Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ing which may have given rise to the treaty, have recited the special power passages I have referred to in De Foe. which alone warranted them in that act, But it is no wonder the sort of argument and which their general character as a there stated is so loosely, generally, and parliament did not authorize? Now, Sir, shortly expressed, and that so little at not one of those circumstances exists. tention seems to have been paid to it at The proclamation gives no particular the time, or by that very historian. Was direction as to the elections. The sumthe mention made of the war, in the same monses for election, the commissions, the proclamation, a special or necessary no- minutes, the corporation books, bear no tice to the electors of Scotland to instruct marks or signs of any thing special. their representatives how they were to act History, memoirs, tradition, are all siin the ensuing parliament, as to granting lent ; and the act of the Scotch parliaor refusing supplies? If it had been all ment is equally so. at once discovered, that all former par. It is hardly necessary to wind up the liaments which had entertained the ques. narrative I have been giving, by stating tion of union had exceeded the power and that the commissioners who met by virtue authority incident to their constitution, of the two acts of 1702, never came to would there not have been some more any conclusive treaty or agreement. Their solemn and specific recital to that effect meetings were finally adjourned on the 3rd in the proclamation itself?. Would that Feb. 1703. The new Scotch parliament subject have been lumped, as it were, did not meet till the 6th May 1703. On with so common and usual a cause for the 9th Sept. 1703, they voted, that "the holding a parliament as the circumstance commission of parliament,” as they called of a war? Would not the proclamation it, was terminate and extinct; and that have proceeded to give new and peculiar there should be no new one without the directions for the method of communicat- consent of parliament. In February ing to the electors the notice that they 1704-5, the English parliament passed a were to exercise a novel and extraordinary new act, empowering the queen to appoint sort of deliberation, and to communicate commissioners, when a similar act should a new power to the elected, not neces. have passed the parliament of Scotland. sarily vested in them by the act of election on the 5th April 1705, that first Eng. and consequent commission, appointing lish parliament of queen Anne was disthem inembers of the legislature? Would solved, and the new one met on the 27th not the proceedings at the subsequent October. In the mean time, after a great elections, the summons, the returns, or, deal of angry proceedings in the paras they were called, and were in fact in liament of Scotland during their first Scotland, the commissions of the per- and second session, in the third, which SODS chosen, have contained some refer- began on the 28th June 1705, an act ence to the subject? Would not the mi- also passed, authorising the queen to apnutes of the election meetings, whether point commissioners. Under these two of counties or burghs, which in that coun- acts new commissions issued ; that for try are drawn up with so much form and Scotland on the 27th Feb. 1705-6, and precision, have recorded the especial that for England on the 10th April 1706. object and purpose for calling the parlia. The commissioners met at Whitehall on ment, and the instructions on that account the 16th of that month : on the 22nd of given by each body of constituents ? July the articles were executed ; on the Would there have been no trace of any 16th of January 1706-7, they were ratithing of that sort among the entries in tied by an act of the Scotch parliament; the corporation books of Edinburgh, or and on the 6th March of the same year, of the other cities, towns, and boroughs by the English statute of 5th Anne, cap. of the kingdom? Would there not have 8; and the union took effect on the 1st of been some tradition, some memorial, some May 1707. narrative, or some hint of a formal, or at Sir, I did, in a prior debate, advert to least of some incidental allusion to the the authority of several eminent persons subject of union at some of the elections in Ireland, on this question of the compe-of some contest founded on the known tency of their parliament; and referred to or declared opinions of different candi- a debate in the Irish House of Lords, in dates, for or against the measure? And, which the lord chancellor, the two chief lastly, would not the very act of the justices, and the chief baron had voted, Scotch parliament, which ratified the and three of them spoke in support of its competency. What I then said has been lative authority. In my judgment quite misunderstood. I have been supposed otherwise. There would be a reciprocal, not only to have asserted what I have just and, having regard to the respective mentioned, and (which I also admit I did weight of each in the scale of empire, an that Mr. Foster and sir John Parnell bad equal communication of power. The Lords avoided giving their sanction to the con- and Commons of Great Britain would in. trary doctrine, but to have added, with deed acquire a direct share in the legislasome exultation, that there had nobody tion of Ireland, but so would the Lords been found to maintain it but M.Nevin and Commons of Ireland in that of Great and Lewins. Sir, that is not what 1 Britain. Mutually they would relinquish, stated. I did perhaps discover the satis- or, if gentlemen like a more exceptionable faction I felt from the consideration that word better, would surrender, the exclu. the distinguished characters I have men- sive jurisdiction over their respective tioned had supported that side of the countries; but each would obtain a share, question which I thought was necessarily commensurate with its relative importance connected both with the general princi- in the united state, of the supreme domiples of government and those of the Bri- nion over the whole; and, therefore, as tish constitution; but I never said, or to the distinction attempted on the quesmeant to say, that no opinion had been tion of right, how can it be contended delivered of an opposite sort by any body that the British parliament may lawfully in Ireland, except M.Nevin and Lewins. receive within its bosom, say 80, 100, or It was therefore unnecessary to question 120 strangers, vesting them individually me, whether I did not know in particular with the same authority as its original that three considerable lawyers, and mem. members individually possessed, if the bers of the Irish parliament, had denied Irish parliament cannot, on the condition this competency; and whether I doubted of participating, according to due proporof their legal learning and abilities? I tion, in the government of Great Britain dare say they have denied it. I have in and the empire, lawfully admit the legis. deed read, in a printed letter, to which lators of this island and of the empire to a the name of one of those gentlemen is share, adjusted by the same rule of prosubscribed, “That the parliament of Ire- portion, in the local government of Ireland, true to itself, and honest to its land? The idea that inequality of num. country, will never assume a power ex-bers would vitiate the transaction on the trinsic of its delegation.” (Mr. Barring- side of the weakest country, leads to this, ton's letter to Mr. Saurin, dated 20th that there could never be a lawful union, January, 1799.) Similar sentiments may unless the numbers in the united legislahave been delivered by the other two, ture were made arithmetically equal on and by others in the sister parliament; both sides. If so, had England agreed to and as to the legal abilities and acquire- the unreasonable demand, during the last ments of those gentlemen, far be it from century, on the part of Scotland (in 1660) me to express or entertain any opinion to of joining the two parliaments according their disparagement. But, Sir, I am per- to their then existing numbers, or were suaded those gentlemen themselves would Great Britain now to receive into her not think it implied any disrespect to House of Commons all the 300 representathem, as members of the profession to tives of Ireland, and to unite together the wbich I once had the honour to belong, if two Houses of Peers as they now stand, 1 were now to say, that the opinions of the transaction would still have no legal barristers, however able or eminent, are solidity; the Scotch parliament formerly, not, in point of authority, to be put in and the Irish parliament now, would still the balance, on a great constitutional have betrayed their trusts. point, with those of the heads of his ma. But this junction of the parliaments, jesty's supreme tribunals, the fathers and this identification or incorporation of the oracles of the law; especially when those two Houses of each, in analogy to the great judicial stations are so filled as they identity which already exists as to the at present are.

third estate, is treated as an utter annihi. But is it true that, with a disproportion lation of the constitution of Ireland. The of members, such as it may be supposed same terms were misapplied in Scotland will be settled between the two countries, to the union of that country with this; Ireland would only give, and Great Bri- for, ingenious and inventive in arguments tain only acquire? I speak now of legis- on most subjects as some of our opponente are, on many of the points of this question council a just number of the representathey appear to me mere plagiarists, to a tives of both nations for one House, and degree of servility, not only of the topics, of the peers for the other, will be the anbut even of the very language and expres- nihilation of the constitution? The legis. sions which were then employed. Of this lature of the empire may, in one point of any man may convince himself by com- view, be considered as one great political paring the late debates here and elsewhere, machine; consisting of one and the same with the History of De Foe, and the Me- supreme head, both executive and legis. moirs of Lockbart. In the case of Scot- lative; to which are attached, or linked land and England, the misapplication was and knit, two separate members, while not so great. In that case, the third each of those two is subdivided again into branch of each legislature, though for the two analogous parts: the one member, time it centered in the same person, was the Lords and Commons of Great Britain, so far from being inseparably mixed, so empowered to prepare for the sovereign's as to form one indivisible whole, that a deliberation, sanction, or rejection, whatlaw actually existed, * by which its sepa- ever may seem necessary for Great Briration, at no distant period, into two dis- tain, and for the empire at large; the tinct sovereignties, was expressly estab- other, the Lords and Commons of Irelished.

land, possessing only, but exclusivelyIt were to be wished, that gentlemen as far as such exclusion is consistent with would explain what that essential part of the idea of a unity of empire, either on the constitution of Ireland is, which the the present or any other possible frame of incorporation of its Lords and Commons such a machine-the same power as to with ours will annihilate. It has always the kingdom of Ireland. Let me ask, appeared to me, that in two principles is whether this machine, considered theoreticomprehended the essence of ours and of cally at least, would not be simplified, its the Irish constitution, which, with the structure improved, and the two essential exception of certain abuses, real or im- objects I have pointed out, better secured, puted, of different sorts to be found in by blending and incorporating, in a fit each kingdom, is one and the same. How proportion, the two separate members often have I heard gentlemen in the Irish into one. parliament boast that they enjoyed, how

But, Sir, after making the best stand often read in the published harangues and they can on this quicksand of incompeessays of Irish politicians, their exultation tency, the gentlemen proceed to the real in the possession of the British constitu. merits of the question, and expressly deny tion! I say, I have always conceived, that Ireland will reap any benefit from the that the most essential principles of that measure; meaning, I suppose, also to constitution are two: 1. That it is com- deny, that it will prove beneficial to this posed of three independent estates or country, or to the empire at large. I branches, forming checks, each upon the suppose they mean this, because I think other two. 2. That no law can pass, af- that no man of good sense, or who is a fecting the life, the liberty, or property real friend to Ireland, can disjoin her inof the subject, without the concurrence of terests from those of this kingdom, and of a representative body, chosen from among the other parts of the British dominions, the people, in a mode formed on the con- or contend that any great arrangement is sideration of property and franchise, and unadvisable and unjust, which shall tend consisting of an adequate number of per- to the general advantage of those other sons; and of such a mixed description, as branches of the empire, merely because to bring to the legislative assemblies com

no particular advantage may accrue to petent knowledge, both of general and Ireland, provided that country is not local concerns, and a sympathy of inte. thereby exposed to some detriment or rest in regard to every thing that can affect danger. Let us, therefore, examine a few their constituents and the nation at large. of the most prominent circumstances of Now, Sir, if this description is in any de- advantage which may be reasonably exgree true, how can it be said, that the pected to flow from a union, in the first combining into one supreme imperial place, to Great Britain, and to the rest of

his majesty's dominions ; but, secondly, to * The Scotch act of Anne, called the Ireland ; --considering the subject in a Act of Security, 1st parliament of queen general view of legislative and executive Anne, 2nd ses. c. 3.

government, of commerce, manufactures, and agriculture, of internal peace, civili- regard to external trade, which is certainly zation, and prosperity; under which heads more locomotive than manufactures, those we may also discuss some of the principal towns and ports where accident at first, objections which have been relied on, and a long series of causes afterwards, either here or in the sister country. have operated to establish it, are seldom

With regard to this country, its legis- or never out-rivalled, or their commerce lative and executive councils would no drawn off, by any exertions, however longer be liable to be perplexed in con. powerful, in favour of situations better sequence of the distinci machinery of a adapted by nature for carrying it on. separate Irish parliament, nor the general Gradually, however, after a union, Iregovernment continue in constant danger land will undoubtedly attract much wealth, of misapprehension and disputes, and sub- capital, and credit from this country, not ject to the inconveniences which inevitably only by the circumstances of advantage arise from circuity of communication, and to which I have alluded, but also, more the impediments and embarrassing modi- especially, because a uniformity of laws fications to which jealousy or ignorance and legislature will give greater confidence on the one side or the other will so often to those who may be disposed to embark give occasion (while things remain as they | in enterprises of speculation, or place their are) in many of the most important con- money on commercial or landed securities cerns of the empire. In other respects it in that kingdom. This, one should think, may be difficult to foresee any immediate would be a strong and reasonable arguadvantage to Great Britain; to her manu- ment for Ireland (of which afterwards); factures, her agriculture, her trade, or but such gradual benefit to be reaped by general prosperity. Some people, indeed, her, will not atfect the interests of indivirather apprehend danger to British com duals now engaged in business here, and merce and manufactures; and that sup will unquestionably, from the known prinposed migration of capital and skill to a ciples and history of public wealth, tend cheaper country, to a country possessing in its progress, by multiplying inter, a superiority of situation as to many course, and the returns of profit in and branches of business which has been often between both countries, to increase the the subject of public discussion, is argued riches of both, and of the whole empire. upon as a too probable consequence of a Let us now give a moment's consideraunion. (Mr. Peel's speech). To this it tion to the effects of the proposed union might be a sufficient answer for the states- on that empire, as an aggregate of which, man to say, that if what one part of the Great Britain and Ireland form the two united kingdom shall lose another will chief and preponderating members. And gain, there will be no public detriment to here, Sir, it will be enough just to observe, the whole. But that answer, I own, what no man, I think, cau deny, that in sounds harsh to my ears. I think you all cases where practicable, one geought not, on-such general considerations neral, superintending, and controlling leof policy, to overlook the feelings and gislature, is the best fitted for the steady, interests of the numerous individuals and consistent, and rational government of all classes of men, who have, as it were, the parts of that combination of indivilocalized their ingenuity, their industry, duals and territories which constitute their wealth, and their habits of life, under what is denominated a state. To endeathe countenance and implied faith of pre-vour to enforce this position by a long existing laws and institutions. There is train of argument, indisputable as I cona better answer, I believe, in the fact, ceive it to be, would be an unwarrantable that .capital and industry so localized are waste of time and words. It has, indeed, not easily influenced at once to change been said, in answer to those who have their situation, by such temptations. The pointed out the obvious inconvenience attempts which have been made, at various which might arise from a difference of times, to transfer, by some sudden effort opinion on any great imperial question, of speculation and enterprise, English as of peace and war, between two distinct money and credit, and English art and parliaments, that equal inconvenience skill, to cheaper and more eligible places would follow from a difference of a like in Scotland, Wales, and even Ireland, sort between the several branches of the have rarely been successful, or persevered same parliament; but that such differin ; and it is no inconsiderable illustration ences, though they may be suggested by and proof of this position, that even with theory, have not been found to happen in

[ocr errors]

practice. [Mr. Foster's speech, p. 54, of distance (there may be others) are 55.] They certainly sometimes have hap- sometimes such as to render so desirable pened, both between the two Houses, an object as one common imperial legislaand between those Houses and the sove. ture impracticable. Such I take to have reign, in the British parliament, and with been the case with regard to our colonies the hazard, at least, of considerable de- in North America. I believe all sober triment to the state. But there are ma- men of all parties, would have agreed, terial distinctions between the two cases. that, could it have been done, the admisThe identity of interest between the se- sion into the British parliament of an adeveral branches of the legislative and exe- quate number of representatives from cutive government of the same country, thence, would have been the happiest is much more direct and sensible, and method of reconciling the disputes and therefore, on discussion, much less apt removing the difficulties which terminated to be mistaken by either, than what exists in a civil war, and the separation of that between two kingdoms, though forming country from the empire. Dr. Adam parts of the same empire; besides, there Smith, and many others, recommended is a facility of discussion and explanation, the experiment. The immense distance, by conference, address, remonstrance, and the uncertainty of regular, periodical, &c. between the respective branches of frequent, and early communication bethe sanie parliament, which cannot take tween American representatives in Great place between two distinct legislatures. Britain and their constituents in America,

It is also said, that the checks which seem to me to have opposed insurmountthe proceedings of the three branches of able obstacles to such a plan. But that the same parliainent produce, furnish a no valid objection of a like nature exists in principle to which our constitution owes the case of Ireland, is abundantly maniits stability, and that similar checks exist fest. Some gentlemen, indeed, of that between the two sister parliaments. [Mr. country, have expressed, in very strong Foster's speech, p. 55]. No doubt this language, their ideas of the inconvenience is true to a certain extent; but it would which would attend what they quaintly be easy to show, that in the case of the term a transmarine parliament; and one two parliaments such checks exist in a learned barrister, asthe celebrated meeting very imperfect degree, without any foun- of the profession which took place early dation in their formal and legal constitu- in Dublin, is stated to have pronounced, tions,* and with little more force or effi-" That a British minister shall not, and cacy than those which prevail in the rela: cannot, plant another Sicily in the bosom tions of different states, having common of the Atlantic, and that God and nature interests, but no link or connexion in never intended that Ireland should be a their governments. Such checks between province."* If by this is meant, that the the different nations of our part of the intervening channel is, in the nature of globe, contributed for a time to maintain things, an insuperable difficulty in the what used to be called the balance of Eu- way of a legislative union; I answer, that rope ; but although those of a more sub. in principle (however widely the cases stantial and operative kind, in concurrence differ in importance) the reason would with other causes, have to this day pre- equally apply to the islands of Orkney and served, and, I trust, if perpetuity can Shetland," and would have applied, in belong to human institutions, will ever former times, to the town of Calais. As preserve our frame of government, the to the idea, that Ireland, by a union, other and inferior sort has not been found will become a province, in any other sense of equal power in giving permanency to than that according to which she and that balance. I admit that circumstances Great Britain are now provinces of the

general empire, I deny it. Ireland, in* This is not inconsistent with what is af. deed, will no longer be a distinct kingterwards said of the jurisdiction the British dom; but neither will Great Britain ; they parliament may exercise over the executive will both become, as it were, aliquot parts ministers who advise the king in assenting to, of one incorporated realm, instead of reor rejecting Irish bills. That jurisdiction is without power to stop such assent or rejec- maining separate integral parts of the ention; and, therefore, forms no immediate or pire. It is true, that the interposition of absolute check, though it may afterwards punish those who have advised the crown to * Debates of the Irish Bar, 9th December give or refuse its assent.

1799, p. 47. [VOL. XXXIV.]

[31]

« ZurückWeiter »