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life, demonstrate to be, and always to have fellow subjects in Ireland, to require been impossible, and every attempt to re- much argument to convince us of its folly alize which, either by the Jacquerie in and wickedness. It has in that country ancient France, the. Wat Tylers and Jack overturned the throne of the monarch and Straws in England, or the modern Jaco- the altars of God: it has sanctioned mur. bins, has proved as pernicious and destruc- der, parricide, and regicide; and has tive, as to suppose the possibility of its taught every illiterate peasant to consider actual existence, is foolish and absurd. himself as a fit candidate for supreme The fatal consequences of such attempts power, the sovereign of his sovereign, to restore, as it is called, to the people the and the lawgiver of mankindsovereignty they are imagined to have “ Ergo, regibus occisis, subversa jacebat farmed out, as it were, to their rulers, Pristina majestas soliorum, et sceptra superba subject to divers claims of forfeiture and Res itaque ad summam fæcem turbasque rere-entry, has indeed been too well illus
dibat."* trated by the late eventful history of a I agree with a person justly eminent, when neighbouring kingdom, for us here, or our he says, “ that it is dangerous in a popu- .
lar assembly to state that there are points * It has been unfortunate for the world, where the powers of the legislature end, that so great and upright a man as Mr. Locke and those of the people at large begin." (led astray by the circumstances of the times Indeed, I know of no point where a legiin which he lived, and the zeal of controversy) should have been the patron and advocate of
timate constitutional power in the people this baneful, but, in his hands, too plausible at large begins: there may be some very and specious doctrine. Locke's fate has in special cases to which that of the legisla. deed been singular. He was a good subject ture cannot reach : and in which, accordand a pious Christian. Yet, as his theory of ing to my conception, when any measure government has served for a basis to the de- becomes necessary and unavoidable, not structive systems of the Condorcets, Priest
the power, i. e. any rightful power of the leys, and Paines, so his metaphysical princi
people, but the dissolution of the constitu. ples have become the ground-work of the vain wisdom and false philosophy which began by
tion and government, will begin; from denying the existence of the material world,
which anarchy it must be left, in such and proceeded, in the writings of the late Mr. cases, to chance, to the circumstances of Hume and others, to extend ihat wild scepti- the times, and to the prudence and virtue cism of an ingenious and well-intentioned pre- of individuals possessing influence, either late (bishop Berkeley) to the disbelief of spirit personal or from situation, to extricate also, of the immortal nature of man, and the the nation. It is indeed delicate and dan. being of God himself. This remark has been, gerous wantonly to moot such sort of in a great measure, occasioned by my recollection of a truly great philosopher, to whose
cases; no judge of human nature, who is early lessons and kindness I look back with
a friend to his country, ever will; whattenderness and pride, who was arnong the
ever may be his particular creed and first to prove that the system adopted by party on matters fairly debateable, and Locke concerning ideas, tended, by its natural open to a safe difference in opinion. consequence, to those of Berkeley and Hume; There are, however, cases of another but who, in announcing that opinion to the description, which may be more freely world, anxiously disclaimed every wish or in- | discussed, to which also the supreme power tention to disparage the talents of those, the fallacy and danger of whose doctrines he
of the legislature (in our constitution of thought he could demonstrate, and every view the parliament) cannot extend; but which, of arrogating to himself any peculiar sagacity being of a negative kind, and not requiring and discernment on that account. Indeed, any measure to be taken or act done, do those who remember him, know that there not connect themselves with the notion of never was learning and wisdom more free from any necessary dissolution of the frame of arrogance and presumption than his. “A the government. They are, in truth, of traveller,” says he,“ of good judgment, may such a sort, that, on their correct analysis, mistake his way, and be led unawares into a it will be found, that the idea of the apwrong track; and, while the road is fair before him, may go on without suspicion, and be fol- plication of that power involves either lowed by olhers; but when it ends in a pre- physical or moral impossibility, or a nacipice, it requires no peculiar degree of wis- tural contradiction in the terms of the dom and penetration to know he has gone wrong, nor perhaps to find out what misled * Lucret. lib. v, ver. 1135. bim."----Dr. Reid's Inquiry into the Human + Speech of the right hon. John Foster, p. lind, p. 23.
proposition. Two examples, material for poration of new parts, the incompetency the present purpose, especially the last of of parliament to decompose them is, 1 them, will illustrate the distinction to think, abundantly obvious, without adopt. which I have wished to dras the attention ing the foregoing opinion to its full exof the House. 1. Parliament cannot tent, which I by no means do, with regard pass a law which a subsequent parliament to the dismemberment of some original shall not be able to repeal. The plain fraction, or district, of what had always reason of this is, that the supposition of constituted one and the same state. The such a power is contradictory to itself. It essential condition of such a union is is to suppose the parliament of next year the combination of each of the constituent less absolute and supreme than the parlia- parts into a new whole, in which the idenment of this. 2. i have heard it con- tical characters and qualities of those tended, not without plausibility, that the parts are so lost as that they can no where parliament cannot dismember the king afterwards be found or restored. The dom, or circumscribe the sphere of its own contracting parties cease to exist, and authority; and consequently that, on that become incapable of being revived. It account, it cannot dissolve any union is as impossible to replace them in statu which, by treaty or otherwise, has blend- quo, as it would be to recover the idened into one state, subject to its authority, tical parts of two images of the same me. parts which existed, previous to such tal, which may have been melted togeireaty, in a separate and distinct condi- ther, and cast into one new figure made tion, with separate legislatures ; that to up of both. Physically, or even morally suppose it capable of doing this, is also a and politically speaking, Scotland, as a contradiction in terms; that the nation couniry, might be again disjoined from and its parliament are each indivisible in England: it might again have parliaments, tegral parts, the one governed, the other as England might have ; but this must be governing, and forming together one in by a process exactly the same with that divisible aggregate or body politic; that which should separate Cornwall, Norfolk, if you detach any part of this body, what Caithness, or Sutherland, from Great Briremains is no longer the same state, the tain. It would not be a redintegration or same nation, the same legislature or par restoration of Scotland to her former liament; that the two parts may form state, as she existed before 1707: that themselves again, each or either, into a state has been melted down, and indissosimilar constitution to what before existed, lubly, mingled with that of England, or into other constitutions ; but that the which, in like manner, can never become dismemberment will have effected that a separate kingdom, as of its ancient right. sort of resolution of the aggregate into its If this reasoniog is as just and correct elements, which is known to happen in as it appears to me, all apprehensions our municipal law, when, by the loss of and alarms must necessarily vanish (alarms an integral part, an ordinary corporation sometimes attempted to be raised when is dissolved, and loses its corporate exis- it has been thought they might assist a tence; that it is universally true, that the little dearth of argument), of Great Bri. dismemberment of any legitimate state tain assuming a right to break through, cannot be a legitimate act of that state ; and set aside, at her pleasure, any incorbut necessarily supposes, even on ces- poration of this kingdom and that of Iresiops in virtue of conquest, exchange, &c. land, which the wisdom and patriotism of a disruption of the integrity of the state; the two parliaments may adopt. After that it might be difficult to argue his po- a union, Ireland may again be separated sition on the history of those ill-con from Great Britain, as England may be structed constitutions where dismem- torn asunder from Scotland, by domestic berment has in fact often taken place, faction and civil war, or by foreign hos. or with regard to extreme cases, of the tility; but they never can be disjoined cession of small insignificant portions of a by any regular act of the united governlarge dominion; but that nobody will say ment and legislature. In short, it appears that the actual state and constitution of to me that a common parliament, such as Great Britain would remain, if the county was formed on the Scotch union, and of Northumberland or Cornwall, the an- must be in contemplation now, must cient kingdom of Scotland, or the princi- have the power of altering or repealing pality of Wales, were detached from it. any of the former acts of either of the
But, in the case of an union, and incor- local legislatures, i. e. either English or (VOL. XXXIV.)
Scotch, British or Irish, a power daily After all, some may think I might have exercised in regard to English and Scotch spared the House and myself the trouble acts made previous to 1707; but that of the foregoing discussion, as few, very such common parliament cannot legiti- few, within these walls, have gone so far mately repeal or alter any of the funda- as directly to maintain the general incommental and essential clauses, articles, or petence of parliament to such a measure conditions of that treaty, by which the as a union. But several, by expressions union shall be constituted; since the of doubt and surmise, by ambiguous treaty authorised by each legislature, con words, scattered abroad at the risk of cluded by commissioners, and then again misleading the vulgar, the ill-informed, ratified by each legislature, when carried or ill-disposed, among his majesty's subinto effect will render it impossible, upon jects in Ireland, have set out with involve any breach, for either party to resume its ing their opinion on this material point in former situation, and avail itself of the oracular obscurity, and have then gone nullity thereby occasioned ; and of course on to assert, that whatever may have been impossible, consistently with moral right the right of the English or of the Scotch and duty, for the united parliament, i. e. parliament in 1707, a union between beyond its legitimate powers, to commit Great Britain and Ireland, or, at least, such a breach.
such a union as is supposed to be inBefore I proceed, the House will per- tended, cannot be lawfully agreed to or mit me to explain what may otherwise carried into effect by either of the parliabe liable to misrepresentation or miscon- ments of those respective kingdoms. They struction. Though I have denied the assume, as the case I think must be, that strict right of the constituent body to in the minds of those who have proposed, deliberate and decide on political ques- or are friends to the measure, the protions, and either to limit or extend, by portion of members to be sent by Ireland special commission and instructions, the to the united parliament is meant to be powers vested by law in their representa considerably less than the number of Britives, yet I am very clearly of opinion, tish members : which, if the example of that the representative does not perform the Scotch union shall be followed in this his duty, or consult the true interests of particular, will remain as at present. his country, who does not pay a due and This,” it is said, “ would, in effect, respectful attention to the sentiments, and amount to a total surrender of the legiseven, in many cases, to the inclinations lative authority of Ireland to Great Brie and wishes of his particular constituents. tain. But the constituents of the Irish and of the proprietors and inhabitants of parliament delegated to their representathe place he represents (with whom he tives the powers with which they invested contmonly has the easiest means of com- them, for the purpose of exercising, not munication), as well as to the opinions of surrendering, those powers, for the which rail in general among the dif- purpose of maintaining a supreme, indeferent classes of his fellow-subjects. It is pendent, and exclusive legislature for very true that there neither exists, nor Ireland, not to enable them to betray and can exist, any legal or formal method of destroy the independency, or rather the collecting the individual opinions and existence of the Irish legislature. This," suffrages of a whole nation: still, how- it is alleged, “must be the case, if the ever, the predominant sentiment will members for Ireland are in a great disproforce its way to the observation and un- portion to those for Great Britain. Though derstanding of the legislators, and will the British parliament, therefore, should be in many, perhaps in most cases, the be supposed competent to receive, in best and most prudent guide for them to accession to its legislative authority over follow. If they neglect it, the period of Great Britain, the like power over Irere-election enables the voters (the majo- land, the Irish parliament can have no rity of whom, even as now constituted in right to bestow that power, and subject this kingdom, taking the whole country their country, in that manner, to the over, will, I believe, always be found to government of a foreign legislature. The accord with the majority of the nation addition of one-sixth, one-fifth, or oneitself) to select others who think more as fourth, to the present aggregate number they do on those subjects of public of British members, will leave the British concern which they have nearest their parliament as exclusively supreme over hearts.
Great Britain as before, and will, at the same time, communicate to Great Britain in its commencement, was a mere nullity; as entire a supremacy over Ireland as she especially where the acts by which this formerly claimed (before the epoch of nullity has been turned into a right, must, 1782) when that country was totally un- if the argument is well founded, have represented in Great Britain.”
been throughout equally null and void. In stating this sort of argument, which If the Scotch parliament could not, in I have endeavoured not to weaken or 1707, legally ratify the treaty of union, misrepresent, the case of Scotland seemed the act by which they purported to do so to militate so strongly both against the was void: and the royal assent which conclusion of incompetency, and the was given to that act, having nothing on assumed fact from which that conclusion which it could operate, was void also; as is drawn, namely, the exercise of exclu- much so as it would have been if given to sive power by the greater over the lesser an act by which the parliament had at.country, that every effort of ingenuity tempted to legislate for France or Italy. has been used, though unsuccessfully, to But the ratitication of the treaty by the find out some intelligible ground of dis- Scotch parliament was the essential continction between that transaction and the dition on which that of England ratified measure now in agitation.
it. If, therefore, the act of the Scotch 1st. With regard to the fact. It is a parliament was a nullity, so also must matter of such acknowledged notoriety, have been that which was only passed on that in questions of a local nature, or the faith of its supposed validity. The which nearly.concern the northern divi. one was the consideration for the other ; sion of this united kingdom, the members and if England could receive nothing, returned by Scotland have generally neither could she mean to give, nor could influenced the opinion and vote of the give any thing; and the whole business whole House of Commons, that the gen- resembled, on her part, what the lawyers tlemen on the other side have not been call a nudum pactum. Thus this doctrine able to deny it. They have, therefore, necessarily leads to the inference, that the been obliged to content themselves with present legislature of this country has no the hope that this, like other circum- legitimate authority; that the powers it stances relative to the Scotch union, may exercises are mere usurpation; and that may be ascribed to something of a mys- no man, either in Scotland or England, terious and undefinable nature, peculiar is bound to submit to any of the laws to the character and situation of that which have been enacted for near a cen. people; and they insist, that whatever tury. may have in practice counteracted the 2. When, perceiving that this argument natural consequence of the superiority of of acquiescence fails by leading to such numbers in that case, it is not less certain a dangerous absurdity, gentlemen resort that the whole legislative authority over to some supposed special delegation from Scotland is vested in the English mem- the people or constituent body to the parbers, than that 513 is a larger number liament of Scotland, it will be recollected, than 45.
as I have already shown, that the electors 2nd. As to the conclusion, they argue, could not, by the constitution—in this that if the surrender (as they insist on respect the same in that kingdom as in terming it) which was made by the Scotch England---make any such delegation, so parliament has not vitiated the whole as to give it any force or validity; nor transaction, it is either because the lapse grant to the elected any peculiar powers, of time and long acquiescence on the not incident to the mere character of repart of that country have, by a sort of presentatives duly chosen. I will now prescription, confirmed the authority of prove, that in 1707 no such delegation the parliament now denominated British, was in fact attempted in Scotland. There but still, in effect, only English, over is undoubtedly a passage or two in De Scotland; or because the Scotch parlia. Foe's History of the Union, which seems ment was expressly empowered and com- to indicate something special in the apmissioned by the constituents in that pointment, of the members of the parliakingdom to agree to an union.
ment of Scotland, which concluded that In answer to these refinements it may treaty; and a supposed specific authority, be observed.
in that instance has been much relied on, 1. That it is a new sort of prescription This circumstance induced me to bestow which can confirm or render valid, what, some pains in the investigation of the matter, the result of which has been, that by this dissolution of the respective par. no such authority was in contemplation, liaments, but to continue in force; and much less required or conferred, at the such treaty as the commissioners might time of electing that parliament. In the conclude was to be ratified by the subseseveral treaties preceding that which so quent parliaments of each kingdom. happily accomplished the object, from From the above deduction it is clear, the accesssion of James the 6th of Scot- that if those commissioners had in fact land to the crown of England downwards, proceeded to the conclusion of a treaty, no idea of the necessity, expediency, or,
no surmise could ever have been made, I may say, constitutionally speaking, of that on the part of Scotland any special the possibility of such a reference to and mandate had served as a foundation for delegation from the freeholders and bur- the powers exercised on the occasion. A gesses,-forming themselves, as they must new parliament was soon afterwards called, have done, into what, in the modern in the usual way, in England, and met on French vocabulary, would be called pri- the 20th Oct. 1702, a week previous to mary assemblies, - ever seems to have been the meeting of the commissioners. On entertained by any projector, politician, the 8th September a royal proclamation lawyer, member of parliament,' minister, was published in Scotland, containing the or sovereign whatever.
following words: “ Whereas the late par. I will now, Sir, shortly state what liament of that our ancient kingdom of really happened in Scotland on the occa Scotland is by our authority dissolved, sion of the last and successful treaty. and considering that we are engaged at
The Convention parliament, or estates, present in a most just and necessary war: which had be n assembled in that coun- and that by acts passed both in the partry on the abdication, or forfeiture, of liament of England and Scotland, we are James, and had met early in 1689, con- empowered, and have accordingly nomi. tinued undissolved through all the reign of nated commissioners to treat of a union king William, and were summoned to betwixt these our kingdoms, and of other meet by queen Anne on the 9th of June things, matters, and causes relating there1702, a few months after her accession. to, conform to the tenors of the said acts, The anomalous formation of those estates the conclusion of which union to be estais well known; and it will not be pre- blished and ratified in both parliaments, tended, that any measure of union be. will undoubtedly conduce to the lasting tween the two kingdoms was, at the time peace and welfare of both kingdoms; for of their nomination, either agitated by which causes, and that we judge it necesthe represented, or given in charge to sary there should be a parliament in being their representatives. The sixth English to meet on such occasions as may require parliament of king William, which had it, we have thought fit to call a parliament been called by the usual process (no spe of that our kingdom, to meet at our city cial authority being pretended as to Eng. of Edinburgh on the 12th of November land), was sitting on queen Anne's acces next." sion; and on the 6th May 1702, had This passage, in an instrument of which, passed an act, enabling the queen to ap- after a good deal of research, I have been point commissioners for treating of a union furnished with a copy by the obligiog atbetween England and Scotland. As soon tention of the gentleman who has the as the Scotch parliament met after king care of the public records at Edinburgh, William's death, this circumstance was is the only circumstance and source to communicated to them in a letter from which I can trace the supposition of the the queen, and a similar measure, on alleged special authority of which I have their part, recommended, and, in con- been speaking. I think it is no injustice sequence thereof, a like act was passed to the gentlemen who have pleaded that on the 23rd June 1702. Commissioners special authority, to suppose they had were accordingly appointed on the part of conceived it to rest upon some more solid each kingdom, and met at Westminster and tenable ground. 'Indeed, I have not on the 27th Oct. 1702. In the mean time met with any evidence that they, or any the Scotch parliament, or Convention, writer or compiler, on the present occawas prorogued (30th June), and soon sion, had taken the pains I have been afterwards dissolved, as was the English prompted to do (in order to sift every parliament on the 2nd July 1702. But point of this great question as thoroughly the commissipps were not to determine as I could), with regard to the proceed: