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in the following year, if a change of ministry has in the meantime taken place, Toryism is in the ascendant, and its advocates are elevated in turn over the heads of their opponents; and hence it comes to pass, that every matter relating to the improvement of the social condition of Ireland, is viewed through the magnifying glass of party; and presents an exaggerated and distorted appearance to the mind of each, as the case may be.

But this evil, following the natural course of error, goes further; and not content with interfering in matters of a purely political and party nature, extends itself to those also which are essentially social. The so called "country party," haunted by the same evil genius of disunion, partakes of the general apathy shown towards all questions of general importance; and feeling a jealousy with respect to matters not immediately connected with or affecting themselves, totally disregard the interests of the mercantile community; forgetful of the indirect injury which must inevitably ensue to them if the interests of the latter be disregarded.

But the subject to which we wish to call attention at present, is one on which there ought not to be a second opinion. The removal of the Court of Chancery and Superior Courts of Common Law in Ireland, with their attendant machinery, from Dublin to Westminster, is a subject which affects all classes of society-the professional man, the merchant, the artizan, and the agriculturist, are more or less concerned in the issue; it extends to every individual and every portion of this island.

Now, though we sincerely trust that no such intention exists in the minds of those who direct the destinies of this empire, yet circumstances do exist which we are not foolhardy enough to despise. Letters have been written advocating such a change; pamphlets have been published with the same intent; proposals have been started for the purpose of testing public opinion; while reports have been circulated and afterwards contradicted, in order that the public mind may be made familiar with the notion, and that familiarity may produce a fatal security; looking too, to the means by which similar great changes in the constitution of this country have been effected, we cannot shut our eyes to the possibility of some such measure being brought forward at no distant time.

It is true, that Lord John Russell, when bringing forward his bill for the abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy in Ireland, last May, is reported to have used words to the following effect:-The noble Lord said, "Before I enter into it," (the question before the House), “I wish to clear away two misrepresentations which have been sedulously circulated upon it; one is, that there is an intention at the same time, or soon after, to remove the Courts of Law from Dublin to London. Now there never was the slightest foundation for it (hear, hear). We never had any intention to propose a measure which would be injurious to Ireland and the administration of justice (hear, hear)." We may afford to give Lord John Russell credit for having expressed what his sentiments were at the time he uttered the above words (and his expressed opinion, that such a measure would be "injurious" to the administration of justice, is worth something); but the noble Lord spoke in the past tense, and gave no pledge that at a future time his opinions and intentions would not change. And so manifest was the tendency of the measure then before the House, that the late Sir Robert Peel, notwithstanding his general cautiousness, during the debate on the second reading, involuntarily disclosed the end to which the measure naturally led, when he said, "You have a separate bar and separate judges, but would it not be reasonable to apply the principle to all? You might except Scotland, for there a different system of jurisprudence prevails. I really think it would be more advantageous than the proposed plan." We say he unintentionally disclosed this opinion, for he afterwards "explained" that "he had no intention to interfere with the bar of Ireland or the judicial bench: he had purposely left that question untouched." We take it, however, that greater faith will be given to the "unadvised" statement of the Right Honourable Gentleman, than to an explanation rather awkwardly introduced, when he discovered the error into which he had fallen.

The examples afforded by ministers of the crown are not, we must confess, such as to induce us to place much reliance on their expressed opinions. The Right Honourable Gentleman himself affords us a memorable instance of how opinions, entertained for the course of a long political life, may change; but even granting that the sentiments of prime ministers partook of the immutable character of the laws of

nature, there is no security that some other minister may not arise, who will hold opinions directly opposed to his predecessors in office. Who, in the year 1782, anticipated the proposal of the Act of Union, after what was then declared to be a final arrangement between the two countries? Who, in the year 1800, would have thought that a bill for the abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland could have been introduced into the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, contrary to, and in violation of, the expressed and implied engagement to the contrary? Yet how many an honest man has been disappointed how often has confidence been betrayed! The assertion then, that there never was the slightest foundation for the rumour, and that the ministers never had any intention to promote such a measure, affords to us no security whatsoever. Assertions are of

little value, where engagements have been disregarded.

The question has been raised, and we would be more than foolish to slumber in security while even a possibility of any such proposal being brought forward, exists. We may be wrong in our expectations; we sincerely hope so. No man is infallible. If our fears are unfounded, we will be among the first to express our satisfaction; if, on the other hand, some grounds do exist for the observations we are about to make, we feel that we have done no more than our duty in taking up our pen to expose the injustice and injurious consequences of so fatal and pernicious a catastrophe.

It appears to us that the Act of Union, passed in the 40th year of his late Majesty King George III., clearly decides the illegality of any measure tending to abolish or remove the Irish Law Courts. The 8th article of Union runs thus

"That it be the eighth article of Union, that all laws in force at the time of the Union, and all the Courts of Civil and Ecclesiastical jurisdiction within the respective Kingdoms, shall remain as now by law established within the same, subject only to such alterations and regulations from time to time, as circumstances may appear to the Parliament of the United Kingdom to require."

The Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland was a great national compact or treaty entered into, between two independent nations. It was expressly stated to be such by Mr. Pitt, when introducing the measure to the consideration of the English legislature.

The nature of such treaties or compacts is simply this, that the contracting nations are willing mutually to forego certain rights and surrender certain privileges, for the attainment of some advantage, such as, for instance, a more intimate connection between the two countries. Advantages are yielded on both sides; the consideration must be mutual, and the conditions expressed in the contract or treaty must be strictly adhered to. This interpretation is so consonant to common sense, and so agreeable to natural justice; that to dispute or call in question the binding qualities of such conditions (in consideration of which the contract is entered into), would be to upset and overturn the foundation of all national law and jurisprudence.

At the time of the passing of the Act of Union, Ireland was an independent nation, and consequently capable of entering into any contract it might think for its advantage; if it was not so, the validity of the Act of Union cannot be supported. If Ireland at that period laboured under a disability to contract, all arguments urged in favour of the Act of Union, and in support of the measure, must fail; if Ireland was induced to enter into that compact by fraud or corruption, if she was forced to agree, or if she assented under the influence of duress, the Act of Union, according to every principle of law, must fail: it is no longer binding upon Irishmen, if contrary to their wishes. But Ireland was at that time in the enjoyment of her constitution of '82, and fully competent to enter into any contract or treaty, subject to any condition and in consideration of any engagement, which those to whom her administration was entrusted were of opinion would result to her advantage.

The case of Hanover and England, at one time united under the same sovereign, affords a tolerable example of the connection which then existed between England and Ireland; and it would have been equally competent for Hanover and England to have entered into a similar agreement or contract, if the people of both countries had consented or desired. But it is unnecessary to dwell more fully upon the circumstances under which the Act of Union was passed, inasmuch as it must be admitted that it owes its power and binding qualities, to the fact of the competency of each nation to enter into the contract, being established, and to that fact alone. After the several articles are set forth, the Act proceeds

"Be it enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that the said foregoing recited articles, each and every one of them, according to the true intent and tenor thereof, be ratified, confirmed, and approved, and be, and they are hereby declared to be, the articles of the Union of Great Britain and Ireland; and the same shall be in force and have effect for ever, from the first day of January, 1801, provided that before that period an Act shall have been passed by the Parliament of Great Britain for carrying into effect in the like manner, the said foregoing recited articles."

It is hardly necessary to state, that before that period had elapsed, an Act was passed by the Parliament of Great Britain to carry into effect the recited articles.

The narrative, as set forth by the Act of Parliament, is plain and express: the Irish Parliament passed an Act setting forth certain articles or conditions, on the guaranteeing of which, and on which alone, the Act was to take effect. These conditions were afterwards submitted to and accepted by the English Parliament; the Act became law, and the two countries were united.

Such is the narrative of the Act of Union. Grotius, in his work "De Jure Belli et Pacis," lib. ii., cap. 15, divides treaties into two general classes,

"First, those which turn merely on things to which the parties were already bound by the law of nature; secondly, those by which they enter into further engagements."

It is under the latter class that the Act of Union comes as a treaty. It was a further engagement entered into between two independent nations, to which they were not bound to accede by the laws of nature. We have printed in italics those portions of the 8th Article of Union, to which attention ought particularly to be directed. One of the conditions is expressed to be, that all laws in force at the time, and all the Courts of Civil and Ecclesiastical jurisdiction, should remain as by law then established in both kingdoms; and though the subsequent portion of the article provides that they shall remain subject only to such alterations and regulations from time to time as circumstances may require, yet that provision plainly refers to such alterations and regulations in the practice of the law, as might naturally be expected to become necessary from the increasing wants

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