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giving any assistance to the commercial prosperity of that kingdom.
“ If ever, indeed, I should have the misfortune to witness the melancholy moment when such principles must be abandoned, when all hope of seeing Ireland permanently and securely connected with this country shall be at an end, I shall, at least, have the consolation of knowing, that it will not be the want of temper or forbearance, of conciliation, of kindness, or of full explanation on our part, which will have produced an event so fatal to Ireland, and so dangerous to Great Britain. If ever the over-bearing power of prejudice and passion shall produce that fatal consequence, it will too late be perceived and acknowledged, that all the great commercial advantages which Ireland at present enjoys, and which are continually increasing, are to be ascribed to the liberal conduct, the fostering care of the British empire, extended to the sister kingdom as to a part of ourselves, and not (as has been fallaciously and rainly pretended) to any thing which has been done, or can be done, by the independent power of her own separate legislature.
“ I have thus, Sir, endeavoured to state to you the reasons, why I think this measure advisable ; why I wish it to be proposed to the parliament of Ireland, with temper and fairness; and why it appears to me entitled, at least, to a calm and dispassionate discussion in that kingdom. I am aware, however, that objections have been urged against the measure, some of which are undoubt. edly plausible, and have been but too successful in their influence on the Irish parliament. Of these objections I shall now profeed, as concisely as possible, to take some notice.
« The first is, what I heard alluded to by the honor. able gentleman opposite to me [Mr. SHERIDAN], when His Majesty's message was brought down ; namely, That the parliament of Ireland is incompetent to entertain and discuss the question, or rather, to act upon
the measure proposed, without having previously obtained the consent of the people of Ireland, their constituents. But, Sir, I am led to suppose, from what the honorable gentleman afterwards stated, that he made this objection, rather by way of deprecating the discussion of the question, than as entertaining the smallest doubt upon it himself. If, however, the honorable gentleman, or any other gentleman on the other side of the House, should seriously entertain a doubt on the subject, I shall be ready to discuss it with him distinctly, either this night or at any future opportunity. For the present, I will assume that no man can deny the competency of the parliament of Ireland, (representing as it does, in the language of our constitution, lawfully, fully, and freely, all the estates of the people of the realm”), to make laws to bind that people, unless he is disposed to distinguish that parliament from the parliament of Great Britain, and, while he maintains the independence of the Irish legislature, yet denies to it the lawful and essential powers of parliament. No man, who maintains the parliament of Ireland to be coequal with our own, can deny its competency on this question, unless he means to go the length of denying, at the same moment, the whole of the authority of Great Britain-to shake every principle of legislation--and to maintain, that all the acts passed, and every thing done by parliament, or sanctioned by its authority, however sacred, however beneficial, is neither more nor less than an act of usurpation. He must not only deny the validity of the union between Scotland and England, but VOL. II. LL
he must deny the authority of every one of the proceedings of the united legislature since the union; nay, Sir, he must go still farther, and deny the authority under which we now sit and deliberate here as a House of Parliament: of course, he must deny the validity of the adjustment of 1782, and call in question every measure which he has himself been the most forward to have enforced. This point, Sir, is of so much importance, that I think it ought not to suffer the opportunity to pass, without illustrating more fully what I mean.
If this principle of the incompetency of parliament to the decision of the measure be admitted, or if it be contended, that parliament has no legitimate authority to discuss and decide upon it, you will be driven to the necessity of recognising a principle, the most dangerous that ever was adopted in any civilized state.-I mean the principle, that parliament cannot adopt any measure new in its nature, and of great importance, without appealing to the constituent and delegating authority for directions. If that doctrine be true, look to what an extent it will carry you. If such an argument could be set up and mainzained, you acted without any legitimate authority when you created the representation of the principality of Wales, or of either counties palatine of England. Every law that parliament ever made, without that appeal, either as to its own frame and constitution, as to the qualifications of the electors or the elected, as to the great and fundan tal point of the succession to the crown, was a breach of treaty and an act of usurpation.
“ If we turn to Ireland itself, what do gentlemen think of the power of that parliament, which, without any fresh delegation from its protestant constituents, asso. ciates to itself all the Catholic electors, and thus destroys a fundamental distinction on which it was founded ? God
forbid that I should object to or blame any of these measures ! I am only stating the extent to which the principle, that parliament has no authority to decide upon the present measure, will lead ; and, if it be admitted in one case, it must be admitted in all. Will any man say, that (although a protestant parliament in Ireland, chosen exclusively by protestant constituents, has, by its own inherent power, and without consulting those constituents, admitted and comprehended the Catholics who were till then, in fact, a separate community) that parliament cannot associate itself with another protestant community, represented by a protestant parliament, hav. ing one interest with itself, and similar in its laws, its constitution, and its established religion? What must be said by those who have at any time been friends to any plan of parliamentary reform, and particularly such as have been most recently brought forward, either in Great Britain or Ireland ? Whatever may have been thouglt of the propriety of the measure, I never heard any doubt of the competency of parliament to consider and discuss it. Yet I defy any man to maintain the principle of those plans, without contending that, as a member of parliament, he possesses a right to concur in disfranchising those wbo sent him to parliament, and to select others, by whom he was not elected, in their stea:'. I am sure that no sufficient distinction, in point of principle, can be successfully maintained for a single moment; nor should I deem it necessary to dwell upon this point, in the manner I do, were I not convinced that it is con
ected in part with all those false and dangerous notions on the subject of government which have lacely become too prevalent in the world. It may, in fact, be traced to that gross perversion of the principles of all political society, which rests on the supposition that there exists
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continually in every government a sovereignty in abeyance (as it were) on the part of the people, ready to be called forth on every occasion, or rather, on every pretence, when it may suit the purposes of the party or faction who are the advocates of this doctrine to suppose an occasion for its exertion. It is in these false principles that are con
. tained the seeds of all the misery, desolation, and ruin, which in the present day have spread themselves over so large a proportion of the habitable globe.
“ These principles, Sir, are, at length, so well known and understood in their practical effects, that they can no longer hope for one enlightened or intelligent advocate, when they appear in their true colors. Yet, with all the horror we all feel, in common with the rest of the world, at the effect of them, with all the confirmed and increasing love and veneration which we feel towards the constitution of our country, founded as it is, both in theory and experience, on principles directly the reverse, there are too many among us, who, while they abhor and reject such opinions, when presented to them in their naked deformity, suffer them in a more disguised shape to be gradually infused into their minds, and insensibly to influence and bias their sentiments and arguments on the greatest and most important discussions. This concealed poison is now more to be dreaded than any open attempt to support such principles by argument, or to enforce them by arms. No society, whatever be it's particular form, can long subsist, if this principle is once admitted. In every government there must reside somewhere a supreme, absolute, and unlimited authority. This is equally true of every lawful monarchy—of every aristocracy-of every pure democracy (if indeed such a form of government ever has existed, or ever can exist)--and of those mixed constitutions formed and compounded from the others, which