Imatges de pÓgina
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traitorous enemies of the country are in their reproba(tion of the measure *.'

The plan of the United Irishmen, with the affistance of the inveterate foe of the British empire and constitution, is to effect a separation between Great Britain and Ireland. It is natural therefore that they should dread nothing so much as any measure which they must look upon as fatal to that favourite object. That separation is their favourite object we have many incontestable proofs; but it is sufficient for me now to refer to the declaration of their founder, Tone, subjoined to the Report of the Secret Committee of the Irish House of Lords in 1797 || ; and the deteftation of a Union, which on that account the same class of men have always expressed, is equally notorious. The furious declamations of

M Nevin, Lewins, and otherst, have been more than once referred to in this place † ; and within not many weeks from the present moment, some of those selfconvicted traitors have contrived to publish to the world new libels on the government and constitution of their country Ś, their inain view in which has manifestly been to co-operate, to this particular end, with those who, though of a very different description, and acting undoubtedly from motives of mistaken patriotism, have exerted their talents and influence to counteract and retard what I am well persuaded the good sense of

* Vide the resolutions of the Grand Jury of the county of the city of Cork, 26:h March 1799.

ll No. II. † Proceedings of the meeting at Francis Street Cirapel, 1795. I Vide Speech of the Right Hon. Henry Addington, p. 21, &c &c.

Arthur O'Connor's Letter to Lord Caftlereagh.. Demonstration, &c. Ascribed to Dr. M.Nevin.

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that nation will not suffer them ultimately to defeat, that happy consolidation of the empire which his Majesty's paternal goodness has recommended to the confideration of both his Parliaments.

The other circumstance to which I have referred appears to me not less striking. It is, that the opposers of Union have almost all endeavoured to convince us that the case of the incorporation of Scotland and England in 1707, is not in any degree applicable on the present occasion.

I think there is considerable dexterity, though perhaps not a great deal of candour, in this attempt. In all great political operations, experience and historical precedent are the best and safest guides. Those gentlemen have, therefore, justly thought they should have a better chance of gaining their end, if they could induce us to shut our eyes against history, and wander with them in the obscure mazes of theory and speculation. Their ingenuity might then perhaps bewilder and perplex us; whereas, if we recur to that memorable event, its similarity to what is now proposed, both in principle and in all its most characteristic features, is so great, that they naturally feel it furnishes, by its complete success, after the trial of a century, the strongest and must irresistible refutation of their arguments.

In the first and preliminary point, for instance, of the question of Union, that tranfaction is most especially applicable, being the direct case of a national decision on the right and competency of Parliament.

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I will not enter at large into the general argument concerning the extraordinary powers of the supreme legislature of a country. It has been amply and ably treated in several of the prior stages of the present business, in this House. If the Parliament, in our representative government, is not competent to treat of, and conclude an incorporated Union, there is no authority which is; and, consequently, a legitimate Union, in such governments, never could take place.

The constituent body, or the electors, have no such authority; they have not, by the practice or true theory of our constitution, any power of deliberation on any question whatever; their only business as electors being that of selecting and nominating those whom they think the fittest persons to exercise that share of legislation which is vested in the third estate of Parliament: the act of the election is the beginning and end of their functions; the latent political rights of the people at large, whatever they may be, have not been delegated to them; and those gentlemen, on the other side, who are the most ftrenuous advocates against a Union, would, I should think, be very unwilling to devolve that authority which is denied to the elected, on the elective body, as now constituted; since, in their opinion, they ought to be deprived of the very elective franchise itself, by what they call a reform of Parliament; the scheme of such reform being, in many instances literally, and virtually in all, to deprive the present electors of that franchise.

But if the electors cannot deliberate and decide on such a measure, much less can the people at large; who pever, I believe, in the smallest state, or most complete de(6) mocracy, have exercised, in fact, by universal individual suffrage, deliberative, judicial, or legislative authority. Yet to maintain that the constitutional legislature of a country has not the right of doing certain acts, however clearly beneficial to that country, without a previous special commission from the mass of the nation, leads immediately to the false and mischievous principle of the direct sovereignty of the people, and to that equally mischievous fi&tion to which it has given rise, viz. That an original compact between the governors and governed is the only lawful foundation of government. Indeed, to resort to the elementary parts of a nation, the numerical aggregate of individuals composing it, for authority to form a union, would be a complete admission of fuch sovereignty; as the terms and conditions with which this numerical mass might choose to accompany that delegation of power, would be an exemplification of such original compact. But what sort of philosophy is that which traces the foundation of all political phenomena to a fact which no history shows ever to have existed, which the consideration of the human character and the daily transactions, and past and present situations of life, demonstrate to be, and always to have been impossible, and every attempt to realize which either by the Jacquerie in ancient France, the Wat Tylers and Jack Straws in England, or the modern Jacobins, has proved as pernicious and destructive *, as to suppose the pos

mocracy, • It has been unfortunate for the world, that so great and upright a man as Mr. Locke (led astray by the circumstances of the times in which he lived, and the zeal of controversy) should have been the patron and advocate of this baneful, but, in his hands, too plausible and specious doctrine. Locke's fate has indeed been fingular. He was a good subject and a pious Chrif.

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fibility of its actual existence, is foolish and absurd. The fatal consequence of such attempts to restore, as it is called, to the people the sovereignty they are imagined to have farmed out, as it were, to their rulers, subject to divers claims of forfeiture and re-entry, has indeed been too well illustrated by the late eventful history of a neighbouring kingdom, for us here, or our fellow-subjects in Ireland, to require much argument to

tian. Yet, as his theory of government has served for a basis to the destructive systems of the Condorcets, Priestleys, and Paines, so his metaphysical principles have become the groundwork of the vain wisdom and false philosophy which began by denying the existence of the material world, and proceeded, in the writings of the late Mr. Hume and others, to extend that wild scepticism of an ingenious and well-intentioned Prelate * to the disbelief of spirit also, of the immortal nature of man, and the being of God himself. This remark has been in a great measure, occasioned by my recollection of a truly great philosopher, to whose early lessons and kindness I look back with tenderness and pride, who was among the first to prove that the system adopted by Locke concerning ideas, tended, by its natural consequence, to those of Berkeley and Hume ; but who, in announcing that opinion to the world, anxiously disclaimed every with or intention to disparage the talents of those, the fallacy and danger of whose doctrines he thought he could demonstrate, and every view of arrogating to himself any peculiar fagacity and discernment on that account. Indeed those who remember him, know that there never was learning and wisdom more free from arrogance and presumption than his. • A traveller,' says he, ' of good judge • ment may mistake his way, and be led unawares into a wrong • track; and while the road is fair before him, may go on with. out suspicion, and be followed by others; but when it ends in

a precipice, it requires no peculiar degree of wisdom and pene• tration to know he has gone wrong, nor perhaps to find out • what milled him ti'

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Bishop. Berkeley.
of Dr. Reid's Inquiry into the Human Mind, p. 23.

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