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I hope to make evident, and that too without any neceffity whatsoever for the promulgation of such doctrines ; which, so far from being favourable to an Incorporating Union of Great Britain and Ireland, tend to render the accomplishment of that great measure more difficult, perhaps impracticable: and it is the more to be lamented, when it is considered, that the measure can be supported by irrefragable arguments of signal public advantage, without resorting to such fallacious and pernicious prina ciples and doctrines.
I have been diligent in my inquiries respecting Lord Minto, as I have not the honour of the slightest personal acquaintance with his Lordship. From the information I have received, I find that he is a Scotch gentleman of family, and before his advancement to the Peerage, he was known by the name and title of Sir Gilbert Elliot, Bart. and had been for a time Viceroy of Corsica : he had contracted a great intimacy with Mr. Edmund Burke, the great Irish apostle of Popery already mentioned. He appears by the pamphlet I am now commenting upon, to be a person of learning and sagacity: his abilities stand confessed by his being intrusted by the British Government with the execution of commissions of the greatest importance, and with the most honourable embaffies : his services.to his King and Country have raised him to the British Peerage. In this pamphlet he has collected the most powerful arguments, which have been urged, either in Great Britain or Ireland, in favour of an Incorporating Union of the two countries, and disposed them in admirable order : though little is urged in it, which had not been already laid before the public; yet the arguments are digested in so perspicuous and connected a series, and dis
posed of with so much judgment, that' it may be said to comprize in itself all the merit' of all preceding publications on the subject : I think it a very valuable performance. With these ideas of it, I felt great pain on reading the passages I have quoted. The rank and ability of the writer, and the excellent reasoning contained in the other parts of it, rendered a refutation of these exceptionable paragraphs and their doctrines a work of imperious neceflity. Such are my only reafon, and my only excuse, for entering the lists of argument with so great and so respectable a character as his Lordship, though I am as sincere a friend to the measure of an Incorporating Union as his Lordship.
All his Lordship’s arguments in favour of the claims of the Irish Romanists to political equality are founded on this one position, that they are entitled to that equality by common right. Common right, in the usual acceptation of the word, means the common law of the land: but I perfume his Lordship means it in a more extended sense, and that he means a right founded on the immutable rules of reason and justice. If this position is overturned, his Lordship's whole argument falls with it: it therefore demands examination. The rights of mankind in political societies are twofold, natural and political : the first are born with a man, he becomes entitled' to them the moment of his birth; but as man is a social animal, and as the human race cannot sublift but in society, he becomes entitled to them with this limitation, that the enjoyment of them is to be regulated by that society of which he is born a member, whilft he continues one of that fociety: The society' may establish certain rules for its own preservation, and without which it cannot fubfift, restraining
and, modifying the full exercise of what are called natural rights, in cases where the full exercise of natural rights would endanger the existence or security of the society ; and regulations for the secure enjoyment of natural rights thus modified. To these rules and regulations all members of all political societies must submit; and all the benefits men enjoy under these laws are their political rights. In fact, mankind's political rights, are their natural rights modified, and their enjoyment secured, by the laws of society. Natural rights are immutable ; modifications of them by the laws of society are various, in the various so„cieties of mankind on the face of the globe ; and hence they are styled political rights as distinguished from natural. The laws of each society have been originally framed on the consent of the majority of the community, either tacit or express: general acquiescence implies tacit consent: actual compact, as is the case in some societies, is express confent. These rules have been altered in focieties at times by tyranny and usurpation. In the British Empire, the common law is that system of law which is established by tacit,consent for ages : the statute law is that system of law.which is established by consent or agreement of the members. In great or even considerable em„pires or governments, it is utterly impracticable to collect the opinions of all the members of the society taken by the poll, on any public,meafure : such an attempt would tend to inevitable confusion and dissolution of the society; because the great mass of the people in all States, sublifting by bodily labour,are ignorant and incapable in general of forming correct opinions on great and momentoys political questions. By the British Constituțion, generally and deservedly.esteemed the very essence of political wisdom, the method of collecting the opinions of the majority of N 3
the nation, for the purpose of enacting new law's, or altering or abrogating the old ones, is partly by the votes of the nrajority of a certain class of great and distinguished personages eminent for their dignity and property: but chiefly by the votes of the majority of Representatives chosen by the people, and assembled in general Councilor Parliament: these Representatives, though they represent the whole body or mass of the people, yet are not elected by the majority of votes of the people of each distriet reckoned by the poll, but by their property: and one twentieth part of the people at large are not qualified, by their property, to vote at the elections of their Representatives in Parliament either in England or Ireland. .
What Lord Minto styles the sovereignty of the Protestants in Ireland over the Irish Romanists consists in this; that Protestants are capable of fitting in Parliament, and of filling about thirty of the great offices of the State, to which the exercise of the supreme Executive Power is intrusted : and the Romanists exclude themselves from these two capacities by rejecting the Oath of Supremacy and Declaration, as already mentioned: both which the Protestants take and subscribe on being admitted into Parliament, or into any of these offices. In every other particular there is a perfect equality of political privileges at present between Irish Protestants and Romanists. The Irish Protestants maintain that the aforesaid exclusion of Irish Romanists (which his Lordship is pleased to style Protestant Sovereignty and Monopoly ; terms learned in the ScholaBurkeiana)had its origin in political right,and in the very first of political rights, to wit, that of the State to preserve its own existence,and independence of all foreign jurisdi&ions: and whatever ascendancy (styled by his
Lordship Sovereignty) this exclusion has conferred on Irish Protestants, they claim the same, not, as his Lordship very erroneously supposes, on the title of conquest, of acquiescence or prescription; but on the statute law of the land, enacted both in England and Ireland. And I cannot sufficiently express my amazement at this very extraor
dinary mistake of his Lordship, a great diplomatic cha· racter, and supposed to be perfectly well acquainted with
the laws of his country!
The exclusion of Romanists from all public offices in England and Ireland, commences with the operation of the Statute which enacts the Oath of Supremacy, and which was enacted in England in the first, and in Ireland in the second year of Queen Elizabeth: and all access to such offices in England has been doubly barred, as against Romanists, by the Test and Corporation Aets. (See Appendix, No. 3.) In Ireland these two Acts, there also enacted, have been with great precipitancy, not to say want of political wisdom, repealed in 1793; except so far as relates to the great offices of the State already mentioned. The exclusion of Romanists from seats in Parliament, arising from the Oath of Supremacy and Declaration, took place in England by the operation of the Statute of the 30th of Charles the Second, chap. 2; and the doors of Parliament were further barred against them in England by the Statute of the ist of George the First, chap. 13, both which Statutes are yet unrepealed; they were both enacted soon after in Ireland. By these Statutes, to prevent crude innovations in Religion and Government, it is enacted, that no Member shall sit or vote in either House of Parliament, till he hath, in the presence of the House, taken the Oaths of