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HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
GRADUATE SCHYOL OF 4
Spring Rece 33
78 Foconnor 10 Luulelor
Peal Ofellaghon 157 Perrin
Drops 182 oRulle 182
REPEAL OF THE UNION.
Report of the Debate in the House of Commons, April 22, and
following days, on Mr. O'Connell's Motion ; and the Proceedings in the House of Lords on Earl Grey's Motion, on April 30, for concurring in the Address of the Commons.
Mr. O'Connell, one of the members for the City of Dublin, who, at the close of last Session, had given notice of a motion for leave to bring in a Bill for the re-establishment of a domestic legislature in Ireland, having apparently abandoned the intention thus announced, gave two other notices in reference to the same subject on the first day of the present Session; of which the first was—" To call the attention of the House to the Act of Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland, with a view to its repeal, and to the establishment of a permament connexion between both countries on a safe and satisfactory basis;" and the second-—"For a Select Committee, to inquire and report on the means by which the destitution of the Parliament of Ireland was effected ;-on the effects of that measure upon Ireland, and upon the labourers in husbandry, and operatives in manufactures in England ;-and on the probable consequences of continuing the Legislative Union between both countries." The former of these notices was originally given for Tuesday the 15th of April ; the latter, for Tuesday the 22d of the same month. It is the motion announced in the latter only which the Hon. and Learned Gentleman has yet brought forward. The other motion, the object of which was to be to call upon th House in distinct terms to take the Act of Union into consideration, with a view to its repeal, is understood to be, at least for the present, abandoned.
The motion for a Select Committee of Inquiry was brought forward by Mr. O'Connell on the day he had originally named, the 22d of April
. The terms in which it was expressed, as printed in the Votes, are the same with those quoted above, except that the word “dissolution,” appears to have been substituted for « destitution." Before the Hon, and Learned Gentleman rose, the House had been called over in conformity with a motion made some days before by Mr. Spring Rice; and there was of course an extraordinarily numerous attendance of members. Besides those who were excused on account of their own illness or of illness in their families, or as being abroad, or as being engaged in the public service, there were only 48 defaulters. On the following day the number was reduced to 12. In the early part of the evening, also, a considerable number of petitions were presented, praying for the Repeal of the Union. It appears from the 12th Report of the Select Committee on Public Petitions, dated the 15th of April, that the total number of such petitions presented from the commencement of the Session up to that date, had been 137, and the number of signatures 113,713.
In the following report the object is to give all that is important or interesting in this great debate. We shall, for this purpose, avail ourselves of the leading daily newspapers, both inorning and evening, selecting from each according to the care and ability that appear to have been bestowed upon the different parts of the report. What may be called the four great speeches of the debate,-namely, those of Mr. O'Connell, in introducing the motion, of Mr. Spring Rice, Mr. E. Tennent, and Sir R. Peel,--and also Mr. O'Connell's speech in reply, will be given with great fulness. No argument, or fact, or other remark of importance, which proceeded from any of the other speakers, will be omitted. Abridgment will only be resorted to for the purpose of getting rid of mere repetitions.
We shall take the opening speech of Mr. O'Connell chiefly from the “ Times” and the " Morning Herald;" but shall insert most of the extracts read by the Hon. and Learned Gentleman, as they have been supplied to the “ Mirror of Parliament” and one of the Dublin newspapers. We shall also avail ourselves of the verbatim report in the
Mirror” to correct any important errors or omissions in the reports of the daily press.
Mr. O'Connell commenced his address as follows :-It happened a few days ago, when he was speaking to a Member of this House in the lobby, that he was asked by a gentleman who had been in conversation with that Member before he (Mr. O'Connell) came up, when the question of the Repeal of the Union would come on ? He was interrupted in his reply by the gentleman saying “The Canadas are endeavouring to escape us; America has escaped us; but Ireland shall not escape us.” (Loud cries of “Hear, hear.”] He believed, also, that the Hon. Member for Wilts, whom he did not see in his place, would recollect, that when the Coercion Bill was before the House last Session, a Member declared to him in the library, with something like an oath, " that Ireland should not escape."-[Two or three Members here exclaimed-Oh! Oh! Oh!-Mr. Feargus O'ConNOR, and several other Members-Hear! Hear! Hear! and several Members-Name ! Name !]—It was a little too soon to begin that. He believed that that feeling of superiority, that general right of domination in England over Ireland, was the greatest bane to both countries—was the source of all the evils inflicted upon Ireland, and of all those calamities that have for centuries been heaped upon her by this country. He did not believe that there ever yet existed a greater mistake than the supposition that this country has any right of dominion over Ireland, or that Ireland has ever been rightfully subjugated to this country. He wished Gentlemen, when they came to treat of the great question of the restoration of the Irish national legislature, to divest themselves of every feeling except those which they ought to bring to the consideration of a question of the utmost national importance. But it is the spirit of domination that prevents the fair and legitimate discussion of this, or almost any question in which British interests are
in any degree adverse to those of Ireland. There prevailed, among the Irish, an opinion that British interests are thus opposed to theirs ; and it would therefore be his first anxiety to demonstrate that England has no title, by conquest or subjugation, to Ireland. That title, if it exist, must have accrued at one of two periods ; either before the Union or since the Union, and he meant briefly to canvass both. It was his intention, in the first place, to canvass as briefly as he.could, consistently with a full view of the subject, what title England had, before the Union, to consider Ireland as a subordinate province, -as a limb of this empire, and not as another and distinct country subject to the same King, but totally independent of the Legislature of Great Britain. On this subject he should be as brief as possible, for it was quite clear that no man ever rose to address a more unwilling auditory. His first sentence had been interrupted in a manner which, in a case of this kind, he might almost style indecent. But he had a great and important duty to perform; and he thought he was obeying the call of nature, of country, and of posterity, in calling upon them to replace Ireland in the situation in which she stood before he was born-namely, an independent nation, with an independent legislature to take care of her own interests. He knew he was asking those he addressed to give up the reins of power—to give up dominion-to give up the pride of power and dominion-a task infinitely more difficult than giving up the minor interests which happen to be involved in their possession.
Knowing the unfavourable auditory he had to address, he would pass as speedily as he could over these preliminary topics, to dwell at greater length upon matters not so likely to encounter the prejudices, and perhaps the resentment, of those who heard him. There were not many individuals who were aware that only 220 years have elapsed since Ireland was first recognised as a portion of the dominions of the Crown of Great Britain. It was in the year 1614, and not earlier, that the distinction between Irishmen and English subjects—between “ Irish enemies,". as the law considered them, and “ English subjects”—was put an end to. Down to the year 1614, two distinct independent nations were recognised in Ireland. Then it was that, for the first time, the power of the King of Great Britain-the King of England and Scotland—was generally recognised in Ireland. No title of subjection was acquired by battle, previously or since-no right of conquest-nothing that the jurists and writers upon international law would consider as giving any claim to England to say that there had been submission on the part of the Irish people as subjects, and, above all, no recognition of them as being subjects. As he was not speaking for the present hour, or addressing the House merely for the present passing occasion, he felt bound to lay his foundations broad, distinct, and, as he thought, irreversible,bound to have recourse to some ancient documents, to prove the perfect accuracy of his statement, that there was neither a submission, nor a recognition as subjects of the people of Ireland.
The first document which he proposed to read was of the early date of 1246, in the reign of Henry III., when a number of the Irish people applied to have extended to their country the benefits of British laws, and the British constitution, and to be recognised as subjects of the Crown. The King issued his mandate under the Great Seal, commanding the English barons, opposing the prayer of the people's application, to permit the extension to Ireland of the operation of the British laws.