« ForrigeFortsett »
friend to superstition or subjugation, and yet there is a certain degree of moral influence which the pastor may safely have over his flock, and the landlord over his tenantry, without which I fear you would extinguish the soul of subordination; however, the minister endeavours to leave the Catholic, over whom the state cannot have by connection any ascendancy, free from any control or check, either of their church or their aristocracy; and it is a strong presumption in favour of that body, thus set adrift as it were by the design, that it recovered the principles of union, and has preserved the principles of subordination, and should have left its enemies without even a pretence to oppress them. The next impolitic step taken by our minister, was the institution of a paper war on the subject of religion; the declarations, as you will find in the Catholic report of the transaction, managed, procured, or sanctioned by government, led to counter declaration, and, finally, discussion, on the broad principle of philosophy, which ministry knew was against them, and in an appeal to the people, who from interest must have been against them likewise. The ministry embitter this paper war by its own rhetoricians and scribblers, and publish notoriously from the Castle such personal invectives against respectable Catholics, such contumelious stuff! You must recollect it, written, published, and spread by the Castle, against the pretensions and persons of the Catholic body; such invectives as must have roused the spirit of indignation as well as liberty, to vindicate their fame and fortunes against a scandalous and opprobrious governinent.
The next unfortunate error in this business was a declaration from a right honourable gentleman, high in confidence, that on a certain event government would suppress
the Catholics with the force of both countries. I incline to believe the threat was unauthorised; nor do I pretend to say it was unconditional; it was on a certain event or supposition that these men committed something which government might call a great offence; but who had a right to suppose such a body of men would commit an act which will justify His Majesty's ministers, to levy war on so vast a portion of his people? a liege subject, living within the peace of the king, to suppose him a rebel in order to threaten him with arms, is to tell him he is not a subject, but a slave. Without discussing any further objections to such language, it is sufficient to say, that the direct and obvious tendency of such a menace was to make the Catholic body attribute to the successes of France that safety and privilege which should have appeared to proceel from benignity of the king, and the justice of parliament. I say the tendency of such a declaration; but the effect of it has been, I believe, only to manifest His Majesty's gracious and signal interposition in manifesting his paternal love to his loyal subjects, and affording them protection against his ministers.
The next unfortunate error of our ministry was their interference with grand juries against the Catholics, because they were giving to the Protestants false hopes, at the same time that they were exciting against the Catholics false fears. They took the lead in fomenting a religious war; they began it; they acted in the mongrel capacity of country gentlemen and ministers; they acted against Catholics as country gentlemen, and encouraged the Protestants as ministers. They had, I understand, informed the British ministry that the influence of the Crown could not induce a majority to vote against the Catholic pretensions, and then they themselves take a leading part to make that difficulty in the country, of which they complained of in their dispatches. To the country gentlemen they say, “will you bear that these men shall get the elective franchise," and to the British minister, “you see these country gentlemen ;" and the consequences of this conduct is, that the Irish ministry become parties against the people, and have a personal and country interest to exclude them; not as Catholics, but as enemies.
Among other instances of the intolerance of ministers, is something of religious war in an address from the corporation of Dublin to the other corporations of the kingdom. I consider this publication as the act of the Castle; the act of their city delegation; the composition of their city agents. The city has been a long time the object of their mischief; . whenever the city is left to herself, she will ever speak with moderation and propriety,--and her mistake in this address has been to have resigned her better understanding to the intrigues and interference of the Castle. I shall observe on this publication, so far as to say, that, according to the sentence it pronounces, the doom of the Catholic, in all times to come, is perpetual exclusion from the franchise of the constitution; and, according to the law that publication advances, the title of the Protestant to his lands and privileges, is the right of conquest. If then the three millions of Catholics should, with the assistance of twenty-six millions in France, rebel and dispossess you of your properties and charters, they bave in the city publication an authority; they have the law of conquest; and they have your excuse for appealing to the law of conquest, because they have the sentence of the corporation; nothing else to relieve them from the doom of slavery!
The result of this interposition of the Irish government in this religious war; the consequence of having poured their angry ingredients into the cup of religious fury, has been, that as far as relates to Irish government, they have totally lost the confidence of the Catholics; they have lost the confidence of one part of His Majesty's subjects by their corruption, and of the other, by their intolerance.
In such a situation of domestic discontent, and foreign revolution, what measures have they taken? One would naturally have thought they would have instantly resorted to one very obvious measure, - the assembling of Parliament. No; they prorogue it, and yet there are many reasons for calling it. The example of England was one; if there was reason to think French politics had made any progress in Great Britain, there was tenfold reason to fear they would make a progress in Ireland; because Ireland had tenfold her grievances. The minister of England had not proclaimed nor purchased Parliament; but there was another cause the calling out the militia. Whenever His Majesty calls out the militia in England, he is obliged to call a Parliament: and here, though the law is not the same, the reason is stronger, because your militia without Parliament, is imperfect; for the jealousy of government in 1778 struck out in the privy council the compulsory clause. By the law of the land, you cannot arm Catholics; by the omission of the militia bill, you cannot compel Protestants; so, unless you called a Parliament, you might have a militia, but no
So that, either the calling out the militia was unnecessary, or the proroguing Parliament essential to make that militia effectual, was improper. See the consequence ! You try it in Waterford, it would not be received; you try it in Cork, the inhabitants, who appear a very sensible set of men, meet, consider, and decide, That, in offering the militia, government only means to resort to the old practice-patronage: and as to the execution of the laws, they conceive that they themselves are better qualified for that task than such a government; and they all suspect and repudiate your militia.
The police of the city of Dublin has taught men to be apprehensive of your militia, because you have, unfortunately, while you professed to mean the due execution of law, intended patronage, and protected violence: another reason for calling a Parliament, was the state of public credit; your funds had fallen, your credit had stopped, and the cause was
"to be found in the unsettled state of the Catholic claims, only to be settled by Parliament. And how do ministers settle them, and restore public credit? By prorogation. Surely, the ministry cannot be pronounced innocent of that public distress, when they might have removed the cause by doing in November what will be done in January, and what had been a subject before them for near twelve months.
The state of the public mind was another cause. The vation had grievances; the Catholics you now allow, and apprehend, to have grievances; levellers, if such there be, whose principles in themselves are a grievance. You give them all time to form and unite, if they please, in one great mass, for Parliament, when at length it should meet, to decompound and analyse. Some part of the people our ministry had conceived to be republican; some pari of our Catholics had been represented as affecting a popish congress, in imitation of a French republic; with this opinion of His Majesty's, it is somewhat astonishing, that they give two 'months' fair play to such imputed principles to act and form against the state; so, if the imputation was founded, the remedy, at the time you choose to call Parliament, had been too late.
You must have heard of French emissaries; if there was any danger of them you gave them also fair play; you left them also two months to taint the integrity of three-fourths of your island, and the present allegiance of that body, notwithstanding such opportunities, is a strong refutation of the charges of their enemies, who now, under the direction of the King, must do justice to that loyalty they had attempted to traduce and to proscribe.
There was another reason for calling Parliament, - a convention. Was it not an object, by a liberal and speedy settlement, to have anticipated the graces of concession, and to display the justice of Parliament, at a time when you were trembling at the unpopularity of Parliaments, and the prevalence of conventions? What was the cause of this neglect to call Parliament? you had not made up your minds on this question. In the summer, and with the grand juries, you had made up your mind very readily; and then you are to unmake it and form that mind a new one, and have a better: Thus you decide when you should deliberate, and deliberate when you should have decided; and, in the mean time, remain incapable either to give counsel, or to receive it. The effect of this neglect was like the other parts of your conduct; to discredit Parliament, it says, vote taxes, pass the revenue bill; but as to counsel, we will call for Mr. A. or
Mr. B., or even a clerk, to consult de arduis regni ; any one but the hereditary council of the King, and the grand council of the nation.
You call a council, but it is the privy council; you sent, I understand, to some of the opposition; you were honest enough to make them responsible for getting you out of difficulties, into which, if you had followed their advice, you never had been precipitated; perhaps the best advice any friend could have given you, was to walk off, and turn to any trade except that of a minister; however, you get advice somewhere or other, and you take measures; what are they ? a militia; but I believe that is a measure of no efficacy, for the reasons I have given already; you try government volunteers; but that is another measure on whose efficacy I do not suppose you rely much; if it has any great effect, it must revive the volunteers by example; if such a measure is necessary in government, it must be equally necessary for the people at large, and as a direct tendency to produce a general armament; you resorted to other measures, a proclamation, a militia, an increase of your troops, and an association ; in the proclamation I acknowledge I see a milder language than we have been accustomed to hear of late years from the ministers of the
I do not go into the merits or objects of that proclamation now, but I must lament one word contained in it; “pretended grievances.” Is the sale of peerage a pretended grievance? Is the creation of twenty new places as provision for members of parliament, to govern and direct their deliberation ? Is the purchase of the House of Commons, or, in one sentence, the extinction of the use, credit, and authority of parliamentary institution, a pretended grievance? To rise in arms to redress grievance real or pretended, is, I apprehend, against law, but here the criminality of the act appears to be the pretence of the grievance; and the consequence of such expression would be naturally to direct the hopes of the people from government to themselves; it says, if you look for redress, you must not look to us, and a proclamation, therefore, so worded, though it may disperse, cannot pacify. The other means is association; the idea of supporting government by association is an appeal to the collective body of the people, and you make that appeal when three-fourths cannot be a part of that association, unless they associate against their own franchise:
must let them into the constitution before they associate to support it, and therefore the calling of parliament was a necessary preliminary to an association, instead of making an association previous to a parliament, and to those rights and privileges, whose preservation must be