Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Peter Plymley's Letters, and Selected Essays
Author: Smith, Sydney
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peter Plymley's Letters, and Selected Essays" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Transcribed from the 1893 Cassell & Company edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org

                        CASSELL’S NATIONAL LIBRARY

                                * * * * *



                         PETER PLYMLEY’S LETTERS
                                   AND
                             SELECTED ESSAYS


                                * * * * *

                                    BY
                               SYDNEY SMITH

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]

                        CASSELL & COMPANY LIMITED
                       _LONDON  PARIS  & MELBOURNE_
                                   1893



INTRODUCTION.


SYDNEY SMITH, of the same age as Walter Scott, was born at Woodford, in
Essex, in the year 1771, and he died of heart disease, aged seventy-four,
on the 22nd of February, 1845.  His father was a clever man of wandering
habits who, when he settled in England, reduced his means by buying,
altering, spoiling, and then selling about nineteen different places in
England.  His mother was of a French family from Languedoc, that had been
driven to England by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.  Sydney
Smith’s grandfather, upon the mother’s side, could speak no English, and
he himself ascribed some of his gaiety to the French blood in his veins.

He was one of four sons.  His eldest brother Robert—known as Bobus—was
sent to Eton, where he joined Canning, Frere, and John Smith, in writing
the Eton magazine, the _Microcosm_; and at Cambridge Bobus afterwards was
known as a fine Latin scholar.  Sydney Smith went first to a school at
Southampton, and then to Winchester, where he became captain of the
school.  Then he was sent for six months to Normandy for a last polish to
his French before he went on to New College, Oxford.  When he had
obtained his fellowship there, his father left him to his own resources.
His eldest brother had been trained for the bar, his two younger brothers
were sent out to India, and Sydney, against his own wish, yielded to the
strong desire of his father that he should take orders as a clergyman.
Accordingly, in 1794, he became curate of the small parish of
Netherhaven, in Wiltshire.  Meat came to Netherhaven only once a week in
a butcher’s cart from Salisbury, and the curate often dined upon potatoes
flavoured with ketchup.

The only educated neighbour was Mr. Hicks Beach, the squire, who at first
formally invited the curate to dinner on Sundays, and soon found his wit,
sense, and high culture so delightful, that the acquaintance ripened into
friendship.  After two years in the curacy, Sydney Smith gave it up and
went abroad with the squire’s son.  “When first I went into the Church,”
he wrote afterwards, “I had a curacy in the middle of Salisbury Plain;
the parish was Netherhaven, near Amesbury.  The squire of the parish, Mr.
Beach, took a fancy to me, and after I had served it two years, he
engaged me as tutor to his eldest son, and it was arranged that I and his
son should proceed to the University of Weimar in Saxony.  We set out,
but before reaching our destination Germany was disturbed by war, and, in
stress of politics, we put into Edinburgh, where I remained five years.”

Young Michael Beach, who had little taste for study, lived with Sydney
Smith as his tutor, and found him a wise guide and pleasant friend.  When
Michael went to the University, his brother William was placed under the
same good care.  Sydney Smith, about the same time, went to London to be
married.  His wife’s rich brother quarrelled with her for marrying a man
who said that his only fortune consisted in six small silver teaspoons.
One day after their happy marriage he ran in to his wife and threw them
in her lap, saying, “There, Kate, you lucky girl, I give you all my
fortune!”  The lucky girl had a small fortune of her own which her
husband had strictly secured to herself and her children.  Mr. Beach
recognised the value of Sydney Smith’s influence over his son by a
wedding gift of £750.  In 1802 a daughter was born, and in the same year
Sydney Smith joined Francis Jeffrey and other friends, who then
maintained credit for Edinburgh as the Modern Athens, in the founding of
_The Edinburgh Review_, to which the papers in this volume, added to the
Peter Plymley Letters, were contributed.  The Rev. Sydney Smith preached
sometimes in the Episcopal Church at Edinburgh, and presently had, in
addition to William Beach, a son of Mr. Gordon, of Ellon Castle, placed
under his care, receiving £400 a year for each of the young men.

In 1803 Sydney Smith left Edinburgh for London, where he wrote busily in
_The Edinburgh Review_, but remained poor for many years.  His wit
brought friends, and the marriage of his eldest brother with Lord
Holland’s aunt quickened the growth of a strong friendship with Lord
Holland.  Through the good offices of Lord Holland, Sydney Smith
obtained, in 1806, aged thirty-five, the living of Foston-le-Clay, in
Yorkshire.  In the next year appeared the first letter of Peter Plymley
to his brother Abraham on the subject of the Irish Catholics.

These letters fell, we are told, like sparks on a heap of gunpowder.  All
London, and soon all England, was alive to the sound reason recommended
by a lively wit.  Sydney Smith lived to be recognised as first among the
social wits, and it was always the chief praise of his wit that wisdom
was the soul of it.  Peter Plymley’s letters, and Sydney Smith’s articles
on the same subject in _The Edinburgh Review_ were the most powerful aids
furnished by the pen to the solution of the burning question of their
time.  Lord Murray called the Plymley letters “after Pascal’s letters the
most instructive piece of wisdom in the form of irony ever written.”
Worldly wealth came later; but in wit, wisdom, and kindly helpful
cheerfulness, from youth to age, Sydney Smith’s life was rich.

                                                                     H. M.



LETTERS ON THE SUBJECT OF THE CATHOLICS.


                                    TO
                           MY BROTHER ABRAHAM,
                        WHO LIVES IN THE COUNTRY.
                            BY PETER PLYMLEY.



LETTER I.


DEAR ABRAHAM,—A worthier and better man than yourself does not exist; but
I have always told you, from the time of our boyhood, that you were a bit
of a goose.  Your parochial affairs are governed with exemplary order and
regularity; you are as powerful in the vestry as Mr. Perceval is in the
House of Commons,—and, I must say, with much more reason; nor do I know
any church where the faces and smock-frocks of the congregation are so
clean, or their eyes so uniformly directed to the preacher.  There is
another point, upon which I will do you ample justice; and that is, that
the eyes so directed towards you are wide open; for the rustic has, in
general, good principles, though he cannot control his animal habits;
and, however loud he may snore, his face is perpetually turned towards
the fountain of orthodoxy.

Having done you this act of justice, I shall proceed, according to our
ancient intimacy and familiarity, to explain to you my opinions about the
Catholics, and to reply to yours.

In the first place, my sweet Abraham, the Pope is not landed—nor are
there any curates sent out after him—nor has he been hid at St. Albans by
the Dowager Lady Spencer—nor dined privately at Holland House—nor been
seen near Dropmore.  If these fears exist (which I do not believe), they
exist only in the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; they emanate
from his zeal for the Protestant interest; and, though they reflect the
highest honour upon the delicate irritability of his faith, must
certainly be considered as more ambiguous proofs of the sanity and vigour
of his understanding.  By this time, however, the best-informed clergy in
the neighbourhood of the metropolis are convinced that the rumour is
without foundation; and though the Pope is probably hovering about our
coast in a fishing-smack, it is most likely he will fall a prey to the
vigilance of our cruisers; and it is certain that he has not yet polluted
the Protestantism of our soil.

Exactly in the same manner, the story of the wooden gods seized at
Charing Cross, by an order from the Foreign Office, turns out to be
without the shadow of a foundation; instead of the angels and archangels,
mentioned by the informer, nothing was discovered but a wooden image of
Lord Mulgrave, going down to Chatham, as a head-piece for the _Spanker_
gun-vessel; it was an exact resemblance of his Lordship in his military
uniform; and _therefore_ as little like a god as can well be imagined.

Having set your fears at rest, as to the extent of the conspiracy formed
against the Protestant religion, I will now come to the argument itself.

You say these men interpret the scriptures in an unorthodox manner, and
that they eat their god.—Very likely.  All this may seem very important
to you, who live fourteen miles from a market-town, and, from long
residence upon your living, are become a kind of holy vegetable; and in a
theological sense it is highly important.  But I want soldiers and
sailors for the state; I want to make a greater use than I now can do of
a poor country full of men; I want to render the military service popular
among the Irish; to check the power of France; to make every possible
exertion for the safety of Europe, which in twenty years’ time will be
nothing but a mass of French slaves: and then you, and ten other such
boobies as you, call out—“For God’s sake, do not think of raising cavalry
and infantry in Ireland! . . . They interpret the Epistle to Timothy in a
different manner from what we do! . . . They eat a bit of wafer every
Sunday, which they call their God!” . . . I wish to my soul they would
eat you, and such reasoners as you are.  What! when Turk, Jew, Heretic,
Infidel, Catholic, Protestant, are all combined against this country;
when men of every religious persuasion, and no religious persuasion; when
the population of half the globe is up in arms against us; are we to
stand examining our generals and armies as a bishop examines a candidate
for holy orders; and to suffer no one to bleed for England who does not
agree with you about the second of Timothy?  You talk about the
Catholics!  If you and your brotherhood have been able to persuade the
country into a continuation of this grossest of all absurdities, you have
ten times the power which the Catholic clergy ever had in their best
days.  Louis XIV., when he revoked the Edict of Nantes, never thought of
preventing the Protestants from fighting his battles; and gained
accordingly some of his most splendid victories by the talents of his
Protestant generals.  No power in Europe, but yourselves, has ever
thought for these hundred years past, of asking whether a bayonet is
Catholic, or Presbyterian or Lutheran; but whether it is sharp and
well-tempered.  A bigot delights in public ridicule; for he begins to
think he is a martyr.  I can promise you the full enjoyment of this
pleasure, from one extremity of Europe to the other.

I am as disgusted with the nonsense of the Roman Catholic religion as you
can be: and no man who talks such nonsense shall ever tithe the product
of the earth, nor meddle with the ecclesiastical establishment in any
shape; but what have I to do with the speculative nonsense of his
theology, when the object is to elect the mayor of a county town, or to
appoint a colonel of a marching regiment?  Will a man discharge the
solemn impertinences of the one office with less zeal, or shrink from the
bloody boldness of the other with greater timidity, because the blockhead
thinks he can eat angels in muffins and chew a spiritual nature in the
crumpets which he buys from the baker’s shop?  I am sorry there should be
such impious folly in the world, but I should be ten times a greater fool
than he is, if I refused, till he had made a solemn protestation that the
crumpet was spiritless and the muffin nothing but a human muffin, to lead
him out against the enemies of the state.  Your whole argument is wrong:
the state has nothing whatever to do with theological errors which do not
violate the common rules of morality, and militate against the fair power
of the ruler: it leaves all these errors to you, and to such as you.  You
have every tenth porker in your parish for refuting them; and take care
that you are vigilant and logical in the task.

I love the Church as well as you do; but you totally mistake the nature
of an establishment, when you contend that it ought to be connected with
the military and civil career of every individual in the state.  It is
quite right that there should be one clergyman to every parish
interpreting the Scriptures after a particular manner, ruled by a regular
hierarchy, and paid with a rich proportion of haycocks and wheatsheafs.
When I have laid this foundation for a rational religion in the
state—when I have placed ten thousand well-educated men in different
parts of the kingdom to preach it up, and compelled everybody to pay
them, whether they hear them or not—I have taken such measures as I know
must always procure an immense majority in favour of the Established
Church; but I can go no further.  I cannot set up a civil inquisition,
and say to one, you shall not be a butcher, because you are not orthodox;
and prohibit another from brewing, and a third from administering the
law, and a fourth from defending the country.  If common justice did not
prohibit me from such a conduct, common sense would.  The advantage to be
gained by quitting the heresy would make it shameful to abandon it; and
men who had once left the Church would continue in such a state of
alienation from a point of honour, and transmit that spirit to their
latest posterity.  This is just the effect your disqualifying laws have
produced.  They have fed Dr. Rees, and Dr. Kippis; crowded the
congregations of the Old Jewry to suffocation: and enabled every
sublapsarian, and superlapsarian, and semi-pelagian clergyman, to build
himself a neat brick chapel, and live with some distant resemblance to
the state of a gentleman.

You say the King’s coronation oath will not allow him to consent to any
relaxation of the Catholic laws.—Why not relax the Catholic laws as well
as the laws against Protestant dissenters?  If one is contrary to his
oath, the other must be so too; for the spirit of the oath is, to defend
the Church establishment, which the Quaker and the Presbyterian differ
from as much or more than the Catholic; and yet his Majesty has repealed
the Corporation and Test Act in Ireland, and done more for the Catholics
of both kingdoms than had been done for them since the Reformation.  In
1778 the ministers said nothing about the royal conscience; in 1793 no
conscience; in 1804 no conscience; the common feeling of humanity and
justice then seem to have had their fullest influence upon the advisers
of the Crown; but in 1807—a year, I suppose, eminently fruitful in moral
and religious scruples (as some years are fruitful in apples, some in
hops),—it is contended by the well-paid John Bowles, and by Mr. Perceval
(who tried to be well paid), that this is now perjury which we had
hitherto called policy and benevolence.  Religious liberty has never made
such a stride as under the reign of his present Majesty; nor is there any
instance in the annals of our history, where so many infamous and
damnable laws have been repealed as those against the Catholics which
have been put an end to by him; and then, at the close of this useful
policy, his advisers discover that the very measures of concession and
indulgence, or (to use my own language) the measures of justice, which he
has been pursuing through the whole of his reign, are contrary to the
oath he takes at its commencement!  That oath binds his Majesty not to
consent to any measure contrary to the interest of the Established
Church; but who is to judge of the tendency of each particular measure?
Not the King alone: it can never be the intention of this law that the
King, who listens to the advice of his Parliament upon a read bill,
should reject it upon the most important of all measures.  Whatever be
his own private judgment of the tendency of any ecclesiastical bill, he
complies most strictly with his oath, if he is guided in that particular
point by the advice of his Parliament, who may be presumed to understand
its tendency better than the King, or any other individual.  You say, if
Parliament had been unanimous in their opinion of the absolute necessity
for Lord Howick’s bill, and the King had thought it pernicious, he would
have been perjured if he had not rejected it.  I say, on the contrary,
his Majesty would have acted in the most conscientious manner, and have
complied most scrupulously with his oath, if he had sacrificed his own
opinion to the opinion of the great council of the nation; because the
probability was that such opinion was better than his own; and upon the
same principle, in common life, you give up your opinion to your
physician, your lawyer, and your builder.

You admit this bill did not compel the King to elect Catholic officers,
but only gave him the option of doing so if he pleased; but you add, that
the King was right in not trusting such dangerous power to himself or his
successors.  Now you are either to suppose that the King for the time
being has a zeal for the Catholic establishment, or that he has not.  If
he has not, where is the danger of giving such an option?  If you suppose
that he may be influenced by such an admiration of the Catholic religion,
why did his present Majesty, in the year 1804, consent to that bill which
empowered the Crown to station ten thousand Catholic soldiers in any part
of the kingdom, and place them absolutely at the disposal of the Crown?
If the King of England for the time being is a good Protestant, there can
be no danger in making the Catholic _eligible_ to anything: if he is not,
no power can possibly be so dangerous as that conveyed by the bill last
quoted; to which, in point of peril, Lord Howick’s bill is a mere joke.
But the real fact is, one bill opened a door to his Majesty’s advisers
for trick, jobbing, and intrigue; the other did not.

Besides, what folly to talk to me of an oath, which, under all possible
circumstances, is to prevent the relaxation of the Catholic laws! for
such a solemn appeal to God sets all conditions and contingencies at
defiance.  Suppose Bonaparte was to retrieve the only very great blunder
he has made, and were to succeed, after repeated trials, in making an
impression upon Ireland, do you think we should hear any thing of the
impediment of a coronation oath? or would the spirit of this country
tolerate for an hour such ministers, and such unheard-of nonsense, if the
most distant prospect existed of conciliating the Catholics by every
species even of the most abject concession?  And yet, if your argument is
good for anything, the coronation oath ought to reject, at such a moment,
every tendency to conciliation, and to bind Ireland for ever to the crown
of France.

I found in your letter the usual remarks about fire, fagot, and bloody
Mary.  Are you aware, my dear Priest, that there were as many persons put
to death for religious opinions under the mild Elizabeth as under the
bloody Mary?  The reign of the former was, to be sure, ten times as long;
but I only mention the fact, merely to show you that something depends
upon the age in which men live, as well as on their religious opinions.
Three hundred years ago men burnt and hanged each other for these
opinions.  Time has softened Catholic as well as Protestant: they both
required it; though each perceives only his own improvement, and is blind
to that of the other.  We are all the creatures of circumstances.  I know
not a kinder and better man than yourself; but you, if you had lived in
those times, would certainly have roasted your Catholic: and I promise
you, if the first exciter of this religious mob had been as powerful then
as he is now, you would soon have been elevated to the mitre.  I do not
go the length of saying that the world has suffered as much from
Protestant as from Catholic persecution; far from it: but you should
remember the Catholics had all the power, when the idea first started up
in the world that there could be two modes of faith; and that it was much
more natural they should attempt to crush this diversity of opinion by
great and cruel efforts, than that the Protestants should rage against
those who differed from them, when the very basis of their system was
complete freedom in all spiritual matters.

I cannot extend my letter any further at present, but you shall soon hear
from me again.  You tell me I am a party man.  I hope I shall always be
so, when I see my country in the hands of a pert London joker and a
second-rate lawyer.  Of the first, no other good is known than that he
makes pretty Latin verses; the second seems to me to have the head of a
country parson and the tongue of an Old Bailey lawyer.

If I could see good measures pursued, I care not a farthing who is in
power; but I have a passionate love for common justice, and for common
sense, and I abhor and despise every man who builds up his political
fortune upon their ruin.

God bless you, reverend Abraham, and defend you from the Pope, and all of
us from that administration who seek power by opposing a measure which
Burke, Pitt, and Fox all considered as absolutely necessary to the
existence of the country.



LETTER II.


DEAR ABRAHAM,—The Catholic not respect an oath! why not?  What upon earth
has kept him out of Parliament, or excluded him from all the offices
whence he is excluded, but his respect for oaths?  There is no law which
prohibits a Catholic to sit in Parliament.  There could be no such law;
because it is impossible to find out what passes in the interior of any
man’s mind.  Suppose it were in contemplation to exclude all men from
certain offices who contended for the legality of taking tithes: the only
mode of discovering that fervid love of decimation which I know you to
possess would be to tender you an oath “against that damnable doctrine,
that it is lawful for a spiritual man to take, abstract, appropriate,
subduct, or lead away the tenth calf, sheep, lamb, ox, pigeon, duck,”
&c., &c., &c., and every other animal that ever existed, which of course
the lawyers would take care to enumerate.  Now this oath I am sure you
would rather die than take; and so the Catholic is excluded from
Parliament because he will not swear that he disbelieves the leading
doctrines of his religion!  The Catholic asks you to abolish some oaths
which oppress him; your answer is that he does not respect oaths.  Then
why subject him to the test of oaths?  The oaths keep him out of
Parliament; why, then, he respects them.  Turn which way you will, either
your laws are nugatory, or the Catholic is bound by religious obligations
as you are; but no eel in the well-sanded fist of a cook-maid, upon the
eve of being skinned, ever twisted and writhed as an orthodox parson does
when he is compelled by the gripe of reason to admit anything in favour
of a dissenter.

I will not dispute with you whether the Pope be or be not the Scarlet
Lady of Babylon.  I hope it is not so; because I am afraid it will induce
His Majesty’s Chancellor of the Exchequer to introduce several severe
bills against popery, if that is the case; and though he will have the
decency to appoint a previous committee of inquiry as to the fact, the
committee will be garbled, and the report inflammatory.  Leaving this to
be settled as he pleases to settle it, I wish to inform you, that,
previously to the bill last passed in favour of the Catholics, at the
suggestion of Mr. Pitt, and for his satisfaction, the opinions of six of
the most celebrated of the foreign Catholic universities were taken as to
the right of the Pope to interfere in the temporal concerns of any
country.  The answer cannot possibly leave the shadow of a doubt, even in
the mind of Baron Maseres; and Dr. Rennel would be compelled to admit it,
if three Bishops lay dead at the very moment the question were put to
him.  To this answer might be added also the solemn declaration and
signature of all the Catholics in Great Britain.

I should perfectly agree with you, if the Catholics admitted such a
dangerous dispensing power in the hands of the Pope; but they all deny
it, and laugh at it, and are ready to abjure it in the most decided
manner you can devise.  They obey the Pope as the spiritual head of their
Church; but are you really so foolish as to be imposed upon by mere
names?  What matters it the seven-thousandth part of a farthing who is
the spiritual head of any Church?  Is not Mr. Wilberforce at the head of
the Church of Clapham?  Is not Dr. Letsom at the head of the Quaker
Church?  Is not the General Assembly at the head of the Church of
Scotland?  How is the government disturbed by these many-headed Churches?
or in what way is the power of the Crown augmented by this almost nominal
dignity?

The King appoints a fast-day once a year, and he makes the bishops: and
if the government would take half the pains to keep the Catholics out of
the arms of France that it does to widen Temple Bar, or improve Snow
Hill, the King would get into his hands the appointments of the titular
Bishops of Ireland.  Both Mr. C-’s sisters enjoy pensions more than
sufficient to place the two greatest dignitaries of the Irish Catholic
Church entirely at the disposal of the Crown.

Everybody who knows Ireland knows perfectly well, that nothing would be
easier, with the expenditure of a little money, than to preserve enough
of the ostensible appointment in the hands of the Pope to satisfy the
scruples of the Catholics, while the real nomination remained with the
Crown.  But, as I have before said, the moment the very name of Ireland
is mentioned, the English seem to bid adieu to common feeling, common
prudence, and common sense, and to act with the barbarity of tyrants and
the fatuity of idiots.

Whatever your opinion may be of the follies of the Roman Catholic
religion, remember they are the follies of four millions of human beings,
increasing rapidly in numbers, wealth, and intelligence, who, if firmly
united with this country, would set at defiance the power of France, and
if once wrested from their alliance with England, would in three years
render its existence as an independent nation absolutely impossible.  You
speak of danger to the Establishment: I request to know when the
Establishment was ever so much in danger as when Hoche was in Bantry Bay,
and whether all the books of Bossuet, or the arts of the Jesuits, were
half so terrible?  Mr. Perceval and his parsons forget all this, in their
horror lest twelve or fourteen old women may be converted to holy water
and Catholic nonsense.  They never see that, while they are saving these
venerable ladies from perdition, Ireland may be lost, England broken
down, and the Protestant Church, with all its deans, prebendaries,
Percevals, and Rennels, be swept into the vortex of oblivion.

Do not, I beseech you, ever mention to me again the name of Dr. Duigenan.
I have been in every corner of Ireland, and have studied its present
strength and condition with no common labour.  Be assured Ireland does
not contain at this moment less than five millions of people.  There were
returned in the year 1791 to the hearth tax 701,000 houses, and there is
no kind of question that there were about 50,000 houses omitted in that
return.  Taking, however, only the number returned for the tax, and
allowing the average of six to a house (a very small average for a
potato-fed people), this brings the population to 4,200,000 people in the
year 1791: and it can be shown from the clearest evidence (and Mr.
Newenham in his book shows it), that Ireland for the last fifty years has
increased in its population at the rate of 50 or 60,000 per annum; which
leaves the present population of Ireland at about five millions, after
every possible deduction for _existing circumstances_, _just and
necessary wars_, _monstrous and unnatural rebellions_, and all other
sources of human destruction.  Of this population, two out of ten are
Protestants; and the half of the Protestant population are Dissenters,
and as inimical to the Church as the Catholics themselves.  In this state
of things thumbscrews and whipping—admirable engines of policy as they
must be considered to be—will not ultimately avail.  The Catholics will
hang over you; they will watch for the moment, and compel you hereafter
to give them ten times as much, against your will, as they would now be
contented with, if it were voluntarily surrendered.  Remember what
happened in the American war, when Ireland compelled you to give her
everything she asked, and to renounce, in the most explicit manner, your
claim of Sovereignty over her.  God Almighty grant the folly of these
present men may not bring on such another crisis of public affairs!

What are your dangers which threaten the Establishment?—Reduce this
declamation to a point, and let us understand what you mean.  The most
ample allowance does not calculate that there would be more than twenty
members who were Roman Catholics in one house, and ten in the other, if
the Catholic emancipation were carried into effect.  Do you mean that
these thirty members would bring in a bill to take away the tithes from
the Protestant, and to pay them to the Catholic clergy?  Do you mean that
a Catholic general would march his army into the House of Commons, and
purge it of Mr. Perceval and Dr. Duigenan? or, that the theological
writers would become all of a sudden more acute or more learned, if the
present civil incapacities were removed?  Do you fear for your tithes, or
your doctrines, or your person, or the English Constitution?  Every fear,
taken separately, is so glaringly absurd, that no man has the folly or
the boldness to state it.  Every one conceals his ignorance, or his
baseness, in a stupid general panic, which, when called on, he is utterly
incapable of explaining.  Whatever you think of the Catholics, there they
are—you cannot get rid of them; your alternative is to give them a lawful
place for stating their grievances, or an unlawful one: if you do not
admit them to the House of Commons, they will hold their parliament in
Potatoe Place, Dublin, and be ten times as violent and inflammatory as
they would be in Westminster.  Nothing would give me such an idea of
security as to see twenty or thirty Catholic gentlemen in Parliament,
looked upon by all the Catholics as the fair and proper organ of their
party.  I should have thought it the height of good fortune that such a
wish existed on their part, and the very essence of madness and ignorance
to reject it.  Can you murder the Catholics?  Can you neglect them?  They
are too numerous for both these expedients.  What remains to be done is
obvious to every human being—but to that man who, instead of being a
Methodist preacher, is, for the curse of us and our children, and for the
ruin of Troy and the misery of good old Priam and his sons, become a
legislator and a politician.

A distinction, I perceive, is taken by one of the most feeble noblemen in
Great Britain, between persecution and the deprivation of political
power; whereas, there is no more distinction between these two things
than there is between him who makes the distinction and a booby.  If I
strip off the relic-covered jacket of a Catholic, and give him twenty
stripes . . . I persecute; if I say, Everybody in the town where you live
shall be a candidate for lucrative and honourable offices, but you, who
are a Catholic . . . I do not persecute!  What barbarous nonsense is
this! as if degradation was not as great an evil as bodily pain or as
severe poverty: as if I could not be as great a tyrant by saying, You
shall not enjoy—as by saying, You shall suffer.  The English, I believe,
are as truly religious as any nation in Europe; I know no greater
blessing; but it carries with it this evil in its train, that any villain
who will bawl out, “_The Church is in danger_!” may get a place and a
good pension; and that any administration who will do the same thing may
bring a set of men into power who, at a moment of stationary and passive
piety, would be hooted by the very boys in the streets.  But it is not
all religion; it is, in great part, the narrow and exclusive spirit which
delights to keep the common blessings of sun and air and freedom from
other human beings.  “Your religion has always been degraded; you are in
the dust, and I will take care you never rise again.  I should enjoy less
the possession of an earthly good by every additional person to whom it
was extended.”  You may not be aware of it yourself, most reverend
Abraham, but you deny their freedom to the Catholics upon the same
principle that Sarah your wife refuses to give the receipt for a ham or a
gooseberry dumpling: she values her receipts, not because they secure to
her a certain flavour, but because they remind her that her neighbours
want it:—a feeling laughable in a priestess, shameful in a priest; venial
when it withholds the blessings of a ham, tyrannical and execrable when
it narrows the boon of religious freedom.

You spend a great deal of ink about the character of the present prime
minister.  Grant you all that you write—I say, I fear he will ruin
Ireland, and pursue a line of policy destructive to the true interest of
his country: and then you tell me, he is faithful to Mrs. Perceval, and
kind to the Master Percevals!  These are, undoubtedly, the first
qualifications to be looked to in a time of the most serious public
danger; but somehow or another (if public and private virtues must always
be incompatible), I should prefer that he destroyed the domestic
happiness of Wood or Cockell, owed for the veal of the preceding year,
whipped his boys, and saved his country.

The late administration did not do right; they did not build their
measures upon the solid basis of facts.  They should have caused several
Catholics to have been dissected after death by surgeons of either
religion; and the report to have been published with accompanying plates.
If the viscera, and other organs of life, had been found to be the same
as in Protestant bodies; if the provisions of nerves, arteries, cerebrum,
and cerebellum, had been the same as we are provided with, or as the
Dissenters are now known to possess; then, indeed, they might have met
Mr. Perceval upon a proud eminence, and convinced the country at large of
the strong probability that the Catholics are really human creatures,
endowed with the feelings of men, and entitled to all their rights.  But
instead of this wise and prudent measure, Lord Howick, with his usual
precipitation, brings forward a bill in their favour, without offering
the slightest proof to the country that they were anything more than
horses and oxen.  The person who shows the lama at the corner of
Piccadilly has the precaution to write up—_Allowed by Sir Joseph Banks to
be a real quadruped_, so his Lordship might have said—_Allowed by the
bench of Bishops to be real human creatures_. . . .  I could write you
twenty letters upon this subject; but I am tired, and so I suppose are
you.  Our friendship is now of forty years’ standing; you know me to be a
truly religious man; but I shudder to see religion treated like a
cockade, or a pint of beer, and made the instrument of a party.  I love
the king, but I love the people as well as the king; and if I am sorry to
see his old age molested, I am much more sorry to see four millions of
Catholics baffled in their just expectations.  If I love Lord Grenville,
and Lord Howick, it is because they love their country; if I abhor . . .
it is because I know there is but one man among them who is not laughing
at the enormous folly and credulity of the country, and that he is an
ignorant and mischievous bigot.  As for the light and frivolous jester,
of whom it is your misfortune to think so highly, learn, my dear Abraham,
that this political Killigrew, just before the breaking-up of the last
administration, was in actual treaty with them for a place; and if they
had survived twenty-four hours longer, he would have been now declaiming
against the cry of No Popery! instead of inflaming it.  With this
practical comment on the baseness of human nature, I bid you adieu!



LETTER III.


ALL that I have so often told you, Mr. Abraham Plymley, is now come to
pass.  The Scythians, in whom you and the neighbouring country gentleman
placed such confidence, are smitten hip and thigh; their Beningsen put to
open shame; their magazines of train oil intercepted, and we are waking
from our disgraceful drunkenness to all the horrors of Mr. Perceval and
Mr. Canning . . . We shall now see if a nation is to be saved by
school-boy jokes and doggrel rhymes, by affronting petulance, and by the
tones and gesticulations of Mr. Pitt.  But these are not all the
auxiliaries on which we have to depend; to these his colleague will add
the strictest attention to the smaller parts of ecclesiastical
government, to hassocks, to psalters, and to surplices; in the last
agonies of England, he will bring in a bill to regulate Easter-offerings:
and he will adjust the stipends of curates, when the flag of France is
unfurled on the hills of Kent.  Whatever can be done by very mistaken
notions of the piety of a Christian, and by a very wretched imitation of
the eloquence of Mr. Pitt, will be done by these two gentlemen.  After
all, if they both really were what they both either wish to be, or wish
to be thought; if the one were an enlightened Christian who drew from the
Gospel the toleration, the charity, and the sweetness which it contains;
and if the other really possessed any portion of the great understanding
of his Nisus who guarded him from the weapons of the Whigs, I should
still doubt if they could save us.  But I am sure we are not to be saved
by religious hatred, and by religious trifling; by any psalmody, however
sweet; or by any persecution, however sharp; I am certain the sounds of
Mr. Pitt’s voice, and the measure of his tones, and the movement of his
arms, will do nothing for us; when these tones and movements, and voice
brings us always declamation without sense or knowledge, and ridicule
without good humour or conciliation.  Oh, Mr. Plymley, this never will
do.  Mrs. Abraham Plymley, my sister, will be led away captive by an
amorous Gaul; and Joel Plymley your firstborn, will be a French drummer.

Out of sight, out of mind, seems to be a proverb which applies to enemies
as well as friends.  Because the French army was no longer seen from the
cliffs of Dover; because the sound of cannon was no longer heard by the
debauched London bathers on the Sussex coast; because the _Morning Post_
no longer fixed the invasion sometimes for Monday, sometimes for Tuesday,
sometimes (positively for the last time of invading) on Saturday; because
all these causes of terror were suspended, you conceived the power of
Bonaparte to be at an end, and were setting off for Paris with Lord
Hawkesbury the conqueror.  This is precisely the method in which the
English have acted during the whole of the revolutionary war.  If Austria
or Prussia armed, doctors of divinity immediately printed those passages
out of Habakkuk, in which the destruction of the Usurper by General Mack,
and the Duke of Brunswick, are so clearly predicted.  If Bonaparte
halted, there was a mutiny or a dysentery.  If any one of his generals
were eaten up by the light troops of Russia, and picked (as their manner
is) to the bone, the sanguine spirit of this country displayed itself in
all its glory.  What scenes of infamy did the Society for the Suppression
of Vice lay open to our astonished eyes! tradesmen’s daughters dancing,
pots of beer carried out between the first and second lesson, and dark
and distant rumours of indecent prints.  Clouds of Mr. Canning’s cousins
arrived by the waggon; all the contractors left their cards with Mr.
Rose; and every plunderer of the public crawled out of his hole, like
slugs, and grubs, and worms after a shower of rain.

If my voice could have been heard at the late changes, I should have
said, “Gently, patience, stop a little; the time is not yet come; the mud
of Poland will harden, and the bowels of the French grenadiers will
recover their tone.  When honesty, good sense, and liberality have
extricated you out of your present embarrassment, then dismiss them as a
matter of course; but you cannot spare them just now; don’t be in too
great a hurry, or there will be no monarch to flatter, and no country to
pillage; only submit for a little time to be respected abroad, overlook
the painful absence of the tax-gatherer for a few years, bear up nobly
under the increase of freedom and of liberal policy for a little time,
and I promise you, at the expiration of that period, you shall be
plundered, insulted, disgraced, and restrained to your heart’s content.
Do not imagine I have any intention of putting servility and canting
hypocrisy permanently out of place, or of filling up with courage and
sense those offices which naturally devolve upon decorous imbecility and
flexible cunning: give us only a little time to keep off the hussars of
France, and then the jobbers and jesters shall return to their
birthright, and public virtue be called by its own name of fanaticism.”
Such is the advice I would have offered to my infatuated countrymen: but
it rained very hard in November, Brother Abraham, and the bowels of our
enemies were loosened, and we put our trust in white fluxes and wet mud;
and there is nothing now to oppose to the conqueror of the world but a
small table wit, and the sallow Surveyor of the Meltings.

You ask me, if I think it possible for this country to survive the recent
misfortunes of Europe?—I answer you, without the slightest degree of
hesitation: that if Bonaparte lives, and a great deal is not immediately
done for the conciliation of the Catholics, it does seem to me absolutely
impossible but that we must perish; and take this with you, that we shall
perish without exciting the slightest feeling of present or future
compassion, but fall amidst the hootings and revilings of Europe, as a
nation of blockheads, Methodists, and old women.  If there were any great
scenery, any heroic feelings, any blaze of ancient virtue, any exalted
death, any termination of England that would be ever remembered, ever
honoured in that western world, where liberty is now retiring, conquest
would be more tolerable, and ruin more sweet; but it is doubly miserable
to become slaves abroad, because we would be tyrants at home; to
persecute, when we are contending against persecution; and to perish,
because we have raised up worse enemies within, from our own bigotry,
than we are exposed to without, from the unprincipled ambition of France.
It is indeed a most silly and affecting spectacle to rage at such a
moment against our own kindred and our own blood; to tell them they
cannot be honourable in war, because they are conscientious in religion;
to stipulate (at the very moment when we should buy their hearts and
swords at any price) that they must hold up the right hand in prayer, and
not the left; and adore one common God, by turning to the east rather
than to the west.

What is it the Catholics ask of you?  Do not exclude us from the honours
and emoluments of the state because we worship God in one way, and you
worship Him in another.  In a period of the deepest peace, and the
fattest prosperity, this would be a fair request; it should be granted,
if Lord Hawkesbury had reached Paris, if Mr. Canning’s interpreter had
threatened the Senate in an opening speech, or Mr. Perceval explained to
them the improvements he meant to introduce into the Catholic religion;
but to deny the Irish this justice now, in the present state of Europe,
and in the summer months, just as the season for destroying kingdoms is
coming on, is (beloved Abraham), whatever you may think of it, little
short of positive insanity.

Here is a frigate attacked by a corsair of immense strength and size,
rigging cut, masts in danger of coming by the board, four foot water in
the hold, men dropping off very fast; in this dreadful situation how do
you think the Captain acts (whose name shall be Perceval)?  He calls all
hands upon deck; talks to them of King, country, glory, sweethearts, gin,
French prison, wooden shoes, Old England, and hearts of oak; they give
three cheers, rush to their guns, and, after a tremendous conflict,
succeed in beating off the enemy.  Not a syllable of all this; this is
not the manner in which the honourable Commander goes to work: the first
thing he does is to secure twenty or thirty of his prime sailors who
happen to be Catholics, to clap them in irons, and set over them a guard
of as many Protestants; having taken this admirable method of defending
himself against his infidel opponents, he goes upon deck, reminds the
sailors in a very bitter harangue, that they are of different religions;
exhorts the Episcopal gunner not to trust to the Presbyterian
quartermaster; issues positive orders that the Catholics should be fired
at upon the first appearance of discontent; rushes through blood and
brains, examining his men in the Catechism and thirty-nine Articles, and
positively forbids every one to sponge or ram who has not taken the
Sacrament according to the Church of England.  Was it right to take out a
captain made of excellent British stuff, and to put in such a man as
this?  Is not he more like a parson, or a talking lawyer, than a
thorough-bred seaman?  And built as she is of heart of oak, and admirably
manned, is it possible, with such a captain, to save this ship from going
to the bottom?

You have an argument, I perceive, in common with many others, against the
Catholics, that their demands complied with would only lead to further
exactions, and that it is better to resist them now, before anything is
conceded, than hereafter, when it is found that all concessions are in
vain.  I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who uses this reasoning to
exclude others from their just rights, had tried its efficacy, not by his
understanding, but by (what are full of much better things) his pockets.
Suppose the person to whom he applied for the meltings had withstood
every plea of wife and fourteen children, no business, and good
character, and refused him this paltry little office because he might
hereafter attempt to get hold of the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster
for life? would not Mr. Perceval have contended eagerly against the
injustice of refusing moderate requests, because immoderate ones may
hereafter be made?  Would he not have said, and said truly, Leave such
exorbitant attempts as these to the general indignation of the Commons,
who will take care to defeat them when they do occur; but do not refuse
me the Irons and the Meltings now, because I may totally lose sight of
all moderation hereafter?  Leave hereafter to the spirit and the wisdom
of hereafter; and do not be niggardly now from the apprehension that men
as wise as you should be profuse in times to come.

You forget, Brother Abraham, that is a vast art, where quarrels cannot be
avoided, to turn public opinion in your favour and to the prejudice of
your enemy; a vast privilege to feel that you are in the right, and to
make him feel that he is in the wrong: a privilege which makes you more
than a man, and your antagonist less; and often secures victory by
convincing him who contends that he must submit to injustice if he
submits to defeat.  Open every rank in the army and the navy to the
Catholic; let him purchase at the same price as the Protestant (if either
Catholic or Protestant can purchase such refined pleasures) the privilege
of hearing Lord Castlereagh speak for three hours; keep his clergy from
starving, soften some of the most odious powers of the tithing-man, and
you will for ever lay this formidable question to rest.  But if I am
wrong, and you must quarrel at last, quarrel upon just rather than unjust
grounds; divide the Catholic and unite the Protestant; be just, and your
own exertions will be more formidable and their exertions less
formidable; be just, and you will take away from their party all the best
and wisest understandings of both persuasions, and knit them firmly to
your own cause.  “Thrice is he armed who has his quarrel just;” and ten
times as much may he be taxed.  In the beginning of any war, however
destitute of common sense, every mob will roar, and every Lord of the
Bedchamber address; but if you are engaged in a war that is to last for
years, and to require important sacrifices, take care to make the justice
of your case so clear and so obvious that it cannot be mistaken by the
most illiterate country gentleman who rides the earth.  Nothing, in fact,
can be so grossly absurd as the argument which says I will deny justice
to you now, because I suspect future injustice from you.  At this rate,
you may lock a man up in your stable, and refuse to let him out, because
you suspect that he has an intention, at some future period, of robbing
your hen-roost.  You may horsewhip him at Lady Day, because you believe
he will affront you at Midsummer.  You may commit a greater evil, to
guard against a less which is merely contingent, and may never happen.
You may do what you have done a century ago in Ireland, make the
Catholics worse than Helots, because you suspected that they might
hereafter aspire to be more than fellow citizens; rendering their
sufferings certain from your jealousy, while yours were only doubtful
from their ambition; an ambition sure to be excited by the very measures
which were taken to prevent it.

The physical strength of the Catholics will not be greater because you
give them a share of political power.  You may by these means turn rebels
into friends; but I do not see how you make rebels more formidable.  If
they taste of the honey of lawful power, they will love the hive from
whence they procure it; if they will struggle with us like men in the
same state for civil influence, we are safe.  All that I dread is the
physical strength of four millions of men combined with an invading
French army.  If you are to quarrel at last with this enormous
population, still put it off as long as you can; you must gain, and
cannot lose, by the delay.  The state of Europe cannot be worse; the
conviction which the Catholics entertain of your tyranny and injustice
cannot be more alarming, nor the opinions of your own people more
divided.  Time, which produces such effect upon brass and marble, may
inspire one Minister with modesty and another with compassion; every
circumstance may be better; some certainly will be so, none can be worse;
and after all the evil may never happen.

You have got hold, I perceive, of all the vulgar English stories
respecting the hereditary transmission of forfeited property, and
seriously believe that every Catholic beggar wears the terriers of his
father’s land next his skin, and is only waiting for better times to cut
the throat of the Protestant possessor, and get drunk in the hall of his
ancestors.  There is one irresistible answer to this mistake, and that
is, that the forfeited lands are purchased indiscriminately by Catholic
and Protestant, and that the Catholic purchaser never objects to such a
title.  Now the land so purchased by a Catholic is either his own family
estate, or it is not.  If it is, you suppose him so desirous of coming
into possession that he resorts to the double method of rebellion and
purchase; if it is not his own family estate of which he becomes the
purchaser, you suppose him first to purchase, then to rebel, in order to
defeat the purchase.  These things may happen in Ireland, but it is
totally impossible they can happen anywhere else.  In fact, what land can
any man of any sect purchase in Ireland, but forfeited property?  In all
other oppressed countries which I have ever heard of, the rapacity of the
conqueror was bounded by the territorial limits in which the objects of
his avarice were contained; but Ireland has been actually confiscated
twice over, as a cat is twice killed by a wicked parish boy.

I admit there is a vast luxury in selecting a particular set of
Christians, and in worrying them as a boy worries a puppy dog; it is an
amusement in which all the young English are brought up from their
earliest days.  I like the idea of saying to men who use a different
hassock from me, that till they change their hassock they shall never be
Colonels, Aldermen, or Parliament-men.  While I am gratifying my personal
insolence respecting religious forms, I fondle myself into an idea that I
am religious, and that I am doing my duty in the most exemplary, as I
certainly am in the most easy, way.  But then, my good Abraham, this
sport, admirable as it is, is become, with respect to the Catholics, a
little dangerous; and if we are not extremely careful in taking the
amusement, we shall tumble into the holy water and be drowned.  As it
seems necessary to your idea of an established church to have somebody to
worry and torment, suppose we were to select for this purpose William
Wilberforce, Esq., and the patent Christians of Clapham.  We shall by
this expedient enjoy the same opportunity for cruelty and injustice,
without being exposed to the same risks: we will compel them to abjure
vital clergymen by a public test, to deny that the said William
Wilberforce has any power of working miracles, touching for barrenness or
any other infirmity, or that he is endowed with any preternatural gift
whatever.  We will swear them to the doctrine of good works, compel them
to preach common sense, and to hear it; to frequent Bishops, Deans, and
other High Churchmen; and to appear, once in the quarter at the least, at
some melodrame, opera, pantomime, or other light scenical representation;
in short, we will gratify the love of insolence and power; we will enjoy
the old orthodox sport of witnessing the impotent anger of men compelled
to submit to civil degradation, or to sacrifice their notions of truth to
ours.  And all this we may do without the slightest risk, because their
numbers are, as yet, not very considerable.  Cruelty and injustice must,
of course, exist; but why connect them with danger?  Why torture a
bulldog when you can get a frog or a rabbit?  I am sure my proposal will
meet with the most universal approbation.  Do not be apprehensive of any
opposition from ministers.  If it is a case of hatred, we are sure that
one man will defend it by the Gospel: if it abridges human freedom, we
know that another will find precedents for it in the Revolution.

In the name of Heaven, what are we to gain by suffering Ireland to be
rode by that faction which now predominates over it?  Why are we to
endanger our own Church and State, not for 500,000 Episcopalians, but for
ten or twelve great Orange families, who have been sucking the blood of
that country for these hundred years last past? and the folly of the
Orangemen in playing this game themselves, is almost as absurd as ours in
playing it for them.  They ought to have the sense to see that their
business now is to keep quietly the lands and beeves of which the fathers
of the Catholics were robbed in days of yore; they must give to their
descendants the sop of political power: by contending with them for
names, they will lose realities, and be compelled to beg their potatoes
in a foreign land, abhorred equally by the English, who have witnessed
their oppression, and by the Catholic Irish, who have smarted under them.



LETTER IV.


THEN comes Mr. Isaac Hawkins Brown (the gentleman who danced so badly at
the Court of Naples), and asks if it is not an anomaly to educate men in
another religion than your own.  It certainly is our duty to get rid of
error, and, above all, of religious error; but this is not to be done
_per saltum_, or the measure will miscarry, like the Queen.  It may be
very easy to dance away the royal embryo of a great kingdom; but Mr.
Hawkins Brown must look before he leaps, when his object is to crush an
opposite sect in religion; false steps aid the one effect as much as they
are fatal to the other: it will require not only the lapse of Mr. Hawkins
Brown, but the lapse of centuries, before the absurdities of the Catholic
religion are laughed at as much as they deserve to be; but surely, in the
meantime, the Catholic religion is better than none; four millions of
Catholics are better than four millions of wild beasts; two hundred
priests educated by our own government are better than the same number
educated by the man who means to destroy us.

The whole sum now appropriated by Government to the religious education
of four millions of Christians is £13,000; a sum about one hundred times
as large being appropriated in the same country to about one-eighth part
of this number of Protestants.  When it was proposed to raise this grant
from £8,000 to £13,000, its present amount, this sum was objected to by
that most indulgent of Christians, Mr. Spencer Perceval, as enormous; he
himself having secured for his own eating and drinking, and the eating
and drinking of the Master and Miss Percevals, the reversionary sum of
£21,000 a year of the public money, and having just failed in a desperate
and rapacious attempt to secure to himself for life the revenues of the
Duchy of Lancaster: and the best of it is, that this minister, after
abusing his predecessors for their impious bounty to the Catholics, has
found himself compelled, from the apprehension of immediate danger, to
grant the sum in question, thus dissolving his pearl in vinegar, and
destroying all the value of the gift by the virulence and reluctance with
which it was granted.

I hear from some persons in Parliament, and from others in the sixpenny
societies for debate, a great deal about unalterable laws passed at the
Revolution.  When I hear any man talk of an unalterable law, the only
effect it produces upon me is to convince me that he is an unalterable
fool.  A law passed when there was Germany, Spain, Russia, Sweden,
Holland, Portugal, and Turkey; when there was a disputed succession; when
four or five hundred acres were won and lost after ten years’ hard
fighting; when armies were commanded by the sons of kings, and campaigns
passed in an interchange of civil letters and ripe fruit; and for these
laws, when the whole state of the world is completely changed, we are
now, according to my Lord Hawkesbury, to hold ourselves ready to perish.
It is no mean misfortune, in times like these, to be forced to say
anything about such men as Lord Hawkesbury, and to be reminded that we
are governed by them, but as I am driven to it, I must take the liberty
of observing that the wisdom and liberality of my Lord Hawkesbury are of
that complexion which always shrinks from the present exercise of these
virtues by praising the splendid examples of them in ages past.  If he
had lived at such periods, he would have opposed the Revolution by
praising the Reformation, and the Reformation by speaking handsomely of
the Crusades.  He gratifies his natural antipathy to great and courageous
measures by playing off the wisdom and courage which have ceased to
influence human affairs against that wisdom and courage which living men
would employ for present happiness.  Besides, it happens unfortunately
for the Warden of the Cinque Ports, that to the principal incapacities
under which the Irish suffer, they were subjected after that great and
glorious revolution, to which we are indebted for so many blessings, and
his Lordship for the termination of so many periods.  The Catholics were
not excluded from the Irish House of Commons, or military commands,
before the 3rd and 4th of William and Mary, and the 1st and 2nd of Queen
Anne.

If the great mass of the people, environed as they are on every side with
Jenkinsons, Percevals, Melvilles, and other perils, were to pray for
divine illumination and aid, what more could Providence in its mercy do
than send them the example of Scotland?  For what a length of years was
it attempted to compel the Scotch to change their religion: horse, foot,
artillery, and armed Prebendaries, were sent out after the Presbyterian
parsons and their congregations.  The Percevals of those days called for
blood: this call is never made in vain, and blood was shed; but, to the
astonishment and horror of the Percevals of those days, they could not
introduce the book of Common Prayer, nor prevent that metaphysical people
from going to heaven their true way, instead of our true way.  With a
little oatmeal for food, and a little sulphur for friction, allaying
cutaneous irritation with the one hand, and holding his Calvinistical
creed in the other, Sawney ran away to his flinty hills, sung his psalm
out of tune his own way, and listened to his sermon of two hours long,
amid the rough and imposing melancholy of the tallest thistles.  But
Sawney brought up his unbreeched offspring in a cordial hatred of his
oppressors; and Scotland was as much a part of the weakness of England
then as Ireland is at this moment.  The true and the only remedy was
applied; the Scotch were suffered to worship God after their own tiresome
manner, without pain, penalty, or privation.  No lightning descended from
heaven: the country was not ruined; the world is not yet come to an end;
the dignitaries who foretold all these consequences are utterly
forgotten, and Scotland has ever since been an increasing source of
strength to Great Britain.  In the six hundredth year of our empire over
Ireland we are making laws to transport a man if he is found out of his
house after eight o’clock at night.  That this is necessary I know too
well; but tell me why it is necessary.  It is not necessary in Greece,
where the Turks are masters.

Are you aware that there is at this moment a universal clamour throughout
the whole of Ireland against the Union?  It is now one month since I
returned from that country; I have never seen so extraordinary, so
alarming, and so rapid a change in the sentiments of any people.  Those
who disliked the Union before are quite furious against it now; those who
doubted doubt no more; those who were friendly to it have exchanged that
friendship for the most rooted aversion; in the midst of all this (which
is by far the most alarming symptom), there is the strongest disposition
on the part of the northern Dissenters to unite with the Catholics,
irritated by the faithless injustice with which they have been treated.
If this combination does take place (mark what I say to you), you will
have meetings all over Ireland for the cry of _No Union_; that cry will
spread like wild-fire, and blaze over every opposition; and if this be
the case, there is no use in mincing the matter; Ireland is gone, and the
death-blow of England is struck; and this event may happen
_instantly_—before Mr. Canning and Mr. Hookham Frere have turned Lord
Howick’s last speech into doggerel rhymne; before “_the near and dear
relations_” have received another quarter of their pension, or Mr.
Perceval conducted the Curates’ Salary Bill safely to a third reading.
If the mind of the English people, cursed as they now are with that
madness of religious dissension which has been breathed into them for the
purposes of private ambition, can be alarmed by any remembrances, and
warned by any events, they should never forget how nearly Ireland was
lost to this country during the American war; that it was saved merely by
the jealousy of the Protestant Irish towards the Catholics, then a much
more insignificant and powerless body than they now are.  The Catholic
and the Dissenter have since combined together against you.  Last war,
the winds, those ancient and unsubsidised allies of England; the winds,
upon which English ministers depend as much for saving kingdoms as
washerwomen do for drying clothes; the winds stood your friends: the
French could only get into Ireland in small numbers, and the rebels were
defeated.  Since then, all the remaining kingdoms of Europe have been
destroyed; and the Irish see that their national independence is gone,
without having received any single one of those advantages which they
were taught to expect from the sacrifice.  All good things were to flow
from the Union; they have none of them gained anything.  Every man’s
pride is wounded by it; no man’s interest is promoted.  In the seventh
year of that union four million Catholics, lured by all kinds of promises
to yield up the separate dignity and sovereignty of their country, are
forced to squabble with such a man as Mr. Spencer Perceval for five
thousand pounds with which to educate their children in their own mode of
worship, he, the same Mr. Spencer, having secured to his own Protestant
self a reversionary portion of the public money amounting to four times
that sum.  A senior Proctor of the University of Oxford, the head of a
house, or the examining chaplain to a bishop, may believe these things
can last; but every man of the world, whose understanding has been
exercised in the business of life, must see (and see with a breaking
heart) that they will soon come to a fearful termination.

Our conduct to Ireland during the whole of this war has been that of a
man who subscribes to hospitals, weeps at charity sermons, carries out
broth and blankets to beggars, and then comes home and beats his wife and
children.  We had compassion for the victims of all other oppression and
injustice except our own.  If Switzerland was threatened, away went a
Treasury Clerk with a hundred thousand pounds for Switzerland; large bags
of money were kept constantly under sailing orders; upon the slightest
demonstration towards Naples, down went Sir William Hamilton upon his
knees, and begged for the love of St. Januarius they would help us off
with a little money; all the arts of Machiavel were resorted to to
persuade Europe to borrow; troops were sent off in all directions to save
the Catholic and Protestant world; the Pope himself was guarded by a
regiment of English dragoons; if the Grand Lama had been at hand, he
would have had another; every Catholic clergyman who had the good fortune
to be neither English nor Irish was immediately provided with lodging,
soap, crucifix, missal, chapel-beads, relics, and holy water; if Turks
had landed, Turks would have received an order from the Treasury for
coffee, opium, korans, and seraglios.  In the midst of all this fury of
saving and defending this crusade for conscience and Christianity, there
was a universal agreement among all descriptions of people to continue
every species of internal persecution, to deny at home every just right
that had been denied before, to pummel poor Dr. Abraham Rees and his
Dissenters, and to treat the unhappy Catholics of Ireland as if their
tongues were mute, their heels cloven, their nature brutal, and
designedly subjected by Providence to their Orange masters.

How would my admirable brother, the Rev. Abraham Plymley, like to be
marched to a Catholic chapel, to be sprinkled with the sanctified
contents of a pump, to hear a number of false quantities in the Latin
tongue, and to see a number of persons occupied in making right angles
upon the breast and forehead?  And if all this would give you so much
pain, what right have you to march Catholic soldiers to a place of
worship, where there is no aspersion, no rectangular gestures, and where
they understand every word they hear, having first, in order to get him
to enlist, made a solemn promise to the contrary?  Can you wonder, after
this, that the Catholic priest stops the recruiting in Ireland, as he is
now doing to a most alarming degree?

The late question concerning military rank did not individually affect
the lowest persons of the Catholic persuasion; but do you imagine they do
not sympathise with the honour and disgrace of their superiors?  Do you
think that satisfaction and dissatisfaction do not travel down from Lord
Fingal to the most potato-less Catholic in Ireland, and that the glory or
shame of the sect is not felt by many more than these conditions
personally and corporeally affect?  Do you suppose that the detection of
Sir Henry Mildmay, and the disappointment of Mr. Perceval _in the matter_
of the Duchy of Lancaster, did not affect every dabbler in public
property?  Depend upon it these things were felt through all the
gradations of small plunderers, down to him who filches a pound of
tobacco from the King’s warehouses; while, on the contrary, the acquittal
of any noble and official thief would not fail to diffuse the most
heart-felt satisfaction over the larcenous and burglarious world.
Observe, I do not say because the lower Catholics are affected by what
concerns their superiors, that they are not affected by what concerns
themselves.  There is no disguising the horrid truth, _there must be some
relaxation with respect to tithe_: this is the cruel and heart-rending
price which must be paid for national preservation.  I feel how little
existence will be worth having, if any alteration, however slight, is
made in the property of Irish rectors; I am conscious how much such
changes must affect the daily and hourly comforts of every Englishman; I
shall feel too happy if they leave Europe untouched, and are not
ultimately fatal to the destinies of America; but I am madly bent upon
keeping foreign enemies out of the British empire, and my limited
understanding presents me with no other means of effecting my object.

You talk of waiting till another reign before any alteration is made; a
proposal full of good sense and good nature, if the measure in question
were to pull down St. James’s Palace, or to alter Kew Gardens.  Will
Bonaparte agree to put off his intrigues, and his invasion of Ireland?
If so, I will overlook the question of justice, and finding the danger
suspended, agree to the delay.  I sincerely hope this reign may last many
years, yet the delay of a single session of Parliament may be fatal; but
if another year elapse without some serious concession made to the
Catholics, I believe, before God, that all future pledges and concessions
will be made in vain.  I do not think that peace will do you any good
under such circumstances.  If Bonaparte give you a respite, it will only
be to get ready the gallows on which he means to hang you.  The Catholic
and the Dissenter can unite in peace as well as war.  If they do, the
gallows is ready, and your executioner, in spite of the most solemn
promises, will turn you off the next hour.

With every disposition to please (where to please within fair and
rational limits is a high duty), it is impossible for public men to be
long silent about the Catholics; pressing evils are not got rid of,
because they are not talked of.  A man may command his family to say
nothing more about the stone and surgical operations; but the ponderous
malice still lies upon the nerve, and gets so big, that the patient
breaks his own law of silence, clamours for the knife, and expires under
its late operation.  Believe me, you talk folly when you talk of
suppressing the Catholic question.  I wish to God the case admitted of
such a remedy; bad as it is, it does not admit of it.  If the wants of
the Catholics are not heard in the manly tones of Lord Grenville, or the
servile drawl of Lord Castlereagh, they will be heard ere long in the
madness of mobs, and the conflicts of armed men.

I observe it is now universally the fashion to speak of the first
personage in the state as the great obstacle to the measure.  In the
first place, I am not bound to believe such rumours because I hear them;
and in the next place, I object to such language, as unconstitutional.
Whoever retains his situation in the ministry while the incapacities of
the Catholics remain, is the advocate for those incapacities; and to him,
and to him only, am I to look for responsibility.  But waive this
question of the Catholics, and put a general case:—How is a minister of
this country to act when the conscientious scruples of his Sovereign
prevent the execution of a measure deemed by him absolutely necessary to
the safety of the country?  His conduct is quite clear—he should resign.
But what is his successor to do?—Resign.  But is the King to be left
without ministers, and is he in this manner to be compelled to act
against his own conscience?  Before I answer this, pray tell me in my
turn what better defence is there against the machinations of a wicked,
or the errors of a weak Monarch, than the impossibility of finding a
minister who will lend himself to vice and folly?  Every English Monarch,
in such a predicament, would sacrifice his opinions and views to such a
clear expression of the public will; and it is one method in which the
Constitution aims at bringing about such a sacrifice.  You may say, if
you please, the ruler of a state is forced to give up his object when the
natural love of place and power will tempt no one to assist him in its
attainment; this may be force; but it is force without injury, and
therefore without blame.  I am not to be beat out of these obvious
reasonings, and ancient constitutional provisions, by the term
conscience.  There is no fantasy, however wild, that a man may not
persuade himself that he cherishes from motives of conscience; eternal
war against impious France, or rebellious America, or Catholic Spain, may
in times to come be scruples of conscience.  One English Monarch may,
from scruples of conscience, wish to abolish every trait of religious
persecution; another Monarch may deem it his absolute and indispensable
duty to make a slight provision for Dissenters out of the revenues of the
Church of England.  So that you see, Brother Abraham, there are cases
where it would be the duty of the best and most loyal subjects to oppose
the conscientious scruples of their Sovereign, still taking care that
their actions were constitutional and their modes respectful.  Then you
come upon me with personal questions, and say that no such dangers are to
be apprehended now under our present gracious Sovereign, of whose good
qualities we must be all so well convinced.  All these sorts of
discussions I beg leave to decline.  What I have said upon constitutional
topics, I mean of course for general, not for particular application.  I
agree with you in all the good you have said of the powers that be, and I
avail myself of the opportunity of pointing out general dangers to the
Constitution, at a moment when we are so completely exempted from their
present influence.  I cannot finish this letter without expressing my
surprise and pleasure at your abuse of the servile addresses poured in
upon the throne, nor can I conceive a greater disgust to a Monarch, with
a true English heart, than to see such a question as that of Catholic
Emancipation argued, not with a reference to its justice or importance,
but universally considered to be of no further consequence than as it
affects his own private feelings.  That these sentiments should be mine
is not wonderful; but how they came to be yours does, I confess, fill me
with surprise.  Are you moved by the arrival of the Irish Brigade at
Antwerp, and the amorous violence which awaits Mrs. Plymley?



LETTER V.


DEAR ABRAHAM,—I never met a parson in my life who did not consider the
Corporation and Test Acts as the great bulwarks of the Church; and yet it
is now just sixty-four years since bills of indemnity to destroy their
penal effects, or, in other words, to repeal them, have been passed
annually as a matter of course.

    _Heu vatum ignar mentes_.

These bulwarks, without which no clergyman thinks he could sleep with his
accustomed soundness, have actually not been in existence since any man
now living has taken holy orders.  Every year the Indemnity Act pardons
past breaches of these two laws, and prevents any fresh actions of
informers from coming to a conclusion before the period for the next
indemnity bill arrives; so that these penalties, by which alone the
Church remains in existence, have not had one moment’s operation for
sixty-four years.  You will say the legislature, during the whole of this
period, has reserved to itself the discretion of suspending or not
suspending.  But had not the legislature the right of re-enacting, if it
was necessary?  And now when you have kept the rod over these people
(with the most scandalous abuse of all principle) for sixty-four years,
and not found it necessary to strike once, is not that the best of all
reasons why the rod should be laid aside?  You talk to me of a very
valuable hedge running across your fields which you would not part with
on any account.  I go down, expecting to find a limit impervious to
cattle, and highly useful for the preservation of property; but, to my
utter astonishment, I find that the hedge was cut down half a century
ago, and that every year the shoots are clipped the moment they appear
above ground: it appears, upon further inquiry, that the hedge never
ought to have existed at all; that it originated in the malice of
antiquated quarrels, and was cut down because it subjected you to vast
inconvenience, and broke up your intercourse with a country absolutely
necessary to your existence.  If the remains of this hedge serve only to
keep up an irritation in your neighbours, and to remind them of the feuds
of former times, good nature and good sense teach you that you ought to
grub it up, and cast it into the oven.  This is the exact state of these
two laws; and yet it is made a great argument against concession to the
Catholics, that it involves their repeal; which is to say, Do not make me
relinquish a folly that will lead to my ruin; because, if you do, I must
give up other follies ten times greater than this.

I confess, with all our bulwarks and hedges, it mortifies me to the quick
to contrast with our matchless stupidity and inimitable folly the conduct
of Bonaparte upon the subject of religious persecution.  At the moment
when we are tearing the crucifixes from the necks of the Catholics, and
washing pious mud from the foreheads of the Hindoos; at that moment this
man is assembling the very Jews at Paris, and endeavouring to give them
stability and importance.  I shall never be reconciled to mending shoes
in America; but I see it must be my lot, and I will then take a dreadful
revenge upon Mr. Perceval, if I catch him preaching within ten miles of
me.  I cannot for the soul of me conceive whence this man has gained his
notions of Christianity: he has the most evangelical charity for errors
in arithmetic, and the most inveterate malice against errors in
conscience.  While he rages against those whom in the true spirit of the
Gospel he ought to indulge, he forgets the only instance of severity
which that Gospel contains, and leaves the jobbers, contractors, and
money-changers at their seats, without a single stripe.

You cannot imagine, you say, that England will ever be ruined and
conquered; and for no other reason that I can find, but because it seems
so very odd it should be ruined and conquered.  Alas! so reasoned, in
their time, the Austrian, Russian, and Prussian Plymleys.  But the
English are brave: so were all these nations.  You might get together a
hundred thousand men individually brave; but without generals capable of
commanding such a machine, it would be as useless as a first-rate
man-of-war manned by Oxford clergymen or Parisian shopkeepers.  I do not
say this to the disparagement of English officers: they have had no means
of acquiring experience; but I do say it to create alarm; for we do not
appear to me to be half alarmed enough, or to entertain that sense of our
danger which leads to the most obvious means of self-defence.  As for the
spirit of the peasantry in making a gallant defence behind hedge-rows,
and through plate-racks and hen-coops, highly as I think of their
bravery, I do not know any nation in Europe so likely to be struck with
the panic as the English; and this from their total unacquaintance with
the science of war.  Old wheat and beans blazing for twenty miles round;
cart mares shot; sows of Lord Somerville’s breed running wild over the
country; the minister of the parish wounded sorely in his hinder parts;
Mrs. Plymley in fits.  All these scenes of war an Austrian or a Russian
has seen three or four times over: but it is now three centuries since an
English pig has fallen in a fair battle upon English ground, or a
farm-house been rifled, or a clergyman’s wife been subjected to any other
proposals of love than the connubial endearments of her sleek and
orthodox mate.  The old edition of Plutarch’s Lives, which lies in the
corner of your parlour window, has contributed to work you up to the most
romantic expectations of our Roman behaviour.  You are persuaded that
Lord Amherst will defend Kew Bridge like Cocles; that some maid of honour
will break away from her captivity, and swim over the Thames; that the
Duke of York will burn his capitulating hand; and little Mr. Sturges
Bourne give forty years’ purchase for Moulsham Hall, while the French are
encamped upon it.  I hope we shall witness all this, if the French do
come; but in the meantime I am so enchanted with the ordinary English
behaviour of these invaluable persons, that I earnestly pray no
opportunity may be given them for Roman valour, and for those very
un-Roman pensions which they would all, of course, take especial care to
claim in consequence.  But whatever was our conduct, if every ploughman
was as great a hero as he who was called from his oxen to save Rome from
her enemies, I should still say, that at such a crisis you want the
affections of all your subjects in both islands: there is no spirit which
you must alienate, no art you must avert, every man must feel he has a
country, and that there is an urgent and pressing cause why he should
expose himself to death.

The effects of penal laws in matters of religion are never confined to
those limits in which the legislature intended they should be placed: it
is not only that I am excluded from certain offices and dignities because
I am a Catholic, but the exclusion carries with it a certain stigma,
which degrades me in the eyes of the monopolising sect, and the very name
of my religion becomes odious.  These effects are so very striking in
England, that I solemnly believe blue and red baboons to be more popular
here than Catholics and Presbyterians; they are more understood, and
there is a greater disposition to do something for them.  When a country
squire hears of an ape, his first feeling is to give it nuts and apples;
when he hears of a Dissenter, his immediate impulse is to commit it to
the county gaol, to shave its head, to alter its customary food, and to
have it privately whipped.  This is no caricature, but an accurate
picture of national feelings, as they degrade and endanger us at this
very moment.  The Irish Catholic gentleman would bear his legal
disabilities with greater temper, if these were all he had to bear—if
they did not enable every Protestant cheese-monger and tide-waiter to
treat him with contempt.  He is branded on the forehead with a red-hot
iron, and treated like a spiritual felon, because in the highest of all
considerations he is led by the noblest of all guides, his own
disinterested conscience.

Why are nonsense and cruelty a bit the better because they are enacted?
If Providence, which gives wine and oil, had blessed us with that
tolerant spirit which makes the countenance more pleasant and the heart
more glad than these can do; if our Statute Book had never been defiled
with such infamous laws, the sepulchral Spencer Perceval would have been
hauled through the dirtiest horse-pond in Hampstead, had he ventured to
propose them.  But now persecution is good, because it exists; every law
which originated in ignorance and malice, and gratifies the passions from
whence it sprang, we call the wisdom of our ancestors: when such laws are
repealed, they will be cruelty and madness; till they are repealed, they
are policy and caution.

I was somewhat amused with the imputation brought against the Catholics
by the University of Oxford, that they are enemies to liberty.  I
immediately turned to my “History of England,” and marked as an
historical error that passage in which it is recorded that, in the reign
of Queen Anne, the famous degree of the University of Oxford respecting
passive obedience, was ordered by the House of Lords to be burnt by the
hands of the common hangman, as contrary to the liberty of the subject
and the law of the land.  Nevertheless, I wish, whatever be the modesty
of those who impute, that the imputation was a little more true, the
Catholic cause would not be quite so desperate with the present.
Administration.  I fear, however, that the hatred to liberty in these
poor devoted wretches may ere long appear more doubtful than it is at
present to the Vice-Chancellor and his Clergy, inflamed as they doubtless
are with classical examples of republican virtue, and panting, as they
always have been, to reduce the power of the Crown within narrower and
safer limits.  What mistaken zeal to attempt to connect one religion with
freedom and another with slavery!  Who laid the foundations of English
liberty?  What was the mixed religion of Switzerland?  What has the
Protestant religion done for liberty in Denmark, in Sweden, throughout
the north of Germany, and in Prussia?  The purest religion in the world,
in my humble opinion, is the religion of the Church of England: for its
preservation (so far as it is exercised without intruding upon the
liberties of others) I am ready at this moment to venture my present
life, and but through that religion I have no hopes of any other; yet I
am not forced to be silly because I am pious; nor will I ever join in
eulogiums on my faith which every man of common reading and common sense
can so easily refute.

You have either done too much for the Catholics, worthy Abraham, or too
little; if you had intended to refuse them political power, you should
have refused them civil rights.  After you had enabled them to acquire
property, after you had conceded to them all that you did concede in ’78
and ’93, the rest is wholly out of your power: you may choose whether you
will give the rest in an honourable or a disgraceful mode, but it is
utterly out of your power to withhold it.

In the last year, land to the amount of _eight hundred thousand pounds_
was purchased by the Catholics in Ireland.  Do you think it possible to
be-Perceval, and be-Canning, and be-Castlereagh, such a body of men as
this out of their common rights, and their common sense?  Mr. George
Canning may laugh and joke at the idea of Protestant bailiffs ravishing
Catholic ladies, under the 9th clause of the Sunset Bill; but if some
better remedy be not applied to the distractions of Ireland than the
jocularity of Mr. Canning, they will soon put an end to his pension, and
to the pension of those “near and dear relatives,” for whose eating,
drinking, washing, and clothing, every man in the United Kingdoms now
pays his two-pence or three-pence a year.  You may call these
observations coarse, if you please; but I have no idea that the Sophias
and Carolines of any man breathing are to eat national veal, to drink
public tea, to wear Treasury ribands, and then that we are to be told
that it is coarse to animadvert upon this pitiful and eleemosynary
splendour.  If this is right, why not mention it?  If it is wrong, why
should not he who enjoys the ease of supporting his sisters in this
manner bear the shame of it?  Everybody seems hitherto to have spared a
man who never spares anybody.

As for the enormous wax candles, and superstitious mummeries, and painted
jackets of the Catholic priests, I fear them not.  Tell me that the world
will return again under the influence of the smallpox; that Lord
Castlereagh will hereafter oppose the power of the Court; that Lord
Howick and Mr. Grattan will do each of them a mean and dishonourable
action; that anybody who has heard Lord Redesdale speak once will
knowingly and willingly hear him again; that Lord Eldon has assented to
the fact of two and two making four, without shedding tears, or
expressing the smallest doubt or scruple; tell me any other thing absurd
or incredible, but, for the love of common sense, let me hear no more of
the danger to be apprehended from the general diffusion of Popery.  It is
too absurd to be reasoned upon; every man feels it is nonsense when he
hears it stated, and so does every man while he is stating it.

I cannot imagine why the friends to the Church Establishment should enter
in such a horror of seeing the doors of Parliament flung open to the
Catholics, and view so passively the enjoyment of that right by the
Presbyterians and by every other species of Dissenter.  In their tenets,
in their Church Government, in the nature of their endowments, the
Dissenters are infinitely more distant from the Church of England than
the Catholics are; yet the Dissenters have never been excluded from
Parliament.  There are 45 members in one House, and 16 in the other, who
always are Dissenters.  There is no law which would prevent every member
of the Lords and Commons from being Dissenters.  The Catholics could not
bring into Parliament half the number of the Scotch members; and yet one
exclusion is of such immense importance, because it has taken place; and
the other no human being thinks of, because no one is accustomed to it.
I have often thought, if the _wisdom of our ancestors_ had excluded all
persons with red hair from the House of Commons, of the throes and
convulsions it would occasion to restore them to their natural rights.
What mobs and riots would it produce!  To what infinite abuse and obloquy
would the capillary patriot be exposed; what wormwood would distil from
Mr. Perceval, what froth would drop from Mr. Canning; how (I will not say
_my_, but _our_ Lord Hawkesbury, for he belongs to us all)—how our Lord
Hawkesbury would work away about the hair of King William and Lord
Somers, and the authors of the great and glorious Revolution; how Lord
Eldon would appeal to the Deity and his own virtues, and to the hair of
his children: some would say that red-haired men were superstitious; some
would prove they were atheists; they would be petitioned against as the
friends of slavery, and the advocates for revolt; in short, such a
corruptor of the heart and understanding is the spirit of persecution,
that these unfortunate people (conspired against by their fellow-subjects
of every complexion), if they did not emigrate to countries where hair of
another colour was persecuted, would be driven to the falsehood of
perukes, or the hypocrisy of the Tricosian fluid.

As for the dangers of the Church (in spite of the staggering events which
have lately taken place), I have not yet entirely lost my confidence in
the power of common sense, and I believe the Church to be in no danger at
all; but if it is, that danger is not from the Catholics, but from the
Methodists, and from that patent Christianity which has been for some
time manufacturing at Clapham, to the prejudice of the old and admirable
article prepared by the Church.  I would counsel my lords the Bishops to
keep their eyes upon that holy village, and its vicinity; they will find
there a zeal in making converts far superior to anything which exists
among the Catholics; a contempt for the great mass of English clergy,
much more rooted and profound; and a regular fund to purchase livings for
those groaning and garrulous gentlemen whom they denominate (by a
standing sarcasm against the regular Church) Gospel preachers and vital
clergymen.  I am too firm a believer in the general propriety and
respectability of the English clergy, to believe they have much to fear
either from old nonsense or from new; but if the Church must be supposed
to be in danger, I prefer that nonsense which is grown half venerable
from time, the force of which I have already tried and baffled, which at
least has some excuse in the dark and ignorant ages in which it
originated.  The religious enthusiasm manufactured by living men before
my own eyes disgusts my understanding as much, influences my imagination
not at all, and excites my apprehensions much more.

I may have seemed to you to treat the situation of public affairs with
some degree of levity; but I feel it deeply, and with nightly and daily
anguish; because I know Ireland; I have known it all my life; I love it,
and I foresee the crisis to which it will soon be exposed.  Who can doubt
but that Ireland will experience ultimately from France a treatment to
which the conduct they have experienced from England is the love of a
parent, or a brother?  Who can doubt but that five years after he has got
hold of the country, Ireland will be tossed away by Bonaparte as a
present to some one of his ruffian generals, who will knock the head of
Mr. Keogh against the head of Cardinal Troy, shoot twenty of the most
noisy blockheads of the Roman persuasion, wash his pug-dogs in holy
water, and confiscate the salt butter of the Milesian republic to the
last tub?  But what matters this? or who is wise enough in Ireland to
heed it? or when had common sense much influence with my poor dear Irish?
Mr. Perceval does not know the Irish; but I know them, and I know that at
every rash and mad hazard they will break the Union, revenge their
wounded pride and their insulted religion, and fling themselves into the
open arms of France, sure of dying in the embrace.  And now, what means
have you of guarding against this coming evil, upon which the future
happiness or misery of every Englishman depends?  Have you a single ally
in the whole world?  Is there a vulnerable point in the French empire
where the astonishing resources of that people can be attracted and
employed?  Have you a ministry wise enough to comprehend the danger,
manly enough to believe unpleasant intelligence, honest enough to state
their apprehensions at the peril of their places?  Is there anywhere the
slightest disposition to join any measure of love, or conciliation, or
hope, with that dreadful bill which the distractions of Ireland have
rendered necessary?  At the very moment that the last Monarchy in Europe
has fallen, are we not governed by a man of pleasantry, and a man of
theology?  In the six hundredth year of our empire over Ireland, have we
any memorial of ancient kindness to refer to? any people, any zeal, any
country on which we can depend?  Have we any hope, but in the winds of
heaven and the tides of the sea? any prayer to prefer to the Irish, but
that they should forget and forgive their oppressors, who, in the very
moment that they are calling upon them for their exertions, solemnly
assure them that the oppression shall still remain?

Abraham, farewell!  If I have tired you, remember how often you have
tired me and others.  I do not think we really differ in politics so much
as you suppose; or at least, if we do, that difference is in the means,
and not in the end.  We both love the Constitution, respect the King, and
abhor the French.  But though you love the Constitution, you would
perpetuate the abuses which have been engrafted upon it; though you
respect the King, you would confirm his scruples against the Catholics;
though you abhor the French, you would open to them the conquest of
Ireland.  My method of respecting my sovereign is by protecting his
honour, his empire, and his lasting happiness; I evince my love of the
Constitution by making it the guardian of all men’s rights and the source
of their freedom; and I prove my abhorrence of the French, by uniting
against them the disciples of every church in the only remaining nation
in Europe.  As for the men of whom I have been compelled in this age of
mediocrity to say so much, they cannot of themselves be worth a moment’s
consideration, to you, to me, or to anybody.  In a year after their death
they will be forgotten as completely as if they had never been; and are
now of no further importance than as they are the mere vehicles of
carrying into effect the common-place and mischievous prejudices of the
times in which they live.



LETTER VI.


DEAR ABRAHAM,—What amuses me the most is to hear of the _indulgences_
which the Catholics have received, and their exorbitance in not being
satisfied with those indulgences: now if you complain to me that a man is
obtrusive and shameless in his requests, and that it is impossible to
bring him to reason, I must first of all hear the whole of your conduct
towards him; for you may have taken from him so much in the first
instance that, in spite of a long series of restitution, a vast latitude
for petition may still remain behind.

There is a village, no matter where, in which the inhabitants, on one day
in the year, sit down to a dinner prepared at the common expense: by an
extraordinary piece of tyranny, which Lord Hawkesbury would call the
wisdom of the village ancestors, the inhabitants of three of the streets,
about a hundred years ago, seized upon the inhabitants of the fourth
street, bound them hand and foot, laid them upon their backs, and
compelled them to look on while the rest were stuffing themselves with
beef and beer; the next year the inhabitants of the persecuted street,
though they contributed an equal quota of the expense, were treated
precisely in the same manner.  The tyranny grew into a custom; and, as
the manner of our nature is, it was considered as the most sacred of all
duties to keep these poor fellows without their annual dinner.  The
village was so tenacious of this practice, that nothing could induce them
to resign it; every enemy to it was looked upon as a disbeliever in
Divine Providence, and any nefarious churchwarden who wished to succeed
in his election had nothing to do but to represent his antagonist as an
abolitionist, in order to frustrate his ambition, endanger his life, and
throw the village into a state of the most dreadful commotion.  By
degrees, however, the obnoxious street grew to be so well peopled, and
its inhabitants so firmly united, that their oppressors, more afraid of
injustice, were more disposed to be just.  At the next dinner they are
unbound, the year after allowed to sit upright, then a bit of bread and a
glass of water; till at last, after a long series of concessions, they
are emboldened to ask, in pretty plain terms, that they may be allowed to
sit down at the bottom of the table, and to fill their bellies as well as
the rest.  Forthwith a general cry of shame and scandal: “Ten years ago,
were you not laid upon your backs?  Don’t you remember what a great thing
you thought it to get a piece of bread?  How thankful you were for cheese
parings?  Have you forgotten that memorable era, when the lord of the
manor interfered to obtain for you a slice of the public pudding?  And
now, with an audacity only equalled by your ingratitude, you have the
impudence to ask for knives and forks, and to request, in terms too plain
to be mistaken, that you may sit down to table with the rest, and be
indulged even with beef and beer: there are not more than half a dozen
dishes which we have reserved for ourselves; the rest has been thrown
open to you in the utmost profusion; you have potatoes, and carrots, suet
dumplings, sops in the pan, and delicious toast and water in incredible
quantities.  Beef, mutton, lamb, pork, and veal are ours; and if you were
not the most restless and dissatisfied of human beings, you would never
think of aspiring to enjoy them.”

Is not this, my dainty Abraham, the very nonsense and the very insult
which is talked to and practised upon the Catholics?  You are surprised
that men who have tasted of partial justice should ask for perfect
justice; that he who has been robbed of coat and cloak will not be
contented with the restitution of one of his garments.  He would be a
very lazy blockhead if he were content, and I (who, though an inhabitant
of the village, have preserved, thank God, some sense of justice) most
earnestly counsel these half-fed claimants to persevere in their just
demands, till they are admitted to a more complete share of a dinner for
which they pay as much as the others; and if they see a little attenuated
lawyer squabbling at the head of their opponents, let them desire him to
empty his pockets, and to pull out all the pieces of duck, fowl, and
pudding which he has filched from the public feast, to carry home to his
wife and children.

You parade a great deal upon the vast concessions made by this country to
the Irish before the Union.  I deny that any voluntary concession was
ever made by England to Ireland.  What did Ireland ever ask that was
granted?  What did she ever demand that was not refused?  How did she get
her Mutiny Bill—a limited Parliament—a repeal of Poyning’s Law—a
constitution?  Not by the concessions of England, but by her fears.  When
Ireland asked for all these things upon her knees, her petitions were
rejected with Percevalism and contempt; when she demanded them with the
voice of 60,000 armed men, they were granted with every mark of
consternation and dismay.  Ask of Lord Auckland the fatal consequences of
trifling with such a people as the Irish.  He himself was the organ of
these refusals.  As secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, the insolence and
the tyranny of this country passed through his hands.  Ask him if he
remembers the consequences.  Ask him if he has forgotten that memorable
evening when he came down booted and mantled to the House of Commons,
when he told the House he was about to set off for Ireland that night,
and declared before God, if he did not carry with him a compliance with
all their demands, Ireland was for ever lost to this country.  The
present generation have forgotten this; but I have not forgotten it; and
I know, hasty and undignified as the submission of England then was, that
Lord Auckland was right, that the delay of a single day might very
probably have separated the two peoples for ever.  The terms submission
and fear are galling terms when applied from the lesser nation to the
greater; but it is the plain historical truth, it is the natural
consequence of injustice, it is the predicament in which every country
places itself which leaves such a mass of hatred and discontent by its
side.  No empire is powerful enough to endure it; it would exhaust the
strength of China, and sink it with all its mandarins and tea-kettles to
the bottom of the deep.  By refusing them justice now when you are strong
enough to refuse them anything more than justice, you will act over
again, with the Catholics, the same scene of mean and precipitate
submission which disgraced you before America, and before the volunteers
of Ireland.  We shall live to hear the Hampstead Protestant pronouncing
such extravagant panegyrics upon holy water, and paying such fulsome
compliments to the thumbs and offals of departed saints, that parties
will change sentiments, and Lord Henry Petty and Sam Whitbread take a
spell at No Popery.  The wisdom of Mr. Fox was alike employed in teaching
his country justice when Ireland was weak, and dignity when Ireland was
strong.  We are fast pacing round the same miserable circle of ruin and
imbecility.  Alas! where is our guide?

You say that Ireland is a millstone about our necks; that it would be
better for us if Ireland were sunk at the bottom of the sea; that the
Irish are a nation of irreclaimable savages and barbarians.  How often
have I heard these sentiments fall from the plump and thoughtless squire,
and from the thriving English shopkeeper, who has never felt the rod of
an Orange master upon his back.  Ireland a millstone about your neck!
Why is it not a stone of Ajax in your hand?  I agree with you most
cordially that, governed as Ireland now is, it would be a vast accession
of strength if the waves of the sea were to rise and engulf her
to-morrow.  At this moment, opposed as we are to all the world, the
annihilation of one of the most fertile islands on the face of the globe,
containing five millions of human creatures, would be one of the most
solid advantages which could happen to this country.  I doubt very much,
in spite of all the just abuse which has been lavished upon Bonaparte,
whether there is any one of his conquered countries the blotting out of
which would be as beneficial to him as the destruction of Ireland would
be to us: of countries I speak differing in language from the French,
little habituated to their intercourse, and inflamed with all the
resentments of a recently-conquered people.  Why will you attribute the
turbulence of our people to any cause but the right—to any cause but your
own scandalous oppression?  If you tie your horse up to a gate, and beat
him cruelly, is he vicious because he kicks you?  If you have plagued and
worried a mastiff dog for years, is he mad because he flies at you
whenever he sees you?  Hatred is an active, troublesome passion.  Depend
upon it, whole nations have always some reason for their hatred.  Before
you refer the turbulence of the Irish to incurable defects in their
character, tell me if you have treated them as friends and equals?  Have
you protected their commerce?  Have you respected their religion?  Have
you been as anxious for their freedom as your own?  Nothing of all this.
What then?  Why you have confiscated the territorial surface of the
country twice over: you have massacred and exported her inhabitants: you
have deprived four-fifths of them of every civil privilege: you have at
every period made her commerce and manufactures slavishly subordinate to
your own: and yet the hatred which the Irish bear to you is the result of
an original turbulence of character, and of a primitive, obdurate
wildness, utterly incapable of civilisation.  The embroidered inanities
and the sixth-form effusions of Mr. Canning are really not powerful
enough to make me believe this; nor is there any authority on earth
(always excepting the Dean of Christ Church) which could make it credible
to me.  I am sick of Mr. Canning.  There is not a “ha’porth of bread to
all this sugar and sack.”  I love not the cretaceous and incredible
countenance of his colleague.  The only opinion in which I agree with
these two gentlemen is that which they entertain of each other.  I am
sure that the insolence of Mr. Pitt, and the unbalanced accounts of
Melville, were far better than the perils of this new ignorance:—

    Nonne fuit satiùs, ristes Amaryllidis iras
    Atque superba pati fastidia? nonne Menalcan?
    Quamvis ille _niger_?

In the midst of the most profound peace, the secret articles of the
Treaty of Tilsit, in which the destruction of Ireland is resolved upon,
induce you to rob the Danes of their fleet.  After the expedition sailed
comes the Treaty of Tilsit, containing no article, public or private,
alluding to Ireland.  The state of the world, you tell me, justified us
in doing this.  Just God! do we think only of the state of the world when
there is an opportunity for robbery, for murder, and for plunder; and do
we forget the state of the world when we are called upon to be wise, and
good, and just?  Does the state of the world never remind us that we have
four millions of subjects whose injuries we ought to atone for, and whose
affections we ought to conciliate?  Does the state of the world never
warn us to lay aside our infernal bigotry, and to arm every man who
acknowledges a God, and can grasp a sword?  Did it never occur to this
administration that they might virtuously get hold of a force ten times
greater than the force of the Danish fleet?  Was there no other way of
protecting Ireland but by bringing eternal shame upon Great Britain, and
by making the earth a den of robbers?  See what the men whom you have
supplanted would have done.  They would have rendered the invasion of
Ireland impossible, by restoring to the Catholics their long-lost rights:
they would have acted in such a manner that the French would neither have
wished for invasion nor dared to attempt it: they would have increased
the permanent strength of the country while they preserved its reputation
unsullied.  Nothing of this kind your friends have done, because they are
solemnly pledged to do nothing of this kind; because, to tolerate all
religions, and to equalise civil rights to all sects, is to oppose some
of the worst passions of our nature—to plunder and to oppress is to
gratify them all.  They wanted the huzzas of mobs, and they have for ever
blasted the fame of England to obtain them.  Were the fleets of Holland,
France, and Spain destroyed by larceny?  You resisted the power of 150
sail of the line by sheer courage, and violated every principle of morals
from the dread of fifteen hulks, while the expedition itself cost you
three times more than the value of the larcenous matter brought away.
The French trample on the laws of God and man, not for old cordage, but
for kingdoms, and always take care to be well paid for their crimes.  We
contrive, under the present administration, to unite moral with
intellectual deficiency, and to grow weaker and worse by the same action.
If they had any evidence of the intended hostility of the Danes, why was
it not produced?  Why have the nations of Europe been allowed to feel an
indignation against this country beyond the reach of all subsequent
information?  Are these times, do you imagine, when we can trifle with a
year of universal hatred, dally with the curses of Europe, and then
regain a lost character at pleasure, by the parliamentary perspirations
of the Foreign Secretary, or the solemn asseverations of the pecuniary
Rose?  Believe me, Abraham, it is not under such ministers as these that
the dexterity of honest Englishmen will ever equal the dexterity of
French knaves; it is not in their presence that the serpent of Moses will
ever swallow up the serpents of the magician.

Lord Hawkesbury says that nothing is to be granted to the Catholics from
fear.  What! not even justice?  Why not?  There are four millions of
disaffected people within twenty miles of your own coast.  I fairly
confess that the dread which I have of their physical power is with me a
very strong motive for listening to their claims.  To talk of not acting
from fear, is mere parliamentary cant.  From what motive but fear, I
should be glad to know, have all the improvements in our constitution
proceeded?  I question if any justice has ever been done to large masses
of mankind from any other motive.  By what other motives can the
plunderers of the Baltic suppose nations to be governed in their
intercourse _with each other_?  If I say, Give this people what they ask
because it is just, do you think I should get ten people to listen to me?
Would not the lesser of the two Jenkinsons be the first to treat me with
contempt?  The only true way to make the mass of mankind see the beauty
of justice is by showing to them, in pretty plain terms, the consequences
of injustice.  If any body of French troops land in Ireland, the whole
population of that country will rise against you to a man, and you could
not possibly survive such an event three years.  Such, from the bottom of
my soul, do I believe to be the present state of that country; and so far
does it appear to me to be impolitic and unstatesman-like to concede
anything to such a danger, that if the Catholics, in addition to their
present just demands, were to petition for the perpetual removal of the
said Lord Hawkesbury from his Majesty’s councils, I think, whatever might
be the effect upon the destinies of Europe, and however it might retard
our own individual destruction, that the prayer of the petition should be
instantly complied with.  Canning’s crocodile tears should not move me;
the hoops of the maids of honour should not hide him.  I would tear him
from the banisters of the back stairs, and plunge him in the fishy fumes
of the dirtiest of all his Cinque Ports.



LETTER VII.


DEAR ABRAHAM,—In the correspondence which is passing between us, you are
perpetually alluding to the Foreign Secretary; and in answer to the
dangers of Ireland, which I am pressing upon your notice, you have
nothing to urge but the confidence which you repose in the discretion and
sound sense of this gentleman.  I can only say, that I have listened to
him long and often with the greatest attention; I have used every
exertion in my power to take a fair measure of him, and it appears to me
impossible to hear him upon any arduous topic without perceiving that he
is eminently deficient in those solid and serious qualities upon which,
and upon which alone, the confidence of a great country can properly
repose.  He sweats and labours, and works for sense, and Mr. Ellis seems
always to think it is coming, but it does not come; the machine can’t
draw up what is not to be found in the spring; Providence has made him a
light, jesting, paragraph-writing man, and that he will remain to his
dying day.  When he is jocular he is strong, when he is serious he is
like Samson in a wig; any ordinary person is a match for him: a song, an
ironical letter, a burlesque ode, an attack in the newspaper upon
Nicoll’s eye, a smart speech of twenty minutes, full of gross
misrepresentations and clever turns, excellent language, a spirited
manner, lucky quotation, success in provoking dull men, some half
information picked up in Pall Mall in the morning; these are your
friend’s natural weapons; all these things he can do: here I allow him to
be truly great; nay, I will be just, and go still further, if he would
confine himself to these things, and consider the _facete_ and the
playful to be the basis of his character, he would, for that species of
man, be universally regarded as a person of a very good understanding;
call him a legislator, a reasoner, and the conductor of the affairs of a
great nation, and it seems to me as absurd as if a butterfly were to
teach bees to make honey.  That he is an extraordinary writer of small
poetry, and a diner out of the highest lustre, I do most readily admit.
After George Selwyn, and perhaps Tickell, there has been no such man for
this half-century.  The Foreign Secretary is a gentleman, a respectable
as well as a highly agreeable man in private life; but you may as well
feed me with decayed potatoes as console me for the miseries of Ireland
by the resources of his _sense_ and his _discretion_.  It is only the
public situation which this gentleman holds which entitles me or induces
me to say so much about him.  He is a fly in amber, nobody cares about
the fly; the only question is, How the devil did it get there?  Nor do I
attack him for the love of glory, but from the love of utility, as a
burgomaster hunts a rat in a Dutch dyke, for fear it should flood a
province.

The friends of the Catholic question are, I observe, extremely
embarrassed in arguing when they come to the loyalty of the Irish
Catholics.  As for me, I shall go straight forward to my object, and
state what I have no manner of doubt, from an intimate knowledge of
Ireland, to be the plain truth.  Of the great Roman Catholic proprietors,
and of the Catholic prelates, there may be a few, and but a few, who
would follow the fortunes of England at all events: there is another set
of men who, thoroughly detesting this country, have too much property and
too much character to lose, not to wait for some very favourable event
before they show themselves; but the great mass of Catholic population,
upon the slightest appearance of a French force in that country, would
rise upon you to a man.  It is the most mistaken policy to conceal the
plain truth.  There is no loyalty among the Catholics: they detest you as
their worst oppressors, and they will continue to detest you till you
remove the cause of their hatred.  It is in your power in six months’
time to produce a total revolution of opinions among this people; and in
some future letter I will show you that this is clearly the case.  At
present, see what a dreadful in state Ireland is in.  The common toast
among the low Irish is, the feast of the _passover_.  Some allusion to
_Bonaparte_, in a play lately acted at Dublin, produced thunders of
applause from the pit and the galleries; and a politician should not be
inattentive to the public feelings expressed in theatres.  Mr. Perceval
thinks he has disarmed the Irish: he has no more disarmed the Irish than
he has resigned a shilling of his own public emoluments.  An Irish
peasant fills the barrel of his gun full of tow dipped in oil, butters up
the lock, buries it in a bog, and allows the Orange bloodhound to ransack
his cottage at pleasure.  Be just and kind to the Irish, and you will
indeed disarm them; rescue them from the degraded servitude in which they
are held by a handful of their own countrymen, and you will add four
millions of brave and affectionate men to your strength.  Nightly visits,
Protestant inspectors, licenses to possess a pistol, or a knife and fork,
the odious vigour of the _evangelical_ Perceval—acts of Parliament, drawn
up by some English attorney, to save you from the hatred of four millions
of people—the guarding yourselves from universal disaffection by a
police; a confidence in the little cunning of Bow Street, when you might
rest your security upon the eternal basis of the best feelings: this is
the meanness and madness to which nations are reduced when they lose
sight of the first elements of justice, without which a country can be no
more secure than it can be healthy without air.  I sicken at such policy
and such men.  The fact is, the Ministers know nothing about the present
state of Ireland; Mr. Perceval sees a few clergymen, Lord Castlereagh a
few general officers, who take care, of course, to report what is
pleasant rather than what is true.  As for the joyous and lepid consul,
he jokes upon neutral flags and frauds, jokes upon Irish rebels, jokes
upon northern and western and southern foes, and gives himself no trouble
upon any subject; nor is the mediocrity of the idolatrous deputy of the
slightest use.  Dissolved in grins, he reads no memorials upon the state
of Ireland, listens to no reports, asks no questions, and is the

    “_Bourn_ from whom no traveller returns.”

The danger of an immediate insurrection is now, I _believe_, blown over.
You have so strong an army in Ireland, and the Irish are become so much
more cunning from the last insurrection, that you may perhaps be
tolerably secure just at present from that evil: but are you secure from
the efforts which the French may make to throw a body of troops into
Ireland? and do you consider that event to be difficult and improbable?
From Brest Harbour to Cape St. Vincent, you have above three thousand
miles of hostile sea coast, and twelve or fourteen harbours quite capable
of containing a sufficient force for the powerful invasion of Ireland.
The nearest of these harbours is not two days’ sail from the southern
coast of Ireland, with a fair leading wind; and the furthest not ten.
Five ships of the line, for so very short a passage, might carry five or
six thousand troops with cannon and ammunition; and Ireland presents to
their attack a southern coast of more than 500 miles, abounding in deep
bays, admirable harbours, and disaffected inhabitants.  Your blockading
ships may be forced to come home for provisions and repairs, or they may
be blown off in a gale of wind and compelled to bear away for their own
coast; and you will observe that the very same wind which locks you up in
the British Channel, when you are got there, is evidently favourable for
the invasion of Ireland.  And yet this is called Government, and the
people huzza Mr. Perceval for continuing to expose his country day after
day to such tremendous perils as these; cursing the men who would have
given up a question in theology to have saved us from such a risk.  The
British empire at this moment is in the state of a peach-blossom—if the
wind blows gently from one quarter, it survives; if furiously from the
other, it perishes.  A stiff breeze may set in from the north, the
Rochefort squadron will be taken, and the Minister will be the most holy
of men: if it comes from some other point, Ireland is gone; we curse
ourselves as a set of monastic madmen, and call out for the unavailing
satisfaction of Mr. Perceval’s head.  Such a state of political existence
is scarcely credible: it is the action of a mad young fool standing upon
one foot, and peeping down the crater of Mount Ætna, not the conduct of a
wise and sober people deciding upon their best and dearest interests: and
in the name, the much-injured name, of heaven, what is it all for that we
expose ourselves to these dangers?  Is it that we may sell more muslin?
Is it that we may acquire more territory?  Is it that we may strengthen
what we have already acquired?  No; nothing of all this; but that one set
of Irishmen may torture another set of Irishmen—that Sir Phelim
O’Callaghan may continue to whip Sir Toby M’Tackle, his next door
neighbour, and continue to ravish his Catholic daughters; and these are
the measures which the honest and consistent Secretary supports; and this
is the Secretary whose genius in the estimation of Brother Abraham is to
extinguish the genius of Bonaparte.  Pompey was killed by a slave,
Goliath smitten by a stripling, Pyrrhus died by the hand of a woman;
tremble, thou great Gaul, from whose head an armed Minerva leaps forth in
the hour of danger; tremble, thou scourge of God, a pleasant man is come
out against thee, and thou shalt be laid low by a joker of jokes, and he
shall talk his pleasant talk against thee, and thou shalt be no more!

You tell me, in spite of all this parade of sea-coast, Bonaparte has
neither ships nor sailors: but this is a mistake.  He has not ships and
sailors to contest the empire of the seas with Great Britain, but there
remains quite sufficient of the navies of France, Spain, Holland, and
Denmark, for these short excursions and invasions.  Do you think, too,
that Bonaparte does not add to his navy every year?  Do you suppose, with
all Europe at his feet, that he can find any difficulty in obtaining
timber, and that money will not procure for him any quantity of naval
stores he may want?  The mere machine, the empty ship, he can build as
well, and as quickly, as you can; and though he may not find enough of
practised sailors to man large fighting-fleets—it is not possible to
conceive that he can want sailors for such sort of purposes as I have
stated.  He is at present the despotic monarch of above twenty thousand
miles of sea-coast, and yet you suppose he cannot procure sailors for the
invasion of Ireland.  Believe, if you please, that such a fleet met at
sea by any number of our ships at all comparable to them in point of
force, would be immediately taken, let it be so; I count nothing upon
their power of resistance, only upon their power of escaping unobserved.
If experience has taught us anything, it is the impossibility of
perpetual blockades.  The instances are innumerable, during the course of
this war, where whole fleets have sailed in and out of harbour, in spite
of every vigilance used to prevent it.  I shall only mention those cases
where Ireland is concerned.  In December, 1796, seven ships of the line,
and ten transports, reached Bantry Bay from Brest, without having seen an
English ship in their passage.  It blew a storm when they were off shore,
and therefore England still continues to be an independent kingdom.  You
will observe that at the very time the French fleet sailed out of Brest
Harbour, Admiral Colpoys was cruising off there with a powerful squadron,
and still, from the particular circumstances of the weather, found it
impossible to prevent the French from coming out.  During the time that
Admiral Colpoys was cruising off Brest, Admiral Richery, with six ships
of the line, passed him, and got safe into the harbour.  At the very
moment when the French squadron was lying in Bantry Bay, Lord Bridport
with his fleet was locked up by a foul wind in the Channel, and for
several days could not stir to the assistance of Ireland.  Admiral
Colpoys, totally unable to find the French fleet, came home.  Lord
Bridport, at the change of the wind, cruised for them in vain, and they
got safe back to Brest, without having seen a single one of those
floating bulwarks, the possession of which we believe will enable us with
impunity to set justice and common sense at defiance.

Such is the miserable and precarious state of an anemocracy, of a people
who put their trust in hurricanes, and are governed by wind.  In August,
1798, three forty-gun frigates landed 1,100 men under Humbert, making the
passage from Rochelle to Killala without seeing any English ship.  In
October of the same year, four French frigates anchored in Killala Bay
with 2,000 troops; and though they did not land their troops, they
returned to France in safety.  In the same month, a line-of-battle ship,
eight stout frigates, and a brig, all full of troops and stores, reached
the coast of Ireland, and were fortunately, in sight of land, destroyed,
after an obstinate engagement, by Sir John Warren.

If you despise the little troop which, in these numerous experiments, did
make good its landing, take with you, if you please, this _prècis_ of its
exploits: eleven hundred men, commanded by a soldier raised from the
ranks, put to rout a select army of 6,000 men, commanded by General Lake,
seized their ordnance, ammunition, and stores, advanced 150 miles into a
country containing an armed force of 150,000 men, and at last surrendered
to the Viceroy, an experienced general, gravely and cautiously advancing
at the head of all his chivalry and of an immense army to oppose him.
You must excuse these details about Ireland, but it appears to me to be
of all other subjects the most important.  If we conciliate Ireland, we
can do nothing amiss; if we do not, we can do nothing well.  If Ireland
was friendly, we might equally set at defiance the talents of Bonaparte
and the blunders of his rival, Mr. Canning; we could then support the
ruinous and silly bustle of our useless expeditions, and the almost
incredible ignorance of our commercial orders in council.  Let the
present administration give up but this one point, and there is nothing
which I would not consent to grant them.  Mr. Perceval shall have full
liberty to insult the tomb of Mr. Fox, and to torment every eminent
Dissenter in Great Britain; Lord Camden shall have large boxes of plums;
Mr. Rose receive permission to prefix to his name the appellative of
virtuous; and to the Viscount Castlereagh a round sum of ready money
shall be well and truly paid into his hand.  Lastly, what remains to Mr.
George Canning, but that he ride up and down Pall Mall glorious upon a
white horse, and that they cry out before him, Thus shall it be done to
the statesman who hath written “The Needy Knife-Grinder,” and the German
play?  Adieu only for the present; you shall soon hear from me again; it
is a subject upon which I cannot long be silent.



LETTER VIII.


NOTHING can be more erroneous than to suppose that Ireland is not bigger
than the Isle of Wight, or of more consequence than Guernsey or Jersey;
and yet I am almost inclined to believe, from the general supineness
which prevails here respecting the dangerous state of that country, that
such is the rank which it holds in our statistical tables.  I have been
writing to you a great deal about Ireland, and perhaps it may be of some
use to state to you concisely the nature and resources of the country
which has been the subject of our long and strange correspondence.  There
were returned, as I have before observed, to the hearth tax in 1791,
701,102 houses, which Mr. Newenham shows from unquestionable documents to
be nearly 80,000 below the real number of houses in that country.  There
are 27,457 square English miles in Ireland, and more than five millions
of people.

By the last survey it appears that the inhabited houses in England and
Wales amount to 1,574,902, and the population to 9,343,578, which gives
an average of 5.875 to each house, in a country where the density of
population is certainly less considerable than in Ireland.  It is
commonly supposed that two-fifths of the army and navy are Irishmen, at
periods when political disaffection does not avert the Catholics from the
service.  The current value of Irish exports in 1807 was £9,314,854 17s.
7d.; a state of commerce about equal to the commerce of England in the
middle of the reign of George II.  The tonnage of ships entered inward
and cleared outward in the trade of Ireland, in 1807, amounted to
1,567,430 tons.  The quantity of home spirits exported amounted to 10,284
gallons in 1796, and to 930,800 gallons in 1804.  Of the exports which I
have stated, provisions amounted to four millions, and linen to about
four millions and a half.  There was exported from Ireland, upon an
average of two years ending in January, 1804, 591,274 barrels of barley,
oats, and wheat; and by weight 910,848 cwts. of flour, oatmeal, barley,
oats, and wheat.  The amount of butter exported in 1804, from Ireland,
was worth, in money, £1,704,680 sterling.  The importation of ale and
beer, from the immense manufactures now carrying on of these articles,
was diminished to 3,209 barrels, in the year 1804, from 111,920 barrels,
which was the average importation per annum, taking from three years
ending in 1792; and at present there is an export trade of porter.  On an
average of three years, ending March, 1783, there were imported into
Ireland, of cotton wool, 3,326 cwts., of cotton yarn, 5,405 lbs.; but on
an average of three years, ending January, 1803, there were imported, of
the first article, 13,159 cwts., and of the latter, 628,406 lbs.  It is
impossible to conceive any manufacture more flourishing.  The export of
linen has increased in Ireland from 17,776,862 yards, the average in
1770, to 43,534,971 yards, the amount in 1805.  The tillage of Ireland
has more than trebled within the last twenty-one years.  The importation
of coals has increased from 230,000 tons in 1783, to 417,030 in 1804; of
tobacco, from 3,459,861 lbs. in 1783, to 6,611,543 in 1804; of tea, from
1,703,855 lbs. in 1783, to 3,358,256 in 1804; of sugar, from 143,117
cwts. in 1782, to 309,076 in 1804.  Ireland now supports a funded debt of
above 64 millions, and it is computed that more than three millions’ of
money are annually remitted to Irish absentees resident in this country.
In Mr. Foster’s report, of 100 folio pages, presented to the House of
Commons in the year 1806, the total expenditure of Ireland is stated at
£9,760,013.  Ireland has increased about two-thirds in its population
within twenty-five years, and yet, and in about the same space of time,
its exports of beef, bullocks, cows, pork, swine, butter, wheat, barley,
and oats, collectively taken, have doubled; and this, in spite of two
years’ famine, and the presence of an immense army, that is always at
hand to guard the most valuable appanage of our empire from joining our
most inveterate enemies.  Ireland has the greatest possible facilities
for carrying on commerce with the whole of Europe.  It contains, within a
circuit of 750 miles, 66 secure harbours, and presents a western frontier
against Great Britain, reaching from the Firth of Clyde north to the
Bristol Channel south, and varying in distance from 20 to 100 miles; so
that the subjugation of Ireland would compel us to guard with ships and
soldiers a new line of coast, certainly amounting, with all its
sinuosities, to more than 700 miles—an addition of polemics, in our
present state of hostility with all the world, which must highly gratify
the vigorists, and give them an ample opportunity of displaying that
foolish energy upon which their claims to distinction are founded.  Such
is the country which the Right Reverend the Chancellor of the Exchequer
would drive into the arms of France, and for the conciliation of which we
are requested to wait, as if it were one of those sinecure places which
were given to Mr. Perceval snarling at the breast, and which cannot be
abolished till his decease.

How sincerely and fervently have I often wished that the Emperor of the
French had thought as Mr. Spencer Perceval does upon the subject of
government; that he had entertained doubts and scruples upon the
propriety of admitting the Protestants to an equality of rights with the
Catholics, and that he had left in the middle of his empire these
vigorous seeds of hatred and disaffection!  But the world was never yet
conquered by a blockhead.  One of the very first measures we saw him
recurring to was the complete establishment of religious liberty: if his
subjects fought and paid as he pleased, he allowed them to believe as
they pleased: the moment I saw this, my best hopes were lost.  I
perceived in a moment the kind of man we had to do with.  I was well
aware of the miserable ignorance and folly of this country upon the
subject of toleration; and every year has been adding to the success of
that game, which it was clear he had the will and the ability to play
against us.

You say Bonaparte is not in earnest upon the subject of religion, and
that this is the cause of his tolerant spirit; but is it possible you can
intend to give us such dreadful and unamiable notions of religion.  Are
we to understand that the moment a man is sincere he is narrow-minded;
that persecution is the child of belief; and that a desire to leave all
men in the quiet and unpunished exercise of their own creed can only
exist in the mind of an infidel?  Thank God! I know many men whose
principles are as firm as they are expanded, who cling tenaciously to
their own modification of the Christian faith, without the slightest
disposition to force that modification upon other people.  If Bonaparte
is liberal in subjects of religion because he has no religion, is this a
reason why we should be illiberal because we are Christians?  If he owes
this excellent quality to a vice, is that any reason why we may not owe
it to a virtue?  Toleration is a great good, and a good to be imitated,
let it come from whom it will.  If a sceptic is tolerant, it only shows
that he is not foolish in practice as well as erroneous in theory.  If a
religious man is tolerant, it evinces that he is religious from thought
and inquiry, because he exhibits in his conduct one of the most beautiful
and important consequences of a religious mind—an inviolable charity to
all the honest varieties of human opinion.

Lord Sidmouth, and all the anti-Catholic people, little foresee that they
will hereafter be the sport of the antiquary; that their prophecies of
ruin and destruction from Catholic emancipation will be clapped into the
notes of some quaint history, and be matter of pleasantry even to the
sedulous housewife and the rural dean.  There is always a copious supply
of Lord Sidmouths in the world; nor is there one single source of human
happiness against which they have not uttered the most lugubrious
predictions.  Turnpike roads, navigable canals, inoculation, hops,
tobacco, the Reformation, the Revolution—there are always a set of worthy
and moderately-gifted men, who bawl out death and ruin upon every
valuable change which the varying aspect of human affairs absolutely and
imperiously requires.  I have often thought that it would be extremely
useful to make a collection of the hatred and abuse that all those
changes have experienced, which are now admitted to be marked
improvements in our condition.  Such a history might make folly a little
more modest, and suspicious of its own decisions.

Ireland, you say, since the Union is to be considered as a part of the
whole kingdom; and therefore, however Catholics may predominate in that
particular spot, yet, taking the whole empire together, they are to be
considered as a much more insignificant quota of the population.
Consider them in what light you please, as part of the whole, or by
themselves, or in what manner may be most consentaneous to the devices of
your holy mind—I say in a very few words, if you do not relieve these
people from the civil incapacities to which they are exposed, you will
lose them; or you must employ great strength and much treasure in
watching over them.  In the present state of the world you can afford to
do neither the one nor the other.  Having stated this, I shall leave you
to be ruined, Puffendorf in hand (as Mr. Secretary Canning says), and to
lose Ireland, just as you have found out what proportion the aggrieved
people should bear to the whole population before their calamities meet
with redress.  As for your parallel cases, I am no more afraid of
deciding upon them than I am upon their prototype.  If ever any one
heresy should so far spread itself over the principality of Wales that
the Established Church were left in a minority of one to four; if you had
subjected these heretics to very severe civil privations; if the
consequence of such privations were a universal state of disaffection
among that caseous and wrathful people; and if at the same time you were
at war with all the world, how can you doubt for a moment that I would
instantly restore them to a state of the most complete civil liberty?
What matters it under what name you put the same case?  Common sense is
not changed by appellations.  I have said how I would act to Ireland, and
I would act so to all the world.

I admit that, to a certain degree, the Government will lose the
affections of the Orangemen by emancipating the Catholics; much less,
however, at present, than three years past.  The few men, who have
ill-treated the whole crew, live in constant terror that the oppressed
people will rise upon them and carry the ship into Brest:—they begin to
find that it is a very tiresome thing to sleep every night with cocked
pistols under their pillows, and to breakfast, dine, and sup with drawn
hangers.  They suspect that the privilege of beating and kicking the rest
of the sailors is hardly worth all this anxiety, and that if the ship
does ever fall into the hands of the disaffected, all the cruelties which
they have experienced will be thoroughly remembered and amply repaid.  To
a short period of disaffection among the Orangemen I confess I should not
much object: my love of poetical justice does carry me as far as that;
one summer’s whipping, only one: the thumb-screw for a short season; a
little light easy torturing between Ladyday and Michaelmas; a short
specimen of Mr. Perceval’s rigour.  I have malice enough to ask this
slight atonement for the groans and shrieks of the poor Catholics,
unheard by any human tribunal, but registered by the Angel of God against
their Protestant and enlightened oppressors.

Besides, if you who count ten so often can count five, you must perceive
that it is better to have four friends and one enemy than four enemies
and one friend; and the more violent the hatred of the Orangemen, the
more certain the reconciliation of the Catholics.  The disaffection of
the Orangemen will be the Irish rainbow: when I see it I shall be sure
that the storm is over.

If these incapacities, from which the Catholics ask to be relieved, were
to the mass of them only a mere feeling of pride, and if the question
were respecting the attainment of privileges which could be of importance
only to the highest of the sect, I should still say that the pride of the
mass was very naturally wounded by the degradation of their superiors.
Indignity to George Rose would be felt by the smallest nummary gentleman
in the king’s employ; and Mr. John Bannister could not be indifferent to
anything which happened to Mr. Canning.  But the truth is, it is a most
egregious mistake to suppose that the Catholics are contending merely for
the fringes and feathers of their chiefs.  I will give you a list in my
next Letter of those privations which are represented to be of no
consequence to anybody but Lord Fingal, and some twenty or thirty of the
principal persons of their sect.  In the meantime, adieu, and be wise.



LETTER IX.


DEAR ABRAHAM,—No Catholic can be chief Governor or Governor of this
kingdom, Chancellor or Keeper of the Great Seal, Lord High Treasurer,
Chief of any of the Courts of Justice, Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Puisne Judge, Judge in the Admiralty, Master of the Rolls, Secretary of
State, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Vice-Treasurer or his Deputy, Teller or
Cashier of Exchequer, Auditor or General, Governor or Custos Rotulorum of
Counties, Chief Governor’s Secretary, Privy Councillor, King’s Counsel,
Serjeant, Attorney, Solicitor-General, Master in Chancery, Provost or
Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, Postmaster-General, Master and
Lieutenant-General of Ordnance, Commander-in-Chief, General on the Staff,
Sheriff, Sub-Sheriff, Mayor, Bailiff, Recorder, Burgess, or any other
officer in a City, or a Corporation.  No Catholic can be guardian to a
Protestant, and no priest guardian at all; no Catholic can be a
gamekeeper, or have for sale, or otherwise, any arms or warlike stores;
no Catholic can present to a living, unless he choose to turn Jew in
order to obtain that privilege; the pecuniary qualification of Catholic
jurors is made higher than that of Protestants, and no relaxation of the
ancient rigorous code is permitted, unless to those who shall take an
oath prescribed by 13 and 14 George III.  Now if this is not picking the
plums out of the pudding and leaving the mere batter to the Catholics, I
know not what is.  If it were merely the Privy Council, it would be (I
allow) nothing but a point of honour for which the mass of Catholics were
contending, the honour of being chief-mourners or pall-bearers to the
country; but surely no man will contend that every barrister may not
speculate upon the possibility of being a Puisne Judge; and that every
shopkeeper must not feel himself injured by his exclusion from borough
offices.

One of the greatest practical evils which the Catholics suffer in Ireland
is their exclusion from the offices of Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff.
Nobody who is unacquainted with Ireland can conceive the obstacles which
this opposes to the fair administration of justice.  The formation of
juries is now entirely in the hands of the Protestants; the lives,
liberties, and properties of the Catholics in the hands of the juries;
and this is the arrangement for the administration of justice in a
country where religious prejudices are inflamed to the greatest degree of
animosity!  In this country, if a man be a foreigner, if he sell
slippers, and sealing wax, and artificial flowers, we are so tender of
human life that we take care half the number of persons who are to decide
upon his fate should be men of similar prejudices and feelings with
himself: but a poor Catholic in Ireland may be tried by twelve Percevals,
and destroyed according to the manner of that gentleman in the name of
the Lord, and with all the insulting forms of justice.  I do not go the
length of saying that deliberate and wilful injustice is done.  I have no
doubt that the Orange Deputy Sheriff thinks it would be a most
unpardonable breach of his duty if he did not summon a Protestant panel.
I can easily believe that the Protestant panel may conduct themselves
very conscientiously in hanging the gentlemen of the crucifix; but I
blame the law which does not guard the Catholic against the probable
tenor of those feelings which must unconsciously influence the judgments
of mankind.  I detest that state of society which extends unequal degrees
of protection to different creeds and persuasions; and I cannot describe
to you the contempt I feel for a man who, calling himself a statesman,
defends a system which fills the heart of every Irishman with treason,
and makes his allegiance prudence, not choice.

I request to know if the vestry taxes in Ireland are a mere matter of
romantic feeling which can affect only the Earl of Fingal?  In a parish
where there are four thousand Catholics and fifty Protestants, the
Protestants may meet together in a vestry meeting at which no Catholic
has the right to vote, and tax all the lands in the parish 1s. 6d. per
acre, or in the pound, I forget which, for the repairs of the church—and
how has the necessity of these repairs been ascertained?  A Protestant
plumber has discovered that it wants new leading; a Protestant carpenter
is convinced the timbers are not sound; and the glazier who hates holy
water (as an accoucheur hates celibacy, because he gets nothing by it) is
employed to put in new sashes.

The grand juries in Ireland are the great scene of jobbing.  They have a
power of making a county rate to a considerable extent for roads,
bridges, and other objects of general accommodation.  “You suffer the
road to be brought through my park, and I will have the bridge
constructed in a situation where it will make a beautiful object to your
house.  You do my job, and I will do yours.”  These are the sweet and
interesting subjects which occasionally occupy Milesian gentlemen while
they are attendant upon this grand inquest of justice.  But there is a
religion, it seems, even in jobs; and it will be highly gratifying to Mr.
Perceval to learn that no man in Ireland who believes in seven sacraments
can carry a public road, or bridge, one yard out of the direction most
beneficial to the public, and that nobody can cheat the public who does
not expound the Scriptures in the purest and most orthodox manner.  This
will give pleasure to Mr. Perceval: but, from his unfairness upon these
topics I appeal to the justice and the proper feelings of Mr. Huskisson.
I ask him if the human mind can experience a more dreadful sensation than
to see its own jobs refused, and the jobs of another religion perpetually
succeeding?  I ask him his opinion of a jobless faith, of a creed which
dooms a man through life to a lean and plunderless integrity.  He knows
that human nature cannot and will not bear it; and if we were to paint a
political Tartarus, it would be an endless series of snug expectations
and cruel disappointments.  These are a few of many dreadful
inconveniences which the Catholics of all ranks suffer from the laws by
which they are at present oppressed.  Besides, look at human nature: what
is the history of all professions?  Joel is to be brought up to the bar:
has Mrs. Plymley the slightest doubt of his being Chancellor?  Do not his
two shrivelled aunts live in the certainty of seeing him in that
situation, and of cutting out with their own hands his equity
habiliments?  And I could name a certain minister of the Gospel who does
not, in the bottom of his heart, much differ from these opinions.  Do you
think that the fathers and mothers of the holy Catholic Church are not as
absurd as Protestant papas and mammas?  The probability I admit to be, in
each particular case, that the sweet little blockhead will in fact never
get a brief;—but I will venture to say, there is not a parent from the
Giant’s Causeway to Bantry Bay who does not conceive that his child is
the unfortunate victim of the exclusion, and that nothing short of
positive law could prevent his own dear, pre-eminent Paddy from rising to
the highest honours of the State.  So with the army and parliament; in
fact, few are excluded; but, in imagination, all: you keep twenty or
thirty Catholics out, and you lose the affections of four millions; and,
let me tell you, that recent circumstances have by no means tended to
diminish in the minds of men that hope of elevation beyond their own rank
which is so congenial to our nature: from pleading for John Roe to taxing
John Bull, from jesting for Mr. Pitt and writing in the _Anti-Jacobin_,
to managing the affairs of Europe—these are leaps which seem to justify
the fondest dreams of mothers and of aunts.

I do not say that the disabilities to which the Catholics are exposed
amount to such intolerable grievances, that the strength and industry of
a nation are overwhelmed by them: the increasing prosperity of Ireland
fully demonstrates to the contrary.  But I repeat again, what I have
often stated in the course of our correspondence, that your laws against
the Catholics are exactly in that state in which you have neither the
benefits of rigour nor of liberality: every law which prevented the
Catholic from gaining strength and wealth is repealed; every law which
can irritate remains; if you were determined to insult the Catholics, you
should have kept them weak; if you resolved to give them strength, you
should have ceased to insult them—at present your conduct is pure,
unadulterated folly.

Lord Hawkesbury says, “We heard nothing about the Catholics till we began
to mitigate the laws against them; when we relieved them in part from
this oppression they began to be disaffected.”  This is very true; but it
proves just what I have said, that you have either done too much or too
little; and as there lives not, I hope, upon earth, so depraved a
courtier that he would load the Catholics with their ancient chains, what
absurdity it is, then, not to render their dispositions friendly, when
you leave their arms and legs free!

You know, and many Englishmen know, what passes in China; but nobody
knows or cares what passes in Ireland.  At the beginning of the present
reign no Catholic could realise property, or carry on any business; they
were absolutely annihilated, had had no more agency in the country than
so many trees.  They were like Lord Mulgrave’s eloquence and Lord
Camden’s wit; the legislative bodies did not know of their existence.
For these twenty-five years last past the Catholics have been engaged in
commerce; within that period the commerce of Ireland has doubled—there
are four Catholics at work for one Protestant, and eight Catholics at
work for one Episcopalian.  Of course, the proportion which Catholic
wealth bears to Protestant wealth is every year altering rapidly in
favour of the Catholics.  I have already told you what their purchases of
land were the last year: since that period I have been at some pains to
find out the actual state of the Catholic wealth: it is impossible upon
such a subject to arrive at complete accuracy; but I have good reason to
believe that there are at present 2,000 Catholics in Ireland, possessing
an income of £500 and upwards, many of these with incomes of one, two,
three, and four thousand, and some amounting to fifteen and twenty
thousand per annum:—and this is the kingdom, and these the people, for
whose conciliation we are to wait Heaven knows when, and Lord Hawkesbury
why!  As for me, I never think of the situation of Ireland without
feeling the same necessity for immediate interference as I should do if I
saw blood flowing from a great artery.  I rush towards it with the
instinctive rapidity of a man desirous of preventing death, and have no
other feeling but that in a few seconds the patient may be no more.

I could not help smiling, in the times of No Popery, to witness the loyal
indignation of many persons at the attempt made by the last ministry to
do something for the relief of Ireland.  The general cry in the country
was, that they would not see their beloved Monarch used ill in his old
age, and that they would stand by him to the last drop of their blood.  I
respect good feelings, however erroneous be the occasions on which they
display themselves; and therefore I saw in all this as much to admire as
to blame.  It was a species of affection, however, which reminded me very
forcibly of the attachment displayed by the servants of the Russian
ambassador at the beginning of the last century.  His Excellency happened
to fall down in a kind of apoplectic fit, when he was paying a morning
visit in the house of an acquaintance.  The confusion was of course very
great, and messengers were despatched in every direction to find a
surgeon: who, upon his arrival, declared that his Excellency must be
immediately blooded, and prepared himself forthwith to perform the
operation: the barbarous servants of the embassy, who were there in great
numbers, no sooner saw the surgeon prepared to wound the arm of their
master with a sharp, shining instrument, than they drew their swords, put
themselves in an attitude of defence, and swore in pure Sclavonic, “that
they would murder any man who attempted to do him the slightest injury:
he had been a very good master to them, and they would not desert him in
his misfortunes, or suffer his blood to be shed while he was off his
guard, and incapable of defending himself.”  By good fortune, the
secretary arrived about this period of the dispute, and his Excellency,
relieved from superfluous blood and perilous affection, was, after much
difficulty, restored to life.

There is an argument brought forward with some appearance of plausibility
in the House of Commons, which certainly merits an answer: You know that
the Catholics now vote for members of parliament in Ireland, and that
they outnumber the Protestants in a very great proportion; if you allow
Catholics to sit in parliament, religion will be found to influence votes
more than property, and the greater part of the 100 Irish members who are
returned to parliament will be Catholics.  Add to these the Catholic
members who are returned in England, and you will have a phalanx of
heretical strength which every minister will be compelled to respect, and
occasionally to conciliate by concessions incompatible with the interests
of the Protestant Church.  The fact is, however, that you are at this
moment subjected to every danger of this kind which you can possibly
apprehend hereafter.  If the spiritual interests of the voters are more
powerful than their temporal interests, they can bind down their
representatives to support any measures favourable to the Catholic
religion, and they can change the objects of their choice till they have
found Protestant members (as they easily may do) perfectly obedient to
their wishes.  If the superior possessions of the Protestants prevent the
Catholics from uniting for a common political object, then the danger you
fear cannot exist: if zeal, on the contrary, gets the better of acres,
then the danger at present exists, from the right of voting already given
to the Catholics, and it will not be increased by allowing them to sit in
parliament.  There are, as nearly as I can recollect, thirty seats in
Ireland for cities and counties, where the Protestants are the most
numerous, and where the members returned must of course be Protestants.
In the other seventy representations the wealth of the Protestants is
opposed to the number of the Catholics; and if all the seventy members
returned were of the Catholic persuasion, they must still plot the
destruction of our religion in the midst of 588 Protestants.  Such
terrors would disgrace a cook-maid, or a toothless aunt—when they fall
from the lips of bearded and senatorial men, they are nauseous,
antiperistaltic, and emetical.

How can you for a moment doubt of the rapid effects which would be
produced by the emancipation?  In the first place, to my certain
knowledge the Catholics have long since expressed to his Majesty’s
Ministers their perfect readiness _to vest in his Majesty_, _either with
the consent of the Pope_, _or without it if it cannot be obtained_, _the
nomination of the Catholic prelacy_.  The Catholic prelacy in Ireland
consists of twenty-six bishops and the warden of Galway, a dignitary
enjoying Catholic jurisdiction.  The number of Roman Catholic priests in
Ireland exceeds one thousand.  The expenses of his peculiar worship are,
to a substantial farmer or mechanic, five shillings per annum; to a
labourer (where he is not entirely excused) one shilling per annum; this
includes the contribution of the whole family, and for this the priest is
bound to attend them when sick, and to confess them when they apply to
him; he is also to keep his chapel in order, to celebrate divine service,
and to preach on Sundays and holydays.

In the northern district a priest gains from £30 to £50; in the other
parts of Ireland from £60 to £90 per annum.  The best paid Catholic
bishops receive about £400 per annum; the others from £300 to £350.  My
plan is very simple: I would have 300 Catholic parishes at £100 per
annum, 300 at £200 per annum, and 400 at £300 per annum; this, for the
whole thousand parishes, would amount to £190,000.  To the prelacy I
would allot £20,000 in unequal proportions, from £1,000 to £500; and I
would appropriate £40,000 more for the support of Catholic schools, and
the repairs of Catholic churches; the whole amount of which sum is
£250,000, about the expense of three days of one of our genuine, good
English _just and necessary wars_.  The clergy should all receive their
salaries at the Bank of Ireland, and I would place the whole patronage in
the hands of the Crown.  Now, I appeal to any human being, except Spencer
Perceval, Esq., of the parish of Hampstead, what the disaffection of a
clergy would amount to, gaping after this graduated bounty of the Crown,
and whether Ignatius Loyala himself, if he were a living blockhead
instead of a dead saint, could withstand the temptation of bouncing from
£100 a year at Sligo, to £300 in Tipperary?  This is the miserable sum of
money for which the merchants and landowners and nobility of England are
exposing themselves to the tremendous peril of losing Ireland.  The
sinecure places of the Roses and the Percevals, and the “dear and near
relations,” put up to auction at thirty years’ purchase, would almost
amount to the money.

I admit that nothing can be more reasonable than to expect that a
Catholic priest should starve to death, genteelly and pleasantly, for the
good of the Protestant religion; but is it equally reasonable to expect
that he should do so for the Protestant pews, and Protestant brick and
mortar?  On an Irish Sabbath, the bell of a neat parish church often
summons to church only the parson and an occasionally conforming clerk;
while, two hundred yards off, a thousand Catholics are huddled together
in a miserable hovel, and pelted by all the storms of heaven.  Can
anything be more distressing than to see a venerable man pouring forth
sublime truths in tattered breeches, and depending for his food upon the
little offal he gets from his parishioners?  I venerate a human being who
starves for his principles, let them be what they may; but starving for
anything is not at all to the taste of the honourable flagellants: strict
principles, and good pay, is the motto of Mr. Perceval: the one he keeps
in great measure for the faults of his enemies, the other for himself.

There are parishes in Connaught in which a Protestant was never settled
nor even seen.  In that province in Munster, and in parts of Leinster,
the entire peasantry for sixty miles are Catholics; in these tracts the
churches are frequently shut for want of a congregation, or opened to an
assemblage of from six to twenty persons.  Of what Protestants there are
in Ireland, the greatest part are gathered together in Ulster, or they
live in towns.  In the country of the other three provinces the Catholics
see no other religion but their own, and are at the least as fifteen to
one Protestant.  In the diocese of Tuam they are sixty to one; in the
parish of St. Mulins, diocese of Leghlin, there are four thousand
Catholics and one Protestant; in the town of Grasgenamana, in the county
of Kilkenny, there are between four and five hundred Catholic houses, and
three Protestant houses.  In the parish of Allen, county Kildare, there
is no Protestant, though it is very populous.  In the parish of Arlesin,
Queen’s County, the proportion is one hundred to one.  In the whole
county of Kilkenny, by actual enumeration, it is seventeen to one; in the
diocese of Kilmacduagh, province of Connaught, fifty-two to one, by
ditto.  These I give you as a few specimens of the present state of
Ireland; and yet there are men impudent and ignorant enough to contend
that such evils require no remedy, and that mild family man who dwelleth
in Hampstead can find none but the cautery and the knife.

    —“Omne per ignem
    Excoquitur vitium.”

I cannot describe the horror and disgust which I felt at hearing Mr.
Perceval call upon the then Ministry for measures of vigour in Ireland.
If I lived at Hampstead upon stewed meats and claret; if I walked to
church every Sunday before eleven young gentlemen of my own begetting,
with their faces washed, and their hair pleasingly combed; if the
Almighty had blessed me with every earthly comfort—how awfully would I
pause before I sent forth the flame and the sword over the cabins of the
poor, brave, generous, open-hearted peasants of Ireland!  How easy it is
to shed human blood; how easy it is to persuade ourselves that it is our
duty to do so, and that the decision has cost us a severe struggle; how
much in all ages have wounds and shrieks and tears been the cheap and
vulgar resources of the rulers of mankind; how difficult and how noble it
is to govern in kindness and to found an empire upon the everlasting
basis of justice and affection!  But what do men call vigour?  To let
loose hussars and to bring up artillery, to govern with lighted matches,
and to cut, and push, and prime; I call this not vigour, but the _sloth
of cruelty and ignorance_.  The vigour I love consists in finding out
wherein subjects are aggrieved, in relieving them, in studying the temper
and genius of a people, in consulting their prejudices, in selecting
proper persons to lead and manage them, in the laborious, watchful, and
difficult task of increasing public happiness by allaying each particular
discontent.  In this way Hoche pacified La Vendée—and in this way only
will Ireland ever be subdued.  But this, in the eyes of Mr. Perceval, is
imbecility and meanness.  Houses are not broken open, women are not
insulted, the people seem all to be happy; they are not rode over by
horses, and cut by whips.  Do you call this vigour?  Is this government?



LETTER X.  AND LAST.


YOU must observe that all I have said of the effects which will be
produced by giving salaries to the Catholic clergy, only proceeds upon
the supposition that the emanciptaion of the laity is effected:—without
that, I am sure there is not a clergyman in Ireland who would receive a
shilling from government; he could not do so, without an entire loss of
credit among the members of his own persuasion.

What you say of the moderation of the Irish Protestant clergy in
collecting tithes, is, I believe, strictly true.  Instead of collecting
what the law enables them to collect, I believe they seldom or ever
collect more than two-thirds; and I entirely agree with you, that the
abolition of agistment tithe in Ireland by a vote of the Irish House of
Commons, and without any remuneration to the Church, was a most
scandalous and Jacobinical measure.  I do not blame the Irish clergy; but
I submit to your common sense, if it be possible to explain to an Irish
peasant upon what principle of justice, or common sense, he is to pay
every tenth potato in his little garden to a clergyman in whose religion
nobody believes for twenty miles around him, and who has nothing to
preach to but bare walls?  It is true, if the tithes are bought up, the
cottager must pay more rent to his landlord; but the same thing done in
the shape of rent is less odious than when it is done in the shape of
tithe.  I do not want to take a shilling out of the pockets of the
clergy, but to leave the substance of things, and to change their names.
I cannot see the slightest reason why the Irish labourer is to be
relieved from the real onus, or from anything else but the name of tithe.
At present he rents only nine-tenths of the produce of the land, which is
all that belongs to the owner; this he has at the market price; if the
landowner purchase the other tenth of the Church, of course he has a
right to make a correspondent advance upon his tenant.

I very much doubt, if you were to lay open all civil offices to the
Catholics, and to grant salaries to their clergy, in the manner I have
stated, if the Catholic laity would give themselves much trouble about
the advance of their Church; for they would pay the same tithes under one
system that they do under another.  If you were to bring the Catholics
into the daylight of the world, to the high situations of the army, the
navy, and the bar, numbers of them would come over to the Established
Church, and do as other people do; instead of that, you set a mark of
infamy upon them, rouse every passion of our nature in favour of their
creed, and then wonder that men are blind to the follies of the Catholic
religion.  There are hardly any instances of old and rich families among
the Protestant Dissenters: when a man keeps a coach, and lives in good
company, he comes to church, and gets ashamed of the meeting-house; if
this is not the case with the father, it is almost always the case with
the son.  These things would never be so if the Dissenters were in
_practice_ as much excluded from all the concerns of civil life as the
Catholics are.  If a rich young Catholic were in Parliament, he would
belong to White’s and to Brookes’s, would keep race-horses, would walk up
and down Pall Mall, be exonerated of his ready money and his
constitution, become as totally devoid of morality, honesty, knowledge,
and civility as Protestant loungers in Pall Mall, and return home with a
supreme contempt for Father O’Leary and Father O’Callaghan.  I am
astonished at the madness of the Catholic clergy in not perceiving that
Catholic emancipation is Catholic infidelity; that to entangle their
people in the intrigues of a Protestant parliament, and a Protestant
court, is to ensure the loss of every man of fashion and consequence in
their community.  The true receipt for preserving their religion, is Mr.
Perceval’s receipt for destroying it: it is to deprive every rich
Catholic of all the objects of secular ambition, to separate him from the
Protestant, and to shut him up in his castle with priests and relics.

We are told, in answer to all our arguments, that this is not a fit
period—that a period of universal war is not the proper time for
dangerous innovations in the constitution: this is as much as to say,
that the worst time for making friends is the period when you have made
many enemies; that it is the greatest of all errors to stop when you are
breathless, and to lie down when you are fatigued.  Of one thing I am
quite certain: if the safety of Europe is once completely restored, the
Catholics may for ever bid adieu to the slightest probability of
effecting their object.  Such men as hang about a court not only are deaf
to the suggestions of mere justice, but they despise justice; they detest
the word _right_; the only word which rouses them is _peril_; where they
can oppress with impunity, they oppress for ever, and call it loyalty and
wisdom.

I am so far from conceiving the legitimate strength of the Crown would be
diminished by these abolitions of civil incapacities in consequence of
religious opinions, that my only objection to the increase of religious
freedom is, that it would operate as a diminution of political freedom;
the power of the Crown is so overbearing at this period, that almost the
only steady opposers of its fatal influence are men disgusted by
religious intolerance.  Our establishments are so enormous, and so
utterly disproportioned to our population, that every second or third man
you meet in society gains something from the public; my brother the
commissioner,—my nephew the police justice,—purveyor of small beer to the
army in Ireland,—clerk of the mouth,—yeoman to the left hand,—these are
the obstacles which common sense and justice have now to overcome.  Add
to this that the King, old and infirm, excites a principle of very
amiable generosity in his favour; that he has led a good, moral, and
religious life, equally removed from profligacy and methodistical
hypocrisy; that he has been a good husband, a good father, and a good
master; that he dresses plain, loves hunting and farming, fates the
French, and is in all his opinions and habits, quite English:—these
feelings are heightened by the present situation of the world, and the
yet unexploded clamour of Jacobinism.  In short, from the various sources
of interest, personal regard, and national taste, such a tempest of
loyalty has set in upon the people that the 47th proposition in Euclid
might now be voted down with as much ease as any proposition in politics;
and therefore if Lord Hawkesbury hates the abstract truths of science as
much as he hates concrete truth in human affairs, now is his time for
getting rid of the multiplication table, and passing a vote of censure
upon the pretensions of the _hypotenuse_.  Such is the history of English
parties at this moment: you cannot seriously suppose that the people care
for such men as Lord Hawkesbury, Mr. Canning, and Mr. Perceval on their
own account; you cannot really believe them to be so degraded as to look
to their safety from a man who proposes to subdue Europe by keeping it
without Jesuit’s Bark.  The people at present have one passion, and but
one—

    “A Jove principium, Jovis omnia plena.”

They care no more for the ministers I have mentioned, than they do for
those sturdy royalists who for £60 per annum stand behind his Majesty’s
carriage, arrayed in scarlet and in gold.  If the present ministers
opposed the Court instead of flattering it, they would not command twenty
votes.

Do not imagine by these observations that I am not loyal; without joining
in the common cant of the best of kings, I respect the King most
sincerely as a good man.  His religion is better than the religion of Mr.
Perceval, his old morality very superior to the old morality of Mr.
Canning, and I am quite certain he has a safer understanding than both of
them put together.  Loyalty within the bounds of reason and moderation is
one of the great instruments of human happiness; but the love of the king
may easily become more strong than the love of the kingdom, and we may
lose sight of the public welfare in our exaggerated admiration of him who
is appointed to reign only for its promotion and support.  I detest
Jacobinism; and if I am doomed to be a slave at all, I would rather be
the slave of a king than a cobbler.  God save the King, you say, warms
your heart like the sound of a trumpet.  I cannot make use of so violent
a metaphor; but I am delighted to hear it, when it is the cry of genuine
affection; I am delighted to hear it when they hail not only the
individual man, but the outward and living sign of all English blessings.
These are noble feelings, and the heart of every good man must go with
them; but God save the King, in these times, too often means God save my
pension and my place, God give my sisters an allowance out of the privy
purse—make me clerk of the irons, let me survey the meltings, let me live
upon the fruits of other men’s industry, and fatten upon the plunder of
the public.

What is it possible to say to such a man as the Gentleman of Hampstead,
who really believes it feasible to convert the four million Irish
Catholics to the Protestant religion, and considers this as the best
remedy for the disturbed state of Ireland?  It is not possible to answer
such a man with arguments; we must come out against him with beads and a
cowl, and push him into an hermitage.  It is really such trash, that it
is an abuse of the privilege of reasoning to reply to it.  Such a project
is well worthy the statesman who would bring the French to reason by
keeping them without rhubarb, and exhibit to mankind the awful spectacle
of a nation deprived of neutral salts.  This is not the dream of a wild
apothecary indulging in his own opium; this is not the distempered fancy
of a pounder of drugs, delirious from smallness of profits; but it is the
sober, deliberate, and systematic scheme of a man to whom the public
safety is intrusted, and whose appointment is considered by many as a
masterpiece of political sagacity.  What a sublime thought, that no purge
can now be taken between the Weser and the Garonne; that the bustling
pestle is still, the canorous mortar mute, and the bowels of mankind
locked up for fourteen degrees of latitude!  When, I should be curious to
know, were all the powers of crudity and flatulence fully explained to
his Majesty’s ministers?  At what period was this great plan of conquest
and constipation fully developed?  In whose mind was the idea of
destroying the pride and the plasters of France first engendered?
Without castor oil they might for some months, to be sure, have carried
on a lingering war! but can they do without bark?  Will the people live
under a government where antimonial powders cannot be procured?  Will
they bear the loss of mercury?  “There’s the rub.”  Depend upon it, the
absence of the materia medica will soon bring them to their senses, and
the cry of _Bourbon and bolus_ burst forth from the Baltic to the
Mediterranean.

You ask me for any precedent in our history where the oath of supremacy
has been dispensed with.  It was dispensed with to the Catholics of
Canada in 1774.  They are only required to take a simple oath of
allegiance.  The same, I believe, was the case in Corsica.  The reason of
such exemption was obvious; you could not possibly have retained either
of these countries without it.  And what did it signify, whether you
retained them or not?  In cases where you might have been foolish without
peril you were wise; when nonsense and bigotry threaten you with
destruction, it is impossible to bring you back to the alphabet of
justice and common sense.  If men are to be fools, I would rather they
were fools in little matters than in great; dulness turned up with
temerity is a livery all the worse for the facings; and the most
tremendous of all things is the magnanimity of the dunce.

It is not by any means necessary, as you contend, to repeal the Test Act
if you give relief to the Catholic: what the Catholics ask for is to be
put on a footing with the Protestant Dissenters, which would be done by
repealing that part of the law which compels them to take the oath of
supremacy and to make the declaration against transubstantiation: they
would then come into Parliament as all other Dissenters are allowed to
do, and the penal laws to which they were exposed for taking office would
be suspended every year, as they have been for this half century past
towards Protestant Dissenters.  Perhaps, after all, this is the best
method—to continue the persecuting law, and to suspend it every year—a
method which, while it effectually destroys the persecution itself,
leaves to the great mass of mankind the exquisite gratification of
supposing that they are enjoying some advantage from which a particular
class of their fellow creatures are excluded.  We manage the Corporation
and Test Acts at present much in the same manner as if we were to
persuade parish boys who had been in the habit of beating an ass to spare
the animal, and beat the skin of an ass stuffed with straw; this would
preserve the semblance of tormenting without the reality, and keep boy
and beast in good humour.

How can you imagine that a provision for the Catholic clergy affects the
5th article of the Union?  Surely I am preserving the Protestant Church
in Ireland if I put it in a better condition than that in which it now
is.  A tithe proctor in Ireland collects his tithes with a blunderbuss,
and carries his tenth hay-cock by storm, sword in hand: to give him equal
value in a more pacific shape cannot, I should imagine, be considered as
injurious to the Church of Ireland; and what right has that Church to
complain if Parliament chooses to fix upon the empire the burden of
supporting a double ecclesiastical establishment?  Are the revenues of
the Irish Protestant clergy in the slightest degree injured by such
provision?  On the contrary, is it possible to confer a more serious
benefit upon that Church than by quieting and contenting those who are at
work for its destruction?

It is impossible to think of the affairs of Ireland without being
forcibly struck with the parallel of Hungary.  Of her seven millions of
inhabitants, one half were Protestants, Calvinists, and Lutherans, many
of the Greek Church, and many Jews: such was the state of their religious
dissensions that Mahomet had often been called in to the aid of Calvin,
and the crescent often glittered on the walls of Buda and Presburg.  At
last, in 1791, during the most violent crisis of disturbance, a Diet was
called, and by a great majority of voices a decree was passed, which
secured to all the contending sects the fullest and freest exercise of
religious worship and education; ordained—let it be heard in
Hampstead—that churches and chapels should be erected for all on the most
perfectly equal terms; that the Protestants of both confessions should
depend upon their spiritual superiors alone; liberated them from swearing
by the usual oath, “the Holy Virgin Mary, the saints, and chosen of God;”
and then the decree adds, “that _public offices and honours_, _high or
low_, _great or small_, _shall be given to natural-born Hungarians who
deserve well of their country_, _and possess the other qualifications_,
_let their religion be what it may_.”  Such was the line of policy
pursued in a Diet consisting of four hundred members, in a state whose
form of government approaches nearer to our own than any other, having a
Roman Catholic establishment of great wealth and power, and under the
influence of one of the most bigoted Catholic Courts in Europe.  This
measure has now the experience of eighteen years in its favour; it has
undergone a trial of fourteen years of revolution such as the world never
witnessed, and more than equal to a century less convulsed: What have
been its effects?  When the French advanced like a torrent within a few
days’ march of Vienna, the Hungarians rose in a mass; they formed what
they called the sacred insurrection, to defend their sovereign, their
rights and liberties, now common to all; and the apprehension of their
approach dictated to the reluctant Bonaparte the immediate signature of
the treaty of _Leoben_.  The Romish hierarchy of Hungary exists in all
its former splendour and opulence; never has the slightest attempt been
made to diminish it; and those revolutionary principles, to which so
large a portion of civilised Europe has been sacrificed, have here failed
in making the smallest successful inroad.

The whole history of this proceeding of the Hungarian Diet is so
extraordinary, and such an admirable comment upon the Protestantism of
Mr. Spencer Perceval, that I must compel you to read a few short extracts
from the law itself:—“The Protestants of both confessions shall, in
religious matters, depend upon their own spiritual superiors alone.  The
Protestants may likewise retain their trivial and grammar schools.  The
Church dues which the Protestants have hitherto paid to the Catholic
parish priests, schoolmasters, or other such officers, either in money,
productions, or labour, shall in future entirely cease, and after three
months from the publishing of this law, be no more anywhere demanded.  In
the building or repairing of churches, parsonage-houses, and schools, the
Protestants are not obliged to assist the Catholics with labour, nor the
Catholics the Protestants.  The pious foundations and donations of the
Protestants which already exist, or which in future may be made for their
churches, ministers, schools and students, hospitals, orphan houses, and
poor, cannot be taken from them under any pretext, nor yet the care of
them; but rather the unimpeded administration shall be intrusted to those
from among them to whom it legally belongs, and those foundations which
may have been taken from them under the last government shall be returned
to them without delay.  All affairs of marriage of the Protestants are
left to their own consistories; all landlords and masters of families,
under the penalty of public prosecution, are ordered not to prevent their
subjects and servants, whether they be Catholic or Protestant, from the
observance of the festivals and ceremonies of their religion,” etc. etc.
etc.—By what strange chances are mankind influenced!  A little Catholic
barrister of Vienna might have raised the cry of _No Protestantism_, and
Hungary would have panted for the arrival of a French army as much as
Ireland does at this moment; arms would have been searched for; Lutheran
and Calvinist houses entered in the dead of the night; and the strength
of Austria exhausted in guarding a country from which, under the present
liberal system, she may expect in the moment of danger the most powerful
aid: and let it be remembered that this memorable example of political
wisdom took place at a period when many great monarchies were yet
unconquered in Europe; in a country where the two religious parties were
equal in number; and where it is impossible to suppose indifference in
the party which relinquished its exclusive privileges.  Under all these
circumstances the measure was carried in the Hungarian Diet by a majority
of 280 to 120.  In a few weeks we shall see every concession denied to
the Catholics by a much larger majority of Protestants, at a moment when
every other power is subjugated but ourselves, and in a country where the
oppressed are four times as numerous as their oppressors.  So much for
the wisdom of our ancestors—so much for the nineteenth century—so much
for the superiority of the English over all the nations of the Continent.

Are you not sensible, let me ask you, of the absurdity of trusting the
lowest Catholics with offices correspondent to their situation in life,
and of denying such privileges to the higher.  A Catholic may serve in
the militia, but a Catholic cannot come into Parliament; in the latter
case you suspect combination, and in the former case you suspect no
combination; you deliberately arm ten or twenty thousand of the lowest of
the Catholic people; and the moment you come to a class of men whose
education, honour, and talents seem to render all mischief less probable,
then you see the danger of employing a Catholic, and cling to your
investigating tests and disabling laws.  If you tell me you have enough
of members of Parliament and not enough of militia without the Catholics,
I beg leave to remind you that, by employing the physical force of any
sect at the same time when you leave them in a state of utter
disaffection, you are not adding strength to your armies, but weakness
and ruin.  If you want the vigour of their common people, you must not
disgrace their nobility and insult their priesthood.

I thought that the terror of the Pope had been confined to the limits of
the nursery, and merely employed as a means to induce young master to
enter into his small-clothes with greater speed and to eat his breakfast
with greater attention to decorum.  For these purposes the name of the
Pope is admirable; but why push it beyond?  Why not leave to Lord
Hawkesbury all further enumeration of the Pope’s powers?  For a whole
century you have been exposed to the enmity of France, and your
succession was disputed in two rebellions: what could the Pope do at the
period when there was a serious struggle whether England should be
Protestant or Catholic, and when the issue was completely doubtful?
Could the Pope induce the Irish to rise in 1715?  Could he induce them to
rise in 1745?  You had no Catholic enemy when half this island was in
arms; and what did the Pope attempt in the last rebellion in Ireland?
But if he had as much power over the minds of the Irish as Mr.
Wilberforce has over the mind of a young Methodist converted the
preceding quarter, is this a reason why we are to disgust men who may be
acted upon in such a manner by a foreign power? or is it not an
additional reason why we should raise up every barrier of affection and
kindness against the mischief of foreign influence?  But the true answer
is, the mischief does not exist.  Gog and Magog have produced as much
influence upon human affairs as the Pope has done for this half century
past; and by spoiling him of his possessions, and degrading him in the
eyes of all Europe, Bonaparte has not taken quite the proper method of
increasing his influence.

But why not a Catholic king as well as a Catholic member of Parliament,
or of the Cabinet?—Because it is probable that the one would be
mischievous and the other not.  A Catholic king might struggle against
the Protestantism of the country, and if the struggle were not successful
it would at least be dangerous; but the efforts of any other Catholic
would be quite insignificant, and his hope of success so small, that it
is quite improbable the effort would ever be made: my argument is, that
in so Protestant a country as Great Britain, the character of her
parliaments and her cabinet could not be changed by the few Catholics who
would ever find their way to the one or the other.  But the power of the
Crown is immeasurably greater than the power which the Catholics could
obtain from any other species of authority in the state; and it does not
follow because the lesser degree of power is innocent that the greater
should be so too.  As for the stress you lay upon the danger of a
Catholic chancellor, I have not the least hesitation in saying that his
appointment would not do a ten thousandth part of the mischief to the
English Church that might be done by a Methodistical chancellor of the
true Clapham breed; and I request to know if it is really so very
necessary that a chancellor should be of the religion of the Church of
England, how many chancellors you have had within the last century who
have been bred up in the Presbyterian religion?  And again, how many you
have had who notoriously have been without any religion at all?

Why are you to suppose that eligibility and election are the same thing,
and that all the cabinet _will_ be Catholics whenever all the cabinet
_may_ be Catholics?  You have a right, you say, to suppose an extreme
case, and to argue upon it—so have I: and I will suppose that the hundred
Irish members will one day come down in a body and pass a law compelling
the King to reside in Dublin.  I will suppose that the Scotch members, by
a similar stratagem, will lay England under a large contribution of meal
and sulphur: no measure is without objection if you sweep the whole
horizon for danger; it is not sufficient to tell me of what may happen,
but you must show me a rational probability that it will happen: after
all, I might, contrary to my real opinion, admit all your dangers to
exist; it is enough for me to contend that all other dangers taken
together are not equal to the danger of losing Ireland from disaffection
and invasion.

I am astonished to see you, and many good and well-meaning clergymen
beside you, painting the Catholics in such detestable colours;
two-thirds, at least, of Europe are Catholics—they are Christians, though
mistaken Christians; how can I possibly admit that any sect of
Christians, and, above all, that the oldest and the most numerous sect of
Christians are incapable of fulfilling the common duties and relations of
life: though I do differ from them in many particulars, God forbid I
should give such a handle to infidelity, and subscribe to such blasphemy
against our common religion?

Do you think mankind never change their opinions without formally
expressing and confessing that change?  When you quote the decisions of
ancient Catholic councils, are you prepared to defend all the decrees of
English convocations and universities since the reign of Queen Elizabeth?
I could soon make you sick of your uncandid industry against the
Catholics, and bring you to allow that it is better to forget times past,
and to judge and be judged by present opinions and present practice.

I must beg to be excused from explaining and refuting all the mistakes
about the Catholics made by my Lord Redesdale; and I must do that
nobleman the justice to say, that he has been treated with great
disrespect.  Could anything be more indecent than to make it a morning
lounge in Dublin to call upon his Lordship, and to cram him with
Arabian-night stories about the Catholics?  Is this proper behaviour to
the representative of Majesty, the child of Themis, and the keeper of the
conscience in West Britain?  Whoever reads the Letters of the Catholic
Bishops, in the appendix to Sir John Hippesly’s very sensible book, will
see to what an excess this practice must have been carried with the
pleasing and Protestant nobleman whose name I have mentioned, and from
thence I wish you to receive your answer about excommunication, and all
the trash which is talked against the Catholics.

A sort of notion has, by some means or another, crept into the world that
difference of religion would render men unfit to perform together the
offices of common and civil life: that Brother Wood and Brother Grose
could not travel together the same circuit if they differed in creed, nor
Cockell and Mingay be engaged in the same cause, if Cockell was a
Catholic and Mingay a Muggletonian.  It is supposed that Huskisson and
Sir Harry Englefield would squabble behind the Speaker’s chair about the
council of Lateran, and many a turnpike bill miscarry by the sarcastical
controversies of Mr. Hawkins Brown and Sir John Throckmorton upon the
real presence.  I wish I could see some of these symptoms of earnestness
upon the subject of religion; but it really seems to me that, in the
present state of society, men no more think about inquiring concerning
each other’s faith than they do concerning the colour of each other’s
skins.  There may have been times in England when the quarter sessions
would have been disturbed by theological polemics; but now, after a
Catholic justice had once been seen on the bench, and it had been clearly
ascertained that he spoke English, had no tail, only a single row of
teeth, and that he loved port wine—after all the scandalous and infamous
reports of his physical conformation had been clearly proved to be
false—he would be reckoned a jolly fellow, and very superior in flavour
to a sly Presbyterian.  Nothing, in fact, can be more uncandid and
unphilosophical than to say that a man has a tail, because you cannot
agree within him upon religious subjects; it appears to be ludicrous: but
I am convinced it has done infinite mischief to the Catholics, and made a
very serious impression upon the minds of many gentlemen of large landed
property.

In talking of the impossibility of Catholic and Protestant living
together with equal privilege under the same government, do you forget
the Cantons of Switzerland?  You might have seen there a Protestant
congregation going into a church which had just been quitted by a
Catholic congregation; and I will venture to say that the Swiss Catholics
were more bigoted to their religion than any people in the whole world.
Did the kings of Prussia ever refuse to employ a Catholic?  Would
Frederick the Great have rejected an able man on this account?  We have
seen Prince Czartorinski, a Catholic Secretary of State in Russia; in
former times a Greek patriarch and an apostolic vicar acted together in
the most perfect harmony in Venice; and we have seen the Emperor of
Germany in modern times intrusting the care of his person and the command
of his guard to a Protestant Prince, Frederick of Wittenberg.  But what
are all these things to Mr. Perceval?  He has looked at human nature from
the top of Hampstead Hill, and has not a thought beyond the little sphere
of his own vision.  “The snail,” say the Hindoos, “sees nothing but his
own shell, and thinks it the grandest palace in the universe.”

I now take a final leave of this subject of Ireland; the only difficulty
in discussing it is a want of resistance, a want of something difficult
to unravel, and something dark to illumine.  To agitate such a question
is to beat the air with a club, and cut down gnats with a scimitar; it is
a prostitution of industry, and a waste of strength.  If a man say, I
have a good place, and I do not choose to lose it, this mode of arguing
upon the Catholic question I can well understand; but that any human
being with an understanding two degrees elevated above that of an
Anabaptist preacher, should conscientiously contend for the expediency
and propriety of leaving the Irish Catholics in their present state, and
of subjecting us to such tremendous peril in the present condition of the
world, it is utterly out of my power to conceive.  Such a measure as the
Catholic question is entirely beyond the common game of politics; it is a
measure in which all parties ought to acquiesce, in order to preserve the
place where and the stake for which they play.  If Ireland is gone, where
are jobs? where are reversions? where is my brother Lord Arden? where are
my dear and near relations?  The game is up, and the Speaker of the house
of Commons will be sent as a present to the menagerie at Paris.  We talk
of waiting from particular considerations, as if centuries of joy and
prosperity were before us: in the next ten years our fate must be
decided; we shall know, long before that period, whether we can bear up
against the miseries by which we are threatened or not; and yet, in the
very midst of our crisis, we are enjoined to abstain from the most
certain means of increasing our strength, and advised to wait for the
remedy till the disease is removed by death or health.  And now, instead
of the plain and manly policy of increasing unanimity at home, by
equalising rights and privileges, what is the ignorant, arrogant, and
wicked system which has been pursued?  Such a career of madness and of
folly was, I believe, never run in so short a period.  The vigour of the
ministry is like the vigour of a grave-digger—the tomb becomes more ready
and more wide for every effort which they make.  There is nothing which
it is worth while either to take or to retain, and a constant train of
ruinous expeditions have been kept up.  Every Englishman felt proud of
the integrity of his country; the character of the country is lost for
ever.  It is of the utmost consequence to a commercial people at war with
the greatest part of Europe, that there should be a free entry of
neutrals into the enemy’s ports; the neutrals who earned our manufactures
we have not only excluded, but we have compelled them to declare war
against us.  It was our interest to make a good peace, or convince our
own people that it could not be obtained; we have not made a peace, and
we have convinced the people of nothing but of the arrogance of the
Foreign Secretary: and all this has taken place in the short space of a
year, because a King’s Bench barrister and a writer of epigrams, turned
into Ministers of State, were determined to show country gentlemen that
the late administration had no vigour.  In the meantime commerce stands
still, manufactures perish, Ireland is more and more irritated, India is
threatened, fresh taxes are accumulated upon the wretched people, the war
is carried on without it being possible to conceive any one single object
which a rational being can propose to himself by its continuation; and in
the midst of this unparalleled insanity we are told that the Continent is
to be reconquered by the want of rhubarb and plums.  A better spirit than
exists in the English people never existed in any people in the world: it
has been misdirected, and squandered upon party purposes in the most
degrading and scandalous manner; they have been led to believe that they
were benefiting the commerce of England by destroying the commerce of
America, that they were defending their Sovereign by perpetuating the
bigoted oppression of their fellow-subjects; their rulers and their
guides have told them that they would equal the vigour of France by
equalling her atrocity; and they have gone on wasting that opulence,
patience, and courage, which, if husbanded by prudent and moderate
counsels, might have proved the salvation of mankind.  The same policy of
turning the good qualities of Englishmen to their own destruction, which
made Mr. Pitt omnipotent, continues his power to those who resemble him
only in his vices; advantage is taken of the loyalty of Englishmen to
make them meanly submissive; their piety is turned into persecution,
their courage into useless and obstinate contention; they are plundered
because they are ready to pay, and soothed into asinine stupidity because
they are full of virtuous patience.  If England must perish at last, so
let it be: that event is in the hands of God; we must dry up our tears
and submit.  But that England should perish swindling and stealing; that
it should perish waging war against lazar houses and hospitals; that it
should perish persecuting with monastic bigotry; that it should calmly
give itself up to be ruined by the flashy arrogance of one man, and the
narrow fanaticism of another; these events are within the power of human
beings, and I did not think that the magnanimity of Englishmen would ever
stoop to such degradations.

                              _Longum Vale!_

                                                            PETER PLYMLEY.



HISTORICAL APOLOGY FOR THE IRISH CATHOLICS.


_Historical Apology for The Irish Catholics_.  By WILLIAM PARNELL,
Esquire.  Fitzpatrick, Dublin.  1807.

                                * * * * *

IF ever a nation exhibited symptoms of downright madness, or utter
stupidity, we conceive these symptoms may be easily recognised in the
conduct of this country upon the Catholic question.  A man has a wound in
his great toe, and a violent and perilous fever at the same time; and he
refuses to take the medicines for the fever because it will disconcert
the toe!  The mournful and folly-stricken blockhead forgets that his toe
cannot survive him; that if he dies, there can be no digital life apart
from him: yet he lingers and fondles over this last part of his body,
soothing it madly with little plasters, and anile fomentations, while the
neglected fever rages in his entrails, and burns away his whole life.  If
the comparatively little questions of Establishment are all that this
country is capable of discussing or regarding, for God’s sake let us
remember that the foreign conquest, which destroys all, destroys this
beloved _toe_ also.  Pass over freedom, industry, and science—and look
upon this great empire, by which we are about to be swallowed up, only as
it affects the manner of collecting tithes, and of reading the
liturgy—still, if all goes, these must go too; and even, for their
interests, it is worth while to conciliate Ireland, to avert the
hostility, and to employ the strength of the Catholic population.  We
plead the question as the sincerest friends to the Establishment;—as
wishing to it all the prosperity and duration its warmest advocates can
desire,—but remembering always what these advocates seem to forget, that
the Establishment cannot be threatened by any danger so great as the
perdition of the kingdom in which it is established.

We are truly glad to agree so entirely with Mr. Parnell upon this great
question; we admire his way of thinking, and most cordially recommend his
work to the attention of the public.  The general conclusion which he
attempts to prove is this: that religious sentiment, however perverted by
bigotry or fanaticism, has always a _tendency_ to moderation; that it
seldom assumes any great portion of activity or enthusiasm, except from
novelty of opinion, or from opposition, contumely, and persecution, when
novelty ceases; that a Government has little to fear from any religious
sect, except while that sect is new.  Give a Government only time, and,
provided it has the good sense to treat folly with forbearance, it must
ultimately prevail.  When, therefore, a sect is found, after a lapse of
years, to be ill-disposed to the Government, we may be certain that
Government has widened its separation by marked distinctions, roused its
resentment by contumely, or supported its enthusiasm by persecution.

The _particular_ conclusion Mr. Parnell attempts to prove is, that the
Catholic religion in Ireland had sunk into torpor and inactivity, till
Government roused it with the lash: that even then, from the respect and
attachment which men are always inclined to show towards government,
there still remained a large body of loyal Catholics; that these only
decreased in number from the rapid increase of persecution; and that,
after all, the effects which the resentment of the Roman Catholics had in
creating rebellions had been very much exaggerated.

In support of these two conclusions, Mr. Parnell takes a survey of the
history of Ireland, from the conquest under Henry to the rebellion under
Charles I., passing very rapidly over the period which preceded the
Reformation, and dwelling principally upon the various rebellions which
broke out in Ireland between the Reformation and the grand rebellion in
the reign of Charles I.  The celebrated conquest of Ireland by Henry II.
extended only to a very few counties in Leinster; nine-tenths of the
whole kingdom were left, as he found them, under the dominion of their
native princes.  The influence of example was as strong in this as in
most other instances; and great numbers of the English settlers who came
over under various adventures resigned their pretensions to superior
civilisation, cast off their lower garments, and lapsed into the nudity
and barbarism of the Irish.  The limit which divided the possessions of
the English settler from those of the native Irish was called _the pale_;
and the expressions of inhabitants _within the pale_, and _without the
pale_, were the terms by which the two nations were distinguished.  It is
almost superfluous to state, that the most bloody and pernicious warfare
was carried on upon the borders—sometimes for something, sometimes for
nothing—most commonly for cows.  The Irish, over whom the sovereigns of
England affected a sort of nominal dominion, were entirely governed by
their own laws, and so very little connection had they with the justice
of the invading country, that it was as lawful to kill an Irishman as it
was to kill a badger or a fox.  The instances are innumerable, where the
defendant has pleaded that the deceased was an Irishman, and that
therefore defendant had a right to kill him—and upon the proof of
Hibernicism, acquittal followed of course.

When the English army mustered in any great strength, the Irish
chieftains would do exterior homage to the English Crown; and they very
frequently, by this artifice, averted from their country the miseries of
invasion: but they remained completely unsubdued, till the rebellion
which took place in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, of which that politic
woman availed herself to the complete subjugation of Ireland.  In
speaking of the Irish about the reign of Elizabeth or James I., we must
not draw our comparisons from England, but from New Zealand; they were
not civilised men, but savages; and if we reason about their conduct, we
must reason of them as savages.

    “After reading every account of Irish history,” says Mr. Parnell,
    “one great perplexity appears to remain: How does it happen, that,
    from the first invasion of the English till the reign of James I.,
    Ireland seems not to have made the smallest progress in civilisation
    or wealth?

    “That it was divided into a number of small principalities, which
    waged constant war on each other—or that the appointment of the
    chieftains was elective—do not appear sufficient reasons, although
    these are the only ones assigned by those who have been at the
    trouble of considering the subject: neither are the confiscations of
    property quite sufficient to account for the effect.  There have been
    great confiscations in other countries, and still they have
    flourished; the petty states of Greece were quite analogous to the
    chiefries, as they were called, in Ireland; and yet they seemed to
    flourish almost in proportion to their dissensions.  Poland felt the
    bad effects of an elective monarchy more than any other country; and
    yet, in point of civilisation, it maintained a very respectable rank
    among the nations of Europe; but Ireland never, for an instant, made
    any progress in improvement, till the reign of James I.

    “It is scarcely credible, that in a climate like that of Ireland, and
    at a period so far advanced in civilisation as the end of Elizabeth’s
    reign, the greater part of the natives should go naked.  Yet this is
    rendered certain by the testimony of an eye-witness, Fynes Moryson.
    ‘In the remote parts,’ he says, ‘where the English laws and manners
    are unknown, the very chief of the Irish, as well men as women, go
    naked in the winter time, only having their privy parts covered with
    a rag of linen, and their bodies with a loose mantle.  This I speak
    of my own experience; yet remember that a Bohemian baron coming out
    of Scotland to us by the north parts of the wild Irish, told me in
    great earnestness, that he, coming to the house of O’Kane, a great
    lord amongst them, was met at the door by sixteen women, all naked,
    excepting their loose mantles, whereof eight or ten were very fair;
    with which strange sight his eyes being dazzled, they led him into
    the house, and then sitting down by the fire, with crossed legs, like
    tailors, and so low as could not but offend chaste eyes, desired him
    to sit down with them.  Soon after, O’Kane, the lord of the country,
    came in all naked, except a loose mantle and shoes, which he put off
    as soon as he came in; and, entertaining the Baron after his best
    manner in the Latin tongue, desired him to put off his apparel, which
    he thought to be a burden to him, and to sit naked.

    “‘To conclude, men and women at night going to sleep, he thus naked
    in a round circle about the fire, with their feet towards it.  They
    fold their heads and their upper parts in woollen mantles, first
    steeped in water to keep them warm; for they say, that woollen cloth,
    wetted, preserves heat (as linen, wetted, preserves cold), when the
    smoke of their bodies has warmed the woollen cloth.’

    “The cause of this extreme poverty, and of its long continuance, we
    must conclude, arose from the peculiar laws of property which were in
    force under the Irish dynasties.  These laws have been described by
    most writers as similar to the Kentish custom of gavelkind; and,
    indeed, so little attention was paid to the subject, that were it not
    for the researches of Sir J. Davis, the knowledge of this singular
    usage would have been entirely lost.

    “The Brehon law of property, he tells us, was similar to the custom
    (as the English lawyers term it) of hodge-podge.  When any one of the
    sept died, his lands did not descend to his sons, but were divided
    among the whole sept: and, for this purpose, the chief of the sept
    made a new division of the whole lands belonging to the sept, and
    gave every one his part according to seniority.  So that no man had a
    property which could descend to his children; and even during his own
    life his possession of any particular spot was quite uncertain, being
    liable to be constantly shuffled and changed by new partitions.  The
    consequence of this was that there was not a house of brick or stone
    among the Irish down to the reign of Henry VII.; not even a garden or
    orchard, or well-fenced or improved field; neither village or town,
    or in any respect the least provision for posterity.  This monstrous
    custom, so opposite to the natural feelings of mankind, was probably
    perpetuated by the policy of the chiefs.  In the first place the
    power of partitioning being lodged in their hands, made them the most
    absolute of tyrants, being the dispensers of the property as well as
    of the liberty of their subjects.  In the second place, it had the
    appearance of adding to the number of their savage armies; for where
    there was no improvement or tillage, war was pursued as an
    occupation.

    “In the early history of Ireland, we find several instances of
    chieftains discountenancing tillage; and so late as Elizabeth’s
    reign, Moryson says, that ‘Sir Neal Garve restrained his people from
    ploughing, that they might assist him to do any mischief.’”—(pp.
    99–102).

These quotations and observations will enable us to state a few plain
facts for the recollection of our English readers:—1st, Ireland was never
subdued till the rebellion in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.  2nd, For
four hundred years before that period the two nations had been almost
constantly at war; and in consequence of this, a deep and irreconcilable
hatred existed between the people within and without the pale.  3rd, The
Irish, at the accession of Queen Elizabeth, were unquestionably the most
barbarous people in Europe.  So much for what had happened previous to
the reign of Queen Elizabeth; and let any man, who has the most
superficial knowledge of human affairs, determine whether national
hatred, proceeding from such powerful causes, could possibly have been
kept under by the defeat of one single rebellion—whether it would not
have been easy to have foreseen, at that period, that a proud, brave,
half-savage people, would cherish the memory of their wrongs for
centuries to come, and break forth into arms at every period when they
were particularly exasperated by oppression, or invited by opportunity.
If the Protestant religion had spread in Ireland as it did in England,
and if there had never been any difference of faith between the two
countries—can it be believed that the Irish, ill-treated and infamously
governed as they have been, would never have made any efforts to shake
off the yoke of England?  Surely there are causes enough to account for
their impatience of that yoke, without endeavouring to inflame the zeal
of ignorant people against the Catholic religion, and to make that mode
of faith responsible for all the butchery which the Irish and English for
these last two centuries have exercised upon each other.  Everybody, of
course, must admit, that if to the causes of hatred already specified
there be added the additional cause of religious distinction, this last
will give greater force (and what is of more consequence to observe, give
a _name_) to the whole aggregate motive.  But what Mr. Parnell contends
for, and clearly and decisively proves, is that many of those sanguinary
scenes attributed to the Catholic religion are to be partly imputed to
causes totally disconnected from religion; that the unjust invasion, and
the tyrannical, infamous policy of the English, are to take their full
share of blame with the sophisms and plots of Catholic priests.  In the
reign of Henry VIII., Mr. Parnell shows that feudal submission was
readily paid to him by all the Irish chiefs; that the Reformation was
received without the slightest opposition; and that the troubles which
took place at that period in Ireland are to be entirely attributed to the
ambition and injustice of Henry.  In the reign of Queen Mary there was no
recrimination upon the Protestants—a striking proof that the bigotry of
the Catholic religion had not at that period risen to any great height in
Ireland.  The insurrections of the various Irish princes were as numerous
during this reign as they had been in the two preceding reigns—a
circumstance rather difficult of explanation, if, as is commonly
believed, the Catholic religion was at that period the main-spring of
men’s actions.

In the reign of Elizabeth, the Catholic in the pale regularly fought
against the Catholic out of the pale.  O’Sullivan, a bigoted Papist,
reproaches them with doing so.  Speaking of the reign of James I., he
says, “And now the eyes even of the English Irish (the Catholics of the
pale) were opened; and they cursed their former folly for helping the
heretic.”  The English Government were so sensible of the loyalty of the
Irish English Catholics that they entrusted them with the most
confidential services.  The Earl of Kildare was the principal instrument
in waging war against the chieftains of Leix and Offal.  William
O’Bourge, another Catholic, was created Lord Castle Connel for his
eminent services; and MacGully Patrick, a priest, was the State spy.  We
presume that this wise and _manly_ conduct of Queen Elizabeth was utterly
unknown both to the Pastrycook and the Secretary of State, who have
published upon the dangers of employing Catholics even against foreign
enemies; and in those publications have said a great deal about the
wisdom of our ancestors—the usual topic whenever the folly of their
descendants is to be defended.  To whatever other of our ancestors they
may allude, they may spare all compliments to this illustrious Princess,
who would certainly have kept the worthy confectioner to the composition
of tarts, and most probably furnished him with the productions of the
Right Honourable Secretary as the means of conveying those juicy
delicacies to a hungry and discerning public.

In the next two reigns, Mr. Parnell shows by what injudicious measures of
the English Government the spirit of Catholic opposition was gradually
formed; for that it did produce powerful effects at a subsequent period
he does not deny; but contends only (as we have before stated) that these
effects have been much overrated, and ascribed _solely_ to the Catholic
religion when other causes have at least had an equal agency in bringing
them about.  He concludes with some general remarks on the dreadful state
of Ireland, and the contemptible folly and bigotry of the English—remarks
full of truth, of good sense, and of political courage.  How melancholy
to reflect, that there would be still some chance of saving England from
the general wreck of empires, but that it may not be saved, because one
politician will lose two thousand a year by it, and another three
thousand—a third a place in reversion, and a fourth a pension for his
aunt!  Alas! these are the powerful causes which have always settled the
destiny of great kingdoms, and which may level Old England, with all its
boasted freedom, and boasted wisdom, to the dust.  Nor is it the least
singular, among the political phenomena of the present day, that the sole
consideration which seems to influence the unbigoted part of the English
people, in this great question of Ireland, is a regard for the personal
feelings of the Monarch.  Nothing is said or thought of the enormous risk
to which Ireland is exposed—nothing of the gross injustice with which the
Catholics are treated—nothing of the lucrative apostasy of those from
whom they experience this treatment: but the only concern by which we all
seem to be agitated is, that the King must not be vexed in his old age.
We have a great respect for the King; and wish him all the happiness
compatible with the happiness of his people.  But these are not times to
pay foolish compliments to kings, or the sons of kings, or to anybody
else; this journal (the _Edinburgh Review_) has always preserved its
character for courage and honesty; and it shall do so to the last.  If
the people of this country are solely occupied in considering what is
personally agreeable to the King, without considering what is for his
permanent good, and for the safety of his dominions; if all public men,
quitting the common vulgar scramble for emolument, do not concur in
conciliating the people of Ireland; if the unfounded alarms, and the
comparatively trifling interests of the clergy, are to supersede the
great question of freedom or slavery, it does appear to us quite
impossible that so mean and so foolish a people can escape that
destruction which is ready to burst upon them—a destruction so imminent
that it can only be averted by arming all in our defence who would
evidently be sharers in our ruin—and by such a change of system as may
save us from the hazard of being ruined by the ignorance and cowardice of
any general, by the bigotry or the ambition of any minister, or by the
well-meaning scruples of any human being, let his dignity be what it may.
These minor and domestic dangers we must endeavour firmly and temperately
to avert as we best can; but at all hazards we must keep out the
destroyer from among us, or perish like wise and brave men in the
attempt.



IRELAND AND ENGLAND.


1.  _Whitelaw’s History of the City of Dublin_. 4to.  Cadell and Davies.

2.  _Observations on the State of Ireland_, _principally directed to its
Agriculture and Rural Population_; _in a Series of Letters written on a
Tour through that Country_.  In 2 vols.  By J. C. CURWEN, Esq., M.P.
London, 1818.

3.  _Gamble’s Views of Society in Ireland_.

                                * * * * *

THESE are all the late publications that treat of Irish interests in
general, and none of them are of first-rate importance.  Mr. Gamble’s
“Travels in Ireland” are of a very ordinary description, low scenes and
low humour making up the principal part of the narrative.  There are
readers, however, whom it will amuse; and the reading market becomes more
and more extensive, and embraces a greater variety of persons every day.
Mr. Whitelaw’s “History of Dublin” is a book of great accuracy and
research, highly creditable to the industry, good sense, and benevolence
of its author.  Of the “Travels” of Mr. Christian Curwen we hardly know
what to say.  He is bold and honest in his politics, a great enemy to
abuses, vapid in his levity and pleasantry, and infinitely too much
inclined to declaim upon commonplace topics of morality and benevolence.
But, with these drawbacks, the book is not ill-written, and may be
advantageously read by those who are desirous of information upon the
present state of Ireland.

So great and so long has been the misgovernment of that country, that we
verily believe the empire would be much stronger if everything was open
sea between England and the Atlantic, and if _skates and cod-fish_ swam
over the fair land of Ulster.  Such jobbing, such profligacy, so much
direct tyranny and oppression, such an abuse of God’s gifts, such a
profanation of God’s name for the purposes of bigotry and party spirit,
cannot be exceeded in the history of civilised Europe, and will long
remain a monument of infamy and shame to England.  But it will be more
useful to suppress the indignation which the very name of Ireland
inspires, and to consider impartially those causes which have marred this
fair portion of the creation, and kept it wild and savage in the midst of
improving Europe.

The great misfortune of Ireland is that the mass of the people have been
given up for a century to a handful of Protestants, by whom they have
been treated as _Helots_, and subjected to every species of persecution
and disgrace.  The sufferings of the Catholics have been so loudly
chanted in the very streets, that it is almost needless to remind our
readers that, during the reigns of George I. and George II., the Irish
Roman Catholics were disabled from holding any civil or military office,
from voting at elections, from admission into corporations, from
practising law or physic.  A younger brother, by turning Protestant,
might deprive his elder brother of his birthright; by the same process he
might force his father, under the name of a liberal provision, to yield
up to him a part of his landed property; and, if an eldest son, he might,
in the same way, reduce his father’s fee-simple to a life-estate.  A
Papist was disabled from purchasing freehold lands, and even from holding
long leases; and any person might take his Catholic neighbour’s house by
paying £5 for it.  If the child of a Catholic father turned Protestant he
was taken away from his father and put into the hands of a Protestant
relation.  No Papist could purchase a freehold or lease for more than
thirty years, or inherit from an intestate Protestant, nor from an
intestate Catholic, nor dwell in Limerick or Galway, nor hold an
advowson, nor buy an annuity for life.  £50 was given for discovering a
Popish archbishop, £30 for a Popish clergyman, and 10s. for a
schoolmaster.  No one was allowed to be trustee for Catholics; no
Catholic was allowed to take more than two apprentices; no Papist to be
solicitor, sheriff, or to serve on Grand Juries.  Horses of Papists might
be seized for the militia, for which militia Papists were to pay double,
and to find Protestant substitutes.  Papists were prohibited from being
present at vestries, or from being high or petty constables: and, when
resident in towns, they were compelled to find Protestant watchmen.
Barristers and solicitors marrying Catholics were exposed to the
penalties of Catholics.  Persons plundered by privateers during a war
with any Popish prince were reimbursed by a levy on the Catholic
inhabitants where they lived.  All Popish priests celebrating marriages
contrary to 12 Geo. I., cap 3, were to be _hanged_!

The greater part of these incapacities are removed, though many of a very
serious and oppressive nature still remain.  But the grand misfortune is
that the spirit which these oppressive laws engendered remains.  The
Protestant still looks upon the Catholic as a degraded being.  The
Catholic does not yet consider himself upon an equality with his former
tyrant and taskmaster.  That religious hatred which required all the
prohibiting vigilance of the law for its restraint has found in the law
its strongest support; and the spirit which the law first exasperated and
embittered continues to act long after the original _stimulus_ is
withdrawn.  The law which prevented Catholics from serving on Grand
Juries is repealed; but Catholics are not called upon Grand Juries in the
proportion in which they are entitled by their rank and fortune.  The
Duke of Bedford did all he could to give them the benefit of those laws
which are already passed in their favour.  But power is seldom entrusted
in this country to one of the Duke of Bedford’s liberality, and
everything has fallen back in the hands of his successors into the
ancient division of the privileged and degraded castes.  We do not mean
to cast any reflection upon the present Secretary for Ireland, whom we
believe to be upon this subject a very liberal politician, and on all
subjects an honourable and excellent man.  The Government under which he
serves allows him to indulge in a little harmless liberality; but it is
perfectly understood that nothing is intended to be done for the
Catholics; that no loaves and fishes will be lost by indulgence in
Protestant insolence and tyranny; and, therefore, among the generality of
Irish Protestants, insolence, tyranny, and exclusion continue to operate.
However eligible the Catholic may be, he is not elected; whatever
barriers may be thrown down, he does not advance a step.  He was first
kept out by law; he is now kept out by opinion and habit.  They have been
so long in chains that nobody believes they are capable of using their
hands and feet.

It is not, however, the only or the worst misfortune of the Catholics
that the relaxations of the law are hitherto of little benefit to them;
the law is not yet sufficiently relaxed.  A Catholic, as everybody knows,
cannot be made sheriff; cannot be in parliament; cannot be a director of
the Irish Bank; cannot fill the great departments of the law, the army,
and the navy; is cut off from all the high objects of human ambition, and
treated as a marked and degraded person.

The common admission now is that the Catholics are to the Protestants in
Ireland as about four to one, of which Protestants not more than _one
half_ belong to the Church of Ireland.  This, then, is one of the most
striking features in the state of Ireland.  That the great mass of the
population is completely subjugated and overawed by a handful of
comparatively recent settlers, in whom all the power and patronage of the
country is vested, who have been reluctantly compelled to desist from
still greater abuses of authority, and who look with trembling
apprehension to the increasing liberality of the parliament and the
country towards these unfortunate persons whom they have always looked
upon as their property and their prey.

Whatever evils may result from these proportions between the oppressor
and oppressed—to whatever dangers a country so situated may be considered
to be exposed, these evils and dangers are rapidly increasing in Ireland.
The proportion of Catholics to Protestants is infinitely greater now than
it was thirty years ago, and is becoming more and more favourable to the
former.  By a return made to the Irish House of Lords in 1732 the
proportion of Catholics to Protestants was not two to one.  It is now (as
we have already observed) four to one; and the causes which have thus
altered the proportions in favour of the Catholics are sufficiently
obvious to any one acquainted with the state of Ireland.  The Roman
Catholic priest resides; his income entirely depends upon the number of
his flock; and he must exert himself or he starves.  There is some chance
of success, therefore, in _his_ efforts to convert; but the Protestant
clergyman, if he were equally eager, has little or no probability of
persuading so much larger a proportion of the population to come over to
his Church.  The Catholic clergyman belongs to a religion that has always
been more desirous of gaining proselytes than the Protestant Church; and
he is animated by a sense of injury and a desire of revenge.  Another
reason for the disproportionate increase of Catholics is that the
Catholics will marry upon means which the Protestant considers as
insufficient for marriage.  A few potatoes and a shed of turf are all
that Luther has left for the Romanist; and, when the latter gets these,
he instantly begins upon the great Irish manufacture of children.  But a
Protestant belongs to the sect that eats the fine flour and heaves the
bran to others; he must have comforts, and he does not marry till he gets
them.  He would be ashamed if he were seen living as a Catholic lives.
This is the principal reason why the Protestants who remain attached to
their Church do not increase so fast as the Catholics.  But in common
minds, daily scenes, the example of the majority, the power of imitation,
decide their habits, religious as well as civil.  A Protestant labourer
who works among Catholics soon learns to think and act and talk as they
do; he is not proof against the eternal panegyric which he hears of
Father O’Leary.  His Protestantism is rubbed away, and he goes at last,
after some little resistance, to the chapel where he sees everybody else
going.

These eight Catholics not only hate the ninth man, the Protestant of the
Establishment, for the unjust privileges he enjoys—not only remember that
the lands of their father were given to his father—but they find
themselves forced to pay for the support of his religion.  In the
wretched state of poverty in which the lower orders of Irish are plunged,
it is not without considerable effort that they can pay the few shillings
necessary for the support of their Catholic priest; and when this is
effected, a tenth of the potatoes in the garden are to be set out for the
support of a persuasion, the introduction of which into Ireland they
consider as the great cause of their political inferiority, and all their
manifold wretchedness.  In England a labourer can procure constant
employment, or he can, at the worst, obtain relief from his parish.
Whether tithe operates as a tax upon him, is known only to the political
economist: if he does pay it, he does not know that he pays it, and the
burden of supporting the Clergy is at least kept out of his view.  But in
Ireland, the only method in which a poor man lives is by taking a small
portion of land in which he can grow potatoes: seven or eight months out
of twelve, in many parts of Ireland, there is no constant employment of
the poor; and the potato farm is all that shelters them from absolute
famine.  If the Pope were to come in person, seize upon every tenth
potato, the poor peasant would scarcely endure it.  With what patience,
then, can he see it tossed into the cart of the heretic rector, who has a
church without a congregation, and a revenue without duties?  We do not
say whether these things are right or wrong, whether they want a remedy
at all, or what remedy they want; but we paint them in those colours in
which they appear to the eye of poverty and ignorance, without saying
whether those colours are false or true.  Nor is the case at all
comparable to that of Dissenters paying tithe in England; which case is
precisely the reverse of what happens in Ireland, for it is the
contribution of a very small minority to the religion of a very large
majority; and the numbers on either side make all the difference in the
argument.  To exasperate the poor Catholic still more, the rich graziers
of the parish, or the squire in his parish, pay no tithe at all for their
grass land.  Agistment tithe is abolished in Ireland, and the burthen of
supporting two Churches seems to devolve upon the poorer Catholics,
struggling with plough and spade in small scraps of dearly-rented land.
Tithes seem to be collected in a more harsh manner than they are
collected in England.  The minute sub-divisions of land in Ireland—the
little connection which the Protestant clergyman commonly has with the
Catholic population of his parish—have made the introduction of tithe
proctors very general, sometimes as the agent of the clergyman, sometimes
as the lessee or middleman between the clergyman and the cultivator of
the land, but, in either case, practised, dexterous estimators of tithe.
The English clergymen in general are far from exacting the whole of what
is due to them, but sacrifice a little to the love of popularity or to
the dread of odium.  A system of tithe-proctors established all over
England (as it is in Ireland), would produce general disgust and
alienation from the Established Church.

    “During the administration of Lord Halifax,” says Mr. Hardy, in
    quoting the opinion of Lord Charlemont upon tithes paid by Catholics,
    “Ireland was dangerously disturbed in its southern and northern
    regions.  In the south principally, in the counties of Kilkenny,
    Limerick, Cork, and Tipperary, the White Boys now made their first
    appearance; those White Boys who have ever since occasionally
    disturbed the public tranquillity, without any rational method having
    been as yet pursued to eradicate this disgraceful evil.  When we
    consider that the very same district has been for the long space of
    seven-and-twenty years liable to frequent returns of the same
    disorder into which it has continually relapsed, in spite of all the
    violent remedies from time to time administered by our political
    quacks, we cannot doubt but that some real, peculiar, and topical
    cause must exist, and yet neither the removal, nor even the
    investigation of this cause, has ever once been seriously attempted.
    Laws of the most sanguinary and unconstitutional nature have been
    enacted; the country has been disgraced and exasperated by frequent
    and bloody executions; and the gibbet, that perpetual resource of
    weak and cruel legislators, has groaned under the multitude of
    starving criminals; yet, while the cause is suffered to exist, the
    effects will ever follow.  The amputation of limbs will never
    eradicate a prurient humour, which must be sought in its source and
    there remedied.”

    “I wish,” continues Mr. Wakefield, “for the sake of humanity and for
    the honour of the Irish character, that the gentlemen of that country
    would take this matter into their serious consideration.  Let them
    only for a moment place themselves in the situation of the
    half-famished cotter, surrounded by a wretched family clamorous for
    food, and judge what his feelings must be when he sees the tenth part
    of the produce of his potato garden exposed at harvest time to public
    _cant_, or if he have given a promissory note for the payment of a
    certain sum of money to compensate for such tithe when it becomes
    due, to hear the heart-rending cries of his offspring clinging round
    him, and lamenting for the milk of which they are deprived by the
    cows being driven to the pound to be sold to discharge the debt.
    Such accounts are not the creations of fancy; the facts do exist, and
    are but too common in Ireland.  Were one of them transferred to
    canvas by the hand of genius, and exhibited to English humanity, that
    heart must be callous indeed that could refuse its sympathy.  I have
    seen the cow, the favourite cow, driven away, accompanied by the
    sighs, the tears, and the imprecations of a whole family, who were
    paddling after, through wet and dirt, to take their last affectionate
    farewell of this their only friend and benefactor at the pound gate.
    I have heard with emotions which I can scarcely describe, deep curses
    repeated from village to village as the cavalcade proceeded.  I have
    witnessed the group pass the domain walls of the opulent grazier,
    whose numerous herds were cropping the most luxuriant pastures, while
    he was secure from any demand for the tithe of their food, looking on
    with the most unfeeling indifference.”—Ibid., p. 486.

In Munster, where tithe of potatoes is exacted, risings against the
system have constantly occurred during the last forty years.  In Ulster,
where no such tithe is required, these insurrections are unknown.  The
double Church which Ireland supports, and that painful visible
contribution towards it which the poor Irishman is compelled to make from
his miserable pittance, is one great cause of those never-ending
insurrections, burnings, murders, and robberies, which have laid waste
that ill-fated country for so many years.  The unfortunate consequence of
the civil disabilities, and the Church payments under which the Catholics
labour, is a rooted antipathy to this country.  They hate the English
Government from historical recollection, actual suffering, and
disappointed hope, and till they are better treated they will continue to
hate it.  At this moment, in a period of the most profound peace, there
are twenty-five thousand of the best disciplined and best appointed
troops in the world in Ireland, with bayonets fixed, presented arms, and
in the attitude of present war: nor is there a man too much—nor would
Ireland be tenable without them.  When it was necessary last year (or
thought necessary) to put down the children of reform, we were forced to
make a new levy of troops in this country; not a man could be spared from
Ireland.  The moment they had embarked, Peep-of-Day Boys, Heart-of-Oak
Boys, Twelve-o’-clock Boys, Heart-of-Flint Boys, and all the bloody
boyhood of the Bog of Allen, would have proceeded to the ancient work of
riot, rapine, and disaffection.  Ireland, in short, till her wrongs are
redressed and a more liberal policy is adopted towards her, will always
be a cause of anxiety and suspicion to this country, and in some moment
of our weakness and depression, will forcibly extort what she would now
receive with gratitude and exultation.

Ireland is situated close to another island of greater size, speaking the
same language, very superior in civilisation, and the seat of government.
The consequence of this is the emigration of the richest and most
powerful part of the community—a vast drain of wealth—and the absence of
all that wholesome influence which the representatives of ancient
families, residing upon their estates, produce upon their tenantry and
dependents.  Can any man imagine that the scenes which have been acted in
Ireland, within these last twenty years, would have taken place, if such
vast proprietors as the Duke of Devonshire, the Marquis of Hertford, the
Marquis of Lansdowne, Earl Fitzwilliam, and many other men of equal
wealth, had been in the constant habit of residing upon their Irish as
they are upon their English estates?  Is it of no consequence to the
order and the civilisation of a large district, whether the great mansion
is inhabited by an insignificant, perhaps a mischievous attorney, in the
shape of agent, or whether the first and greatest men of the United
Kingdoms, after the business of Parliament is over, come with their
friends and families, to exercise hospitality, to spend large revenues,
to diffuse information, and to improve manners?  This evil is a very
serious one to Ireland; and, as far as we see, incurable.  For if the
present large estates were, by the dilapidation of families, to be broken
to pieces and sold, others equally great would, in the free circulation
of property, speedily accumulate; and the moment any possessor arrived at
a certain pitch of fortune, he would probably choose to reside in the
better country—near the Parliament, or the Court.

This absence of great proprietors in Ireland necessarily brings with it,
or if not necessarily, has actually brought with it, the employment of
the middlemen, which forms one other standing and regular Irish
grievance.  We are well aware of all that can be said in defence of
middlemen; that they stand between the little farmer and the great
proprietor as the shopkeeper does between the manufacturer and consumer;
and, in fact, by their intervention, save time, and therefore expense.
This may be true enough in the abstract; but the particular nature of
land must be attended to.  The object of the man who makes cloth is to
sell his cloth at the present market, for as high a price as he can
obtain.  If that price is too high, it soon falls; but no injury is done
to his machinery by the superior price he has enjoyed for a season—he is
just as able to produce cloth with it, as if the profits he enjoyed had
always been equally moderate; he has no fear, therefore, of the
middleman, or of any species of moral machinery which may help to obtain
for him the greatest present prices.  The same would be the feeling of
any one who let out a steam-engine, or any other machine, for the
purposes of manufacture; he would naturally take the highest price he
could get; for he might either let his machine for a price proportionate
to the work it did, or the repairs, estimable with the greatest
precision, might be thrown upon the tenant; in short, he could hardly ask
any rent too high for his machine which a responsible person would give;
dilapidation would be so visible, and so calculable in such instances,
that any secondary lease, or subletting, would be rather an increase of
security than a source of alarm.  Any evil from such a practice would be
improbable measurable, and remediable.  In land, on the contrary, the
object is not to get the highest prices absolutely, but to get the
highest prices which will not injure the machine.  One tenant may offer
and pay double the rent of another, and in a few years leave the land in
a state which will effectually bar all future offers of tenancy.  It is
of no use to fill a lease full of clauses and covenants; a tenant who
pays more than he ought to pay, or who pays even to the last farthing
which he ought to pay, will rob the land, and injure the machine, in
spite of all the attorneys in England.  He will rob it even if he means
to remain upon it—driven on by present distress, and anxious to put off
the day of defalcation and arrear.  The damage is often difficult of
detection—not easily calculated, not easily to be proved; such for which
juries (themselves perhaps farmers) will not willingly give sufficient
compensation.  And if this be true in England, it is much more strikingly
true in Ireland, where it is extremely difficult to obtain verdicts for
breaches of covenant in leases.

The only method, then, of guarding the machine from real injury, is by
giving to the actual occupier such advantage in his contract, that he is
unwilling to give it up—that he has a real interest in retaining it, and
is not driven by the distresses of the present moment to destroy the
future productiveness of the soil.  Any rent which the landlord accepts
more than this, or any system by which more rent than this is obtained,
is to borrow money upon the most usurious and profligate interest—to
increase the revenue of the present day by the absolute ruin of the
property.  Such is the effect produced by a middleman; he gives high
prices that he may obtain higher from the occupier; more is paid by the
actual occupier than is consistent with the safety and preservation of
the machine; the land is run out, and, in the end, that maximum of rent
we have described is not obtained; and not only is the property injured
by such a system, but in Ireland the most shocking consequences ensue
from it.  There is little manufacture in Ireland; the price of labour is
low, the demand for labour irregular.  If a poor man be driven, by
distress of rent, from his potato garden, he has no other resource—all is
lost: he will do the impossible (as the French say) to retain it;
subscribe any bond, and promise any rent.  The middleman has no character
to lose; and he knew, when he took up the occupation, that it was one
with which pity had nothing to do.  On he drives; and backward the poor
peasant recedes, loses something at every step, till he comes to the very
brink of despair; and then he recoils and murders his oppressor, and is a
_White Boy_ or a _Right Boy_;—the soldier shoots him, and the judge hangs
him.

In the debate which took place in the Irish House of Commons, upon the
Bill for preventing tumultuous risings and assemblies, on the 31st of
January, 1787, the Attorney-General submitted to the House the following
narrative of facts.

    “The commencement,” said he, “was in one or two parishes in the
    county of Kerry; and they proceeded thus.  The people assembled in a
    Catholic chapel, and there took an oath to obey the laws of Captain
    Right, and to starve the clergy.  They then proceeded to the next
    parishes on the following Sunday, and there swore the people in the
    same manner; with this addition, that they (the people last sworn)
    should on the ensuing Sunday proceed to the chapels of their next
    neighbouring parishes and swear the inhabitants of those parishes in
    like manner.  Proceeding in this manner, they very soon went through
    the province of Munster.  The first object was the _reformation of
    tithes_.  They swore not to give more than a certain price per acre,
    not to assist or allow them to be assisted in drawing the tithe, and
    to permit _no proctor_.  They next took upon them to prevent the
    collection of parish cesses, next to nominate parish clerks, and in
    some cases curates, to say what church should or should not be
    repaired, and in one case to threaten that they would burn a _new_
    church if the _old_ one were not given for a mass-house.  At last
    they proceeded to regulate the price of lands, to raise the price of
    labour, and to oppose the collection of the hearth-money and other
    taxes.  Bodies of 5,000 of them have been seen to march through the
    country unarmed, and, if met by any magistrate, _they never offered
    the smallest rudeness or offence_; on the contrary, they had allowed
    persons charged with crimes to be taken from amongst them by the
    magistrate _alone_, unaided by any force.

    “The Attorney-General said he was well acquainted with the province
    of Munster, and that it was impossible for human wretchedness to
    _exceed that of the peasantry of that province_.  The unhappy
    tenantry were _ground to powder_ by relentless landlords; that, far
    from being able to give the clergy their just dues, they had not food
    or raiment for themselves—the landlord grasped the whole; and sorry
    was he to add that, not satisfied with the present extortion, some
    landlords had been so base as to instigate the insurgents to rob the
    clergy of their tithes, not in order to alleviate the distresses of
    the tenantry, but that they might add the clergy’s share to the cruel
    rack-rents they already paid.  The poor people of Munster lived in a
    _more abject state of poverty than human nature could be supposed
    equal to bear_.”—“Grattan’s Speeches,” vol. i., p. 292.

We are not, of course, in such a discussion to be governed by names.  A
middleman might be tied up by the strongest legal restriction, as to the
price he was to exact from the under-tenants, and then he would be no
more pernicious to the estate than a steward.  A steward might be
protected in exactions as severe as the most rapacious middleman; and
then, of course, it would be the same thing under another name.  The
practice to which we object is the too common method in Ireland of
extorting the last farthing which the tenant is willing to give for land
rather than quit it: and the machinery by which such practice is carried
into effect is that of the middleman.  It is not only that it ruins the
land; it ruins the people also.  They are made so poor—brought so near
the ground—that they can sink no lower; and burst out at last into all
the acts of desperation and revenge for which Ireland is so notorious.
Men who have money in their pockets, and find that they are improving in
their circumstances, don’t do these things.  Opulence, or the hope of
opulence or comfort, is the parent of decency, order, and submission to
the laws.  A landlord in Ireland understands the luxury of carriages and
horses, but has no relish for the greater luxury of surrounding himself
with a moral and grateful tenantry.  The absent proprietor looks only to
revenue, and cares nothing for the disorder and degradation of a country
which he never means to visit.  There are very honourable exceptions to
this charge: but there are too many living instances that it is just.
The rapacity of the Irish landlord induces him to allow of the extreme
division of his lands.  When the daughter marries, a little portion of
the little farm is broken off—another corner for Patrick, and another for
Dermot—till the land is broken into sections, upon one of which an
English cow could not stand.  Twenty mansions of misery are thus reared
instead of one.  A louder cry of oppression is lifted up to heaven, and
fresh enemies to the English name and power are multiplied on the earth.
The Irish gentleman, too, extremely desirous of political influence,
multiplying freeholds, and splitting votes; and this propensity tends of
course to increase the miserable redundance of living beings, under which
Ireland is groaning.  Among the manifold wretchedness to which the poor
Irish tenant is liable, we must not pass over the practice of driving for
rent.  A lets land to B, who lets it to C, who lets it again to D.  D
pays C his rent, and C pays B.  But if B fails to pay A, the cattle of B,
C, D are all driven to the pound, and after the interval of a few days
sold by auction.  A general driving of this kind very frequently leads to
a bloody insurrection.  It may be ranked among the classical grievances
of Ireland.

Potatoes enter for a great deal into the present condition of Ireland.
They are much cheaper than wheat; and it is so easy to rear a family upon
them, that there is no cheek to population from the difficulty of
procuring food.  The population therefore goes on with a rapidity
approaching almost to that of new countries, and in a much greater ratio
than the improving agriculture and manufacturers of the country can find
employment for it.  All degrees of all nations begin with living in
pig-styes.  The king or the priest first gets out of them; then the
noble, then the pauper; in proportion as each class becomes more and more
opulent.  Better tastes arise from better circumstances; and the luxury
of one period is the wretchedness and poverty of another.  English
peasants, in the time of Henry VII., were lodged as badly as Irish
peasants now are; but the population was limited by the difficulty of
procuring a corn subsistence.  The improvements of this kingdom were more
rapid; the price of labour rose; and with it the luxury and comfort of
the peasant, who is now decently lodged and clothed, and who would think
himself in the last stage of wretchedness if he had nothing but an iron
pot in a turf house, and plenty of potatoes in it.  The use of the potato
was introduced into Ireland when the wretched accommodation of her own
peasantry bore some proportion to the state of those accommodations all
over Europe.  But they have increased their population so fast, and, in
conjunction with the oppressive government of Ireland retarding
improvement, have kept the price of labour so low, that the Irish poor
have never been able to emerge from their mud cabins, or to acquire any
taste for cleanliness and decency of appearance.  Mr. Curwen has the
following description of Irish cottages:—

    “These mansions of miserable existence, for so they may truly be
    described, conformably to our general estimation of those
    indispensable comforts requisite to constitute the happiness of
    rational beings, are most commonly composed of two rooms on the
    ground floor, a most appropriate term, for they are literally on the
    earth, the surface of which is not unfrequently reduced a foot or
    more to save the expense of so much outward walling.  The one is a
    refectory, the other the dormitory.  The furniture of the former, if
    the owner ranks in the upper part of the scale of scantiness, will
    consist of a kitchen dresser, well provided and highly decorated with
    crockery—not less apparently the pride of the husband than the result
    of female vanity in the wife: which, with a table, a chest, a few
    stools, and an iron pot, complete the catalogue of conveniences
    generally found as belonging to the cabin: while a spinning-wheel,
    furnished by the Linen Board, and a loom, ornament vacant spaces that
    otherwise would remain unfurnished.  In fitting up the latter, which
    cannot on any occasion or by any display add a feather to the weight
    or importance expected to be excited by the appearance of the former,
    the inventory is limited to one, and sometimes two beds, serving for
    the repose of the whole family!  However downy these may be to limbs
    impatient for rest, their coverings appear to be very slight, and the
    whole of the apartment created reflections of a very painful nature.
    Under such privations, with a wet mud floor and a roof in tatters,
    how idle the search for comforts!”—_Curwen_, _i._, pp. 112, 113.

To this extract we shall add one more on the same subject.

    “The gigantic figure, bareheaded before me, had a beard that would
    not have disgraced an ancient Israelite—he was without shoes or
    stockings—and almost a sans-culotte—with a coat, or rather a jacket,
    that appeared as if the first blast of wind would tear it to tatters.
    Though his garb was thus tattered, he had a manly commanding
    countenance.  I asked permission to see the inside of his cabin, to
    which I received his most courteous assent.  On stooping to enter at
    the door I was stopped, and found that permission from another was
    necessary before I could be admitted.  A pig, which was fastened to a
    stake driven into the floor, with length of rope sufficient to permit
    him the enjoyment of sun and air, demanded some courtesy, which I
    showed him, and was suffered to enter.  The wife was engaged in
    boiling thread, and by her side, near the fire, a lovely infant was
    sleeping, without any covering, on a bare board.  Whether the fire
    gave additional glow to the countenance of the babe, or that Nature
    impressed on its unconscious cheek a blush that the lot of man should
    be exposed to such privations, I will not decide; but if the cause be
    referable to the latter, it was in perfect unison with my own
    feelings.  Two or three other children crowded round the mother: on
    their rosy countenances health seemed established in spite of filth
    and ragged garments.  The dress of the poor woman was barely
    sufficient to satisfy decency.  Her countenance bore the expression
    of a set melancholy, tinctured with an appearance of ill health.  The
    hovel, which did not exceed twelve or fifteen feet in length and ten
    in breadth, was half obscured by smoke—chimney or window I saw none;
    the door served the various purposes of an inlet to light and the
    outlet to smoke.  The furniture consisted of two stools, an iron pot,
    and a spinning-wheel, while a sack stuffed with straw, and a single
    blanket laid on planks, served as a bed for the repose of the whole
    family.  Need I attempt to describe my sensations?  The statement
    alone cannot fail of conveying to a mind like yours an adequate idea
    of them—I could not long remain a witness to this acme of human
    misery.  As I left the deplorable habitation the mistress followed me
    to repeat her thanks for the trifle I had bestowed.  This gave me an
    opportunity of observing her person more particularly.  She was a
    tall figure, her countenance composed of interesting features, and
    with every appearance of having once been handsome.

    “Unwilling to quit the village without first satisfying myself
    whether what I had seen was a solitary instance or a sample of its
    general state, or whether the extremity of poverty I had just beheld
    had arisen from peculiar improvidence and want of management in one
    wretched family, I went into an adjoining habitation, where I found a
    poor old woman of eighty, whose miserable existence was painfully
    continued by the maintenance of her granddaughter.  Their condition,
    if possible, was more deplorable.”—_Curwen_, i., pp. 181–183.

This wretchedness, of which all strangers who visit Ireland are so
sensible, proceeds certainly in great measure from their accidental use
of a food so cheap, that it encourages population to an extraordinary
degree, lowers the price of labour, and leaves the multitudes which it
calls into existence almost destitute of everything but food.  Many more
live in consequence of the introduction of potatoes; but all live in
greater wretchedness.  In the progress of population, the potato must of
course become at last as difficult to be procured as any other food; and
then let the political economist calculate what the immensity and
wretchedness of a people must be, where the further progress of
population is checked by the difficulty of procuring potatoes.

The consequence of the long mismanagement and oppression of Ireland, and
of the singular circumstances in which it is placed, is, that it is a
semi-barbarous country—more shame to those who have thus ill-treated a
fine country and a fine people; but it is part of the present case of
Ireland.  The barbarism of Ireland is evinced by the frequency and
ferocity of duels—the hereditary clannish feuds of the common people and
the fights to which they give birth—the atrocious cruelties practised in
the insurrections of the common people—and their proneness to
insurrection.  The lower Irish live in a state of greater wretchedness
than any other people in Europe inhabiting so fine a soil and climate.
It is difficult, often impossible, to execute the processes of law.  In
cases where gentlemen are concerned, it is often not even attempted.  The
conduct of under-sheriffs is often very corrupt.  We are afraid the
magistracy of Ireland is very inferior to that of this country; the
spirit of jobbing and bribery is very widely diffused, and upon occasions
when the utmost purity prevails in the sister kingdom.  Military force is
necessary all over the country, and often for the most common and just
operations of Government.  The behaviour of the higher to the lower
orders is much less gentle and decent than in England.  Blows from
superiors to inferiors are more frequent, and the punishment for such
aggression more doubtful.  The word _gentleman_ seems, in Ireland, to put
an end to most processes at law.  Arrest a gentleman!!!—take out a
warrant against a gentleman—are modes of operation not very common in the
administration of Irish justice.  If a man strike the meanest peasant in
England, he is either knocked down in his turn, or immediately taken
before a magistrate.  It is impossible to live in Ireland without
perceiving the various points in which it is inferior in civilisation.
Want of unity in feeling and interest among the people—irritability,
violence, and revenge—want of comfort and cleanliness in the lower
orders—habitual disobedience to the law—want of confidence in
magistrates—corruption, venality, the perpetual necessity of recurring to
military force—all carry back the observer to that remote and early
condition of mankind, which an Englishman can learn only in the pages of
the antiquary or the historian.  We do not draw this picture for censure
but for truth.  We admire the Irish—feel the most sincere pity for the
state of Ireland—and think the conduct of the English to that country to
have been a system of atrocious cruelty and contemptible meanness.  With
such a climate, such a soil, and such a people, the inferiority of
Ireland to the rest of Europe is directly chargeable to the long
wickedness of the English Government.

A direct consequence of the present uncivilised state of Ireland is, that
very little English capital travels there.  The man who deals in
steam-engines, and warps and woofs, is naturally alarmed by Peep-of-Day
Boys, and nocturnal Carders; his object is to buy and sell as quickly and
quietly as he can, and he will naturally bear high taxes and rivalry in
England, or emigrate to any part of the Continent, or to America, rather
than plunge into the tumult of Irish politics and passions.  There is
nothing which Ireland wants more than large manufacturing towns to take
off its superfluous population.  But internal peace must come first, and
then the arts of peace will follow.  The foreign manufacturer will hardly
think of embarking his capital where he cannot be sure that his existence
is safe.  Another check to the manufacturing greatness of Ireland is the
scarcity, not of coal, but of good coal, cheaply raised—an article in
which (in spite of papers in the Irish Transactions) they are lamentably
inferior to the English.

Another consequence from some of the causes we have stated is the extreme
idleness of the Irish labourer.  There is nothing of the value of which
the Irish seem to have so little notion as that of time.  They scratch,
pick, dawdle, stare, gape, and do anything but strive and wrestle with
the task before them.  The most ludicrous of all human objects is an
Irishman ploughing.  A gigantic figure—a seven-foot machine for turning
potatoes in human nature—wrapt up in an immense great-coat, and urging on
two starved ponies, with dreadful imprecations and uplifted shillala.
The Irish crow discerns a coming perquisite, and is not inattentive to
the proceedings of the steeds.  The furrow which is to be the depository
of the future crop is not unlike, either in depth or regularity, to those
domestic furrows which the nails of the meek and much-injured wife
plough, in some family quarrel, upon the cheeks of the deservedly
punished husband.  The weeds seem to fall contentedly, knowing that they
have fulfilled their destiny, and left behind them, for the resurrection
of the ensuing spring, an abundant and healthy progeny.  The whole is a
scene of idleness, laziness, and poverty, of which it is impossible, in
this active and enterprising country, to form the most distant
conception; but strongly indicative of habits, whether secondary or
original, which will long present a powerful impediment to the
improvement of Ireland.

The Irish character contributes something to retard the improvements of
that country.  The Irishman has many good qualities: he is brave, witty,
generous, eloquent, hospitable, and open-hearted; but he is vain,
ostentatious, extravagant, and fond of display, light in counsel,
deficient in perseverance, without skill in private or public economy, an
enjoyer, not an acquirer—one who despises the slow and patient
virtues—who wants the superstructure without the foundation, the result
without the previous operation, the oak without the acorn and the three
hundred years of expectation.  The Irish are irascible, prone to debt and
to fight, and very impatient of the restraints of law.  Such a people are
not likely to keep their eyes steadily upon the main chance like the
Scotch or the Dutch.  England strove very hard at one period to compel
the Scotch to pay a double Church, but Sawney took his pen and ink, and
finding what a sum it amounted to became furious and drew his sword.  God
forbid the Irishman should do the same!  The remedy now would be worse
than the disease; but if the oppressions of England had been more
steadily resisted a century ago, Ireland would not have been the scene of
poverty, misery, and distress which it now is.

The Catholic religion, among other causes, contributes to the
backwardness and barbarism of Ireland.  Its debasing superstition,
childish ceremonies, and the profound submission to the priesthood which
it teaches, all tend to darken men’s minds, to impede the progress of
knowledge and inquiry, and to prevent Ireland from becoming as free, as
powerful, and as rich as the sister kingdom.  Though sincere friends to
Catholic emancipation, we are no advocates for the Catholic religion.  We
should be very glad to see a general conversion to Protestantism among
the Irish, but we do not think that violence, privations, and
incapacities, are the proper methods of making proselytes.

Such, then, is Ireland at this period—a land more barbarous than the rest
of Europe, because it has been worse treated and more cruelly oppressed.
Many of the incapacities and privations to which the Catholics were
exposed have been removed by law, but in such instances they are still
incapacitated and deprived by custom.  Many cruel and oppressive laws are
still enforced against them.  A tenth part of the population engrosses
all the honours of the country; the other nine pay a tenth of the product
of the earth for the support of a religion in which they do not believe.
There is little capital in the country.  The great and rich men are
called by business, or allured by pleasure, into England; their estates
are given up to factors, and the utmost farthing of rent extorted from
the poor, who, if they give up the land, cannot get employment in
manufactures, or regular employment in husbandry.  The common people use
a sort of food so very cheap that they can rear families who cannot
procure employment, and who have little more of the comforts of life than
food.  The Irish are light-minded—want of employment has made them idle;
they are irritable and brave, have a keen remembrance of the past wrongs
they have suffered, and the present wrongs they are suffering from
England.  The consequence of all this is, eternal riot and insurrection,
a whole army of soldiers in time of profound peace, and general rebellion
whenever England is busy with her other enemies or off her guard!  And
thus it will be, while the same causes continue to operate, for ages to
come, and worse and worse as the rapidly increasing population of the
Catholics becomes more and more numerous.

The remedies are time and justice, and that justice consists in repealing
all laws which make any distinction between the two religions; in placing
over the government of Ireland, not the stupid, amiable, and
insignificant noblemen who have too often been sent there, but men who
feel deeply the wrongs of Ireland, and who have an ardent wish to heal
them; who will take care that Catholics, when eligible, shall be elected;
who will share the patronage of Ireland proportionally among the two
parties, and give to just and liberal laws the same vigour of execution
which has hitherto been reserved only for decrees of tyranny, and the
enactments of oppression.  The injustice and hardship of supporting two
Churches must be put out of sight, if it cannot or ought not to be cured.
The political economist, the moralist, and the satirist, must combine to
teach moderation and superintendence to the great Irish proprietors.
Public talk and clamour may do something for the poor Irish, as it did
for the slaves in the West Indies.  Ireland will become more quiet under
such treatment, and then more rich, more comfortable, and more civilised;
and the horrid spectacle of folly and tyranny, which it at present
exhibits, may in time be removed from the eyes of Europe.

There are two eminent Irishmen now in the House of Commons—Lord
Castlereagh and Mr. Canning—who will subscribe to the justness of every
syllable we have said upon this subject, and who have it in their power,
by making it the condition of their remaining in office, to liberate
their native country, and raise it to its just rank among the nations of
the earth.  Yet the Court buys them over, year after year, by the pomp
and perquisites of office; and year after year they come into the House
of Commons, feeling deeply, and describing powerfully, the injuries of
five millions of their countrymen—and _continue_ members of a government
that inflicts those evils, under the pitiful delusion that it is not a
Cabinet Question, as if the scratchings and quarrellings of Kings and
Queens could alone cement politicians together in indissoluble unity,
while the fate and torture of one-third of the empire might be
complimented away from one minister to another, without the smallest
breach in their Cabinet alliance.  Politicians, at least honest
politicians, should be very flexible and accommodating in little things,
very rigid and inflexible in great things.  And is this _not_ a great
thing?  Who has painted it in finer and more commanding eloquence than
Mr. Canning?  Who has taken a more sensible and statesmanlike view of our
miserable and cruel policy than Lord Castlereagh?  You would think, to
hear them, that the same planet could not contain them and the oppressors
of their country—perhaps not the same solar system.  Yet for money,
claret, and patronage, they lend their countenance, assistance, and
friendship to the Ministers who are the stern and inflexible enemies to
the emancipation of Ireland!

Thank God that all is not profligacy and corruption in the history of
that devoted people—and that the name of Irishman does not always carry
with it the idea of the oppressor or the oppressed—the plunderer or the
plundered—the tyrant or the slave!  Great men hallow a whole people, and
lift up all who live in their time.  What Irishman does not feel proud
that he has lived in the days of GRATTAN? who has not turned to him for
comfort, from the false friends and open enemies of Ireland? who did not
remember him in the days of its burnings and wastings and murders?  No
Government ever dismayed him—the world could not bribe him—he thought
only of Ireland—lived for no other object—dedicated to her his beautiful
fancy, his elegant wit, his manly courage, and all the splendour of his
astonishing eloquence.  He was so born and so gifted that poetry,
forensic skill, elegant literature, and all the highest attainments of
human genius were within his reach; but he thought the noblest occupation
of a man was to make other men happy and free; and in that straight line
he went on for fifty years, without one side-look, without one yielding
thought, without one motive in his heart which he might not have laid
open to the view of God and man.  He is gone!—but there is not a single
day of his honest life of which every good Irishman would not be more
proud than of the whole political existence of his countrymen—the annual
deserters and betrayers of their native land.



MOORE’S CAPTAIN ROCK.


_Memoirs of Captain Rock_, _the celebrated Irish Chieftain_; _with some
Account of his Ancestors_.  Written by Himself.  Fourth Edition.  12mo.
London, 1824.

                                * * * * *

THIS agreeable and witty book is generally supposed to have been written
by Mr. Thomas Moore, a gentleman of small stature, but full of genius,
and a steady friend of all that is honourable and just.  He has here
borrowed the name of a celebrated Irish leader, to typify that spirit of
violence and insurrection which is necessarily generated by systematic
oppression, and rudely avenges its crimes; and the picture he has drawn
of its prevalence in that unhappy country is at once piteous and
frightful.  Its effect in exciting our horror and indignation is in the
long run increased, we think—though at first it may seem counteracted—by
the tone of levity, and even jocularity, under which he has chosen to
veil the deep sarcasm and substantial terrors of his story.  We smile at
first, and are amused, and wonder, as we proceed, that the humorous
narrative should produce conviction and pity—shame, abhorrence, and
despair.

England seems to have treated Ireland much in the same way as Mrs.
Brownrigg treated her apprentice—for which Mrs. Brownrigg is hanged in
the first volume of the Newgate Calendar.  Upon the whole, we think the
apprentice is better off than the Irishman; as Mrs. Brownrigg merely
starves and beats her, without any attempt to prohibit her from going to
any shop, or praying at any church her apprentice might select: and once
or twice, if we remember rightly, Brownrigg appears to have felt some
compassion.  Not so Old England, who indulges rather in a steady
baseness, uniform brutality, and unrelenting oppression.

Let us select from this entertaining little book a short history of dear
Ireland, such as even some profligate idle member of the House of
Commons, voting as his master bids him, may perchance throw his eye upon,
and reflect for a moment upon the iniquity to which he lends his support.

For some centuries after the reign of Henry II., the Irish were killed
like game, by persons qualified or unqualified.  Whether dogs were used
does not appear quite certain, though it is probable they were, spaniels
as well as pointers; and that, after a regular point by Basto, well
backed by Ponto and Cæsar, Mr. O’Donnel or Mr. O’Leary bolted from the
thicket, and were bagged by the English sportsman.  With Henry II. came
in tithes, to which, in all probability, about one million of lives may
have been sacrificed in Ireland.  In the reign of Edward I. the Irish who
were settled near the English requested that the benefit of the English
laws might be extended to them; but the remonstrance of the barons with
the hesitating king was in substance this: “You have made us a present of
these wild gentlemen, and we particularly request that no measures may be
adopted to check us in that full range of tyranny and oppression in which
we consider the value of such a gift to consist.  You might as well give
us sheep, and prevent us from shearing the wool, or roasting the meat.”
This reasoning prevailed, and the Irish were kept to their barbarism, and
the barons preserved their dive stock.

    “Read ‘Orange faction’ (says Captain Rock) here and you have the
    wisdom of our rulers, at the end of near six centuries, _in statu
    quo_.  The grand periodic year of the stoics, at the close of which
    everything was to begin again, and the same events to be all reacted
    in the same order, is, on a miniature scale, represented in the
    history of the English Government in Ireland, every succeeding
    century being but a new revolution of the same follies, the same
    crimes, and the same turbulence that disgraced the former.  But ‘Vive
    l’ennemi!’ say I: whoever may suffer by such measures, Captain Rock,
    at least, will prosper.

    “And such was the result at the period of which I am speaking.  The
    rejection of a petition, so humble and so reasonable, was followed,
    as a matter of course, by one of those daring rebellions into which
    the revenge of an insulted people naturally breaks forth.  The
    M’Cartys, the O’Briens, and the other Macs and O’s, who have been
    kept on the alert by similar causes ever since, flew to arms under
    the command of a chieftain of my family; and, as the proffered
    _handle_ of the sword had been rejected, made their inexorable
    masters at least feel its _edge_.”—(_pp._ 23–25.)

Fifty years afterwards the same request was renewed and refused.  Up
again rose Mac and O, a _just and necessary war_ ensued; and after the
usual murders, the usual chains were replaced upon the Irishry.  All
Irishmen were excluded from every species of office.  It was high treason
to marry with the Irish blood, and highly penal to receive the Irish into
religious houses.  War was waged also against their Thomas Moores, Samuel
Rogerses, and Walter Scotts, who went about the country harping and
singing against English oppression.  No such turbulent guests were to be
received.  The plan of making them poets-laureate, or converting them to
loyalty by pensions of £100 per annum, had not then been thought of.
They debarred the Irish even from the pleasure of running away, and fixed
them to the soil like negroes.

    “I have thus selected,” says the historian of Rock, “cursorily and at
    random, a few features of the reigns preceding the Reformation, in
    order to show what good use was made of those three or four hundred
    years in attaching the Irish people to their English governors; and
    by what a gentle course of alternatives they were prepared for the
    inoculation of a new religion, which was now about to be attempted
    upon them by the same skilful and friendly hands.

    “Henry VII. appears to have been the first monarch to whom it
    occurred, that matters were not managed exactly as they ought in this
    part of his dominions; and we find him—with a simplicity which is
    still fresh and youthful among our rulers—expressing his _surprise_
    that his subjects of this land should be so prone to faction and
    rebellion, and that so little advantage had been hitherto derived
    from the acquisitions of his predecessor, notwithstanding the
    fruitfulness and natural advantages of Ireland.  Surprising, indeed,
    that a policy, such as we have been describing, should not have
    converted the whole country into a perfect Atlantis of
    happiness—should not have made it like the imaginary island of Sir
    Thomas More, where ‘_tota insula velut una familia est_!’—most
    stubborn, truly, and ungrateful, must that people be, upon whom, up
    to the very hour in which I write, such a long and unvarying course
    of penal laws, confiscations, and Insurrection Acts has been tried,
    without making them in the least degree in love with their rulers.

    “Heloise tells her tutor, Abelard, that the correction which he
    inflicted upon her only served to increase the ardour of her
    affection for him; but bayonets and hemp are no such ‘_amoris
    stimuli_.’  One more characteristic anecdote of those times and I
    have done.  At the battle of Knocktow, in the reign of Henry VII.,
    when that remarkable man, the Earl of Kildare, assisted by the great
    O’Neal and other Irish chiefs, gained a victory over Clanricard of
    Connaught, most important to the English Government, Lord
    Gormanstown, after the battle, in the first insolence of success,
    said, turning to the Earl of Kildare, ‘We have now slaughtered our
    enemies, but, to complete the good deed, we must proceed yet further,
    and—cut the throats of those Irish of our own party!’  Who can wonder
    that the Rock family were active in those times?”—(pp. 33, 35.)

Henry VIII. persisted in all these outrages, and aggravated them by
insulting the prejudices of the people.  England is almost the only
country in the world (even at present) where there is not some favourite
religious sport, where absurd lies, little bits of cloth, feathers, rusty
nails, splinters, and other invaluable relics, are treasured up, and in
defence of which the whole population are willing to turn out and perish
as one man.  Such was the shrine of St. Kieran, the whole treasures of
which the satellites of that corpulent tyrant turned out into the street,
pillaged the sacred church of Clonmacnoise, scattered the holy nonsense
of the priests to the winds, and burnt the real and venerable crosier of
St. Patrick, fresh from the silversmith’s shop, and formed of the most
costly materials.  Modern princes change the uniform of regiments; Henry
changed the religion of kingdoms, and was determined that the belief of
the Irish should undergo a radical and Protestant conversion.  With what
success this attempt was made, the present state of Ireland is sufficient
evidence.

“Be not dismayed,” said Elizabeth, on hearing that O’Neal meditated some
designs against her government; “tell my friends, if he arise, it will
turn to their advantage—_there will be estates for those who want_.”
Soon after this prophetic speech, Munster was destroyed by famine and the
sword, and near 600,000 acres forfeited to the crown, and distributed
among Englishmen.  Sir Walter Raleigh (the virtuous and good) butchered
the garrison of Limerick in cold blood, after Lord Deputy Gray had
selected 700 to be hanged.  There were, during the reign of Elizabeth,
three invasions of Ireland by the Spaniards, produced principally by the
absurd measures of this princess for the reformation of its religion.
The Catholic clergy, in consequence of these measures, abandoned their
cures, the churches fell to ruin, and the people were left without any
means of instruction.  Add to these circumstances the murder of M’Mahon,
the imprisonment of O’Toole and O’Dogherty, and the kidnapping of
O’Donnel—all truly Anglo-Hibernian proceedings.  The execution of the
laws was rendered detestable and intolerable by the queen’s officers of
justice.  The spirit raised by these transactions, besides innumerable
smaller insurrections gave rise to the great wars of Desmond and Hugh
O’Neal; which, after they had worn out the ablest generals, discomfited
the choicest troops, exhausted the treasure, and embarrassed the
operations of Elizabeth, were terminated by the destruction of these two
ancient families, and by the confiscation of more than half the
territorial surface of the island.  The last two years of O’Neal’s wars
cost Elizabeth £140,000 per annum, though the whole revenue of England at
that period fell considerably short of £500,000.  Essex, after the
destruction of Norris, led into Ireland an army of above 20,000 men,
which was totally baffled and destroyed by Tyrone, within two years of
their landing.  Such was the importance of Irish rebellions two centuries
before the time in which we live.  Sir G. Carew attempted to assassinate
the Lugan Earl—Mountjoy compelled the Irish rebels to massacre each
other.  In the course of a few months 3,000 men were starved to death in
Tyrone.  Sir Arthur Chichester, Sir Richard Manson, and other commanders,
saw three children feeding on the flesh of their dead mother.  Such were
the golden days of good Queen Bess!

By the rebellions of Dogherty, in the reign of James I., six northern
counties were confiscated, amounting to 500,000 acres.  In the same
manner, 64,000 acres were confiscated in Athlone.  The whole of his
confiscations amount to nearly a million acres; and if Leland means
plantation acres, they constitute a twelfth of the whole kingdom
according to Newenham, and a tenth according to Sir W. Petty.  The most
shocking and scandalous action in the reign of James, was his attack upon
the whole property of the province of Connaught, which he would have
effected, if he had not been bought off by a sum greater than he hoped to
gain by his iniquity, besides the luxury of confiscation.  The Irish,
during the reign of James I., suffered under the _double_ evils of a
licentious soldiery and a religious persecution.

Charles I. took a bribe of £120,000 from his Irish subjects, to grant
them what in those days were called _Graces_, but in these days would be
denominated the Elements of Justice.  The money was paid, but the graces
were never granted.  One of these graces was curious enough: “That the
clergy were not to be permitted to keep henceforward any private prisons
of their own, but delinquents were to be committed to the public jails.”
The idea of a rector, with his own private jail full of Dissenters, is
the most ludicrous piece of tyranny we ever heard of.  The troops in the
beginning of Charles’s reign were supported by the weekly fines levied
upon the Catholics for non-attendance upon established worship.  The
Archbishop of Dublin went himself at the head of a file of musketeers, to
disperse a Catholic congregation in Dublin—which object he effected after
a considerable skirmish with the priests.  “The favourite object” (says
Dr. Leland, a Protestant clergyman, and dignitary of the Irish Church)
“of the Irish Government and the English Parliament, was _the utter
extermination_ of all the Catholic inhabitants of Ireland.”  The great
rebellion took place in this reign, and Ireland was one scene of blood
and cruelty and confiscation.

Cromwell began his career in Ireland by massacring for five days the
garrison of Drogheda, to whom quarter had been promised.  Two millions
and a half of acres were confiscated.  Whole towns were put up in lots,
and sold.  The Catholics were banished from three-fourths of the kingdom,
and confined to Connaught.  After a certain day, every Catholic found out
of Connaught was to be punished with death.  Fleetwood complains
peevishly “that the people _do not transport readily_,” but adds, “_it is
doubtless a work in which the Lord will appear_.”  Ten thousand Irish
were sent as recruits to the Spanish army.

    “Such was _Cromwell’s_ way of settling the affairs of Ireland; and if
    a nation _is_ to be ruined, this method is, perhaps, as good as any.
    It is, at least, more humane than the slow, lingering process of
    exclusion, disappointment, and degradation, by which their hearts are
    worn out under more specious forms of tyranny; and that talent of
    despatch which Molière attributes to one of his physicians is no
    ordinary merit in a practitioner like Cromwell:—“C’est un homme
    expéditif, qui aime à depêcher ses malades; et quand on à mourir,
    cela se fait avec lui le plus vite du monde.”  A certain military
    Duke, who complains that Ireland is but half conquered, would, no
    doubt, upon an emergency, try his hand in the same line of practice,
    and, like that ‘stern hero’ Mirmillo, in the Dispensary,

    “While others meanly take whole months to slay,
    Despatch the grateful patient in a day!”

    “Among other amiable enactments against the Catholics at this period,
    the price of five pounds was set on the head of a Romish priest,
    being exactly the same sum offered by the same legislators for the
    head of a wolf.  The Athenians, we are told, encouraged the
    destruction of wolves by a similar reward (five drachms); but it does
    not appear that these heathens bought up the heads of priests at the
    same rate, such zeal in the cause of religion being reserved for
    times of Christianity and Protestantism.”—(pp. 97–99.)

Nothing can show more strongly the light in which the Irish were held by
Cromwell than the correspondence with Henry Cromwell respecting the
peopling of Jamaica from Ireland.  Secretary Thurloe sends to Henry, the
Lord Deputy in Ireland, to inform him that “a stock of Irish girls and
Irish young men are wanting for the peopling of Jamaica.”  The answer of
Henry Cromwell is as follows:—“Concerning the supply of young men,
although we must use force in taking them up, _yet it being so much for
their own good_, and likely to be of so great advantage to the public, it
is not the least doubted but that you may have such a number of them as
you may think fit to make use of on this account.

“I shall not need repeat anything respecting the girls, not doubting to
answer your expectations to the full _in that_; and I think it might be
of like advantage to your affairs there and ours here if you should think
fit to send 1,500 or 2,000 boys to the place above mentioned.  _We can
well spare them_; and who knows but that it may be the means of making
them Englishmen—I mean, rather, Christians?  As for the girls, I suppose
you will make provisions of clothes, and other accommodations for them.”
Upon this, Thurloe informs Henry Cromwell that the council have voted
4,000 _girls_, _and as many boys_, to go to Jamaica.

Every Catholic priest found in Ireland was hanged, and five pounds paid
to the informer.

“About the years 1652 and 1653,” says Colonel Lawrence, in his _Interests
of Ireland_, “the plague and famine had so swept away whole counties,
that a man might travel twenty or thirty miles and not see a living
creature, either man, or beast, or bird, they being all dead, or had
quitted those desolate places.  Our soldiers would tell stories of the
places where they saw smoke—it was so rare to see either smoke by day or
fire or candle by night.”  In this manner did the Irish live and die
under Cromwell, suffering by the sword, famine, pestilence, and
persecution, beholding the confiscation of a kingdom and the banishment
of a race.  “So that there perished,” says Sir W. Petty, “in the year
1641, 650,000 human beings, whose bloods somebody must atone for to God
and the King!”

In the reign of Charles II., by the Act of Settlement, four millions and
a half of acres were for ever taken from the Irish.  “This country,” says
the Earl of Essex, Lord Lieutenant in 1675, “has been perpetually rent
and torn since his Majesty’s restoration.  I can compare it to nothing
better than the flinging the reward on the death of a deer among the pack
of hounds, where every one pulls and tears where he can for himself.”
All wool grown in Ireland was, by Act of Parliament, compelled to be sold
to England; and Irish cattle were excluded from England.  The English,
however, were pleased to accept 30,000 head of cattle, sent as a gift
from Ireland to the sufferers in the great fire! and the first day of the
Sessions, after this act of munificence, the Parliament passed fresh acts
of exclusion against the productions of that country.

“Among the many anomalous situations in which the Irish have been placed,
by those ‘marriage vows, false as dicers’ oaths,’ which bind their
country to England, the dilemma in which they found themselves at the
Revolution was not the less perplexing or cruel.  If they were loyal to
the King _de jure_, they were hanged by the King _de facto_; and if they
escaped with life from the King _de facto_, it was but to be plundered
and proscribed by the King _de jure_ afterwards.

    “‘Hac _gener_ atque _socer_ coeant mercede suorum.’—VIRGIL.

    “‘In a manner so summary, prompt, and high mettled,
    Twixt father and son-in-law matters were settled.’

“In fact, most of the outlawries in Ireland were for treason committed
the very day on which the Prince and Princess of Orange accepted the
crown in the Banqueting-house; though the news of this event could not
possibly have reached the other side of the Channel on the same day, and
the Lord-Lieutenant of King James, with an army to enforce obedience, was
at that time in actual possession of the government, so little was common
sense consulted, or the mere decency of forms observed, by that rapacious
spirit, which nothing less than the confiscation of the whole island
could satisfy; and which having, in the reign of James I. and at the
Restoration, despoiled the natives of no less than ten millions six
hundred and thirty-six thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven acres, now
added to its plunder one million sixty thousand seven hundred and
ninety-two acres more, being the amount altogether (according to Lord
Clare’s calculation) of the whole superficial contents of the island!

    “Thus, not only had _all_ Ireland suffered confiscation in the course
    of this century, but no inconsiderable portion of it had been twice
    and even thrice confiscated.  Well might Lord Clare say, ‘that the
    situation of the Irish nation, at the Revolution, stands unparalleled
    in the history of the inhabited world.’”  (pp. 111–113.)

By the Articles of Limerick, the Irish were promised the free exercise of
their religion; but from that period to the year 1788, every year
produced some fresh penalty against that religion, some liberty was
abridged, some right impaired, or some suffering increased.  By acts in
King William’s reign, they were prevented from being solicitors.  No
Catholic was allowed to marry a Protestant; and any Catholic who sent a
son to Catholic countries for education was to forfeit all his lands.  In
the reign of Queen Anne, any son of a Catholic who chose to turn
Protestant got possession of the father’s estate.  No Papist was allowed
to purchase freehold property, or to take a lease for more than thirty
years.  If a Protestant dies intestate, the estate is to go to the next
_Protestant_ heir, though all to the tenth generation should be Catholic.
In the same manner, if a Catholic dies intestate, his estate is to go to
the next Protestant.  No Papist is to dwell in Limerick or Galway.  No
Papist is to take an annuity for life.  The widow of a Papist turning
Protestant to have a portion of the chattels of deceased in spite of any
will.  Every Papist teaching schools to be presented as a regular Popish
convict.  Prices of catching Catholic priests, from 50s. to £10,
according to rank.  Papists are to answer all questions respecting other
Papists, or to be committed to jail for twelve months.  No trust to be
undertaken for Papists.  No Papist to be on Grand Juries.  Some notion
may be formed of the spirit of those times, from an order of the House of
Commons, “that the Sergeant-at-Arms should take into custody all Papists
that should presume to come into _the gallery_!”  (_Commons’ Journal_,
vol. iii., fol. 976.)  During this reign the English Parliament
legislated as absolutely for Ireland as they do now for Rutlandshire, an
evil not to be complained of, if they had done it as justly.  In the
reign of George I., the horses of Papists were seized for the militia,
and rode by Protestants; towards which the Catholics paid double, and
were compelled to find Protestant substitutes.  They were prohibited from
voting at vestries, or being high or petty constables.  An act of the
English Parliament in this reign opens as follows:—“Whereas attempts have
been lately made to shake off the subjection of Ireland to the Imperial
Crown of these realms, be it enacted,” etc. etc.  In the reign of George
II. four-sixths of the population were cut off from the right of voting
at elections by the necessity under which they were placed of taking the
oath of supremacy.  Barristers and solicitors marrying Catholics are
exposed to all the penalties of Catholics.  Persons robbed by privateers
during a war with a Catholic State are to be indemnified by a levy on the
Catholic inhabitants of the neighbourhood.  All marriages between
Catholics and Protestants are annulled.  All Popish priests celebrating
them are to be hanged.  “This system” (says Arthur Young) “has no other
tendency than that of driving out of the kingdom all the personal wealth
of the Catholics, and extinguishing their industry within it; and the
face of the country, every object which presents itself to travellers,
tells him how effectually this has been done.”—_Young’s Tour in Ireland_,
vol. ii., p. 48.

                                * * * * *

Such is the history of Ireland—for we are now at our own times; and the
only remaining question is, whether the system of improvement and
conciliation begun in the reign of George III. shall be pursued, and the
remaining incapacities of the Catholics removed, or all these concessions
be made insignificant by an adherence to that spirit of proscription
which they professed to abolish?  Looking to the sense and reason of the
thing, and to the ordinary working of humanity and justice, when
assisted, as they are here, by self-interest and worldly policy, it might
seem absurd to doubt of the result.  But looking to the facts and the
persons by which we are now surrounded, we are constrained to say that we
greatly fear that these incapacities never will be removed till they are
removed by fear.  What else, indeed, can we expect when we see them
opposed by such enlightened men as Mr. Peel—faintly assisted by men of
such admirable genius as Mr. Canning—when Royal Dukes consider it as a
compliment to the memory of their father to continue this miserable
system of bigotry and exclusion, when men act ignominiously and
contemptibly on this question, who do so on no other question, when
almost the only persons zealously opposed to this general baseness and
fatuity are a few Whigs and Reviewers, or here and there a virtuous poet
like Mr. Moore?  We repeat again, that the measure never will be effected
but by fear.  In the midst of one of our just and necessary wars, the
Irish Catholics will compel this country to grant them a great deal more
than they at present require or even contemplate.  We regret most
severely the protraction of the disease, and the danger of the remedy;
but in this way it is that human affairs are carried on!

We are sorry we have nothing for which to praise Administration on the
subject of the Catholic question, but it is but justice to say, that they
have been very zealous and active in detecting fiscal abuses in Ireland,
in improving mercantile regulations, and in detecting Irish jobs.  The
commission on which Mr. Wallace presided has been of the greatest
possible utility, and does infinite credit to the Government.  The name
of Mr. Wallace in any commission has now become a pledge to the public
that there is a real intention to investigate and correct abuse.  He
stands in the singular predicament of being equally trusted by the rulers
and the ruled.  It is a new era in Government when such men are called
into action; and if there were not proclaimed and fatal limits to that
ministerial liberality, which, so far as it goes, we welcome without a
grudge and praise without a sneer, we might yet hope that, for the sake
of mere consistency, they might be led to falsify our forebodings.  But
alas! there are motives more immediate, and therefore irresistible; and
the time is not yet come when it will be believed easier to govern
Ireland by the love of the many than by the power of the few, when the
paltry and dangerous machinery of bigoted faction and prostituted
patronage may be dispensed with, and the vessel of the State be propelled
by the natural current of popular interests and the breath of popular
applause.  In the meantime, we cannot resist the temptation of gracing
our conclusion with the following beautiful passage, in which the author
alludes to the hopes that were raised at another great era of partial
concession and liberality, that of the revolution of 1782, when, also,
benefits were conferred which proved abortive because they were
incomplete, and balm poured into the wound, where the envenomed shaft was
yet left to rankle.

    “And here,” says the gallant Captain Rock, “as the free confession of
    weakness constitutes the chief charm and use of biography, I will
    candidly own that the dawn of prosperity and concord which I now saw
    breaking over the fortunes of my country, so dazzled and deceived my
    youthful eyes, and so unsettled every hereditary notion of what I
    owed to my name and family, that—shall I confess it—I even hailed
    with pleasure the prospects of peace and freedom that seemed opening
    around me; nay, was ready, in the boyish enthusiasm of the moment, to
    sacrifice all my own personal interest in all future riots and
    rebellions to the one bright, seducing object of my country’s liberty
    and repose.

    “When I contemplated such a man as the venerable Charlemont, whose
    nobility was to the people like a fort over a valley, elevated above
    them solely for their defence; who introduced the polish of the
    courtier into the camp of the freeman, and served his country with
    all that pure Platonic devotion which a true knight in the time of
    chivalry proffered to his mistress; when I listened to the eloquence
    of Grattan, the very music of freedom, her first fresh matin song,
    after a long night of slavery, degradation, and sorrow; when I saw
    the bright offerings which he brought to the shrine of his
    country—wisdom, genius, courage, and patience, invigorated and
    embellished by all those social and domestic virtues, without which
    the loftiest talents stand isolated in the moral waste around them,
    like the pillars of Palmyra towering in a wilderness!—when I
    reflected on all this, it not only disheartened me for the mission of
    discord which I had undertaken, but made me secretly hope that it
    might be rendered unnecessary; and that a country which could produce
    such men and achieve such a revolution, might yet—in spite of the
    joint efforts of the Government and my family—take her rank in the
    scale of nations, and be happy!

    “My father, however, who saw the momentary dazzle by which I was
    affected, soon drew me out of this false light of hope in which I lay
    basking, and set the truth before me in a way but too convincing and
    ominous.  ‘Be not deceived, boy,’ he would say, ‘by the fallacious
    appearances before you.  Eminently great and good as is the man to
    whom Ireland owes this short era of glory, _our_ work, believe me,
    will last longer than his.  We have a power on our side that “will
    not willingly let us die;” and, long after Grattan shall have
    disappeared from earth like that arrow shot into the clouds by
    Alcestes, effecting nothing, but leaving a long train of light behind
    him, the family of the ROCKS will continue to flourish in all their
    native glory, upheld by the ever-watchful care of the Legislature,
    and fostered by that “nursing-mother of Liberty,” the Church.’”





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peter Plymley's Letters, and Selected Essays" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home