« PředchozíPokračovat »
the common cause against Pope or Pretender." And, even now, knowing our church only as an establishment by whose tests political incapacity is imposed on them, knowing its clergy only as men who, rarely seen by them, are yet supported by very unequal and heavy tithes, the poor Irish are subjects of an unhappy country, infuriated by party spirit, and disunited by the very principles of its government, where the privileged few maintain a precarious rule over a proscribed and offended majority of millions, by division and by violence. "The people of Constantinople," says Montesquieu, in a passage too closely applicable to the state of parties in the capital of our little Western Empire, "were from all times divided. into two factions; that of the Blues, and that of the Greens. They went to the annihilating the authority of the magistrates. The Blues did not fear the laws, because the Emperor sheltered them from the laws. The Greens ceased to respect the laws, because the laws could no longer protect them. All ties of friendship, kindred, duty, gratitude, were loosed. A government so senseless was still more cruel."
"But what you ask for the Catholic," say some objectors, "is of no value to him. Is the poor Irish peasant to be benefited by what can reach only a few of their nobility and gentry? Their priests and demagogues use it only as a topic of irritation. They would lose their importance by the success of the measure, and, therefore, in their hearts deprecate it." First observe that these objectors are bound in honor never again to open their lips on the subject of danger. But lives there a man who does not feel the difference between the knowing that there are stations for which he personally is unfit, and the being told that he belongs to a class declared unworthy to fill these stations? If there be any one so ignorant of all the springs that govern human action and feeling, I despair of making him understand any one of the real remaining grievances of Catholic disability.
We are told by others that the demands of the Catholics increase on us; that they are insatiable. If I have succeeded in showing that their condition is an unjust one, inasmuch as you cannot make out a case of absolute necessity to justify it, I submit that you have no more right to delay the doing them justice than
"Le peuple de Constantinople etoit de tout temps divisè en deux factions, celle des bleus, et celle des verts....... Elles allèrent jusqu'à aneantir l'autoritè des magistrats. Les bleus ne craignoient point les lois, parceque l'Empereur les protégoit contre elles. Les verts cessèrent de les respecter parcequ'elles ne pouvoient pas les défendre....... Tous les liens d'amitiè, de parentè, de devoir, de reconnoisance, furent otès. Un governement si peu sensè etoit encore plus cruel."-Montesquieu, Grandeur et Decadence des Romains.
you would have to refuse to pay a just debt because your creditor happens to complain in a tone which you do not approve, or because you believe that, after you shall have paid him what you owe him, he may set up a further claim which he will not be able to make good. We are told, above all, of the power which their priests possess, and of the use they have made of it, by their influence over the small life-holders at the late elections in Ireland. It not being within my present purpose to give any opinion between the priest and the landlord, or in other words to determine, (although I have an opinion on that matter,) whether fanaticism or corruption be the greater fault in an elector, (which is the real question with respect to the 40s. voters in Ireland,) I will content myself with saying this, that it shows that Ireland has now arrived at a state in which she cannot remain. You must re-enact the penal laws, or emancipate.
I am desired to look at whatever passages our adversaries please to select for animadversion from certain speeches of Mr. O'Connel or Mr. Shiel, and to judge by these of the general temper of the Catholic body. If the Irish are very violent, and do not express themselves as we could wish, touching the advantages of English connexion, I can only say that it is what the friends of this healing measure have been prophesying for full twenty years of my own recollection, and had, I understand, prophesied for about fourteen or fifteen years before that. We are bound to express our sorrow at the circumstance, but it is hard to call on us to express surprise also, at the accomplishment of our own predictions. But if these gentlemen have occasionally spoken in terms which I cannot approve, I will not judge, for I am not warranted in judging, by them of the general temper of the Catholic body. I rejoice that the oppressed Catholics have bold and eloquent men to plead for their rights. But I know of no right that I have to try the Catholic community by the expressions of those gentlemen, which those gentlemen would not equally have to try the Protestant community by mine; against which I suspect that many Protestants would very loudly and very justly protest. But I will not judge of the temper even of Mr. O'Connel or Mr. Shiel, by Mr. O'Connel's or Mr. Shiel's effusions. They are members of a body which is persecuted and misrepresented; and it is hard to be extreme with the words of a man under persecution and misrepresentation. We have heard that it was a practice of the inquisition to put Jews to the torture, till, by reason of pain, they openly blasphemed, and then to punish them for the blasphemy; but neither the institution nor the practice is in my mind one of laudable example.
Our adversaries are the first to proclaim that it is high time that
this question were settled one way or the other. Now there can be but one way of settling it. If they were to tell me that it is expedient that this question shall continue a question of eternal bickering, eternal expense, and eternal disaffection, that it is convenient that Ireland shall continue to be alienated, and England taxed to pay for holding Ireland by force instead of by affection; I should not agree with them in their opinion; but I should at least comprehend it. But when they say "Settle it one way or the other," it is a truly Irish alternative that they propose, with only one side to it, and that the side directly opposed to their own declared wishes.
Does any man seriously and soberly hold the opinion that the measure will not be carried before he, or Mr. O'Connel, or Mr. Shiel, shall be many years older? I believe few men will say so. Then, to feel assured of the probability of its being granted in our day, and still to do all that is possible to keep alive by insult those heated feelings on both sides, which can but aggravate difficulties, I must say appears to me little short of madness. We shout "No Pope," and "No Popery," as if the question really were whether we should or should not endure the existence of such a being as a Pope, or of such a profession as that which we call Popery. That there is a Pope, whom it is not, I apprehend, our immediate purpose to depose, is matter of fact; it is also fact that there are near 6,000,000 persons in Ireland, who are very willing to call themselves and their religion Roman Catholic, but whom we insist, not very wisely as it appears to me, upon calling Papists, and their religion Popery ;' and whom I apprehend we have no immediate prospect of either exterminating by force, or converting by abuse. Their numbers increase; their obstinacy holds out against persecution; and their fecundity is in no wise checked by occasional starvation, by frequent battle and murder, and by constant Orange Ascendancy. The question then is, there being Roman Catholics, what are we to do with them? We have already done two very foolish things. We have told them that they cannot keep faith with us, which is unjust and unwise. We have not kept faith with them, which is more unjust and more unwise still. I hope and believe that we are yet in time to repair all this; but there is no doubt that it may be delayed until we be reduced to the granting it without grace and almost without condition; no thanks to
I have used the terms "Roman Catholic Religion" and Roman Catholics" generally in preference to the terms "Popery" and "Papist," because I dislike nicknames. The Roman Catholics are recognised as such by Act of Parliament, and have therefore a right to the name. The use of nicknames seems to me to be neither good in reasoning nor in
be reasonably claimed on the one side, nor felt on the other. We talk about not being intimidated, and we feel our valor rise, without allowing ourselves, at the same time, to ask whether there is any question of personal danger to us who live in Buckinghamshire, and consequently any demand on that personal prowess, which, when there is danger, is very commendable. The question is not whether we are to ground arms before Counsellor O'Connel or Bishop Doyle, but whether, the first time that our tree is shaken, Ireland is to drop off into the lap of France or America. We talk of their demagogues, and of their want of gratitude for all that we have done, and of their offering no securities in exchange for what they ask us to do; I deprecate the waiting until we may be obliged to grant all that they ask to demagogues, and without obtaining any gratitude or security in return. Like the proud American girl instanced by Dr. Franklin in his Correspondence, "who wished and resolved never to have anything to do with a Parson, or a Presbyterian, or an Irishman, and at length found herself married to an Irish Presbyterian Parson."
I believe that no securities are necessary, or desirable, except that which the measure, if spontaneously granted, would afford of itself. But to those who attach any virtue to what are usually called securities, I should observe that two occasions have already been lost of granting these claims, coupled with what were called securities, such as never can return. In 1808, the late Duke of Norfolk and Lord Grenville, in the one house, and Mr. Ponsonby and Mr. Grattan, in the other, were authorized by the Irish Catholic body to propose a negative to be vested in the Crown on the appointment of their bishops. Mr. Perceval, the Chancellor, and the Spiritual Bench, did not see the importance of this opportunity. It was rejected; the Irish were driven to despair; and, in the same tomb with the question of 1808, lies for ever buried the Veto. The same was the fate with what were called the « wings” attached to Sir Francis Burdett's bill of last year. I voted for them, not for the sake certainly of extending the patronage of the Crown over a new body of clergy, nor yet for the sake of diminishing the popular character of elections in Ireland; but because Mr. O'Connel, and because some of the Protestant friends of the measure who knew Ireland the best, recommended them; and because I believed, from the language of some who supported it only on these conditions, that they offered the fairest chance for the measure being carried. I voted for them as the price of Catholic emancipation, for which I can scarcely contemplate any Irish price that I would not pay. With the same object, I would vote for them again; but I shall never again have the opportunity. For these also, if they were thought of any value as securities, the
events of this year in Ireland have shown you that you have lost for ever. And the necessity of the great measure becomes every day more urgent and unavoidable.
But I leave the vast, and awful, and melancholy consideration of Ireland (infinitely too vast to form a mere incidental topic), with only one remark. It requires not much observation to see that a country so disorganized, and so unhappy, has been rendered thus by some overmastering error in the mode of ruling it; and it requires not much argument to show that, where civil rights are unequally distributed between two great parties, they cannot together form either a free or a united empire. It would be a solecism in language: it is an anomaly in government.
47 I now hasten to the close of a statement which has already led me to much greater length than I at first intended; and would, if pursued, lead to details far exceeding the utmost limits which can give to a letter any reasonable chance of its being read by those to whose judgment, under the protection of your name, it is addressed. If I am deceived in the view I have taken, it is not for want of consideration: I trust it is not for want of candor. I may have unnecessarily stated facts and arguments which most persons have before duly considered; but I have wished to place the question, and my view of it, on true grounds, even with those who have read but little on the subject, and paid but little attention to what are really but its first elements. Many points I have 'very superficially noticed, and perhaps too abruptly dismissed: many I have left entirely untouched. When I have referred to authorities, it will be found that I have applied them with fidelity. I have not generally quoted, because one of my first objects was to compress. If I have left any material part of the case untouched, or in any part not succeeded in making myself understood, to any questions stated, or objections urged, by those to whom my observations are addressed it is my duty to give my best attention. To questioners or objectors without a name, it is no man's duty to reply.
I hope I have not used any expressions, as I am sure I entertain no feelings, of offence to those persons who considerately and conscientiously maintain opposite opinions to our own. We may be permitted to regard them with some surprise, as we should their conclusions with regard to natural objects, if they viewed forms and colours through a different medium with ourselves. But opinions so formed are entitled to respect, whatever may be the end to which they lead. Nor can I better express my own dispositions towards those with whom I differ on this great subject, than by saying that I fervently hope they are widely different from those reported to have been expressed not long ago, on a