Imatges de pÓgina
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kingdoms it has given rife to various arguments in both
Houses of this and the other Parliament: and, upon every
freih occafion, additional lights have been thrown upon it,
and new difficulties and objections have been raised, by
the fertility and eagerness of conteft and oppofition.

Some of thofe objections may have feemed plaufible or ingenious; fcarcely any, I think, have been weighty or fubftantial; none, I am fure, of fufficient weight to counterbalance the numerous benefits which there is such reafon to expect from the adoption of the measure. But they have been frequently fuited to meet thofe paffions and prejudices, which naturally exift, or have, been artfully excited, in our fifter kingdom; and, if we feel it our duty to recommend the propofed incorporation to our fellowfubjects there, we owe it to them and to ourselyes to spare no pains in the endeavour to remove, by difpaffionate reafoning and cool deliberation, fuch obftacles as may have appeared to them, or any number of them, to ftand in the way of what most of us here, I believe, confider as material for our interests and essential to theirs.

To those who have attended to the various modes of refiftance to the propofal of an Union, which have been reforted to by different perfons, two circumftances must have occurred as very remarkable.

One has been fo well expreffed in the refolutions of the Grand Jury of the county of the city of Cork, that I fhould do it injuftice not to introduce the mention of it in the very language they have ufed: Whilft we lament,' fay they, that any difference of opinion fhould exift in this kingdom upon fo important a question, we < cannot but remember how unanimous the rebellious and



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traitorous enemies of the country are in their reproba⚫tion of the measurea."


The plan of the United Irishmen, with the affiftance of the inveterate foe of the British empire and conftitution, is to effect a feparation between Great Britain and Ireland. It is natural therefore that they fhould dread nothing fo much as any meafure which they muft look upon as fatal to that favourite object. That feparation is their favourite object we have many inconteftable proofs; but it is fufficient for me now to refer to the declaration of their founder, Tone, fubjoined to the Report of the Secret Committee of the Irish Houfe of Lords in 1797; and the deteftation of à Union, which on that account the fame clafs of men have always expreffed, 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 prefent moment, fome of thofe felf-convicted traitors have contrived to publifh 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 thofe who, though of a very different defcription, and acting undoubtedly from motives of miftaken patriotism, have exerted their talents and influence to counteract and retard what I am well perfuaded the good fenfe of

a Vide the resolutions of the Grand Jury of the county of the city of Cork, 26th March 1799.

b No. II.

• Proceedings of the meeting at Francis Street Chapel, 1795.

Vide Speech of the Right Hon. Henry Addington, p. 21, &c. &c. • Arthur O'Connor's Letter to Lord Caftlereagh, Demonstration, &c. Afcribed to Dr. M'Nevin.

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

The other circumftance to which I have referred appears to me not less striking. It is, that the oppofers of Union have almost all endeavoured to convince us that the cafe of the incorporation of Scotland and England in 1707, is not in any degree applicable on the prefent occafion.

I think there is confiderable dexterity, though perhaps not a great deal of candour, in this attempt. In all great political operations, experience and hiftorical precedent are the best and fafeft guides. Thofe gentlemen have, therefore, juftly thought they fhould have a better chance of gaining their end, if they could induce us to shut our eyes against hiftory, and wander with them in the obfcure mazes of theory and fpeculation. Their ingenuity might then perhaps bewilder and perplex us; whereas, if we recur to that memorable event, its fimilarity to what is now propofed, both in principle and in all its moft characteristic féatures, is fo great, that they naturally feel it furnishes, by its complete success, after the trial of a century, the ftrongest and most irrefiftible refutation of their arguments,

In the firft and preliminary point, for inftance, of the queftion of Union, that tranfaction is most especially applicable, being the direct cafe of a national decifion on the


right and competency of Parliament. I will not enter at large into the general argument concerning the extraordinary powers of the supreme legiflature 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 reprefentative government, is not competent to treat of, and conclude an incorporated Union, there is no authority which is; and, confequently, a legitimate Union, in fuch governments, never could take place.


The conftituent body, or the electors, have no fuch authority; they have not, by the practice or true theory of our conftitution, any power of deliberation on any queftion whatever; their only bufinefs as electors being that of felecting and nominating those whom they think the fittest perfons to exercise that fhare of legiflation which is vefted. 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 elective body, as now constituted; fince, in their opinion, they ought to be deprived of the very elective franchise itfelf, by what they call a reform of Parliament; the scheme of such reform being, in many inftances literally, and virtually in all, to deprive the present electors of that franchise,

But if the electors cannot deliberate and decide on fuch 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 fuffrage, deliberate, judicial, or legiflative authority. Yet to maintain that the conftitutional legislature of a country has not the right of doing certain acts, however clearly beneficial to that country, without a previous fpecial commiffion from the mass of the nation, leads immediately to the false and mifchievous principle of the direct fovereignty of the people, and to that equally mischievous fiction to which it has given rife, viz. That an original compact between the governors and governed is the only lawful foundation of government. Indeed, to refort to the elementary parts of a nation, the numerical aggregate of individuals composing it, for authority to form a union, would be a complete admisfion of fuch fovereignty; 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 fort of philofophy is that which traces the foundation of all political phenomena to a fact which no history fhews ever to have existed, which the confideration of the human character and the daily tranfactions, and paft and present fituations of life, demonftrate to be, and always to have been impoffible, 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&tive, as


It has been unfortunate for the world, that fo great and upright a man as Mr. Locke (led aftray 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

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