« AnteriorContinuar »
purest affection towards their fellow-sufferers ; it, which all the sovereign powers in the world are is, that they act under the impression of a well-approached; and I never heard (except in the grounded fear for the general interest. If they case of James the Second) that any prince conshould be told, and should believe the story, that sidered this manner of supplication to be contrary if they dare attempt to make their condition bet- to the humility of a subject, or to the respect due ter, they will infallibly make it worse—that if they to the person or authority of the sovereign. This aim at obtaining liberty, they will have their sla- rule, and a correspondent practice, are observed, very doubled--that their endeavour to put them from the Grand Seignior, down to the most petty selves upon any thing which approaches towards prince or republick in Europe. an equitable footing with their fellow-subjects will You have sent me several papers, some in print, be considered as an indication of a seditious and some in manuscript. I think I had seen all of them, rebellious disposition such a view of things ought except the formula of association. I confess they perfectly to restore the gentlemen, who so anxi- appear to me to contain matter mischievous, and ously dissuade their countrymen from wishing a capable of giving alarm, if the spirit in which they participation with the privileged part of the people, are written should be found to make
considerto the good opinion of their fellows. But what is able progress. But I am at a loss to know how to to them a very full justification, is not quite so apply them, as objections to the case now before honourable to that power from whose maxims and us. When I find that the general committee, which temper so good a ground of rational terrour is fur- acts for the Roman catholicks in Dublin, prefers nished. I think arguments of this kind will never the association proposed in the written draft you be used by the friends of a government which I have sent me, to a respectful application in parliagreatly respect; or by any of the leaders of an ment, I shall think the persons who sign such a opposition whom I have the honour to know, and paper to be unworthy of any privilege which may the sense to admire. I remember Polybius tells be thought fit to be granted ; and that such men us, that, during his captivity in Italy as a Pelo- ought, by name, to be excepted from any benefit ponnesian hostage-he solicited old Cato to inter- under the constitution to which they offer this cede with the senate for his release, and that of violence. But I do not find that this form of a his countrymen : this old politician told him that seditious league has been signed by any person he had better continue in his present condition, whatsoever, either on the part of the supposed
prohowever irksome, than apply again to that formida- jectors, or on the part of those whom it is calcuble authority for their relief; that he ought to lated to seduce. I do not find, on enquiry, that imitate the wisdom of his countryman Ulysses, who, such a thing was mentioned, or even remotely alwhen he was once out of the den of the Cyclops, luded to, in the general meeting of the catholicks, had too much sense to venture again into the same from which so much violence was apprehended. cavern. But I conceive too high an opinion of the I have considered the other publications, signed by Irish legislature to think that they are to their fel- individuals, on the part of certain societies—I may low-citizens, what the grand oppressors of man- mistake, for I have not the honour of knowing kind were to a people whom the fortune of war them personally, but I take Mr. Butler and Mr. had subjected to their power. For though Cato Tandy not to be catholicks, but members of the could use such a parallel with regard to his senate, established church. Not one that I recollectofthese I should really think it nothing short of impious, to publications which you and I equally dislike apcompare an Irish parliament to a den of Cyclops. pears to be written by persons of that persuasion. I hope the people, both here and with you, will al- Now, if, whilst a man is dutifully soliciting a faways apply to the house of commons with becom- vour from parliament, any person should choose, ing modesty; but at the same time with minds in an improper manner, to shew his inclination unembarrassed with any sort of terrour.
towards the cause depending; and if that must As to the means which the catholicks employ destroy the cause of the petitioner ; then, not only to obtain this object, so worthy of sober and ra- the petitioner, but the legislature itself, is in the tional minds: I do admit that such means may be power of any weak friend or artful enemy, that used in the pursuit of it, as may make it proper for the supplicant or that the parliament may have. the legislature, in this case, to defer their compli- A man must be judged by his own actions only. ance until the demandants are brought to a pro- Certain protestant dissenters make seditious proper sense of their duty. A concession in which positions to the catholicks, which it does not apthe governing power of our country loses its dig- pear that they have yet accepted. It would be nity, is dearly bought even by him who obtains strange that the tempter should escape all punish
All the people have a deep interest in ment, and that he, who, under circumstances full the dignity of parliament. But as the refusal of of seduction and full of provocation, has resisted franchises which are drawn out of the first vital the temptation, should incur the penalty. You stamina of the British constitution is a very serious know, that, with regard to the dissenters, who are thing, we ought to be very sure, that the manner stated to be the chief movers in this vile scheme of and spirit of the application is offensive and dan- altering the principles of election to a right of votgerous indeed, before we ultimately reject all ap- ing by the head, you are not able (if you ought plications of this nature. The mode of applica- even to wish such a thing) to deprive them of tion, I hear, is by petition. It is the manner in any part of the franchises and privileges which
they hold on a footing of perfect equality with | had, in this case most certainly I would not use it yourselves. They may do what they please with as a make-weight in political reasoning. constitutional impunity ; but the others cannot Observe, on these principles, the difference beeven listen with civility to an invitation from them tween the procedure of the parliament and the to an ill-judged scheme of liberty, without forfeit- dissenters, towards the people in question. One ing, for ever, all hopes of any of those liberties employs courtship, the other force. The dissenters which we admit to be sober and rational.
offer bribes, the parliament nothing but the front It is known, I believe, that the greater, as well negatif of a stern and forbidding authority. A as the sounder, part of our excluded countrymen man may be very wrong in his ideas of what is have not adopted the wild ideas, and wilder en- good for him. But no man affronts me, nor can gagements, which have been held out to them; therefore justify my affronting him, by offering to but have rather chosen to hope small and safe make me as happy as himself, according to his concessions from the legal power, than boundless own ideas of happiness. This the dissenters do to objects from trouble and confusion. This mode the catholicks. You are on the different extremes. of action seems to me to mark men of sobriety, The dissenters offer, with regard to constitutional and to distinguish them from those who are in rights and civil advantages of all sorts, every thing temperate, from circumstance or from nature. -you refuse every thing. With them there is But why do they not instantly disclaim and dis- boundless, though not very assured, hope ; with avow those who make such advances to them? In you, a very sure and very unqualified despair. this, too, in my opinion, they shew themselves no The terms of alliance, from the dissenters, offer a less sober and circumspect. In the present mo- representation of the commons, chosen out of the ment, nothing short of insanity could induce them people by the head. This is absurdly and danto take such a step. Pray consider the circum- gerously large, in my opinion; and that scheme stances. Disclaim, says somebody, all union with of election is known to have been, at all times, the dissenters ;-right-But, when this your in- perfectly odious to me. But I cannot think it junction is obeyed, shall I obtain the object which right of course to punish the Irish Roman cathoI solicit from you ?-Oh, no, nothing at all like licks by an universal exclusion, because others, it !-But, in punishing us by an exclusion from whom you would not punish at all, propose an the constitution through the great gate, for having universal admission. I cannot dissemble to mybeen invited to enter into it by a postern, will you self, that, in this very kingdom, many persons who punish by deprivation of their privileges, or mulct are not in the situation of the Irish catholicks, but in any other way, those who have tempted us ?- who, on the contrary, enjoy the full benefit of the Far from it—we mean to preserve all their liber- constitution as it stands, and some of whom, from ties and immunities, as our life-blood. We
e mean the effect of their fortunes, enjoy it in a large to cultivate them, as brethren whom we love and measure, had some years ago associated to procure respect—with you we have no fellowship. We great and undefined changes (they considered can bear with patience their enmity to ourselves; them as reforms) in the popular part of the constibut their friendship with you we will not endure. tution. Our friend, the late Mr. Flood, (no slight But mark it well! All our quarrels with them are man,) proposed in his place, and in my hearing, a always to be revenged upon you. Formerly, it is representation not much less extensive than this
, notorious, that we should have resented with the for England ; in which every house was to be inhighest indignation, your presuming to shew any habited by a voter—in addition to all the actual ill-will to them. You must not suffer them, now, votes by other titles (some of the corporate) which to shew any good-will to you. Know—and take we know do not require a house, or a shed. Can it once for all—that it is, and ever has been, and I forget that a person of the very highest rank, of ever will be, a fundamental maxim in our politicks, very large fortune, and of the first class of ability, that you are not to have any part, or shadow, or brought a bill into the house of lords, in the headname of interest whatever in our state. That we quarters of aristocracy, containing identically the look upon you as under an irreversible outlawry same project, for the supposed adoption of which from our constitution—as perpetual and unalli- by a club or two, it is thought right to extinguish able aliens.
all hopes in the Roman catholicks of Ireland ? I Such, my dear Sir, is the plain nature of the cannot say it was very eagerly embraced or very argument drawn from the revolution maxims, en- warmly pursued. But the lords neither did disforced by a supposed disposition in the catholicks avow the bill, nor treat it with any disregard, nor to unite with the dissenters. Such it is, though it express any sort of disapprobation of its nobler were clothed in never such bland and civil forms, author, who has never lost, with king or people, and wrapped up, as a poet says, in a thousand the least degree of the respect and consideration “ artful folds of sacred lawn.” For my own part, which so justly belongs to him. I do not know in what manner to shape such ar- I am not at all enamoured, as I have told you, guments, so as to obtain admission for them into with this plan of representation; as little do I rea rational understanding. Every thing of this lish any bandings or associations for procuring it. kind is to be reduced, at least, to threats of power. But if the question was to be put to you and me -I cannot say ve victis, and then throw the -universal popular representation, or none at all sword into the scale. I have no sword; and if I for us and ours—we should find ourselves in z
very awkward position. I do not like this kind of presentation. Such a representation I think to be, dilemmas, especially when they are practical. in many cases, even better than the actual. It
posThen, since our oldest fundamental laws follow, sesses most of its advantages, and is free from many or rather couple, freehold with franchise; since no of its inconveniences; it corrects the irregularities principle of the Revolution shakes these liberties; in the literal representation, when the shifting since the oldest of one of the best monuments of current of human affairs, or the acting of publick the constitution demands for the Irish the privi- interests in different ways, carry it obliquely from lege which they supplicate; since the principles of its first line of direction. The people may err in the Revolution coincide with the declarations of their choice; but common interest and common the Great Charter ; since the practice of the Re- sentiment are rarely mistaken. But this sort of volution, in this point, did not contradict its prin- virtual representation cannot have a long or sure ciples; since, from that event, twenty-five years existence, if it has not a substratum in the actual. had elapsed, before a domineering party, on a The member must have some relation to the party principle, had ventured to disfranchise, with constituent. As things stand, the catholick, as a out any proof whatsoever of abuse, the greater catholick, and belonging to a description, has no part of the community; since the king's coronation virtual relation to the representative; but the conoath does not stand in his way to the performance trary. There is a relation in mutual obligation. of his duty to all his subjects; since you have Gratitude may not always have a very lasting given to all other dissenters these privileges without power ; but the frequent recurrence of an applicalimit, which are hitherto withheld, without any tion for favours will revive and refresh it, and will limitation whatsoever, from the catholicks; since necessarily produce some degree of mutual attenno nation in the world has ever been known to tion. It will produce, at least, acquaintance. The exclude so great a body of men (not born slaves) several descriptions of people will not be kept so from the civil state, and all the benefits of its much apart as they now are, as if they were not constitution ; the whole question comes before par- only separate nations, but separate species. The liament as a matter for its prudence. I do not put stigma and reproach, the hideous mask will be the thing on a question of right. That discretion, taken off, and men will see each other as they are. which, in judicature, is well said by Lord Coke to Sure I am, that there have been thousands in be a crooked cord, in legislature is a golden rule. Ireland, who have never conversed with a Roman Supplicants ought not to appear too much in the catholiek in their whole lives, unless they happened character of litigants. If the subject think so highly to talk to their gardener's workmen, or to ask and reverently of the sovereign authority, as not their way, when they had lost it, in their sports ; to claim any thing of right, so that it may seem to or at best, who had known them only as footmen, be independent of the power and free choice of its or other domesticks, of the second and third orgovernment; and if the sovereign, on his part, der : and so averse were they, some time ago, to considers the advantages of the subjects as their have them near their persons, that they would not right, and all their reasonable wishes as so many employ even those who could never find their way claims; in the fortunate conjunction of these mu- | beyond the stable. I well remember a great, and tual dispositions are laid the foundations of a happy in many respects a good, man, who advertised for and prosperous commonwealth. For my own part, a blacksmith; but at the same time added, he desiring of all things that the authority of the legis must be a protestant. It is impossible that such a lature under which I was born, and which I cherish, state of things, though natural goodness in many not only with a dutiful awe, but with a partial and persons will undoubtedly make exceptions, must cordial affection, to be maintained in the utmost not produce alienation on the one side, and pride possible respect, I never will suffer myself to sup- and insolence on the other. pose, that, at bottom, their discretion will be found Reduced to a question of discretion, and that to be at variance with their justice.
discretion exercised solely upon what will appear The whole being at discretion, I beg leave just best for the conservation of the state on its preto suggest some matters for your consideration- sent basis, I should recommend it to your serious Whether the government in church or state is thoughts, whether the narrowing of the foundation likely to be more secure by continuing causes of is always the best way to secure the building ? grounded discontent, to a very great number (say The body of disfranchised men will not be perfectly two inillions) of the subjects? or, Whether the satisfied to remain always in that state.
If they constitution, combined and balanced as it is, will are not satisfied, you have two millions of subjects be rendered more solid, by depriving so large a in
your bosom, full of uneasiness; not that they part of the people of all concern, or interest, or cannot overturn the act of settlement, and put share, in its representation, actual or virtual? I themselves and you under an arbitrary master; here mean to lay an emphasis on the word virtual. or, that they are not permitted to spawn a hydra Virtual representation is that in which there is a of wild republicks, on principles of a pretended communion of interests, and a sympathy in feel natural equality in man; but, because you will ings and desires between those who act in the not suffer them to enjoy the ancient, fundamental, name of any description of people, and the people tried advantages of a British constitution: that you in whose name they act, though the trustees are will not permit them to profit of the protection of not actually chosen by them. This is virtual re- a common father, or the freedom of common citi
zens; and that this only reason which can be as their independence, and precipitate an union with signed for this disfranchisement has a tendency Great Britain. I have heard a discussion concernmore deeply to ulcerate their minds, than the act ing such an union amongst all sorts of men ever of exclusion itself. What the consequence of since I remember any thing. For my own part, such feelings must be, it is for you to look to. To I have never been able to bring my mind to any warn, is not to menace.
thing clear and decisive upon the subject. There I am far from asserting, that men will not ex- cannot be a more arduous question. As far as I cite disturbances without just cause. I know that can form an opinion, it would not be for the musuch an assertion is not true. But, neither is it tual advantage of the two kingdoms. Persons, true that disturbances have never just complaints however, more able than I am, think otherwise. for their origin. I am sure that it is hardly pru- But, whatever the merits of this union may be, to dent to furnish them with such causes of com- make it a menace, it must be shewn to be an evil; plaint, as every man who thinks the British con- and an evil more particularly to those who are stitution a benefit may think at least colourable threatened with it, than to those who hold it out and plausible.
as a terrour. I really do not see how this threat Several are in dread of the manœuvres of cer- of an union can operate, or that the catholicks are tain persons among the dissenters, who turn this more likely to be losers by that measure than the ill humour to their own ill purposes.
churchmen. better than I can, how much these proceedings The humours of the people, and of politicians of certain among the dissenters are to be feared. too, are so variable in themselves, and are so much You are to weigh, with the temper which is under the occasional influence of some leading natural to you, whether it may be for the safety men, that it is impossible to know what turn the of our establishment, that the catholicks should publick mind here would take on such an event. be ultimately persuaded that they have no hope There is but one thing certain concerning it. to enter into the constitution, but through the Great divisions and vehement passions would dissenters.
precede this union, both on the measure itself Think, whether this be the way to prevent or and on its terms; and particularly, this very quesdissolve factious combinations against the church, tion of a share in the representation for the cathoor the state. Reflect seriously on the possible licks, from whence the project of an union origiconsequences of keeping, in the heart of your nated, would form a principal part in the discussion; country, a bank of discontent, every hour accu- and in the temper in which some gentlemen seem mulating, upon which every description of sedi- inclined to throw themselves, by a sort of high, tious men may draw at pleasure. They, whose indignant passion, into the scheme, those points principles of faction will dispose them to the estab- would not be deliberated with all possible calmlishment of an arbitrary monarchy, will find a ness. nation of men who have no sort of interest in From my best observation, I should greatly freedom; but who will have an interest in that doubt, whether, in the end, these gentlemen would equality of justice or favour, with which a wise obtain their object, so as to make the exclusion of despot must view all his subjects who do not at- two millions of their countrymen a fundamental tack the foundations of his power. Love of liberty article in the union. The demand would be of a itself may, in such men, become the means of nature quite unprecedented. You might obtain establishing an arbitrary domination. On the the union : and yet a gentleman, who, under the other hand, they who wish for a democratick re- new union establishment, would aspire to the publick, will find a set of men who have no choice honour of representing his county, might possibly between civil servitude, and the entire ruin of a be as much obliged, as he may fear to be, under mixed constitution.
the old separate establishment, to the unsupportable Suppose the people of Ireland divided into three mortification of asking his neighbours, who have parts; of these (I speak within compass) two are a different opinion concerning the elements in the catholick. Of the remaining third, one half is sacrament, for their votes. composed of dissenters. There is no natural union I believe, nay, I am sure, that the people of between those descriptions. It may be produced. Great Britain, with or without an union, might If the two parts catholick be driven into a close be depended upon, in cases of any real danger, to confederacy with half the third part of protestants, aid the government of Ireland, with the same corwith a view to a change in the constitution in diality as they would support their own, against church or state, or both; and you rest the whole any wicked attempts to shake the security of the of their security on a handful of gentlemen, clergy, happy constitution in church and state. But beand their dependants ; compute the strength you fore Great Britain engages in any quarrel, the cause have in Ireland, to oppose to grounded discontent; of the dispute would certainly be a part of her conto capricious innovation; to blind popular fury, sideration. If confusions should arise in that kingand to ambitious turbulent intrigue.
dom, from too steady an attachment to a proscripYou mention that the minds of some gentlemen tive, monopolizing system, and from the resolution are a good deal heated : and that it is often said, of regarding the franchise, and in it the security that, rather than submit to such persons having a of the subject, as belonging rather to religious opishare in their franchises, they would throw up nions than to civil qualification and civil conduct,
I doubt whether you might quite certainly reckon | the pressure of any necessity, you never can do it on obtaining an aid of force from hence, for the well. But if, instead of falling into a passion, support of that system. We might extend your the leading gentlemen of the country themselves distractions to this country, by taking part in them. should undertake the business cheerfully, and England will be indisposed, I suspect, to send an with hearty affection towards it, great advantages army for the conquest of Ireland. What was done would follow. What is forced, cannot be modiin 1782 is a decisive proof of her sentiments of fied : but here you may measure your concessions. justice and moderation. She will not be fond of It is a consideration of great moment, that you making another American war in Ireland. The make the desired admission without altering the principles of such a war would but too much re- system of your representation in the smallest desemble the former one. The well-disposed and gree, or in any part. You may leave that delibethe ill-disposed in England would (for different ration of a parliamentary change or reform, if reasons perhaps) be equally averse to such an en
should think fit to engage in it, uncomterprise. The confiscations, the publick auctions, plicated and unembarrassed with the other questhe private grants, the plantations, the transplantation. Whereas, if they are mixed and confounded, tions, which formerly animated so inany adven- as some people attempt to mix and confound turers, even among sober citizens, to such Irish them, no one can answer for the effects on the expeditions, and which possibly might have ani- constitution itself. mated some of them to the American, can have There is another advantage in taking up this no existence in the case that we suppose.
business singly, and by an arrangement for the Let us form a supposition (no foolish or un- single object. It is that you may proceed by degrounded supposition) that in an age
grees. We must all obey the great law of change. are infinitely more disposed to heat themselves It is the most powerful law of nature, and the with political than religious controversies, the for- means perhaps of its conservation. All we can do, mer should entirely prevail, as we see that in and that human wisdom can do, is to provide some places they have prevailed, over the latter ; that the change shall proceed by insensible deand that the catholicks of Ireland, from the court- grees. This has all the benefits which may be in ship paid them on the one hand, and the high tone change, without any of the inconveniences of of refusal on the other, should, in order to enter mutation. Every thing is provided for as it into all the rights of subjects, all become protest- arrives. This mode will, on the one hand, preant dissenters; and as the other do, take all your vent the unfixing old interests at once : a thing oaths. They would all obtain their civil objects; which is apt to breed a black and sullen disconand the change, for any thing I know to the con- tent in those who are at once dispossessed of all trary, (in the dark as I am about the protestant their influence and consideration. This gradual dissenting tenets,) might be of use to the health of course, on the other side, will prevent men, long their souls. But, what security our constitution, under depression, from being intoxicated with a in church or state, could derive from that event, large draught of new power, which they always I cannot possibly discern. Depend upon it, it is abuse with a licentious insolence. But wishing, as true as nature is true, that if you force them as I do, the change to be gradual and cautious, I out of the religion of habit, education, or opinion, would, in my first steps, lean rather to the side of it is not to yours they will ever go. Shaken in enlargement than restriction. their minds, they will go to that where the dogmas It is one excellence of our constitution, that all are fewest ; where they are the most uncertain ; our rights of provincial election regard rather prowhere they lead them the least to a consideration perty than person. It is another, that the rights of what they have abandoned. They will go to which approach more nearly to the personal are that uniformly democratick system, to whose first most of them corporate, and suppose a restrained movements they owed their emancipation. I re- and strict education of seven years in some useful commend you seriously to turn this in your mind. occupation. In both cases the practice may have Believe that it requires your best and maturest slid from the principle. The standard of qualificathoughts. Take what course you please--union tion in both cases may be so low, or not so judior no union ; whether the people remain catho- ciously chosen, as in some degree to frustrate the licks or become protestant dissenters, sure it is, end. But all this is for your prudence in the case that the present state of monopoly cannot con
You may raise, a step or two, the quatinue.
lification of the catholick voters. But if you were, If England were animated, as I think she is not, to-morrow, to put the catholick freeholder on the with her former spirit of domination, and with footing of the most favoured forty-shilling protestthe strong theological hatred which she once che- ant dissenter, you know that such is the actual rished for that description of her fellow-christians state of Ireland, this would not make a sensible aland fellow-subjects; I am yet convinced, that teration in almost any one election in the kingdom. after the fullest success in a ruinous struggle, you The effect in their favour, even defensively, would would be obliged to abandon that monopoly be infinitely slow. But it would be healing ; it We were obliged to do this, even when every would be satisfactory and protecting. The stigma thing promised success in the American business. would be removed. By admitting settled, permaIf you should make this experiment at last, under nent substance in lieu of the numbers, you would