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kingdoms ; it has given rise to various arguments in both-
Some of those obje&tions may have seemed plausible or
To those who have attended to the various modes of refiftance to the proposal of an Union, which have been resorted to by different persons, two circumstances must have occurred as very reniarkable.
One has been so well expressed in the resolutions of the
exist in this kingdom upon so important a question, we
traitorous enemies of the country are in their reproba. ction of the measurea.'
The plan of the United Irishmen, with the affiftance 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 fo 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 proofş; 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 detestation 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 others, have been more than once referred to in this placed; and within not many weeks from the present moment, some of those self-convicted traitors have contrived to publish to the world new libels on the government and conftitution of their country, their main view in which has manifeftly 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, hàve exerted their talents and influence to counteract and retard what I am well persuaded the good sense of 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.
a Vide the resolutions of the Grand Jury of the county of the city of Cork, 26th March 1799.
b No. II.
Vide Speech of the Right Hon. Henry Addington, p. 21, &c. &c.
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 occafion.
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 safelt guides. Those gentlemen have, therefore, justly thought they should have a better chance of gaining their end, if they could induce uş to shut our eyes against hiftory, 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 propo. sed, both in principle and in all its most characteristic fea. tures,
' is so great, that they naturally feel it furnishes, by its complete success, after the trial of a century, the strong gest and most irresistible refutation of their arguments,
In the first and preliminary point, for instance, of the question of Union, that transaction is most especially applicable, being the direa case of a national decifion on the
right and competency of Parliament. I will not enter at Jarge 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 se. lecting and nominating those whom they think the fittest persons to exercise that share of legislation which is vested in the third eftate 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 fide, who are the most strenuous advocates against a Union, would, I should think, be very unwilling to devolve that authority which is denied to the elected, on the çlective 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 vir, tually in all, to deprive the present electors of that franchise,
But if the elector's cannot deliberate and decide on such a measure, much less can the people at large; who never, I believe, in the smallest state, or most complete democracy,
have exercised, in fact, by universal individual suffrage, deliberate, 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 misehievous fiction 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 its for authority to form a union, would be a complete admisfion of such 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 originai compact. But what sort of philosophy is that which traces the foundation of all political phenomena to a fact which no history shews ever to have exiited, which the confideration 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 Jacobines, has proved as pernicious and deftru&ivea, as
a 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