Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Wishing to proceed with a deliberative spirit | nate employments. It is indeed one of the advanand temper in so very serious a question, I shall tages attending the narrow bottom of their aristoattempt to analyze, as well as I can, the principles cracy, (narrow as compared with their acquired you lay down, in order to fit them for the grasp of dominions, otherwise broad enough,) that an exan understanding so little comprehensive as mine. clusion from such employments cannot possibly -State'- Protestant'- Revolution.' These be made amongst their subjects. There are, beare terms, which, if not well explained, may lead sides, advantages in states so constituted, by which us into many errours. In the word State, I con

those who are considered as of an inferiour race, ceive there is much ambiguity. The state is some- are indemnified for their exclusion from the gotimes used to signify the whole commonwealth, vernment and from nobler employments. In all comprehending all its orders, with the several pri- these countries, either by express law, or by usage vileges belonging to each. Sometimes it signifies more operative, the noble casts are almost univeronly the higher and ruling part of the common- sally, in their turn, excluded from commerce, wealth ; which we commonly call the Government. manufacture, farming of land, and in general from In the first sense, to be under the state, but not all lucrative civil professions. The nobles have the the state itself, nor any part of it, that is, to be monopoly of honour. The plebeians a monopoly nothing at all in the commonwealth, is a situation of all the means of acquiring wealth. Thus some perfectly intelligible : but to those who fill that sort of a balance is formed among conditions ; a situation, not very pleasant, when it is understood. sort of compensation is furnished to those, who, in It is a state of civil servitude by the very force of a limited sense, are excluded from the government the definition. Servorum non est respublica, is a

of the state. very old and a very true maxim. This servitude, Between the extreme of a total exclusion, to which makes men subject to a state without being which your maxim goes, and an universal unmodicitizens, may be more or less tolerable from many fied capacity, to which the fanaticks pretend, there circumstances : but these circumstances, more or are many different degrees and stages, and a great less favourable, do not alter the nature of the variety of temperaments, upon which prudence thing. The mildness by which absolute masters may give full scope to its exertions. For you exercise their dominion, leaves them masters still. know that the decisions of prudence (contrary to We

may talk a little presently of the manner in the system of the insane reasoners) differ from which the majority of the people of Ireland (the those of judicature : and that almost all the former catholicks) are affected by this situation ; which are determined on the more or the less, the earlier at present undoubtedly is theirs, and which you are or the later, and on a balance of advantage and of opinion ought so to continue for ever.

inconvenience, of good and evil. In the other sense of the word State, by which In all considerations which turn upon

the

quesis understood the Supreme Government only, I tion of vesting or continuing the state solely and must observe this upon the question : that to ex- exclusively in some one description of citizens, clude whole classes of men entirely from this part prudent legislators will consider, how far the geneof government, cannot be considered as absolute ral form and principles of their commonwealth slavery. It only implies a lower and degraded render it fit to be cast into an oligarchical shape, state of citizenship; such is (with more or less or to remain always in it. We know that the gostrictness) the condition of all countries in which vernment of Ireland (the same as the British) is not an hereditary nobility possess the exclusive rule. in its constitution wholly aristocratical; and, as it is This may be no bad mode of government; pro- not such in its form, so neither is it in its spirit. If vided that the personal authority of individual it had been inveterately aristocratical, exclusions nobles be kept in due bounds, that their cabals might be more patiently submitted to. The lot of and factions are guarded against with a severe one plebeian would be the lot of all; and an habivigilance, and that the people (who have no share tual reverence and admiration of certain families in granting their own money) are subjected to but might make the people content to see government light impositions, and are otherwise treated with wholly in hands to whom it seemed naturally to beattention, and with indulgence to their humours long. But our constitution has a plebeian member, and prejudices.

which forms an essential integrant part of it. A pleThe republick of Venice is one of those which beian oligarchy is a monster : and no people, not strictly confines all the great functions and offices, absolutely

domestick or predial slaves, will long ensuch as are truly state-functions and state-offices, dure it. The protestants of Ireland are not alone to those who, by hereditary right or admission, are sufficiently the people to form a democracy; and noble Venetians. But there are many offices, and they are too numerous to answer the ends and pursome of them not mean nor unprofitable, (that of poses of an aristocracy. Admiration, that first chancellor is one,) which are reserved for the source of obedience, can be only the claim or the Cittadini. Of these all citizens of Venice are imposture of a few. I hold it to be absolutely capable. The inhabitants of the Terra firma, impossible for two millions of plebeians, composing who are mere subjects of conquest, that is, as you certainly a very clear and decided majority in that express it, under the state, but “ not a part of it,” class, to become so far in love with six or seven are not, however, subjects in so very rigorous a hundred thousand of their fellow-citizens (to all sense as not to be capable of numberless subordi- outward appearance plebeians like themselves, and

2 N

VOL. I.

a

many of them tradesmen, servants, and otherwise leged body have not an interest, they must but inferiour to some of them) as to see with satisfaction, too frequently have motives of pride, passion, or even with patience, an exclusive power vested petulance, peevish jealousy, or tyrannick susin them, by which constitutionally they become picion, to urge them to treat the excluded people the absolute masters; and, by the manners de- with contempt and rigour. rived from their circumstances, must be capable of This is not a mere theory; though whilst men exercising upon them, daily and hourly, an insult- are men, it is a theory that cannot be false. I do ing and vexatious superiority. Neither are the not desire to revive all the particulars in my memajority of the Irish indemnified (as in some mory; I wish them to sleep for ever; but it is imaristocracies) for this state of humiliating vassalage, possible I should wholly forget what happened in (often inverting the nature of things and relations,) some parts of Ireland, with very few and short inby having the lower walks of industry wholly termissions, from the year 1761 to the year 1766, abandoned to them. They are rivalled, to say both inclusive. In a country of miserable police, the least of the matter, in every laborious and passing from the extremes of laxity to the extremes lucrative course of life; while every franchise, of rigour, among a neglected, and therefore disevery honour, every trust, every place down to the orderly, populace-if any disturbance or sedition, very lowest and least confidential, (besides whole from any grievance real or imaginary, happened professions,) is reserved for the master cast. to arise, it was presently perverted from its true

Our constitution is not made for great, general, nature, often criminal enough in itself to draw and proscriptive exclusions ; sooner or later it upon it a severe, appropriate punishment; it was will destroy them, or they will destroy the consti- metamorphosed into a conspiracy against the state, tution. In our constitution there has always and prosecuted as such. Amongst the catholicks, been a difference between a franchise and an as being by far the most numerous and the most office, and between the capacity for the one and wretched, all sorts of offenders against the laws for the other. Franchises were supposed to be must commonly be found. The punishment of low long to the subject, as a subject, and not as a people for the offences usual among low people member of the governing part of the state. The would warrant no inference against any descrippolicy of government has considered them as tions of religion or of politicks. Men of considerthings very different; for whilst parliament ex- ation from their age, their profession, or their cluded by the test acts (and for a while these test character ; men of proprietary landed estates, subacts were not a dead letter, as now they are in stantial renters, opulent merchants, physicians, and England) protestant dissenters from all civil and titular bishops; could not easily be suspected of riot military employments, they never touched their in open day, or of nocturnal assemblies for the purright of voting for members of parliament or pose of pulling down hedges, making breaches in sitting in either house ; a point I state, not as park walls, firing barns, maiming cattle, and outapproving or condemning, with regard to them, rages of a similar nature, which characterise the the measure of exclusion from employments, disorders of an oppressed or a licentious populace. but to prove that the distinction has been ad- But when the evidence, given on the trial for such mitted in legislature, as, in truth, it is founded in misdemeanours, qualified them as overt acts of reason.

high treason, and when witnesses were found (such I will not here examine, whether the principles witnesses as they were) to depose to the taking of of the British (the Irish) constitution be wise or oaths of allegiance by the rioters to the king of not. I must assume that they are; and that those, France, to their being paid by his money, and emwho partake the franchises which make it, partake bodied and exercised under his officers, to overof a benefit. They who are excluded from votes turn the state for the purposes of that potentate; (under proper qualifications inherent in the consti- in that case, the rioters might (if the witness was tution that gives them) are excluded, not from the believed) be supposed only the troops and persons state, but from the British constitution. They can- more reputable, the leaders and commanders in not by any possibility, whilst they hear its praises such a rebellion. All classes in the obnoxious decontinually rung in their ears, and are present at scription, who could not be suspected in the lower the declaration which is so generally and so bravely crime of riot, might be involved in the odium, in made by those who possess the privilege—that the the suspicion, and sometimes in the punishment, best blood in their veins ought to be shed, to pre- of a higher and far more criminal species of offence. serve their share in it; they, the disfranchised These proceedings did not arise from any one of part, cannot, I say, think themselves in an happy the popery laws since repealed, but from this cirstate, to be utterly excluded from all its direct and cumstance, that when it answered the purposes of all its consequential advantages. The popular an election party, or a malevolent person of influpart of the constitution must be to them by far ence, to forge such plots, the people had no protecthe most odious part of it. To them it is not an tion. The people of that description have no hold actual, and, if possible, still less a virtual, repre- on the gentlemen who aspire to be popular representation. It is indeed the direct contrary. It sentatives. The candidates neither love, nor reis power unlimited, placed in the hands of an spect, nor fear them, individually or collectively. adverse description, because it is an adverse de- I do not think this evil (an evil amongst a thouscription. And if they who compose the privi- sand others) at this day entirely over; for I con

a

a

[ocr errors]

a

ceive I have lately seen some indication of a dis- | upon others, even under penalties and incapacities position perfectly similar to the old one; that is, -No! No! This never could have been done even disposition to carry the imputation of crimes from by reasonable atheists. They who think religion persons to descriptions, and wholly to alter the of no importance to the state, have abandoned it character and quality of the offences themselves. to the conscience, or caprice, of the individual ;

This universal exclusion seems to me a serious they make no provision for it whatsoever, but evil—because many collateral oppressions, besides leave every club to make, or not, a voluntary conwhat I have just now stated, have arisen from it. tribution towards its support, according to their In things of this nature, it would not be either easy

fancies. This would be consistent. The other or proper to quote chapter and verse; but I have always appeared to me to be a monster of contragreat reason to believe, particularly since the diction and absurdity. It was for that reason, that, octennial act, that several have refused at all to let some years ago, I strenuously opposed the clergy their lands to Roman catholicks; because it would who petitioned, to the number of about three so far disable them from promoting such interests hundred, to be freed from the subscription to the in counties as they were inclined to favour. They thirty-nine articles, without proposing to substitute who consider also the state of all sorts of trades- any other in their place. There never has been a men, shopkeepers, and particularly publicans, in religion of the state, (the few years of the parliatowns, must soon discern the disadvantages under ment only excepted,) but that of the episcopal which those labour who have no votes. It cannot church of England; the episcopal church of Engbe otherwise, whilst the spirit of elections, and the land, before the Reformation, connected with the tendencies of human nature, continue as they are. see of Rome, since then, disconnected and protestIf property be artificially separated from franchise, ing against some of her doctrines, and against the the franchise must in some way or other, and in whole of her authority, as binding in our national some proportion, naturally attract property to it. church: nor did the fundamental laws of this kingMany are the collateral disadvantages amongst a dom (in Ireland it has been the same) ever know, privileged people, which must attend on those who at any period, any other church as an object of have no privileges.

establishment; or in that light, any other protestAmong the rich each individual, with or with ant religion. Nay our protestant toleration itself out a franchise, is of importance; the poor and at the Revolution, and until within a few years, rethe middling are no otherwise so, than as they ob- quired a signature of thirty-six, and a part of the tain some collective capacity and can be aggregat- thirty-seventh, out of the thirty-nine articles. So ed to some corps. If'legal ways are not found, little' idea had they at the Revolution of establishillegal will be resorted to; and seditious clubs and ing protestantism indefinitely, that they did not confederacies, such as no man living holds in indefinitely tolerate it under that name.

I do not greater horrour than I do, will

grow

and flourish mean to praise that strictness, where nothing more in spite, I am afraid, of any thing which can be done than merely religious toleration is concerned. to prevent the evil. Lawful enjoyment is the Toleration, being a part of moral and political prusurest method to prevent unlawful gratification. dence, ought to be tender and large. A tolerant Where there is property, there will be less theft; government ought not to be too scrupulous in its where there is marriage, there will always be less investigations ; but may bear without blame, not fornication.

only very ill-grounded doctrines, but even many I have said enough of the question of state, as it things that are positively vices, where they are affects the people merely as such. But it is com- adulta et prævalida. The good of the commonplicated with a political question relative to religion, wealth is the rule which rides over the rest ; and to which it is very necessary

I should

say some- to this every other must completely submit. thing; because the term protestant, which you ap- The church of Scotland knows as little of proply, is too general for the conclusions which one of testantism undefined, as the church of England and your accurate understanding would wish to draw | Ireland do. She has by the articles of union secured from it; and because a great deal of argument to herself the perpetual establishment of the Conwill depend on the use that is made of that term. fession of Faith, and the Presbyterian church go

It is not a fundamental part of the settlement at vernment. In England, even during the troubled the Revolution, that the state should be protestant interregnum, it was not thought fit to establish a without any qualification of the term. With a negative religion ; but the parliament settled the qualification it is unquestionably true; not in all its presbyterian, as the church discipline ; the Direclatitude. With the qualification, it was true before tory, as the rule of publick worship; and the Westthe Revolution. Our predecessors in legislation were minster catechism, as the institute of faith. This is not so irrational (not to say impious) as to form to shew, that at no time was the protestant religion, an operose ecclesiastical establishment, and even to undefined, established here or any where else, as I render the state itself in some degree subservient believe. I am sure that when the three religions to it, when their religion (if such it might be call- were established in Germany, they were expressly ed) was nothing but a mere negation of some other characterised and declared to be the Evangelick, -without any positive idea either of doctrine, the Reformed, and the Catholick ; each of which discipline, worship, or morals, in the scheme which has its confession of faith and its settled discithey professed themselves, and which they imposed pline; so that you always may know the best and

[ocr errors]

his

[ocr errors]

the worst of them, to enable you to make the most protestant church of England, in the two kingof what is good, and to correct or to qualify, or doms, in which it is established by law. First, to guard against whatever may seem evil or dan- | the king swears he will maintain, to the utmost of gerous.

power,

“ the laws of God.” I suppose it means As to the coronation oath, to which you allude, the natural moral laws.—Secondly, he swears to as opposite to admitting a Roman catholick to maintain “ the true profession of the gospel.” By the use of any franchise whatsoever, I cannot which I suppose is understood affirmatively the think that the king would be perjured if he gave christian religion. Thirdly, that he will maintain his assent to any regulation which parliament “ the protestant reformed religion.” This leaves might think fit to make with regard to that affair. me no power of supposition or conjecture; for The king is bound by law, as clearly specified in that protestant reformed religion is defined and several acts of parliament, to be in communion described by the subsequent words, “ established with the church of England. It is a part of the by law," and in this instance to define it beyond tenure by which he holds his crown; and though all possibility of doubt, he“ swears to maintain no provision was made till the Revolution, which “ the bishops and clergy, and the churches comcould be called positive and valid in law, to ascer- “ mitted to their charge,” in their rights present tain this great principle, I have always considered and future. it as in fact fundamental, that the king of Eng- The oath as effectually prevents the king from land should be of the christian religion, according doing any thing to the prejudice of the church in to the national legal church for the time being. I favour of sectaries, Jews, Mahometans, or plain conceive it was so before the Reformation. Since avowed infidels; as if he should do the same thing the Reformation it became doubly necessary; be in favour of the catholicks. You will see, that it cause the king is the head of that church; in is the same protestant church, so described, that some sort an ecclesiastical person; and it would the king is to maintain and communicate with, be incongruous and absurd, to have the head of according to the act of settlement of the 12th and the church of one faith, and the members of an- | 13th of William III. The act of the 5th of Anne, other. The king may inherit the crown as a pro- made in prospect of the Union, is entitled, “ An testant, but he cannot hold it, according to law, act for securing the church of England as by law without being a protestant of the church of Eng- “ established.” It meant to guard the church imland.

plicitly against any other mode of protestant reliBefore we take it for granted, that the king is gion which might creep in by means of the Union. bound by his coronation oath not to admit any of it proves beyond all doubt, that the legislature did his catholick subjects to the rights and liberties, not mean to guard the church on one part only, which ought to belong to them as Englishmen, and to leave it defenceless and exposed upon every (not as religionists,) or to settle the conditions or other. This church, in that act, is declared to be proportions of such admission by an act of parlia- “ fundamental and essential" for ever, in the conment, I wish you to place before your eyes that stitution of the united kingdom, so far as England oath itself, as it is settled in the act of William is concerned; and I suppose as the law stands, and Mary.

even since the independence, it is so in Ireland. Will you to the utmost of your power maintain All this shews, that the religion which the king

is bound to maintain has a positive part in it as "_The laws of God, the true profession of the well as a negative; and that the positive part of it “gospel-and the protestant reformed religion as

(in which we are in perfect agreement with the

catholicks and with the church of Scotland) is infiit is established by law.–And will you preserve nitely the most valuable and essential. Such an “ unto bishops and clergy, and the churches agreement we had with protestant dissenters in “ committed to their charge, all such rights England, of those descriptions who came under “ and privileges as by law do, or shall appertain the toleration act of King William and Queen “ to them, or any of them.-All this I promise Mary; an act coeval with the Revolution; and " to do.”

which ought, on the principles of the gentlemen

who oppose the relief to the catholicks, to have Here are the coronation engagements of the been held sacred and unalterable. Whether we king. In them I do not find one word to preclude agree with the present protestant dissenters in the his majesty from consenting to any arrangement points at the Revolution held essential and fundawhich parliament may make with regard to the mental among Christians, or in any other fundacivil privileges of any part of his subjects. mental, at present it is impossible for us to know;

It may not be amiss, on account of the light because, at their own very earnest desire, we have which it will throw on this discussion, to look a repealed the toleration act of William and Mary, little more narrowly into the matter of that oath and discharged them from the signature required -in order to discover how far it has hitherto ope- by that act; and because, for the far greater part, rated, or how far in future it ought to operate, as they publickly declare against all manner of cona bar to any proceedings of the crown and parlia- fessions of faith, even the consensus. ment in favour of those, against whom it may be For reasons forcible enough at all times, but at supposed that the king has engaged to support the this time particularly forcible with me, I dwell a

1

2

3

5

run us.

[ocr errors]

little the longer upon this matter, and take the their conduct to give any alarm to the government, more pains, to put us both in mind that it was in church and state, I think it very probable that not settled at the Revolution, that the state should even this matter, rather disgustful than inconbe protestant, in the latitude of the term, but in a venient to them, may be removed, or at least so defined and limited sense only, and that, in that modified as to distinguish the qualification to those sense only the king is sworn to maintain it. To offices which really guide the state, from those suppose that the king has sworn with his utmost which are merely instrumental ; or that some other power to maintain what it is wholly out of his and better tests may be put in their place. power to discover, or which, if he could discover, So far as to England. In Ireland you have outhe might discover to consist of things directly con

Without waiting for an English example, tradictory to each other, some of them perhaps im- you have totally, and without any modification pious, blasphemous, and seditious upon principle, whatsoever, repealed the test as to protestant would be not only a gross, but a most mischievous, dissenters. Not having the repealing act by me, absurdity. If mere dissent from the church of Rome I ought not to say positively that there is no exbe a merit, he that dissents the most perfectly is the ception in it; but if it be what I suppose it is, you most meritorious. In many points we hold strongly know very well, that a Jew in religion, or a with that church. He that dissents throughout Mahometan, or even a publick, declared atheist, with that church will dissent with the church of and blasphemer, is perfectly qualified to be lord England, and then it will be a part of his merit lieutenant, a lord justice, or even keeper of the that he dissents with ourselves :—a whimsical spe- king's conscience; and by virtue of his office (if cies of merit for any set of men to establish. We with you it be as it is with us) administrator to a quarrel to extremity with those, who we know great part of the ecclesiastical patronage of the agree with us in many things, but we are to be so Crown. malicious even in the principle of our friendships, Now let us deal a little fairly. We must admit, that we are to cherish in our bosom those who ac- that protestant dissent was one of the quarters from cord with us in nothing, because whilst they de- which danger was apprehended at the Revolution, spise ourselves, they abhor, even more than we do, and against which a part of the coronation oath those with whom we have some disagreement. A was peculiarly directed. By this unqualified man is certainly the most perfect protestant, who repeal, you certainly did not mean to deny that it protests against the whole Christian Religion. was the duty of the Crown to preserve the church Whether a person's having no Christian Religion against protestant dissenters; or taking this to be be a title to favour, in exclusion to the largest the true sense of the two revolution acts of King description of Christians who hold all the doctrines William, and of the previous and subsequent union of Christianity, though holding along with them acts of Queen Anne, you did not declare by this some errours and some superfluities, is rather more most unqualified repeal, by which you broke down than any man, who has not become recreant and all the barriers, not invented indeed, but carefully apostate from his baptism, will, I believe, choose preserved at the Revolution ; you did not then and to affirm. The countenance given from a spirit of by that proceeding declare, that you

had advised controversy to that negative religion may, by de- the king to perjury towards God, and perfidy togrees, encourage light and unthinking people to a wards the church. No ! far, very far from it ! you total indifference to every thing positive in mat- never would have done it, if you did not think it ters of doctrine; and, in the end, of practice too. could be done with perfect repose to the royal conIf continued, it would play the game of that sort science, and perfect safety to the national estabof active, proselytizing, and persecuting atheism, lished religion. You did this upon a full considerwhich is the disgrace and calamity of our time, ation of the circumstances of your country. Now and which we see to be as capable of subverting a if circumstances required it, why should it be congovernment, as any mode can be of misguided zeal trary to the king's oath, his parliament judging on for better things.

those circumstances, to restore to his catholick Now let us fairly see what course has been taken people, in such measure, and with such modificarelative to those, against whom, in part at least, tions as the publick wisdom shall think proper to the king has sworn to maintain a church, positive add, some part in these franchises which they forin its doctrine and its discipline. The first thing merly had held without any limitation at all, and done, even when the oath was fresh in the mouth which, upon no sort of urgent reason at the time, of the sovereigns, was to give a toleration to pro- they were deprived of? If such means can with testant dissenters, whose doctrines they ascertain any probability be shewn, from circumstances, ed. As to the mere civil privileges which the dis rather to add strength to our mixed ecclesiastical senters held as subjects before the Revolution, and secular constitution, than to weaken it; surely these were not touched at all. The laws have fully they are means infinitely to be preferred to penalpermitted, in a qualification for all offices, to such ties, incapacities, and proscriptions continued from dissenters, an occasional conformity; a thing I generation to generation. They are perfectly conbelieve singular, where tests are admitted. The sistent with the other parts of the coronation oath, act called the Test Act itself, is, with regard to | in which the king swears to maintain “ the laws of them, grown to be hardly any thing more than a “ God and the true profession of the gospel, and dead letter. Whenever the dissenters cease by “ to govern the people according to the statutes

a

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »