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COMMERCIAL, AND CIVIL,
STATE OF IRELAND.
We should cautioudly guard against the condemnation of a great and important measure, before we have examined it 'in all its bearings, with the sound and deliberate exercise of unprejudiced reason. For, however sublime the range of genius may be, or however high the cast of authority, they should not be admitted with affertions as arguments, nor unsupported opinions as proofs. We should try them by the unerring touchstone of facts and common sense. Genius may dazzle, but not elucidate; and authority may impose, if not err-it often does so. But facts cannot mislead, common sense cannot deceive. And, if by these two guides the people be suffered to judge for themselves, we are convinced they will judge justly,
Having thus exercised their understanding fully and fairly, if they find an Union pernicious to the welfare of Ireland, then, in the name of common sense, let them reje&t and oppose it to the last extremity. But, if on the contrary, they perceive, that it is the only hand which pours oil into the
wounds of their bleeding country, and binds them up for ever; if it be the only means to heal particular grievances, and to promote general welfare, let them in God's name embrace it. And judging of it, let them coolly and dispalfionately direct their views to the whole intereft of Ireland, which must, unavoidably include their own particular wel. fare; let them also consider well the state of Ireland to day: the state of the Empire and of Europe, the cast of the times, and the awful condition of the civilized and bleeding world, --and then they will judge justly.
On a subject so comprehensive, Ihould any arguments be advanced, which have been more ably enforced before, we trust we shall be excused: at the close of a long discuffion, perhaps, it is not unpardonable, as it is not unwise, to refresh the memory of conviction.
One ground, however, remains yet untrodden—it is that of commerce. And on this important ground we hold it our duty, so far as full and authentic documents enable us, to instruct our fellow subjects in Ireland, and to warn them with anxious concern as they value their country, and almost their existence as a nation, to think wisely, and act justly. For this purpose we shall lay before them a body of evidence on Commerce, which is incontrovertible by the highest, and we doubt not, will prove conclufive to the meaneft capacity, on the subject of an Union.
It has, however, been asserted, that though the wisdom and expediency of an Union were manifeft, it is not lawful. Now, in the very assertion, there is a plain contradiction to the point advanced. The effence of all power and all law is necessity: which neceffity is in other words an imperious principle, called the good of Society. Whatever, therefore, is wise and expedient, contains that eternal principle, and is the effential basis of all laws whatever, whether they be fundamental laws or laws of regulation,
But, without dragging an heavy load for contest, we shall, like David when he would not encumber himself with the weighty armour of Saul, enter the conflict in a different manner. We affert, therefore, that the Parliament is fully competent to enact an Union : and our authority is--that of Coke, Hale, Blackstone, the great and honeft Lord Somers, and the four present Chief Judges of Ireland. And who can be more personally affected against an Union, from their official situation, than the last named authorities : and what authority stands higher for discernment, than that of Lord Clare ; what one more pure or exalted, than that of Lord Carleton;more able than that of Lord Yelverton; or more profound than that of Lord
Kilwarden? Befide, if the Parliament of Ireland be not competent to this act, then the great and essential powers of Parliament are blafted, and its best authority is no more. What is the Catholic Bill reduced to by this argument ?
A public infringement on the rights of individuals. What the proposed reform ? An unlawful abrogation of corporative franchises. What the repeal of the Declaratory Act, of the 6th of George I.? A nullity--an'act of usurpation; and the Parliament of Ireland is still bound by English laws. But we need no stronger test of the invalidity of an opinion, than the absurdity of its consequences. Beside, if the Prerogative of the Crown, the Privileges of the People, and the Constitution of Parliament, be not subject to its control, how, in the name of common sense, did we, the subjects.of the King of Great Britain, attain the invaluable blessings of that Conftitution we enjoy so eminently above other nations ? Such crude assertions really deferve no answer. For if Parliament had not this competency, we had been stationary in bondage, like the other Naves of Europe. But, thank God, every thing is within the power of the Parliaments of these realms, which is for A 2
the good of their respective nations, and Parliament has no other fundamental law nor limitation.
The question then is, whether the proposed Union be for the good of the Irish nation, or not?
As this question includes the benefits derivable by the people of Ireland, from her present system, and those from an incorporative Union, we shall, in order to bring the matter to a clear issue, consider the present Political, Commercial, and Civil state of Ireland. And under these three general heads abundant proofs will concur, to enable us to decide accurately and fully which of the two fyftems, the present or the proposed one, ought to prevail, with a view to the good of the people.—Unfortunately, the happiness of the people of Ireland, is according to the opinions of many, found wanting in the balance of present good. If so, humanity, however, weeps over the folly of pride, and sometimes pardons the weakness and ambition—but can the mean dread of losing authority blind particular men to the com. mon utility of their nation-do not its wounds cry unto them;-or can they be deaf to an awful sentiment of their own individual condition ? The great voice of nature surely cannot be drowned, in these times, in filly prejudice or calamitous error.
The political state of a country may be considered internally and externally. The internal state includes its government and powers; the external state its relations, in point of enmity or friendship, with other nations. In those two views let us consider Ireland.
First: As to the government of Ireland, the policy of its arrangements in 1782, marks the imperfection of its prac