Handbook of Home Rule eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Handbook of Home Rule.

[Footnote 20:  Creasy’s Imperial and Colonial Constitutions of the Britannic Empire, p. 155.]

[Footnote 21:  May’s Const.  Hist., i. 313.]

[Footnote 22:  Blackstone’s Commentaries, by Stephen, ii. 491, 492, 497, 507.]

[Footnote 23:  We need not go far afield for illustrations.  A few samples will suffice.  “It was natural,” says Mill (Rep.  Gov., p. 311), “to feel strong doubts before trial had been made how such a provision [as the Supreme Court of the United States] would work; whether the tribunal would have the courage to exercise its constitutional power; if it did, whether it would exercise it wisely, and whether the Government would consent peaceably to its decision.  The discussions on the American Constitution, before its final adoption, give evidence that these natural apprehensions were strongly felt; but they are now entirely quieted, since, during the two generations and more which have subsequently elapsed, nothing has occurred to verify them, though there have at times been disputes of considerable acrimony, and which became the badges of parties respecting the limits of the authority of the Federal and State Governments.”  The Austrian opponents of Home Rule in Hungary predicted that it would lead straight to separation.  The opponents of the Canadian Constitution prophesied that Canada would in a few years be annexed to the United States; and Home Rule in Australia was believed by able statesmen to involve independence at an early date.  Mr. Dicey himself tells us “that the wisest thinkers of the eighteenth century (including Burke) held that the independence of the American Colonies meant the irreparable ruin of Great Britain.  There were apparently solid reasons for this belief:  experience has proved it to be without foundation.”  The various changes in our own Constitution, and even in our Criminal Code, were believed by “men of light and leading” at the time to portend national ruin.  All the judges in the land, all the bankers, and the professions generally, petitioned against alteration in the law which sent children of ten to the gallows for the theft of a pocket-handkerchief.  The great Lord Ellenborough declared in the House of Lords that “the learned judges were unanimously agreed” that any mitigation in that law would imperil “the public security.”  “My Lords,” he exclaimed, “if we suffer this Bill to pass we shall not know where we stand; we shall not know whether we are on our heads or on our feet.”  Mr. Perceval, when leader of the House of Commons in 1807, declared that “he could not conceive a time or change of circumstances which would render further concessions to the Catholics consistent with the safety of the State.” (Croker Papers, i. 12.) Croker was a very astute man; but here is his forecast of the Reform Act of 1832:  “No kings, no lords, no inequalities in the social system; all will be levelled to the plane of the petty shopkeepers and small farmers:  this,

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