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these objects may be reconciled, in so far at least as respects the appointment of your bishops, is known with undeniable certainty. It is proved by the acquiescence of your church in similar arrangements under other governments, by the sentiments which as to the proposal suggested in 1808, and most of all by the express consent formerly given to that proposal by the most considerable of your own bishops.
I see, therefore, in the present state of this subject, much unexpected embarrassment, and many difficulties which renewed discussion, in the present moment, must, instead of smoothing, inevitably aggravate. There is, however, no ground for ultimate discouragement. The sentiment of reciprocal confidence, the spirit of mutual conciliation, would surmount far greater obstacles.
But nothing, permit me to remark it, can in the mean time be more injurious to your cause than any attempt, by partial and precipitate decisions, to prejudge its separate branches, or to limit its unreserved discussion. No course can be more grateful to your opponents, none more embarrassing to your supporters.
To parliament, when any more favorable conjuncture for this discussion shall arise, every information may properly be supplied, every wish imparted, every apprehension communicated. There only, by a systematic and comprehensive arrangement, can all the various difficulties be surmounted, which on every side embarrass this extensive subject. To be effective and permanent, such an arrangement must be mutually satisfactory.
This is alike the interest of every member of the British empire, but to none more important than to the Catholics of Ireland. The stability of all your civil rights, both of those which you already enjoy, and of those to which you seek to be admitted, essentially depends on the tranquillity and harmony of your country, on banishing from it every hostile influence, and composing all its internal differences.
These opinions I have expressed to your lordship with the freedom of a tried and zealous advocate of
your cause, On these grounds alone have I ever attempted to do justice to it. To have argued it on any other would have been a dereliction of my own principles.
I need hardly add, that by the same principles my present conduct must equally continue to be directed. Should the petitioners continue to entertain the desire conveyed in your lordship’s letter, that I should lay this petition upon the table of the House of Lords; with that request I cannot hesitate to comply. It would be highly improper to deny to such a body of men the opportunity of submitting, through my hands, if they should so desire it, and at their own time, their wishes to the legislature of their country. It would be still more inexcusable in a case where all my opinions and all my wishes are favorable to the object of their application. On the measure itself, if any motion respecting it be originated by others, I shall not fail to urge, with unabated earnestness, all the same sentiments which I have detailed in this letter. But I must with equal explicitness decline to be myself, at this time, and under so many circumstances of such peculiar disadvantage to your cause, the mover of any such proposition. I am satisfied that, by this decision, I shall best promote the ultimate success of that great work which I have long labored to accomplish. My reasons for this persuasion I have, I trust, sufficiently explained. They may be erroneous, they are at least sincere.
To the principle of equal laws, to the object of national conciliation, I am invariably attached. By me they shall never be abandoned. But any personal exertions which I can make for purposes of such inestimable benefit to my country, must ever be regulated by that discretion, which I am equally determined in every situation, to reserve unfettered by previous engagements, and the faithful exercise of which my public duty imperatively forbids me to relinquish. I have the honor to be, &c. &c. &c. (Signed)
TONE AND MATTER
Ita irritatis animis subdere ignem, non esse ætatis, non prudentiæ ejus.
Liv. LIB. VIII. C. 32.
You inquire my opinion of Judge Fletcher's Charge. I cannot give it, without entangling you in that labyrinth of topics, which this miscellaneous composition has embraced. Part of my task will be to examine the Peace Preservation Bill; and contemporary Act, for the better execution of the Laws. Can the expediency of these statutes be accurately or duly weighed, without noticing what led to, and perhaps warranted their introduction ? Thus observe what you will have rashly brought upon yourself. The conciseness which could compress discussions such as these, within the just or ordinary dimensions of a letter, being unattainable by any powers to which I can make pretension, the fate of Tarpeia must accordingly be yours : the boon which you have craved, in too loose terms, will overwhelm you. Nevertheless, I ani most inhumanly about to grant it.
A preliminary inquiry, which solicits our attention, is whether all the topics, which Judge Fletcher has introduced, suit the character and legitimate objects of a Charge. It appears to me that the counsels, fit to proceed officially from the Bench, are those only, which concern the administration of law and justice ; and that from so grave a quarter no topics should be heard, to which non erat his locus will apply. Whatever we may assume to be the merit of an opinion, the propriety of declaring it from the Judgment Seat must be determined, by the duties which are there to be performed. If to these it be quite foreign, the Horatian censure should preclude it. The Judge may happen to be eloquent; et fortasse cupressum scit simulare : but however eminent his talent for roughly sketching a mournful wreath, to grace the obsequies of a Con