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or 30 members. Colonial affairs would receive an attention for which at present they very often plead in vain.
In England—if the plan I propose were adopted in its integrity—the English members and the English peers would assemble in a separate Parliament for the transaction of all purely English affairs. Whether they would still form one Parliament with the Scotch members is a question with which Ireland would have nothing to do. If Scotland, like Ireland, wished for a separate Parliament, an arrangement might easily be made by which the sittings of the English and the Imperial Parliament might be held at intervals so timed as to summon the Scotch and Irish representatives to take part in the discussions of Imperial affairs. It has been already observed that in the union both with Scotland and Ireland the English Parliament was left untouched. Under a Federal Constitution the English Parliament would still be the Imperial Parliament, when it called Irish and Scotch representatives to its aid. Very possibly a system might be framed under which, consistently with the Constitution, the English Parliament might be summoned for English purposes in an English session, and in an Imperial session for Imperial purposes, at which latter the Irish and Scotch representatives would be present. These are details which have more to do with the facilities of the transaction of English business than with the principles of our Federal Union.
That which is of importance is that Ireland would send, as we do now, 105 representatives to vote in an Imperial Parliament on all questions of Imperial concern, and in return we would submit, as we do now, to be taxed by that Imperial Parliament, but only for certain definite purposes and in a certain definite manner.
At home in Ireland we would have our own Parliament controlling all the affairs of our internal administration. We would have the Sovereign, as now, represented by a Viceroy.
We would have an Irish ministry responsible to and controlled by an Irish Parliament. We would have an Irish House of Peers, consisting of our resident Irish nobility, with such additions of men, distinguished in any field of intellectual achievement, as the Sovereign might think fit to associate with our hereditary nobility in the Upper House—and we would have an Irish House of Commons elected under a popular suffrage by the counties and towns of Ireland, with the addition of the representatives of the few learned bodies who could fairly claim the right of sending members to an Irish Parliament.
It need not follow- it would not follow—that the persons returned to the Imperial Parliament should also have seats in the Irish House of Commons. They would be chosen at a separate election. Even in the constituencies which had the privilege of returning members to both Parliaments they might very probably be elected by different electors. It is said, I know, that under such a system the best of our nobility and gentry would still be drawn off to an Imperial Parliament. With the limited functions assigned to an Imperial Parliament, this could not be the case to any injurious extent. The great attraction for Irishmen would be the Parliament in which Irish rights and interests were finally disposed of. Great questions no doubt would arise in the Imperial Parliament in which the voice of Ireland must be heard both in the cabinet and the senate, but Ireland would be rich enough in ability to spare men to protect her interests, assert her opinions, and maintain her reputation in the great council to whose decision all questions of Imperial interest would be left.
Failure of the Union Scheme.
I HAVE said that I do not intend this tract as an argument against our present system of Union. I have assumed that the great majority of the Irish nation wish that system to be changed. I have occupied myself, not in proving that wish to be reasonable, but in showing how it can be safely and practically carried out. There are, however, considerations which lie on the surface of this question to which I venture earnestly to invite the attention of all persons interested in its solution.
I may ask of any rational man, Englishman or Irishman, or Scotchman, whether it be not true that the system of government established at the Union has failed ? It is useless in answering this question to tell me of great measures of wisdom and liberality passed by the Imperial Parliament. Every government is to be tested by its results; and the system of rule which at the end of seventy years has not succeeded in giving peace or contentment or prosperity to a country has failed. In attaching Ireland to Englandthe great and primary object of the Union—it has miserably broken down. It is enough to condemn it to say that it has not yet made us one country—one in interest and feeling. None of the Imperial objects sought by it have been gained. I have already referred to the remarkable statement of Mr. Pitt, that he urged the union of the countries, because the French attempts upon Ireland had proved Ireland to be the weak point of the empire in time of war. I have said that if England were drawn or driven into war to-morrow, Ireland would offer incomparably more temptations to an invader than it did in 1798. There is now in 1870 far less real union and sympathy between the two countries than there was in 1790). There is in the minds of a large portion of our people a hatred of English government to an extent and of an intensity which never existed before. In all the Imperial purposes of the Union it is impossible to conceive a more complete disappointment of every expectation that was entertained. . Instead of uniting Ireland in bonds of common interest and feeling with England, it has more than ever alienated the Irish people. Under the Union there has grown up all over the world a race of Irish emigrants hostile to England, and forming, it might almost be said, one vast conspiracy -- a conspiracy of thought and feeling, if not of action-against her power. Ireland is every year becoming more and more the weakness and the reproach of the Crown of Great Britain.
In all Irish purposes the failure is, if possible, still more complete. The social history of Ireland since the Union is a record of poverty and suffering such as could not be supplied by the annals of any other country upon earth. Hundreds of thousands of Irishmen have literally died of starvation in their own land. Millions have been ruthlessly driven from their native soil. The wealth and the prosperity which were promised us have never reached our shores. At the end of seventy years of union with the richest country in Europe, Ireland is still the poorest and the most wretched. I know of no more melancholy or humiliating record than that contained in the annals of Irish legislation since the Union. It is even more humiliating than the gloomy roll of persecuting laws which fill up the seventy years which followed the final conquest of Catholic Ireland at the Boyne-because it records good intentions frustrated, designs apparently conceived in a spirit of wisdom and liberality mysteriously baffled. It recalls to mind the gloomy grandeur of Spenser's words* that sound almost like prophecy of which all is not yet fulfilled. The best of our political history presents nothing but a series of blunders and failures. Measures of conciliation have invariably failed to conciliate. Measures of coercion have not yet succeeded in crushing disaffection. They have never had more than a temporary and partial effect in repressing crime. A lavish system of corruption has succeeded in demoralizing a portion of Irish society, but it has failed in purchasing for our rulers any real influence or support. The most ignoble system of police despotism in Europe has irritated and fretted and lowered the spirit of our people, but it has not given us that
peace for which some persons would endure a welladministered police tyranny.
Our statute book is a melancholy record of arms acts ! insurrection acts ! acts for suspending the habeas corpus ! for suppressing party processions ! for prohibiting public meetings ! as if brute force was the one expedient of Irish Government, and the highest object of Irish Statesmanship was to crush down the spirit of the nation.
* “Marry so there have been divers good plottes devised, and wise councels cast already about reformation of that realme; but they say, it is the fatall destiny of that land, that no purposes whatsoever which are meant for her good wil prosper or take good effect, which, whether it proceed from the very genius of the soyle, or influences of the starres, or that Almighty God hath not yet appointed the times of her reformation, or that Hee preserveth her in this unquiet state still, for some secret scourge which shall by her come unto England, it is hard to be knowne, but yet much to be feared.”_View of the State of Ireland, p. 1.