Imágenes de página

and population. It was, however, high against superstition, bigotry, and disloytime that something should be done to al alty, and therefore should not affect the leviate the miseries of the bare footed, well meaning and loyal Catholic of the half-starved peasants of Ireland. In many present day. It was proper, therefore, parts, thousands of acres of land were ap- that some declaration should be made on propriated to pasture, by persons whose which the Catholics of the latter charac. rapacity was so great, that they would ter might depend, and it was his sincere bardly allow a poor peasant a single acre wish that this declaration might be made for a potatoe garden : nay, they dealt out in the most open, fair, explicit and canthe miserable scraps of land by ounces and did manner possible. Without such a dehalf ounces. His lordship expressed his claration, he could not see how it was earnest wish that government roight go as far possible to secure the cordial acquiesas possible in acts of conciliation and libe. cence of the Irish Catholics in the prorality towards the people of Ireland ; and posed union. he would make it is business, as often as Lord Mulgrave thought the question an opportunity was afforded him, to tell could be entertained with propriety only them that their security, their prosperity, in the imperial parliament. It was un. and their happiness depended on a close seemly to agitate it at present, when the and friendly connexion with Great Britain. Irish parliament, who were so deeply in

The Earl of Liverpool said, that the mo- terested in its decision, had no opportunity tion related to a subject which involved a of expressing their opinion. Much better complexity of considerations and interests. information could surely be gathered from It ought, therefore, not to be introduced the whole of the Irish members in the collaterally, but to be met directly, with united parliament, than from a few lords the aid of the various information that at present, who might be interested in the might be expected from the imperial par- view they took of the question. liament. The two acts to which the noble Lord Hobart said, that if the Irish Camover had alluded, were the main foun. tholics had been anxious to stir the predation upon which rested the present es- sent question, they had advocates in the cablishment in church and state. As to Irish parliament who might have brought the legislative union, far from being liable forward their claims. It had often been to the objection often urged against it, insinuated that government had held out that it would increase the influence of the promises and expectations to both parties crown, it was calculated to check that in- in order to gain the acquiescence of both Auence, and to lean to an increase of po- in the proposed union. That to the Capopular influence, by the manner in tholics they had given to understand that which the Irish representatives were to be their interests would be better consulted chosen.

in the imperial parliament, while at the Earl Fitzwilliam said, that as the ques. same time the Protestants were assured tion now stood, it could only give room that their interests should in no manner for uncertain and anxious conjecture, with be encroached upon. Had any promises out affording the least ground of satisfac of this nature been held out to the Cathotion to the minds of the Irish Roman Ca- lics, they could not escape his (lord H's) tholics. In every thing that was connected knowledge, and it was to remove this suswith the measure of a union, their lord- picion of duplicity or insincerity in the ships should proceed in the spirit of peace, conduct of ministers that he had risen. and conciliation, and that this spirit should They had made use of no lure towards manifest itself in a due regard to all the either party: and if at any future time a classes of the community. He must beg question in favour of the Catholics was leave to differ from a noble earl respecting agitated it would not be in compliance the nature of the two acts, upon which with their claims of right, but merely as that noble earl conceived the present es- matter of indulgence. tablishment to rest. It could never be The Earl of Moira entered into a vinintended that these acts were to remain dication of the consistency of his conduct, in force for ever, without any regard to which, he said, could not be accused of the changes in, opinion and conduct inconsistency, though he voted by proxy which time and emergencies might pro- against the union in the Irish house of duce. They were framed against a par. peers, while he had since withdrawn his ticular description of persons which now opposition to it in the British House. ceased to exist : they were directed The measure appeared to him to be liberal in almost all its details, and he made an union advantageous to both countries, no doubt but it was entered on by minis- and particularly to Ireland, would (as it ters for the good of both countries, and easily might) have been established, if for the general prosperity of the empire. nothing had been sought in this union but It was his wish that the opinion of the the joint interests of both countries : I was people had been ascertained upon a willing to shut my mind to apprehensions broader basis ; and that something more (though certainly of an alarming nature) distinct had been held out to the Roman for the trade of Great Britain, the dimiCatholics. It was because the opinion of nution or transfer of which, our enorthe people had not been fairly collected at mous separate debt could not well bear; county meetings, that he had opposed and I was prepared to welcome a union the measure in the Irish parliament. As with Ireland on the wise principles of the to the present motion, he was sincerely Scotch union, corrected as it seemed to anxious that his noble friend should with. be intended, by peers elected for life, draw it-not that he was sorry the ques- and not exposed to apprehensions for their tion had been discussed, for the liberal future elections, influenced by the crown. manner in which it was treated by those But, my lords, I do not feel myself diswho opposed it, must afford a pleasing posed to purchase this union, desirable as prospect to the Irish Catholics of what it may be, at so great an expense of the they might expect from the liberal dispo- constitution, as will be produced by the sition of the British parliament, but that resolutions in their present form. The he felt some disagreeable effects might interest of England, Scotland, and Ireresult from pressing the question to a land, required that the principles on which division.

the Scotch union was framed, should in The previous question was put and every other point (except the periods of carried.

election) be followed; but the united in.

terests of the three nations have not had May 7. The resolutions being reported sufficient weight to counterbalance the to the House, were this day taken into secret motives which have operated to the consideration. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd re- subversion of the constitution on most sulutions were read and agreed to. In essential points, under the mask of a nethe fourth, lord Grenville moved several cessity which does not exist ; and under alterations, and when the House came the pretence of conciliating Irish interests, to the proposition : “ That any person which are clearly repugnant to the means holding any peerage in Ireland, now exist- enployed. It is obviously not the interest ing, or hereafter to be created, shall not of the people, nor of the component parts thereby be disqualified from being elected of the legislature of either country, that to serve for any county, city, or borough the ancient barriers which secured the of Great Britain, in the House of Com. liberties of the people should be thrown mons of the united kingdom, unless he down; or that the distinctions between shall have been previously elected as above, the several parts of the legislature should to sit in the House of Lords of the united be confounded. It cannot be individually kingdom; but that so long as such peer of the interest of the Irish peer, that the Ireland shall so continue io be a member body of Irish peers should be perpetuated of the House of Commons, he shall not by subsequent creations, for the sole be entitled to the privilege of peerage, purpose of preventing the honours of his nor be capable of being elected to serve posterity ever merging completely into as a peer on the part of Ireland, or of the British peerage, with an hereditary voting at any such election; and that he seat in the legislature. It can never be shall be liable to be sued, indicted, pro- his interest, or the interest of Ireland at ceeded against, and tried as a commoner large, that subsequent creations (which for any offence with which he may be will probably fall more on English facharged,"

vourites than on native Irish residents) The Earl of Carnarvon said, that he should transfer the elections from the could not help, in this last stage of the original Irish peerage to their numerous proceedings, endeavouring to call their English colleagues of subsequent creation. Iordships' attention, to the fatal conse. The beautiful structure of our constituquences of a legislative union founded on tion will become an inexplicable mass of the basis of the fourth article. I was incongruities, an impolitic confusion of willing (said the noble earl) to hope that all orders, ranks, and interests: no pria. ciple upon which our limited monarchy / try may be safe in the virtues of the has turned for ages will be delivered down prince on the throne; but if the union to our posterity as we received it from shall take place on the proposed plan, we our ancestors. The commonalty of Great shall no longer derive our security from Britain will no longer be represented the strong and peculiar virtues of our solely by delegates from their own body : constitution. These principles we have peers of Ireland will sit in the House of been taught to consider as fundamentally Commons with Irish commoners, par- inherent in the constitution; we have taking of the same privileges and of dif- been taught to consider them as our birthferent interests; and, as British peers, right; we have read with enthusiasm the will represent British boroughs. There struggles of our ancestors to maintain will no longer be an hereditary peerage unviolated a government limited by three assembled with the baronical heads of the distinct orders of the state, from the church, as a fit counterpoise to the elec- time of the Magna Charta till this tive and Auctuating body of the Com- moment, when parliament is called upon mons. This new system establishes for by his majesty's ministers to surrender it. ever (not for a time, as in the Scotch I have heard much of the omnipotence union) an elective body of peers, in a of parliament; I respect and venerate its House whose constitutional principle is power, from whence our security is dethat of being an hereditary and permanent rived; its limits, if it has any, should not barrier between the crown, and the sudden be made the topic of discussion, because impulse of popular and elective prejudices. it is of difficult and dangerous definition ; The very deviation from the Scotch union, but this attempt will force the inquiry: by an election for life, instead of a shorter it is not easy to support the affirmative or period, which is more consonant to elec- the negative, as a universal proposition tive principles, is an admission by the in an assertion, that parliament is compeframers of the present union, that an tent to make any change whatever in the elective principle was incongruous to the constitution; I cannot deny that many true spirit, and genuine constitutional important changes may be made, and that purpose of the House of Peers; but this such power is of the essence of parliament, seeming respect for ancient and approved without which it would be nugatory: but principles is only the flowery decoration I am not ready to admit as a corollary, of the victim for the altar where it is to that there is no irremoveable basis on perish. This elective principle, admitted which the liberties of this country are fun. with such apparent caution, is intended, damentally fixed beyond the reach of the without the slightest grounds of public delegated power of parliament. I can, utility, to be for ever grafted on an here- however, boldly affirm, that there is no ditary stock, and there perpetually to dis- existing power which can, by its legal own its unity with the tree in which it is authority, extirpate the fundamental prinincorporated, by bearing different fruits.ciples of three distinct orders of the state, Continued creation of Irish peers is to which may not by the same legal authotake place after the extinction of a sepa- rity, and under the same influence, surrate Irish legislature, for the sole purpose render the whole existence of both of being represented in the united legisla- branches of the legislature, and the liber. ture, and of keeping alive the disunion ties of the people, at the foot of the of the two countries by inextinguishable throne. I have never been a friend to marks of their former separate interests ; speculative reforms, by which the ancient thus will the two branches of the legisla frame and texture of the constitution ture lose the distinct principles of their would be changed; too much good has existence, which have hitherto preserved been derived from it, to incline me to within fixed bounds their respective enero expose it to the danger of new theories gies

, as a constitutional balance between and fanciful experiments. The framers the several orders of the state: this sub- of this new system have been at different version of all distinct interests is not ne- times, and in different situations, processary to the union, if any necessity could moters and enemies of a parliamentary justify it, and it can have no motive, reform. They find it difficult to reconcile unless there exists a secret wish to destroy their opinions on the present subject with the force and protecting energy of the their latest doctrine, but consistency is constitution against the increasing power not a parliamentary virtue, and opinions of the crown. The liberties of the coun- ought to give way to subsequent experience; yet it is somewhat difficult to crown and people. His lordship con hold opposite doctrines at the same mo- cluded with moving to leave out the whole ment, and to maintain that parliamentary of the proposition. reform is both right and wrong. If parlia- The Earl of Kinnoul spoke in the mentary reform be dangerous, this new warmest terms of the measure of an union, system must be so, for it certainly goes far generally considered. He had not the beyond the most incoherent dream, or smallest doubt but that it would prove a wildest frenzy of the most enthusiastic source of the greatest advantage to both reformer. The mixture and confusion countries, by consolidating the strength of of all orders of the state, is an avowal of the empire. He gratefully acknowledged the principles of Jacobinical reform, and the increased prosperity which Scotland will enable the enemies of our form of had enjoyed in consequence of the union, government to argue from the present but he thought the suffering the peers of change, an admission that a distinct here- Ireland once chosen to sit in that House, ditary branch is not essential to the free to hold their seats for life, a great improredom of the country, and encourage them ment over that part of the union of Scotto force the new doctrine into complete land, by which the Scotch peers were only effect, by abolishing all hereditary dis- to sit for a temporary period, and to go tinctions as invidious, and declared use- back at the end of each parliament to a less by the present reform, and substitute new election. The question under conone popular assembly, elected from all sideration certainly appeared to him to be classes of the community, reduced to one a violent infringement of the constitution. state of equality; how long monarchy The Earl of Romney said, he had in the will survive such change time may show; committee divided for the resolution as it but it may be reasonably doubted whether stood, but from what he had that day a monarchy can be limited by, or exist heard, he really thought the danger to with one popular elective assembly, un- the constitution so great, that unless his balanced by another of hereditary aristo- noble relation would assure him that the cratic interests. The collision of powers parliament of Ireland deemed the propoand interests so widely distinct as monar- sition absolutely necessary, and would not chical and popular, will probably soon agree to the union without it stood a part produce the destruction of one or the of the article, he was inclined to vote for other. The crown has never been more the amendment. powerful than since the period of the Re- Lord Grenville said, that, in the formavolution, when the present constitution tion of so great a measure as the union, it was with jealous care revived and con- was impossible to proceed a single step firmed, and the encroaching prerogatives without trenching upon the constitution; of the monarch reduced within legal that scarcely any legislative measure bounds. The love and affection of the could be accomplished withoạt in some people for their limited government in- degree violating the constitution ; howcreased with its augmented value; and ever, the true policy was, to violate it in they have reposed in confidence on the no greater extent than absolute necessity powerful security derived from our con required. In the present case, the union stitution, and looked to the crown as an with Scotland was the precedent studiously object of affection, no longer of fear and held in view; but were that measure now jealousy: all that tends to weaken their to be brought about, with how much attachment and reliance on this security greater force, might not his noble relation must revive their jealousy and diminish exclaim against the violation of the con. the real power and security of the crown. stitution, which that union involved! By The indifference marked at this time to the union of Scotland, the hereditary the constitution of the country, which is peerage of that house was broke in upon, openly treated as an old prejudice or the and an elective and representative, peerage idle dream of a visionary brain, will soon introduced and mixed with them; and yet place us in such a distempered and irrit- all the great statesmen who carried that able state, that nothing but a dangerous measure into effect thought it the most and hazardous fever will extricate us : expedient means of putting it in execuages of trouble may succeed the age we tion. In the proposed union with Ireland, live in, to force the recovery of our morto that error was corrected, because the 28 gaged security, which has for the last peers of Ireland, once elected from among century cemented the interest of the their own body, were to hold their seats

by the same tenure as their lordships did, which the amendment was supported by víz. for their lives. With regard to the lords Mulgrave and Holland, and opposed English gentlemen who had been favoured by the lord chancellor, lord Bolton, and by his majesty with the honour of an Irish lord Hobart, the House divided on the peerage, in proportion as the situation of question, whether the words proposed to the peers of Ireland who were to sit in that be left out stand part of the question : House by election, was improved, and Contents, 48; Not-contents, 12. Several rendered preferable to that of the Scotch other amendments were proposed and peers, so was the situation of the English- negatived, after which the resolution was Irish peers deteriorated; because the agreed to, as were also the remaining English-Irish peers stood no chance of resolutions. It was then ordered, that being elected to represent the peerage of the Address delivered by the Commons at Ireland ; and it would be hard to exclude the conference on the 6th instant, be them from all exercise of legislative func- taken into consideration to-morrow. tions. With this view it was that they were to be suffered to remain capable of May 8. The order of the day being election to the House of Commons as read, for taking into consideration the they were at present; nor could be see, said Address, lord Grenville moved “ to how their being continued to sit in that agree with the Commons in the said House was more likely to prove danger- Address, by filling up the blank with ous to the constitution, or give it more Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and'” weight of peerage than had as yet been Lord Bolton said, that many important the case. With regard to confusion that advantages, he was persuaded, would result it was imagined would ensue from letting from the union, not only to the general peers of the realm sit in the House of interests of the empire, but to Ireland in Commons, such apprehensions might have particular. He spoke with the greatest applied if the peers of Ireland were to sit confidence on the subject, as he had been there, and still exercise the rights of peers, enabled to form a tolerably correct opinion as had been the case in France, when the of the internal situation of Ireland, from Tiers Etats assembled, which was made the official situation which he had the up of a motley mixture of individuals honour to hold in that country under a holding and exercising different rights and noble duke, whose virtues in private life different privileges; but in the present pro- were not more universally admired, than position provision was made to guard his abilities as a public man were acknowagainst the danger of such an unnatural ledged and revered by all who had the and heterogeneous assembly of roturiers honour and the happiness to have busiand noblesse ; since those Irish peers who ness to transact with him. A more judiwere to sit in the House of Commons, if cious and enlightened mind lodged not in chosen by British constituents, were to the breast of any man, than in that of the sit there as commoners, and to exercise late duke of Rutland. During that noble only the capacity of commoners during duke's administration, the commercial their holding seats in that House. He propositions were sent over amended by wished every noble lord, therefore, who the British parliament, and he had the felt the same objection as had been started honour to move them in the Irish house by his noble relation, would bear in mind, of Commons. Those propositions had that it became indispensably necessary, on failed; but their failure was in a great principles of justice, in framing the union, measure to be ascribed to their having been to take care that such Irish peers as were brought forward at the commencement of not chosen representative peers of Ireland, the noble duke's administration, before and thence entitled to seats in that House, he was sufficiently known to the people of should not be utterly excluded from the Ireland, to have acquired that confidence possibility of becoming legislators, but which was afterwards reposed in him. might have the chance of enjoying that Froin the moment the commercial propohonour, if they chose to accept it on the sitions failed, it became evident, that conditions provided in the article. matters of a political nature could not

The Earl of Romney said, that in con- stand upon their then footing, and every sequence of this explanation, he should year, and almost every month, that had continue to vote for the resolution as-it elapsed since the rejection of the propostood.

sitions in 1785, nad afforded additional After some further conversation, in proof of the necessity of drawing the two (VOL. XXXV.]


« AnteriorContinuar »