for as yet I have certainly heard nothing cession of contiguous territories. Of this, precise on this subject. I must, therefore, Wales, the Counties Palatine, and Scotlook among the distinctive qualities of land, are similar examples. The minor this measure, for some circunstance on instances of Calais, and Berwick op Tweed, which to found the exception. The first may have been less attended to, but they circumstance I observe in the union of illustrate also this general propensity of our constitution. While Calais was sub-, less than a law, and as such, to fall within ject to the Crown of England, that town the natural province of the law-giver, who enjoyed and exercised, by charter from in this country, is the parliament. How Harry. 8th, the privilege of sending two will it be shown that these laws, affecting burgesses to parliament. And as soon as the constitution of parliament, are alone Berwick on Tweed, which being a fron- incompetent to parliament ? Our own tier town, frequently changed masters, experience has taught us the contrary. I according to the various fortune of war, dare say there are very few of your lordwas at length settled under the dominion ships who have not assisted in the passing of England, by the union of both crowns, of laws precisely of this description, and, and the final extinction of war, at the ac- however warmly such measures may have cession of James 1st, that town received been resisted or debated on other grounds also the franchise of returning members I will venture to say, there is not one of us to parliament. The constitution, in a who has ever heard or known this obword, leans that way; and it may perjection, of the insufficiency of parliament haps reasonably be thought a greater vio. opposed to them. The various laws for lence to that constitution, and a more fun- limiting the duration of parliaments, for damental and essential change, to add ex- regulating elections, for altering the quatensive territories to the country already lification of electors, or elected, for disgoverned by parliament, without giving franchising offending boroughs, and comto those territories a participation in the municating their franchises to strangers, constitution, and a share in the represen. that is to say, for example, to the freehol. tation, than to accompany such an acces- ders of a neighbouring hundred; all these, sion of territory with a legislative as well and many more, falling precisely within as an incorporating union. Yet, no man the principle of this objection, have been disputes the power of the crown, accord- passed, by no higher authority than that ing to the prerogative which I have lately of parliament. What are all those prostated, to operate the former and the posals for what is called sometimes modegreater change even without the aid of rate, sometimes radical reform, but laws parliament. "Is it not then fair to argue, for the alteration, for the total subversion à fortiori, and à multo fortiori, that the of the constitutional parliament? To me larger authority of the whole legislature they have appeared little short of revolu. shall be more competent, or much more tion, incipient revolution. Yet, I have competent, to the smaller change, that is never heard one of those, who with simito say, to extend the bounds of the em lar views of these projects, have been betpire in a manner congenial and in unison ter qualified, than myself, by talents and with the constitution, as it would do in weight in this country, to oppose them, the measure proposed, than the narrower object the incompetence of parliament to power of the prerogative can be to the entertain and to adopt these changes in its greater change, that is to say, to an ac- own constitution, if they should appear cession of territory and a union with other expedient. countries, on a principle abhorrent from An alteration of the established religion the genius of our government? Yet the which has always been the work of parliacompetence of these latter acts, whether ment, is another change, and a most funto the crown or to the parliament has damental one in its constitution ; since the never been disputed; and rests, indeed, whole parliamentary franchise, whether too firmly on the repeated and ordinary elective or representative, is transferred exercise of their powers to admit of ques. from one class and description of the peo. tion.
ple to another. The whole is taken from But let us return to this objection, and all those who possessed it, and vested in admit, that a legislative union with Ire- those who did not. land, must operate a change on the condi- The laws so frequently made by parliation, or even the constitution of parlia- ment for altering and regulating the acment; and let that change be as consi- cession to the crown, bear a strong anaderable as the objector would choose to logy to the case which is now objected state it. Does it follow that such a change to, amounting indeed, to a total change in on parliament cannot be made by parlia. one whole branch or member of the parment, as it may be said in physics, that liament. a body cannot act upon itself? Such an This objection, then, cannot be mainalteration appears to me, neither more nor tained simpliciter, on the incompetence of