Infomotions, Inc.The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. 06 (of 12) / Burke, Edmund, 1729-1797

Author: Burke, Edmund, 1729-1797
Title: The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. 06 (of 12)
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Title: The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. VI. (of 12)

Author: Edmund Burke

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[Illustration: Burke Coat of Arms.]



  HON. WILLIAM ELLIOT                                                  v


LETTER TO THE EMPRESS OF RUSSIA, November 1, 1791                    113

  October 30, 1773                                                   121

  October 8, 1777                                                    135



  OF IRELAND, 1780                                                   207


  CODE, 1792                                                         255

  REFORM                                                             291


  EMANCIPATION, January 29, 1795                                     361

  May 26, 1795                                                       375

  1793                                                               385

LETTER ON THE AFFAIRS OF IRELAND, 1797                               413





My dear sir,--As some prefatory account of the materials which compose
this second posthumous volume of the Works of Mr. Burke, and of the
causes which have prevented its earlier appearance, will be expected
from me, I hope I may be indulged in the inclination I feel to run over
these matters in a letter to you, rather than in a formal address to the

Of the delay that has intervened since the publication of the former
volume I shall first say a few words. Having undertaken, in conjunction
with the late Dr. Laurence, to examine the manuscript papers of Mr.
Burke, and to select and prepare for the press such of them as should be
thought proper for publication, the difficulties attending our
cooeperation were soon experienced by us. The remoteness of our places
of residence in summer, and our professional and other avocations in
winter, opposed perpetual obstacles to the progress of our undertaking.

Soon after the publication of the fourth volume, I was rendered
incapable of attending to any business by a severe and tedious illness.
And it was not long after my recovery before the health of our
invaluable friend began gradually to decline, and soon became unequal to
the increasing labors of his profession and the discharge of his
Parliamentary duties. At length we lost a man, of whom, as I shall have
occasion to speak more particularly in another part of this undertaking,
I will now content myself with saying, that in my humble opinion he
merited, and certainly obtained with those best acquainted with his
extensive learning and information, a considerable rank amongst the
eminent persons who have adorned the age in which we have lived, and of
whose services the public have been deprived by a premature death.

From these causes little progress had been made in our work when I was
deprived of my coadjutor. But from that time you can testify of me that
I have not been idle. You can bear witness to the confused state in
which the materials that compose the present volume came into my hands.
The difficulty of reading many of the manuscripts, obscured by
innumerable erasures, corrections, interlineations, and marginal
insertions, would perhaps have been insuperable to any person less
conversant in the manuscripts of Mr. Burke than myself. To this
difficulty succeeded that of selecting from several detached papers,
written upon the same subject and the same topics, such as appeared to
contain the author's last thoughts and emendations. When these
difficulties were overcome, there still remained, in many instances,
that of assigning its proper place to many detached members of the same
piece, where no direct note of connection had been made. These
circumstances, whilst they will lead the reader not to expect, in the
cases to which they apply, the finished productions of Mr. Burke,
imposed upon me a task of great delicacy and difficulty,--namely, that
of deciding upon the publication of any, and which, of these unfinished
pieces. I must here beg permission of you, and Lord Fitzwilliam, to
inform the public, that in the execution of this part of my duty I
requested and obtained your assistance.

Our first care was to ascertain, from such evidence, internal and
external, as the manuscripts themselves afforded, what pieces appeared
to have been at any time intended by the author for publication. Our
next was to select such as, though not originally intended for
publication, yet appeared to contain matter that might contribute to the
gratification and instruction of the public. Our last object was to
determine what degree of imperfection and incorrectness in papers of
either of these classes ought or ought not to exclude them from a place
in the present volume. This was, doubtless, the most nice and arduous
part of our undertaking. The difficulty, however, was, in our minds,
greatly diminished by our conviction that the reputation of our author
stood far beyond the reach of injury from any injudicious conduct of
ours in making this selection. On the other hand, we were desirous that
nothing should be withheld, from which the public might derive any
possible benefit.

Nothing more is now necessary than that I should give a short account of
the writings which compose the present volume.

I. Fourth Letter on a Regicide Peace.

Some account has already been given of this Letter in the Advertisement
to the fourth quarto volume.[2] That part of it which is contained
between the first and the middle of the page 67[3] is taken from a
manuscript which, nearly to the conclusion, had received the author's
last corrections: the subsequent part, to the middle of the page 71,[4]
is taken from some loose manuscripts, that were dictated by the author,
but do not appear to have been revised by him; and though they, as well
as what follows to the conclusion, were evidently designed to make a
part of this Letter, the editor alone is responsible for the order in
which they are here placed. The last part, from the middle of the page
71, had been printed as a part of the Letter which was originally
intended to be the third on Regicide Peace, as in the preface to the
fourth volume has already been noticed.

It was thought proper to communicate this Letter before its publication
to Lord Auckland, the author of the pamphlet so frequently alluded to in
it. His Lordship, in consequence of this communication, was pleased to
put into my hands a letter with which he had sent his pamphlet to Mr.
Burke at the time of its publication, and Mr. Burke's answer to that
letter. These pieces, together with the note with which his Lordship
transmitted them to me, are prefixed to the Letter on Regicide Peace.

II. Letter to the Empress of Russia.
III. Letter to Sir Charles Bingham.
IV. Letter to the Honorable Charles James Fox.

Of these Letters it will be sufficient to remark, that they come under
the second of those classes into which, as I before observed, we divided
the papers that presented themselves to our consideration.

V. Letter to the Marquis of Rockingham.
VI. An Address to the King.
VII. An Address to the British Colonists in North America.

These pieces relate to a most important period in the present reign;
and I hope no apology will be necessary for giving them to the public.

VIII. Letter to the Right Honorable Edmund [Sexton] Pery.
IX. Letter to Thomas Burgh, Esq.
X. Letter to John Merlott, Esq.

The reader will find, in a note annexed to each of these Letters, an
account of the occasions on which they were written. The Letter to T.
Burgh, Esq., had found its way into some of the periodical prints of the
time in Dublin.

XI. Reflections on the Approaching Executions.

It may not, perhaps, now be generally known that Mr. Burke was a marked
object of the rioters in this disgraceful commotion, from whose fury he
narrowly escaped. The Reflections will be found to contain maxims of the
soundest judicial policy, and do equal honor to the head and heart of
their illustrious writer.

XII. Letter to the Right Honorable Henry Dundas; with the Sketch of a
Negro Code.

Mr. Burke, in the Letter to Mr. Dundas, has entered fully into his own
views of the Slave Trade, and has thereby rendered any further
explanation on that subject at present unnecessary. With respect to the
Code itself, an unsuccessful attempt was made to procure the copy of it
transmitted to Mr. Dundas. It was not to be found amongst his papers.
The Editor has therefore been obliged to have recourse to a rough draft
of it in Mr. Burke's own handwriting; from which he hopes he has
succeeded in making a pretty correct transcript of it, as well as in the
attempt he has made to supply the marginal references alluded to in Mr.
Burke's Letter to Mr. Dundas.

XIII. Letter to the Chairman of the Buckinghamshire Meeting.

Of the occasion of this Letter an account is given in the note subjoined
[prefixed] to it.

XIV. Tracts and Letters relative to the Laws against Popery in Ireland.

These pieces consist of,--

1. An unfinished Tract on the Popery Laws. Of this Tract the reader will
find an account in the note prefixed to it.

2. A Letter to William Smith, Esq. Several copies of this letter having
got abroad, it was printed and published in Dublin without the
permission of Mr. Burke, or of the gentleman to whom it was addressed.

3. Second Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe. This may be considered as
supplementary to the first letter, addressed to the same person in
January, 1792, which was published in the third volume.[5]

4. Letter to Richard Burke, Esq. Of this letter it will be necessary to
observe, that the first part of it appears to have been originally
addressed by Mr. Burke to his son in the manner in which it is now
printed, but to have been left unfinished; after whose death he probably
designed to have given the substance of it, with additional
observations, to the public in some other form, but never found leisure
or inclination to finish it.

5. A Letter on the Affairs of Ireland, written in the year 1797. The
name of the person to whom this letter was addressed does not appear on
the manuscript; nor has the letter been found to which it was written as
an answer. And as the gentleman whom he employed as an amanuensis is not
now living, no discovery of it can be made, unless this publication of
the letter should produce some information respecting it, that may
enable us in a future volume to gratify, on this point, the curiosity of
the reader. The letter was dictated, as he himself tells us, from his
couch at Bath; to which place he had gone, by the advice of his
physicians, in March, 1797. His health was now rapidly declining; the
vigor of his mind remained unimpaired. This, my dear friend, was, I
believe, the last letter dictated by him on public affairs:--here ended
his political labors.

XV. Fragments and Notes of Speeches in Parliament.

1. Speech on the Acts of Uniformity.

2. Speech on a Bill for the Relief of Protestant Dissenters.

3. Speech on the Petition of the Unitarians.

4. Speech on the Middlesex Election.

5. Speech on a Bill for shortening the Duration of Parliaments.

6. Speech on the Reform of the Representation in Parliament.

7. Speech on a Bill for explaining the Powers of Juries in Prosecutions
for Libels.

*7. Letter relative to the same subject.

8. Speech on a Bill for repealing the Marriage Act.

9. Speech on a Bill to quiet the Possessions of the Subject against
Dormant Claims of the Church.

With respect to these fragments, I have already stated the reasons by
which we were influenced in our determination to publish them. An
account of the state in which these manuscripts were found is given in
the note prefixed to this article.

XVI. Hints for an Essay on the Drama.

This fragment was perused in manuscript by a learned and judicious
critic, our late lamented friend, Mr. Malone; and under the protection
of his opinion we can feel no hesitation in submitting it to the
judgment of the public.

XVII. We are now come to the concluding article of this volume,--the
Essay on the History of England.

At what time of the author's life it was written cannot now be exactly
ascertained; but it was certainly begun before he had attained the age
of twenty-seven years, as it appears from an entry in the books of the
late Mr. Dodsley, that eight sheets of it, which contain the first
seventy-four pages of the present edition,[6] were printed in the year
1757. This is the only part that has received the finishing stroke of
the author. In those who are acquainted with the manner in which Mr.
Burke usually composed his graver literary works, and of which some
account is given in the Advertisement prefixed to the fourth volume,
this circumstance will excite a deep regret; and whilst the public
partakes with us in this feeling, it will doubtless be led to judge with
candor and indulgence of a work left in this imperfect and unfinished
state by its author.

Before I conclude, it may not be improper to take this opportunity of
acquainting the public with the progress that has been made towards the
completion of this undertaking. The sixth and seventh volumes, which
will consist entirely of papers that have a relation to the affairs of
the East India Company, and to the impeachment of Mr. Hastings, are now
in the press. The suspension of the consideration of the affairs of the
East India Company in Parliament till its nest session has made me very
desirous to get the sixth volume out as early as possible in the next
winter. The Ninth and Eleventh Reports of the Select Committee,
appointed to take into consideration certain affairs of the East India
Company in the year 1783, were written by Mr. Burke, and will be given
in that volume. They contain a full and comprehensive view of the
commerce, revenues, civil establishment, and general policy of the
Company, and will therefore be peculiarly interesting at this time to
the public.

The eighth and last volume will contain a narrative of the life of Mr.
Burke, which will be accompanied with such parts of his familiar
correspondence, and other occasional productions, as shall be thought
fit for publication.[7] The materials relating to the early years of his
life, alluded to in the Advertisement to the fourth volume, have been
lately recovered; and the communication of such as may still remain in
the possession of any private individuals is again most earnestly

Unequal as I feel myself to the task, I shall, my dear friend, lose no
time, nor spare any pains, in discharging the arduous duty that has
devolved upon me. You know the peculiar difficulties I labor under from
the failure of my eyesight; and you may congratulate me upon the
assistance which I have now procured from my neighbor, the worthy
chaplain[8] of Bromley College, who to the useful qualification of a
most patient amanuensis adds that of a good scholar and intelligent

And now, adieu, my dear friend,

And believe me ever affectionately yours,


BROMLEY HOUSE, August 1, 1812.


[1] Works, Vol. V., quarto edition, (London, F., C., & J. Rivington,
1812,)--Vol. IV. of that edition (London, F. & C. Rivington, 1802) being
the first posthumous volume,--and Vols. I., II., and III. (London, J.
Dodsley, 1792) comprising the collection published during the lifetime
of Mr. Burke.

[2] Prefixed to the first volume, in the other editions. For the account
referred to, see, in the present edition, Vol. I., pp. xiii., xiv.

[3] Page 86 of the present edition.

[4] In this edition, p. 91, near the top.

[5] In the fourth volume of the present edition.

[6] The quarto edition,--extending as far as Book II. ch. 2, near the
middle of the paragraph commencing, "The same regard to the welfare of
the people," &c.

[7] This design the editor did not live to execute.

[8] The Rev. J.J. Talman.







_Letter from the Right Honorable the Lord Auckland to the Lord Bishop of

EDEN FARM, KENT, July 18th, 1812.

My dear Lord,--Mr. Burke's fourth letter to Lord Fitzwilliam is
personally interesting to me: I have perused it with a respectful

When I communicated to Mr. Burke, in 1795, the printed work which he
arraigns and discusses, I was aware that he would differ from me.

Some light is thrown on the transaction by my note which gave rise to
it, and by his answer, which exhibits the admirable powers of his great
and good mind, deeply suffering at the time under a domestic calamity.

I have selected these two papers from my manuscript collection, and now
transmit them to your Lordship with a wish that they may be annexed to
the publication in question.

I have the honor to be, my dear Lord,

Yours most sincerely,



       *       *       *       *       *

_Letter from Lord Auckland to the Right Honorable Edmund Burke_.

EDEN FARM, KENT, October 28th, 1795.

My dear Sir,--

Though in the stormy ocean of the last twenty-three years we have seldom
sailed on the same tack, there has been nothing hostile in our signals
or manoeuvres, and, on my part at least, there has been a cordial
disposition towards friendly and respectful sentiments. Under that
influence, I now send to you a small work which exhibits my fair and
full opinions on the arduous circumstances of the moment, "as far as the
cautions necessary to be observed will permit me to go beyond general

Three or four of those friends with whom I am most connected in public
and private life are pleased to think that the statement in question
(which at first made part of a confidential paper) may do good, and
accordingly a very large impression will be published to-day. I neither
seek to avow the publication nor do I wish to disavow it. I have no
anxiety in that respect, but to contribute my mite to do service, at a
moment when service is much wanted.

I am, my dear Sir,

Most sincerely yours,



       *       *       *       *       *

_Letter from the Right Honorable Edmund Burke to Lord Auckland_.

My dear Lord,--

I am perfectly sensible of the very flattering honor you have done me in
turning any part of your attention towards a dejected old man, buried
in the anticipated grave of a feeble old age, forgetting and forgotten
in an obscure and melancholy retreat.

In this retreat I have nothing relative to this world to do, but to
study all the tranquillity that in the state of my mind I am capable of.
To that end I find it but too necessary to call to my aid an oblivion of
most of the circumstances, pleasant and unpleasant, of my life,--to
think as little and indeed to know as little as I can of everything that
is doing about me,--and, above all, to divert my mind from all
presagings and prognostications of what I must (if I let my speculations
loose) consider as of absolute necessity to happen after my death, and
possibly even before it. Your address to the public, which you have been
so good as to send to me, obliges me to break in upon that plan, and to
look a little on what is behind, and very much on what is before me. It
creates in my mind a variety of thoughts, and all of them unpleasant.

It is true, my Lord, what you say, that, through our public life, we
have generally sailed on somewhat different tacks. We have so,
undoubtedly; and we should do so still, if I had continued longer to
keep the sea. In that difference, you rightly observe that I have always
done justice to your skill and ability as a navigator, and to your good
intentions towards the safety of the cargo and of the ship's company. I
cannot say now that we are on different tacks. There would be no
propriety in the metaphor. I can sail no longer. My vessel cannot be
said to be even in port. She is wholly condemned and broken up. To have
an idea of that vessel, you must call to mind what you have often seen
on the Kentish road. Those planks of tough and hardy oak, that used for
years to brave the buffets of the Bay of Biscay, are now turned, with
their warped grain and empty trunnion-holes, into very wretched pales
for the inclosure of a wretched farm-yard.

The style of your pamphlet, and the eloquence and power of composition
you display in it, are such as do great honor to your talents, and in
conveying any other sentiments would give me very great pleasure.
Perhaps I do not very perfectly comprehend your purpose, and the drift
of your arguments. If I do not, pray do not attribute my mistake to want
of candor, but to want of sagacity. I confess, your address to the
public, together with other accompanying circumstances, has filled me
with a degree of grief and dismay which I cannot find words to express.
If the plan of politics there recommended--pray excuse my
freedom--should be adopted by the king's councils, and by the good
people of this kingdom, (as, so recommended, undoubtedly it will,)
nothing can be the consequence but utter and irretrievable ruin to the
ministry, to the crown, to the succession,--to the importance, to the
independence, to the very existence, of this country. This is my feeble,
perhaps, but clear, positive, decided, long and maturely reflected and
frequently declared opinion, from which all the events which have lately
come to pass, so far from turning me, have tended to confirm beyond the
power of alteration, even by your eloquence and authority. I find, my
dear Lord, that you think some persons, who are not satisfied with the
securities of a Jacobin peace, to be persons of intemperate minds. I may
be, and I fear I am, with you in that description; but pray, my Lord,
recollect that very few of the causes which make men intemperate can
operate upon me. Sanguine hopes, vehement desires, inordinate ambition,
implacable animosity, party attachments, or party interests,--all these
with me have no existence. For myself, or for a family, (alas! I have
none,) I have nothing to hope or to fear in this world. I am attached,
by principle, inclination, and gratitude, to the king, and to the
present ministry.

Perhaps you may think that my animosity to opposition is the cause of my
dissent, on seeing the politics of Mr. Fox (which, while I was in the
world, I combated by every instrument which God had put into my hands,
and in every situation in which I had taken part) so completely, if I at
all understand you, adopted in your Lordship's book: but it was with
pain I broke with that great man forever in that cause; and I assure
you, it is not without pain that I differ with your Lordship on the same
principles. But it is of no concern. I am far below the region of those
great and tempestuous passions. I feel nothing of the intemperance of
mind. It is rather sorrow and dejection than anger.

Once more my best thanks for your very polite attention; and do me the
favor to believe me, with the most perfect sentiments of respect and

My dear Lord,

Your Lordship's most obedient and humble servant,


BEACONSFIELD, Oct. 30th, 1795.

Friday Evening.



My dear Lord,--I am not sure that the best way of discussing any
subject, except those that concern the abstracted sciences, is not
somewhat in the way of dialogue. To this mode, however, there are two
objections: the first, that it happens, as in the puppet-show, one man
speaks for all the personages. An unnatural uniformity of tone is in a
manner unavoidable. The other and more serious objection is, that, as
the author (if not an absolute skeptic) must have some opinion of his
own to enforce, he will be continually tempted to enervate the arguments
he puts into the mouth of his adversary, or to place them in a point of
view most commodious for their refutation. There is, however, a sort of
dialogue not quite so liable to these objections, because it approaches
more nearly to truth and Nature: it is called CONTROVERSY. Here the
parties speak for themselves. If the writer who attacks another's
notions does not deal fairly with his adversary, the diligent reader has
it always in his power, by resorting to the work examined, to do justice
to the original author and to himself. For this reason you will not
blame me, if, in my discussion of the merits of a Regicide Peace, I do
not choose to trust to my own statements, but to bring forward along
with them the arguments of the advocates for that measure. If I choose
puny adversaries, writers of no estimation or authority, then you will
justly blame me. I might as well bring in at once a fictitious speaker,
and thus fall into all the inconveniences of an imaginary dialogue. This
I shall avoid; and I shall take no notice of any author who my friends
in town do not tell me is in estimation with those whose opinions he

A piece has been sent to me, called "Some Remarks on the Apparent
Circumstances of the War in the Fourth Week of October, 1795," with a
French motto: "_Que faire encore une fois dans une telle nuit? Attendre
le jour_." The very title seemed to me striking and peculiar, and to
announce something uncommon. In the time I have lived to, I always seem
to walk on enchanted ground. Everything is new, and, according to the
fashionable phrase, revolutionary. In former days authors valued
themselves upon the maturity and fulness of their deliberations.
Accordingly, they predicted (perhaps with more arrogance than reason) an
eternal duration to their works. The quite contrary is our present
fashion. Writers value themselves now on the instability of their
opinions and the transitory life of their productions. On this kind of
credit the modern institutors open their schools. They write for youth,
and it is sufficient, if the instruction "lasts as long as a present
love, or as the painted silks and cottons of the season."

The doctrines in this work are applied, for their standard, with great
exactness, to the shortest possible periods both of conception and
duration. The title is "Some Remarks on the _Apparent_ Circumstances of
the War _in the Fourth Week of October_, 1795." The time is critically
chosen. A month or so earlier would have made it the anniversary of a
bloody Parisian September, when the French massacre one another. A day
or two later would have carried it into a London November, the gloomy
month in which it is said by a pleasant author that Englishmen hang and
drown themselves. In truth, this work has a tendency to alarm us with
symptoms of public suicide. However, there is one comfort to be taken
even from the gloomy time of year. It is a rotting season. If what is
brought to market is not good, it is not likely to keep long. Even
buildings run up in haste with untempered mortar in that humid weather,
if they are ill-contrived tenements, do not threaten long to incumber
the earth. The author tells us (and I believe he is the very first
author that ever told such a thing to his readers) "that the _entire
fabric_ of his speculations might be overset by unforeseen
vicissitudes," and what is far more extraordinary, "that even the
_whole_ consideration might be _varied whilst he was writing those
pages."_ Truly, in my poor judgment, this circumstance formed a very
substantial motive for his not publishing those ill-considered
considerations at all. He ought to have followed the good advice of his
motto: "_Que faire encore dans une telle nuit? Attendre le jour_." He
ought to have waited till he had got a little more daylight on this
subject. Night itself is hardly darker than the fogs of that time.

Finding the _last week in October_ so particularly referred to, and not
perceiving any particular event, relative to the war, which happened on
any of the days in that week, I thought it possible that they were
marked by some astrological superstition, to which the greatest
politicians have been subject. I therefore had recourse to my Rider's
Almanack. There I found, indeed, something that characterized the work,
and that gave directions concerning the sudden political and natural
variations, and for eschewing the maladies that are most prevalent in
that aguish intermittent season, "the last week of October." On that
week the sagacious astrologer, Rider, in his note on the third column of
the calendar side, teaches us to expect "_variable and cold weather";_
but instead of encouraging us to trust ourselves to the haze and mist
and doubtful lights of that changeable week, on the answerable part of
the opposite page he gives us a salutary caution (indeed, it is very
nearly in the words of the author's motto): "_Avoid_," says he, "_being
out late at night and in foggy weather, for a cold now caught may last
the whole winter_."[9] This ingenious author, who disdained the prudence
of the Almanack, walked out in the very fog he complains of, and has led
us to a very unseasonable airing at that time. Whilst this noble writer,
by the vigor of an excellent constitution, formed for the violent
changes he prognosticates, may shake off the importunate rheum and
malignant influenza of this disagreeable week, a whole Parliament may go
on spitting and snivelling, and wheezing and coughing, during a whole
session. All this from listening to variable, hebdomadal politicians,
who run away from their opinions without giving us a month's
warning,--and for not listening to the wise and friendly admonitions of
Dr. Cardanus Rider, who never apprehends he may change his opinions
before his pen is out of his hand, but always enables us to lay in at
least a year's stock of useful information.

At first I took comfort. I said to myself, that, if I should, as I fear
I must, oppose the doctrines of _the last week of October_, it is
probable that by this time they are no longer those of the eminent
writer to whom they are attributed. He gives us hopes that long before
this he may have embraced the direct contrary sentiments. If I am found
in a conflict with those of the last week of October, I may be in full
agreement with those of the last week in December, or the first week in
January, 1796. But a second edition, and a French translation, (for the
benefit, I must suppose, of the new Regicide Directory,) have let down a
little of these flattering hopes. We and the Directory know that the
author, whatever changes his works seemed made to indicate, like a
weathercock grown rusty, remains just where he was in the last week of
last October. It is true, that his protest against binding him to his
opinions, and his reservation of a right to whatever opinions he
pleases, remain in their full force. This variability is pleasant, and
shows a fertility of fancy:--

    Qualis in aethereo felix Vertumnus Olympo
    Mille habet ornatus, mille decenter habet.

Yet, doing all justice to the sportive variability of these weekly,
daily, or hourly speculators, shall I be pardoned, if I attempt a word
on the part of us simple country folk? It is not good for _us_, however
it may be so for great statesmen, that we should be treated with
variable politics. I consider different relations as prescribing a
different conduct. I allow, that, in transactions with an enemy, a
minister may, and often must, vary his demands with the day, possibly
with the hour. With an enemy, a fixed plan, variable arrangements. This
is the rule the nature of the transaction prescribes. But all this
belongs to treaty. All these shiftings and changes are a sort of secret
amongst the parties, till a definite settlement is brought about. Such
is the spirit of the proceedings in the doubtful and transitory state of
things between enmity and friendship. In this change the subjects of the
transformation are by nature carefully wrapt up in their cocoons. The
gay ornament of summer is not seemly in his aurelia state. This
mutability is allowed to a foreign negotiator; but when a great
politician condescends publicly to instruct his own countrymen on a
matter which may fix their fate forever, his opinions ought not to be
diurnal, or even weekly. These ephemerides of politics are not made for
our slow and coarse understandings. Our appetite demands a _piece of
resistance_. We require some food that will stick to the ribs. We call
for sentiments to which we can attach ourselves,--sentiments in which we
can take an interest,--sentiments on which we can warm, on which we can
ground some confidence in ourselves or in others. We do not want a
largess of inconstancy. Poor souls, we have enough of that sort of
poverty at home. There is a difference, too, between deliberation and
doctrine: a man ought to be decided in his opinions before he attempts
to teach. His fugitive lights may serve himself in some unknown region,
but they cannot free us from the effects of the error into which we have
been betrayed. His active Will-o'-the-wisp may be gone nobody can guess
where, whilst he leaves us bemired and benighted in the bog.

Having premised these few reflections upon this new mode of teaching a
lesson, which whilst the scholar is getting by heart the master forgets,
I come to the lesson itself. On the fullest consideration of it, I am
utterly incapable of saying with any great certainty what it is, in the
detail, that the author means to affirm or deny, to dissuade or
recommend. His march is mostly oblique, and his doctrine rather in the
way of insinuation than of dogmatic assertion. It is not only fugitive
in its duration, but is slippery in the extreme whilst it lasts.
Examining it part by part, it seems almost everywhere to contradict
itself; and the author, who claims the privilege of varying his
opinions, has exercised this privilege in every section of his remarks.
For this reason, amongst others, I follow the advice which the able
writer gives in his last page, which is, "to consider the _impression_
of what he has urged, taken from the _whole_, and not from detached
paragraphs." That caution was not absolutely necessary. I should think
it unfair to the author and to myself to have proceeded otherwise. This
author's _whole_, however, like every other whole, cannot be so well
comprehended without some reference to the parts; but they shall be
again referred to the whole. Without this latter attention, several of
the passages would certainly remain covered with an impenetrable and
truly oracular obscurity.

The great, general, pervading purpose, of the whole pamphlet is to
reconcile us to peace with the present usurpation in France. In this
general drift of the author I can hardly be mistaken. The other
purposes, less general, and subservient to the preceding scheme, are to
show, first, that the time of the Remarks was the favorable time for
making that peace upon our side; secondly, that on the enemy's side
their disposition towards the acceptance of such terms as he is pleased
to offer was rationally to be expected; the third purpose was, to make
some sort of disclosure of the terms which, if the Regicides are pleased
to grant them, this nation ought to be contented to accept: these form
the basis of the negotiation which the author, whoever he is, proposes
to open.

Before I consider these Remarks along with the other reasonings which I
hear on the same subject, I beg leave to recall to your mind the
observation I made early in our correspondence, and which ought to
attend us quite through the discussion of this proposed peace, amity, or
fraternity, or whatever you may call it,--that is, the real quality and
character of the party you have to deal with. This I find, as a thing of
no importance, has everywhere escaped the author of the October Remarks.
That hostile power, to the period of the fourth week in that month, has
been ever called and considered as an usurpation. In that week, for the
first time, it changed its name of an usurped power, and took the simple
name of _France_. The word France is slipped in just as if the
government stood exactly as before that Revolution which has astonished,
terrified, and almost overpowered Europe. "France," says the author,
"will do this,"--"it is the interest of France,"--"the returning honor
and generosity of France," &c., &c.--always merely France: just as if
we were in a common political war with an old recognized member of the
commonwealth of Christian Europe,--and as if our dispute had turned upon
a mere matter of territorial or commercial controversy, which a peace
might settle by the imposition or the taking off a duty, with the gain
or the loss of a remote island or a frontier town or two, on the one
side or the other. This shifting of persons could not be done without
the hocus-pocus of _abstraction_. We have been in a grievous error: we
thought that we had been at war with _rebels_ against the lawful
government, but that we were friends and allies of what is properly
France, friends and allies to the legal body politic of France. But by
sleight of hand the Jacobins are clean vanished, and it is France we
have got under our cup. "Blessings on his soul that first invented
sleep!" said Don Sancho Panza the Wise. All those blessings, and ten
thousand times more, on him who found out abstraction, personification,
and impersonals! In certain cases they are the first of all soporifics.
Terribly alarmed we should be, if things were proposed to us in the
_concrete_, and if fraternity was held out to us with the individuals
who compose this France by their proper names and descriptions,--if we
were told that it was very proper to enter into the closest bonds of
amity and good correspondence with the devout, pacific, and
tender-hearted Sieyes, with the all-accomplished Reubell, with the
humane guillotinists of Bordeaux, Tallien and Isabeau, with the meek
butcher, Legendre, and with "the returned humanity and generosity" (that
had been only on a visit abroad) of the virtuous regicide brewer,
Santerre. This would seem at the outset a very strange scheme of amity
and concord,--nay, though we had held out to us, as an additional
_douceur_, an assurance of the cordial fraternal embrace of our pious
and patriotic countryman, Thomas Paine. But plain truth would here be
shocking and absurd; therefore comes in _abstraction_ and
personification. "Make your peace with France." That word _France_
sounds quite as well as any other; and it conveys no idea but that of a
very pleasant country and very hospitable inhabitants. Nothing absurd
and shocking in amity and good correspondence with _France_. Permit me
to say, that I am not yet well acquainted with this new-coined France,
and without a careful assay I am not willing to receive it in currency
in place of the old Louis-d'or.

Having, therefore, slipped the persons with whom we are to treat out of
view, we are next to be satisfied that the French Revolution, which this
peace is to fix and consolidate, ought to give us no just cause of
apprehension. Though the author labors this point, yet he confesses a
fact (indeed, he could not conceal it) which renders all his labors
utterly fruitless. He confesses that the Regicide means to _dictate_ a
pacification, and that this pacification, according to their decree
passed but a very few days before his publication appeared, is to "unite
to their empire, either in possession or dependence, new barriers, many
frontier places of strength, a large sea-coast, and many sea-ports." He
ought to have stated it, that they would annex to their territory a
country about a third as large as France, and much more than half as
rich, and in a situation the most important for command that it would be
possible for her anywhere to possess.

To remove this terror, (even if the Regicides should carry their
point,) and to give us perfect repose with regard to their empire,
whatever they may acquire, or whomsoever they might destroy, he raises a
doubt "whether France will not be ruined by _retaining_ these conquests,
and whether she will not wholly lose that preponderance which she has
held in the scale of European powers, and will not eventually be
destroyed by the effect of her present successes, or, at least, whether,
so far as the _political interests of England are concerned_, she
[France] will remain an object of as _much jealousy and alarm as she was
under the reign of a monarch_." Here, indeed, is a paragraph full of
meaning! It gives matter for meditation almost in every word of it. The
secret of the pacific politicians is out. This republic, at all hazards,
is to be maintained. It is to be confined within some bounds, if we can;
if not, with every possible acquisition of power, it is still to be
cherished and supported. It is the return of the monarchy we are to
dread, and therefore we ought to pray for the permanence of the Regicide
authority. _Esto perpetua_ is the devout ejaculation of our Fra Paolo
for the Republic one and indivisible. It was the monarchy that rendered
France dangerous: Regicide neutralizes all the acrimony of that power,
and renders it safe and social. The October speculator is of opinion
that monarchy is of so poisonous a quality that a moderate territorial
power is far more dangerous to its neighbors under that abominable
regimen than the greatest empire in the hands of a republic. This is
Jacobinism sublimed and exalted into most pure and perfect essence. It
is a doctrine, I admit, made to allure and captivate, if anything in the
world can, the Jacobin Directory, to mollify the ferocity of Regicide,
and to persuade those patriotic hangmen, after their reiterated oaths
for our extirpation, to admit this well-humbled nation to the fraternal
embrace. I do not wonder that this tub of October has been racked off
into a French cask. It must make its fortune at Paris. That translation
seems the language the most suited to these sentiments. Our author tells
the French Jacobins, that the political interests of Great Britain are
in perfect unison with the principles of their government,--that they
may take and keep the keys of the civilized world, for they are safe in
their unambitious and faithful custody. We say to them, "We may, indeed,
wish you to be a little less murderous, wicked, and atheistical, for the
sake of morals; we may think it were better you were less new-fangled in
your speech, for the sake of grammar; but, as _politicians_, provided
you keep clear of monarchy, all our fears, alarms, and jealousies are at
an end: at least, they sink into nothing in comparison of our dread of
your detestable royalty." A flatterer of Cardinal Mazarin said, when
that minister had just settled the match between the young Louis the
Fourteenth and a daughter of Spain, that this alliance had the effect of
faith and had removed mountains,--that the Pyrenees were levelled by
that marriage. You may now compliment Reubell in the same spirit on the
miracles of regicide, and tell him that the guillotine of Louis the
Sixteenth had consummated a marriage between Great Britain and France,
which dried up the Channel, and restored the two countries to the unity
which it is said they had before the unnatural rage of seas and
earthquakes had broke off their happy junction. It will be a fine
subject for the poets who are to prophesy the blessings of this peace.

I am now convinced that the Remarks of the last week of October cannot
come from the author to whom they are given, they are such a direct
contradiction to the style of manly indignation with which he spoke of
those miscreants and murderers in his excellent memorial to the States
of Holland,--to that very state which the author who presumes to
personate him does not find it contrary to the political interests of
England to leave in the hands of these very miscreants, against whom on
the part of England he took so much pains to animate their republic.
This cannot be; and if this argument wanted anything to give it new
force, it is strengthened by an additional reason, that is irresistible.
Knowing that noble person, as well as myself, to be under very great
obligations to the crown, I am confident he would not so very directly
contradict, even in the paroxysm of his zeal against monarchy, the
declarations made in the name and with the fullest approbation of our
sovereign, his master, and our common benefactor. In those declarations
you will see that the king, instead of being sensible of greater alarm
and jealousy from a neighboring crowned head than from, these regicides,
attributes all the dangers of Europe to the latter. Let this writer hear
the description given in the royal declaration of the scheme of power of
these miscreants, as "_a system destructive of all public order,
maintained by proscriptions, exiles, and confiscations without number,
by arbitrary imprisonments, by massacres which cannot be remembered
without horror, and at length by the execrable murder of a just and
beneficent sovereign, and of the illustrious princess, who with an
unshaken firmness has shared all the misfortunes of her royal consort,
his protracted sufferings, his cruel captivity, his ignominious
death_." After thus describing, with an eloquence and energy equalled
only by its truth, the means by which this usurped power had been
acquired and maintained, that government is characterized with equal
force. His Majesty, far from thinking monarchy in France to be a greater
object of jealousy than the Regicide usurpation, calls upon the French
to reestablish "_a monarchical government_" for the purpose of shaking
off "_the yoke of a sanguinary anarchy_,--_of that anarchy which has
broken all the most sacred bonds of society, dissolved all the relations
of civil life, violated every right, confounded every duty_,--_which
uses the name of liberty to exercise the most cruel tyranny, to
annihilate all property, to seize on all possessions_,--_which founds
its power on the pretended consent of the people, and itself carries
fire and sword through extensive provinces, for having demanded their
laws, their religion, and their lawful sovereign_."

"That strain I heard was of a higher mood." That declaration of our
sovereign was worthy of his throne. It is in a style which neither the
pen of the writer of October nor such a poor crow-quill as mine can ever
hope to equal. I am happy to enrich my letter with this fragment of
nervous and manly eloquence, which, if it had not emanated from the
awful authority of a throne, if it were not recorded amongst the most
valuable monuments of history, and consecrated in the archives of
states, would be worthy, as a private composition, to live forever in
the memory of men.

In those admirable pieces does his Majesty discover this new opinion of
his political security, in having the chair of the scorner, that is, the
discipline of atheism, and the block of regicide, set up by his side,
elevated on the same platform, and shouldering, with the vile image of
their grim and bloody idol, the inviolable majesty of his throne? The
sentiments of these declarations are the very reverse: they could not be
other. Speaking of the spirit of that usurpation, the royal manifesto
describes, with perfect truth, its internal tyranny to have been
established as the very means of shaking the security of all other
states,--as "_disposing arbitrarily of the property and blood of the
inhabitants of France, in order to disturb the tranquillity of other
nations, and to render all Europe the theatre of the same crimes and of
the same misfortunes_." It was but a natural inference from this fact,
that the royal manifesto does not at all rest the justification of this
war on common principles: that it was "_not only to defend his own
rights, and those of his allies_," but "_that all the dearest interests
of his people imposed upon him a duty still more important_,--_that of
exerting his efforts for the preservation of civil society itself, as
happily established among the nations of Europe_." On that ground, the
protection offered is to "those who, by declaring for a _monarchical
government_, shall shake off the yoke of a sanguinary anarchy." It is
for that purpose the declaration calls on them "to join the standard of
an _hereditary monarchy_,"--declaring that the _peace and safety_ of
this kingdom and the other powers of Europe "_materially depend on the
reestablishment of order in France_." His Majesty does not hesitate to
declare that "_the reestablishment of monarchy, in the person of Louis
the Seventeenth, and the lawful heirs of the crown, appears to him_ [his
Majesty] _the best mode of accomplishing these just and salutary

This is what his Majesty does not hesitate to declare relative to the
political safety and peace of his kingdom and of Europe, and with regard
to France under her ancient hereditary monarchy in the course and order
of legal succession. But in comes a gentleman, in the fag end of
October, dripping with the fogs of that humid and uncertain season, and
does not hesitate in diameter to contradict this wise and just royal
declaration, and stoutly, on his part, to make a counter
declaration,--that France, so far as the political interests of England
are concerned, will not remain, under the despotism of Regicide, and
with the better part of Europe in her hands, so much an object of
jealousy and alarm as she was under the reign of a monarch. When I hear
the master and reason on one side, and the servant and his single and
unsupported assertion on the other, my part is taken.

This is what the Octobrist says of the political interests of England,
which it looks as if he completely disconnected with those of all other
nations. But not quite so: he just allows it possible (with an "at
least") that the other powers may not find it quite their interest that
their territories should be conquered and their subjects tyrannized over
by the Regicides. No fewer than ten sovereign princes had, some the
whole, all a very considerable part of their dominions under the yoke of
that dreadful faction. Amongst these was to be reckoned the first
republic in the world, and the closest ally of this kingdom, which,
under the insulting name of an independency, is under her iron yoke,
and, as long as a faction averse to the old government is suffered there
to domineer, cannot be otherwise. I say nothing of the Austrian
Netherlands, countries of a vast extent, and amongst the most fertile
and populous of Europe, and, with regard to us, most critically
situated. The rest will readily occur to you.

But if there are yet existing any people, like me, old-fashioned enough
to consider that we have an important part of our very existence beyond
our limits, and who therefore stretch their thoughts beyond the
_pomoerium_ of England, for them, too, he has a comfort which will
remove all their jealousies and alarms about the extent of the empire of
Regicide. "_These conquests eventually will be the cause of her
destruction_." So that they who hate the cause of usurpation, and dread
the power of France under any form, are to wish her to be a conqueror,
in order to accelerate her ruin. A little more conquest would be still
better. Will he tell us what dose of dominion is to be the _quantum
sufficit_ for her destruction?--for she seems very voracious of the food
of her distemper. To be sure, she is ready to perish with repletion; she
has a _boulimia_, and hardly has bolted down one state than she calls
for two or three more. There is a good deal of wit in all this; but it
seems to me (with all respect to the author) to be carrying the joke a
great deal too far. I cannot yet think that the armies of the Allies
were of this way of thinking, and that, when they evacuated all these
countries, it was a stratagem of war to decoy France into ruin,--or
that, if in a treaty we should surrender them forever into the hands of
the usurpation, (the lease the author supposes,) it is a master-stroke
of policy to effect the destruction of a formidable rival, and to render
her no longer an object of jealousy and alarm. This, I assure the
author, will infinitely facilitate the treaty. The usurpers will catch
at this bait, without minding the hook which this crafty angler for the
Jacobin gudgeons of the new Directory has so dexterously placed under

Every symptom of the exacerbation of the public malady is, with him, (as
with the Doctor in Moliere,) a happy prognostic of recovery.--Flanders
gone. _Tant mieux_.--Holland subdued. Charming!--Spain beaten, and all
the hither Germany conquered. Bravo! Better and better still!--But they
will retain all their conquests on a treaty. Best of all!--What a
delightful thing it is to have a gay physician, who sees all things, as
the French express it, _couleur de rose!_ What an escape we have had,
that we and our allies were not the conquerors! By these conquests,
previous to her utter destruction, she is "wholly to lose that
preponderance which she held in the scale of the European powers." Bless
me! this new system of France, after changing all other laws, reverses
the law of gravitation. By throwing in weight after weight, her scale
rises, and will by-and-by kick the beam. Certainly there is one sense in
which she loses her preponderance: that is, she is no longer
preponderant against the countries she has conquered. They are part of
herself. But I beg the author to keep his eyes fixed on the scales for a
moment longer, and then to tell me, in downright earnest, whether he
sees hitherto any signs of her losing preponderance by an augmentation
of weight and power. Has she lost her preponderance over Spain by her
influence in Spain? Are there any signs that the conquest of Savoy and
Nice begins to lessen her preponderance over Switzerland and the Italian
States,--or that the Canton of Berne, Genoa, and Tuscany, for example,
have taken arms against her,--or that Sardinia is more adverse than
ever to a treacherous pacification? Was it in the last week of October
that the German States showed that Jacobin. France was losing her
preponderance? Did the King of Prussia, when he delivered into her safe
custody his territories on this side of the Rhine, manifest any tokens
of his opinion of her loss of preponderance? Look on Sweden and on
Denmark: is her preponderance less visible there?

It is true, that, in a course of ages, empires have fallen, and, in the
opinion of some, not in mine, by their own weight. Sometimes they have
been unquestionably embarrassed in their movements by the dissociated
situation of their dominions. Such was the case of the empire of Charles
the Fifth and of his successor. It might be so of others. But so compact
a body of empire, so fitted in all the parts for mutual support, with a
frontier by Nature and Art so impenetrable, with such facility of
breaking out with irresistible force from every quarter, was never seen
in such an extent of territory, from the beginning of time, as in that
empire which the Jacobins possessed in October, 1795, and which Boissy
d'Anglas, in his report, settled as the law for Europe, and the dominion
assigned by Nature for the Republic of Regicide. But this empire is to
be her ruin, and to take away all alarm and jealousy on the part of
England, and to destroy her preponderance over the miserable remains of

These are choice speculations with which the author amuses himself, and
tries to divert us, in the blackest hours of the dismay, defeat, and
calamity of all civilized nations. They have but one fault,--that they
are directly contrary to the common sense and common feeling of
mankind. If I had but one hour to live, I would employ it in decrying
this wretched system, and die with my pen in my hand to mark out the
dreadful consequences of receiving an arrangement of empire dictated by
the despotism of Regicide to my own country, and to the lawful
sovereigns of the Christian world.

I trust I shall hardly be told, in palliation of this shameful system of
politics, that the author expresses his sentiments only as doubts. In
such things, it may be truly said, that "once to doubt is once to be
resolved." It would be a strange reason for wasting the treasures and
shedding the blood of our country, to prevent arrangements on the part
of another power, of which we were doubtful whether they might not be
even to our advantage, and render our neighbor less than before the
object of our jealousy and alarm. In this doubt there is much decision.
No nation would consent to carry on a war of skepticism. But the fact
is, this expression of doubt is only a mode of putting an opinion, when
it is not the drift of the author to overturn the doubt. Otherwise, the
doubt is never stated as the author's own, nor left, as here it is,
unanswered. Indeed, the mode of stating the most decided opinions in the
form of questions is so little uncommon, particularly since the
excellent queries of the excellent Berkeley, that it became for a good
while a fashionable mode of composition.

Here, then, the author of the Fourth Week of October is ready for the
worst, and would strike the bargain of peace on these conditions. I must
leave it to you and to every considerate man to reflect upon the effect
of this on any Continental alliances, present or future, and whether it
would be possible (if this book was thought of the least authority)
that its maxims with regard to our political interest must not naturally
push them to be beforehand with us in the fraternity with Regicide, and
thus not only strip us of any steady alliance at present, but leave us
without any of that communion of interest which could produce alliances
in future. Indeed, with these maxims, we should be well divided from the

Notwithstanding this new kind of barrier and security that is found
against her ambition in her conquests, yet in the very same paragraph he
admits, that, "for the _present_, at least, it is subversive of the
balance of power." This, I confess, is not a direct contradiction,
because the benefits which he promises himself from it, according to his
hypothesis, are future and more remote.

So disposed is this author to peace, that, having laid a comfortable
foundation for our security in the greatness of her empire, he has
another in reserve, if that should fail, upon quite a contrary ground:
that is, a speculation of her crumbling to pieces, and being thrown into
a number of little separate republics. After paying the tribute of
humanity to those who will be ruined by all these changes, on the whole
he is of opinion that "the change might be compatible with general
tranquillity, and with the establishment of a peaceful and prosperous
commerce among nations." Whether France be great or small, firm and
entire or dissipated and divided, all is well, provided we can have
peace with her.

But without entering into speculations about her dismemberment, whilst
she is adding great nations to her empire, is it, then, quite so certain
that the dissipation of France into such a cluster of petty republics
would be so very favorable to the true balance of power in Europe as
this author imagines it would be, and to the commerce of nations? I
greatly differ from him. I perhaps shall prove in a future letter, with
the political map of Europe before my eye, that the general liberty and
independence of the great Christian commonwealth could not exist with
such a dismemberment, unless it were followed (as probably enough it
would) by the dismemberment of every other considerable country in
Europe: and what convulsions would arise in the constitution of every
state in Europe it is not easy to conjecture in the mode, impossible not
to foresee in the mass. Speculate on, good my Lord! provided you ground
no part of your politics on such unsteady speculations. But as to any
practice to ensue, are we not yet cured of the malady of speculating on
the circumstances of things totally different from those in which we
live and move? Five years has this monster continued whole and entire in
all its members. Far from falling into a division within itself, it is
augmented by tremendous additions. We cannot bear to look that frightful
form in the face, as it is, and in its own actual shape. We dare not be
wise; we have not the fortitude of rational fear; we will not provide
for our future safety; but we endeavor to hush the cries of present
timidity by guesses at what may be hereafter,--

    "To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow."

Is this our style of talk, when

        "all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death"?

Talk not to me of what swarm of republics may come from this carcass! It
is no carcass. Now, now, whilst we are talking, it is full of life and
action. What say you to the Regicide empire of to-day? Tell me, my
friend, do its terrors appall you into an abject submission, or rouse
you to a vigorous defence? But do--I no longer prevent it--do go
on,--look into futurity. Has this empire nothing to alarm you when all
struggle against it is over, when mankind shall be silent before it,
when all nations shall be disarmed, disheartened, and _truly divided_ by
a treacherous peace? Its malignity towards humankind will subsist with
undiminished heat, whilst the means of giving it effect must proceed,
and every means of resisting it must inevitably and rapidly decline.

Against alarm on their politic and military empire these are the
writer's sedative remedies. But he leaves us sadly in the dark with
regard to the moral consequences, which he states have threatened to
demolish a system of civilization under which his country enjoys a
prosperity unparalleled in the history of man. We had emerged from our
first terrors, but here we sink into them again,--however, only to shake
them off upon the credit of his being a man of very sanguine hopes.

Against the moral terrors of this successful empire of barbarism, though
he has given us no consolation here, in another place he has formed
other securities,--securities, indeed, which will make even the enormity
of the crimes and atrocities of France a benefit to the world. We are to
be cured by her diseases. We are to grow proud of our Constitution upon,
the distempers of theirs. Governments throughout all Europe are to
become much stronger by this event. This, too, comes in the favorite
mode of _doubt_ and _perhaps_. "To those," he says, "who meditate on
the workings of the human mind, a doubt may perhaps arise, whether the
effects which I have described," (namely, the change he supposes to be
wrought on the public mind with regard to the French doctrines,) "though
_at present_ a salutary check to the dangerous spirit of innovation, may
not prove favorable to abuses of power, by creating a timidity in the
just cause of liberty." Here the current of our apprehensions takes a
contrary course. Instead of trembling for the existence of our
government from the spirit of licentiousness and anarchy, the author
would make us believe we are to tremble for our liberties from the great
accession of power which is to accrue to government.

I believe I have read in some author who criticized the productions of
the famous Jurieu, that it is not very wise in people who dash away in
prophecy, to fix the time of accomplishment at too short a period. Mr.
Brothers may meditate upon this at his leisure. He was a melancholy
prognosticator, and has had the fate of melancholy men. But they who
prophesy pleasant things get great present applause; and in days of
calamity people have something else to think of: they lose, in their
feeling of their distress, all memory of those who flattered them in
their prosperity. But merely for the credit of the prediction, nothing
could have happened more unluckily for the noble lord's sanguine
expectations of the amendment of the public mind, and the consequent
greater security to government, from the examples in France, than what
happened in the week after the publication of his hebdomadal system. I
am not sure it was not in the very week one of the most violent and
dangerous seditions broke out that we have seen in several years. This
sedition, menacing to the public security, endangering the sacred person
of the king, and violating in the most audacious manner the authority of
Parliament, surrounded our sovereign with a murderous yell and war-whoop
for that peace which the noble lord considers as a cure for all domestic
disturbances and dissatisfactions.

So far as to this general cure for popular disorders. As for government,
the two Houses of Parliament, instead of being guided by the
speculations of the Fourth Week in October, and throwing up new barriers
against the dangerous power of the crown, which the noble lord
considered as no unplausible subject of apprehension, the two Houses of
Parliament thought fit to pass two acts for the further strengthening of
that very government against a most dangerous and wide-spread faction.

Unluckily, too, for this kind of sanguine speculation, on the very first
day of the ever-famed "last week of October," a large, daring, and
seditious meeting was publicly held, from which meeting this atrocious
attempt against the sovereign publicly originated.

No wonder that the author should tell us that the whole consideration
might be varied _whilst he was writing those pages_. In one, and that
the most material instance, his speculations not only might be, but were
at that very time, entirely overset. Their war-cry for peace with France
was the same with that of this gentle author, but in a different note.
His is the _gemitus columbae_, cooing and wooing fraternity; theirs the
funereal screams of birds of night calling for their ill-omened
paramours. But they are both songs of courtship. These Regicides
considered a Regicide peace as a cure for all their evils; and so far
as I can find, they showed nothing at all of the timidity which the
noble lord apprehends in what they call the just cause of liberty.

However, it seems, that, notwithstanding these awkward appearances with
regard to the strength of government, he has still his fears and doubts
about our liberties. To a free people this would be a matter of alarm;
but this physician of October has in his shop all sorts of salves for
all sorts of sores. It is curious that they all come from the
inexhaustible drug-shop of the Regicide dispensary. It costs him nothing
to excite terror, because he lays it at his pleasure. He finds a
security for this danger to liberty from the wonderful wisdom to be
taught to kings, to nobility, and even, to the lowest of the people, by
the late transactions.

I confess I was always blind enough to regard the French Revolution, in
the act, and much more in the example, as one of the greatest calamities
that had ever fallen upon mankind. I now find that in its effects it is
to be the greatest of all blessings. If so, we owe _amende honorable_ to
the Jacobins. They, it seems, were right; and if they were right a
little earlier than we are, it only shows that they exceeded us in
sagacity. If they brought out their right ideas somewhat in a disorderly
manner, it must be remembered that great zeal produces some
irregularity; but when greatly in the right, it must be pardoned by
those who are very regularly and temperately in the wrong. The master
Jacobins had told me this a thousand times. I never believed the
masters; nor do I now find myself disposed to give credit to the
disciple. I will not much dispute with our author, which party has the
best of this Revolution,--that which is from thence to learn wisdom, or
that which from the same event has obtained power. The dispute on the
preference of strength to wisdom may perhaps be decided as Horace has
decided the controversy between Art and Nature. I do not like to leave
all the power to my adversary, and to secure nothing to myself but the
untimely wisdom that is taught by the consequences of folly. I do not
like my share in the partition: because to his strength my adversary may
possibly add a good deal of cunning, whereas my wisdom may totally fail
in producing to me the same degree of strength. But to descend from the
author's generalities a little nearer to meaning, the security given to
liberty is this,--"that governments will have learned not to precipitate
themselves into embarrassments by speculative wars. Sovereigns and
princes will not forget that steadiness, moderation, and economy are the
best supports of the eminence on which they stand." There seems to me a
good deal of oblique reflection in this lesson. As to the lesson itself,
it is at all times a good one. One would think, however, by this formal
introduction of it as a recommendation of the arrangements proposed by
the author, it had never been taught before, either by precept or by
experience,--and that these maxims are discoveries reserved for a
Regicide peace. But is it permitted to ask what security it affords to
the liberty of the subject, that the prince is pacific or frugal? The
very contrary has happened in our history. Our best securities for
freedom have been obtained from princes who were either warlike, or
prodigal, or both.

Although the amendment of princes in these points can
have no effect in quieting our apprehensions for liberty on account of
the strength to be acquired to government by a Regicide peace, I allow
that the avoiding of speculative wars may possibly be an advantage,
provided I well understand what the author means by a speculative war. I
suppose he means a war grounded on speculative advantages, and not wars
founded on a just speculation of danger. Does he mean to include this
war, which we are now carrying on, amongst those speculative wars which
this Jacobin peace is to teach sovereigns to avoid hereafter? If so, it
is doing the party an important service. Does he mean that we are to
avoid such wars as that of the Grand Alliance, made on a speculation of
danger to the independence of Europe? I suspect he has a sort of
retrospective view to the American war, as a speculative war, carried on
by England upon one side and by Louis the Sixteenth on the other. As to
our share of that war, let reverence to the dead and respect to the
living prevent us from reading lessons of this kind at their expense. I
don't know how far the author may find himself at liberty to wanton on
that subject; but, for my part, I entered into a coalition which, when I
had no longer a duty relative to that business, made me think myself
bound in honor not to call it up without necessity. But if he puts
England out of the question, and reflects only on Louis the Sixteenth, I
have only to say, "Dearly has he answered it!" I will not defend him.
But all those who pushed on the Revolution by which he was deposed were
much more in fault than he was. They have murdered him, and have divided
his kingdom as a spoil; but they who are the guilty are not they who
furnish the example. They who reign through his fault are not among
those sovereigns who are likely to be taught to avoid speculative wars
by the murder of their master. I think the author will not be hardy
enough to assert that they have shown less disposition to meddle in the
concerns of that very America than he did, and in a way not less likely
to kindle the flame of speculative war. Here is one sovereign not yet
reclaimed by these healing examples. Will he point out the other
sovereigns who are to be reformed by this peace? Their wars may not be
speculative. But the world will not be much mended by turning wars from
unprofitable and speculative to practical and lucrative, whether the
liberty or the repose of mankind is regarded. If the author's new
sovereign in France is not reformed by the example of his own
Revolution, that Revolution has not added much to the security and
repose of Poland, for instance, or taught the three great partitioning
powers more moderation in their second than they had shown in their
first division of that devoted country. The first division, which
preceded these destructive examples, was moderation itself, in
comparison of what has been, done since the period of the author's

This paragraph is written with something of a studied obscurity. If it
means anything, it seems to hint as if sovereigns were to learn
moderation, and an attention to the liberties of their people, from _the
fate of the sovereigns who have suffered in this war_, and eminently of
Louis the Sixteenth.

Will he say whether the King of Sardinia's horrible tyranny was the
cause of the loss of Savoy and of Nice? What lesson of moderation does
it teach the Pope? I desire to know whether his Holiness is to learn not
to massacre his subjects, nor to waste and destroy such beautiful
countries as that of Avignon, lest he should call to their assistance
that great deliverer of nations, _Jourdan Coupe-tete_? What lesson does
it give of moderation to the Emperor, whose predecessor never put one
man to death after a general rebellion of the Low Countries, that the
Regicides never spared man, woman, or child, whom they but suspected of
dislike to their usurpations? What, then, are all these lessons about
the _softening_ the character of sovereigns by this Regicide peace? On
reading this section, one would imagine that the poor tame sovereigns of
Europe had been a sort of furious wild beasts, that stood in need of
some uncommonly rough discipline to subdue the ferocity of their savage

As to the example to be learnt from the murder of Louis the Sixteenth,
if a lesson to kings is not derived from his fate, I do not know whence
it can come. The author, however, ought not to have left us in the dark
upon that subject, to break our shins over his hints and insinuations.
Is it, then, true, that this unfortunate monarch drew his punishment
upon himself by his want of moderation, and his oppressing the liberties
of which he had found his people in possession? Is not the direct
contrary the fact? And is not the example of this Revolution the very
reverse of anything which can lead to that _softening_ of character in
princes which the author supposes as a security to the people, and has
brought forward as a recommendation to fraternity with those who have
administered that happy emollient in the murder of their king and the
slavery and desolation of their country?

But the author does not confine the benefit of the Regicide lesson to
kings alone. He has a diffusive bounty. Nobles, and men of property,
will likewise be greatly reformed. They, too, will be led to a review of
their social situation and duties,--"and will reflect, that their large
allotment of worldly advantages is for the aid and benefit of the
whole." Is it, then, from the fate of Juigne, Archbishop of Paris, or of
the Cardinal de Rochefoucault, and of so many others, who gave their
fortunes, and, I may say, their very beings, to the poor, that the rich
are to learn, that their "fortunes are for the aid and benefit of the
whole"? I say nothing of the liberal persons of great rank and property,
lay and ecclesiastic, men and women, to whom we have had the honor and
happiness of affording an asylum: I pass by these, lest I should never
have done, or lest I should omit some as deserving as any I might
mention. Why will the author, then, suppose that the nobles and men of
property in France have been banished, confiscated, and murdered, on
account of the savageness and ferocity of their character, and their
being tainted with vices beyond those of the same order and description
in other countries? No judge of a revolutionary tribunal, with his hands
dipped in their blood and his maw gorged with their property, has yet
dared to assert what this author has been pleased, by way of a moral
lesson, to insinuate.

Their nobility, and their men of property, in a mass, had the very same
virtues, and the very same vices, and in the very same proportions, with
the same description of men in this and in other nations. I must do
justice to suffering honor, generosity, and integrity. I do not know
that any time or any country has furnished more splendid examples of
every virtue, domestic and public. I do not enter into the councils of
Providence; but, humanly speaking, many of these nobles and men of
property, from whose disastrous fate we are, it seems, to learn a
general softening of character, and a revision of our social situations
and duties, appear to me full as little deserving of that fate as the
author, whoever he is, can be. Many of them, I am sure, were such as I
should be proud indeed to be able to compare myself with, in knowledge,
in integrity, and in every other virtue. My feeble nature might shrink,
though theirs did not, from the proof; but my reason and my ambition
tell me that it would be a good bargain to purchase their merits with
their fate.

For which of his vices did that great magistrate, D'Espremenil, lose his
fortune and his head? What were the abominations of Malesherbes, that
other excellent magistrate, whose sixty years of uniform virtue was
acknowledged, in the very act of his murder, by the judicial butchers
who condemned him? On account of what misdemeanors was he robbed of his
property, and slaughtered with two generations of his offspring,--and
the remains of the third race, with a refinement of cruelty, and lest
they should appear to reclaim the property forfeited by the virtues of
their ancestor, confounded in an hospital with the thousands of those
unhappy foundling infants who are abandoned, without relation and
without name, by the wretchedness or by the profligacy of their parents?

Is the fate of the Queen of France to produce this softening of
character? Was she a person so very ferocious and cruel, as, by the
example of her death, to frighten us into common humanity? Is there no
way to teach the Emperor a _softening_ of character, and a review of
his social situation and duty, but his consent, by an infamous accord
with Regicide, to drive a second coach with the Austrian arms through
the streets of Paris, along which, after a series of preparatory horrors
exceeding the atrocities of the bloody execution itself, the glory of
the Imperial race had been carried to an ignominious death? Is this a
lesson of _moderation_ to a descendant of Maria Theresa, drawn from the
fate of the daughter of that incomparable woman and sovereign? If he
learns this lesson from such an object, and from such teachers, the man
may remain, but the king is deposed. If he does not carry quite another
memory of that transaction in the inmost recesses of his heart, he is
unworthy to reign, he is unworthy to live. In the chronicle of disgrace
he will have but this short tale told of him: "He was the first emperor
of his house that embraced a regicide; he was the last that wore the
imperial purple." Far am I from thinking so ill of this august
sovereign, who is at the head of the monarchies of Europe, and who is
the trustee of their dignities and his own.

What ferocity of character drew on the fate of Elizabeth, the sister of
King Louis the Sixteenth? For which of the vices of that pattern of
benevolence, of piety, and of all the virtues, did they put her to
death? For which of her vices did they put to death the mildest of all
human creatures, the Duchess of Biron? What were the crimes of those
crowds of matrons and virgins of condition, whom they mas sacred, with
their juries of blood, in prisons and on scaffolds? What were the
enormities of the infant king, whom they caused, by lingering tortures,
to perish in their dungeon, and whom if at last they dispatched by
poison, it was in that detestable crime the only act of mercy they have
ever shown?

What softening of character is to be had, what review of their social
situations and duties is to be taught by these examples to kings, to
nobles, to men of property, to women, and to infants? The royal family
perished because it was royal. The nobles perished because they were
noble. The men, women, and children, who had property, because they had
property to be robbed of. The priests were punished, after they had been
robbed of their all, not for their vices, but for their virtues and
their piety, which made them an honor to their sacred profession, and to
that nature of which we ought to be proud, since they belong to it. My
Lord, nothing can be learned from such examples, except the danger of
being kings, queens, nobles, priests, and children, to be butchered on
account of their inheritance. These are things at which not vice, not
crime, not folly, but wisdom, goodness, learning, justice, probity,
beneficence, stand aghast. By these examples our reason and our moral
sense are not enlightened, but confounded; and there is no refuge for
astonished and affrighted virtue, but being annihilated in humility and
submission, sinking into a silent adoration of the inscrutable
dispensations of Providence, and flying with trembling wings from this
world of daring crimes, and feeble, pusillanimous, half-bred, bastard
justice, to the asylum of another order of things, in an unknown form,
but in a better life.

Whatever the politician or preacher of September or of October may think
of the matter, it is a most comfortless, disheartening, desolating
example. Dreadful is the example of ruined innocence and virtue, and
the completest triumph of the completest villany that ever vexed and
disgraced mankind! The example is ruinous in every point of view,
religious, moral, civil, political. It establishes that dreadful maxim
of Machiavel, that in great affairs men are not to be wicked by halves.
This maxim is not made for a middle sort of beings, who, because they
cannot be angels, ought to thwart their ambition, and not endeavor to
become infernal spirits. It is too well exemplified in the present time,
where the faults and errors of humanity, checked by the imperfect,
timorous virtues, have been overpowered by those who have stopped at no
crime. It is a dreadful part of the example, that infernal malevolence
has had pious apologists, who read their lectures on frailties in favor
of crimes,--who abandon the weak, and court the friendship of the
wicked. To root out these maxims, and the examples that support them, is
a wise object of years of war. This is that war. This is that moral war.
It was said by old Trivulzio, that the Battle of Marignano was the
Battle of the Giants,--that all the rest of the many he had seen were
those of the Cranes and Pygmies. This is true of the objects, at least,
of the contest: for the greater part of those which we have hitherto
contended for, in comparison, were the toys of children.

The October politician is so full of charity and good-nature, that he
supposes that these very robbers and murderers themselves are in a
course of melioration: on what ground I cannot conceive, except on the
long practice of every crime, and by its complete success. He is an
Origenist, and believes in the conversion of the Devil. All that runs in
the place of blood in his veins is nothing but the milk of human
kindness. He is as soft as a curd,--though, as a politician, he might be
supposed to be made of sterner stuff. He supposes (to use his own
expression) "that the salutary truths which he inculcates are making
their way into their bosoms." Their bosom is a rock of granite, on which
Falsehood has long since built her stronghold. Poor Truth has had a hard
work of it, with her little pickaxe. Nothing but gunpowder will do.

As a proof, however, of the progress of this sap of Truth, he gives us a
confession they had made not long before he wrote. "'Their fraternity'
(as was lately stated by themselves in a solemn report) 'has been the
brotherhood of Cain and Abel,' and 'they have organized nothing but
bankruptcy and famine.'" A very honest confession, truly,--and much in
the spirit of their oracle, Rousseau. Yet, what is still more marvellous
than the confession, this is the very fraternity to which our author
gives us such an obliging invitation to accede. There is, indeed, a
vacancy in the fraternal corps: a brother and a partner is wanted. If we
please, we may fill up the place of the butchered Abel; and whilst we
wait the destiny of the departed brother, we may enjoy the advantages of
the partnership, by entering without delay into a shop of ready-made
bankruptcy and famine. These are the _douceurs_ by which we are invited
to Regicide fraternity and friendship. But still our author considers
the confession as a proof that "truth is making its way into their
bosoms." No! It is not making its way into their bosoms. It has forced
its way into their mouths! The evil spirit by which they are possessed,
though essentially a liar, is forced by the tortures of conscience to
confess the truth,--to confess enough for their condemnation, but not
for their amendment. Shakspeare very aptly expresses this kind of
confession, devoid of repentance, from the mouth of an usurper, a
murderer, and a regicide:--

            "We are ourselves compelled,
    Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
    To give in evidence."

Whence is their amendment? Why, the author writes, that, on their
murderous insurrectionary system, their own lives are not sure for an
hour; nor has their power a greater stability. True. They are convinced
of it; and accordingly the wretches have done all they can to preserve
their lives, and to secure their power; but not one step have they taken
to amend the one or to make a more just use of the other. Their wicked
policy has obliged them to make a pause in the only massacres in which
their treachery and cruelty had operated as a kind of savage
justice,--that is, the massacre of the accomplices of their crimes: they
have ceased to shed the inhuman blood of their fellow-murderers; but
when they take any of those persons who contend for their lawful
government, their property, and their religion, notwithstanding the
truth which this author says is making its way into their bosoms, it has
not taught them the least tincture of mercy. This we plainly see by
their massacre at Quiberon, where they put to death, with every species
of contumely, and without any exception, every prisoner of war who did
not escape out of their hands. To have had property, to have been robbed
of it, and to endeavor to regain it,--these are crimes irremissible, to
which every man who regards his property or his life, in every country,
ought well to look in all connection with those with whom to have had
property was an offence, to endeavor to keep it a second offence, to
attempt to regain it a crime that puts the offender out of all the laws
of peace or war. You cannot see one of those wretches without an alarm
for your life as well as your goods. They are like the worst of the
French and Italian banditti, who, whenever they robbed, were sure to

Are they not the very same ruffians, thieves, assassins, and regicides
that they were from the beginning? Have they diversified the scene by
the least variety, or produced the face of a single new villany? _Taedet
harum quotidianarum formarum_. Oh! but I shall be answered, "It is now
quite another thing;--they are all changed. You have not seen them in
their state dresses;--this makes an amazing difference. The new habit of
the Directory is so charmingly fancied, that it is impossible not to
fall in love with so well-dressed a Constitution;--the costume of the
_sans-culotte_ Constitution of 1793 was absolutely insufferable. The
Committee for Foreign Affairs were such slovens, and stunk so
abominably, that no _muscadin_ ambassador of the smallest degree of
delicacy of nerves could come within ten yards of them; but now they are
so powdered, and perfumed, and ribanded, and sashed, and plumed, that,
though they are grown infinitely more insolent in their fine clothes
even than they were in their rags, (and that was enough,) as they now
appear, there is something in it more grand and noble, something more
suitable to an awful Roman Senate receiving the homage of dependent
tetrarchs. Like that Senate, (their perpetual model for conduct towards
other nations,) they permit their vassals (during their good pleasure)
to assume the name of kings, in order to bestow more dignity on the
suite and retinue of the sovereign Republic by the nominal rank of their
slaves: _Ut habeant instrumenta servitutis et reges_." All this is very
fine, undoubtedly; and ambassadors whose hands are almost out for want
of employment may long to have their part in this august ceremony of the
Republic one and indivisible. But, with great deference to the new
diplomatic taste, we old people must retain some square-toed
predilection, for the fashions of our youth.

I am afraid you will find me, my Lord, again falling into my usual
vanity, in valuing myself on the eminent men whose society I once
enjoyed. I remember, in a conversation I once had with my ever dear
friend Garrick, who was the first of actors, because he was the most
acute observer of Nature I ever knew, I asked him how it happened, that,
whenever a senate appeared on the stage, the audience seemed always
disposed to laughter. He said, the reason was plain: the audience was
well acquainted with the faces of most of the senators. They knew that
they were no other than candle-snuffers, revolutionary scene-shifters,
second and third mob, prompters, clerks, executioners, who stand with
their axe on their shoulders by the wheel, grinners in the pantomime,
murderers in tragedies, who make ugly faces under black wigs,--in short,
the very scum and refuse of the theatre; and it was of course that the
contrast of the vileness of the actors with the pomp of their habits
naturally excited ideas of contempt and ridicule.

So it was at Paris on the inaugural day of the Constitution for the
present year. The foreign ministers were ordered to attend at this
investiture of the Directory;--for so they call the managers of their
burlesque government. The diplomacy, who were a sort of strangers, were
quite awe-struck with the "pride, pomp, and circumstance" of this
majestic senate; whilst the _sans-culotte_ gallery instantly recognized
their old insurrectionary acquaintance, burst out into a horse-laugh at
their absurd finery, and held them in infinitely greater contempt than
whilst they prowled about the streets in the pantaloons of the last
year's Constitution, when their legislators appeared honestly, with
their daggers in their belts, and their pistols peeping out of their
side-pocket-holes, like a bold, brave banditti, as they are. The
Parisians (and I am much of their mind) think that a thief with a crape
on his visage is much worse than a barefaced knave, and that such
robbers richly deserve all the penalties of all the black acts. In this
their thin disguise, their comrades of the late abdicated sovereign
_canaille_ hooted and hissed them, and from that day have no other name
for them than what is not quite so easy to render into English,
impossible to make it very civil English: it belongs, indeed, to the
language of the _halles_: but, without being instructed in that dialect,
it was the opinion of the polite Lord Chesterfield that no man could be
a complete master of French. Their Parisian brethren called them _gueux
plumes_, which, though not elegant, is expressive and characteristic:
_feathered scoundrels_, I think, comes the nearest to it in that kind of
English. But we are now to understand that these _gueux_, for no other
reason, that I can divine, except their red and white clothes, form at
last a state with which we may cultivate amity, and have a prospect of
the blessings of a secure and permanent peace. In effect, then, it was
not with the men, or their principles, or their polities, that we
quarrelled: our sole dislike was to the cut of their clothes.

But to pass over _their_ dresses,--good God! in what habits did the
representatives of the crowned heads of Europe appear, when they came to
swell the pomp of their humiliation, and attended in solemn function
this inauguration of Regicide? That would be the curiosity. Under what
robes did they cover the disgrace and degradation of the whole college
of kings? What warehouses of masks and dominoes furnished a cover to the
nakedness of their shame? The shop ought to be known; it will soon have
a good trade. Were the dresses of the ministers of those lately called
potentates, who attended on that occasion, taken from the wardrobe of
that property-man at the opera, from whence my old acquaintance,
Anacharsis Clootz, some years ago equipped a body of ambassadors, whom
he conducted, as from all the nations of the world, to the bar of what
was called the Constituent Assembly? Among those mock ministers, one of
the most conspicuous figures was the representative of the British
nation, who unluckily was wanting at the late ceremony. In the face of
all the real ambassadors of the sovereigns of Europe was this ludicrous
representation of their several subjects, under the name of _oppressed
sovereigns_,[10] exhibited to the Assembly. That Assembly received an
harangue, in the name of those sovereigns, against their kings,
delivered by this Clootz, actually a subject of Prussia, under the name
of Ambassador of the Human Race. At that time there was only a feeble
reclamation from one of the ambassadors of these tyrants and oppressors.
A most gracious answer was given to the ministers of the oppressed
sovereigns; and they went so far on that occasion as to assign them, in
that assumed character, a box at one of their festivals.

I was willing to indulge myself in an hope that this second appearance
of ambassadors was only an insolent mummery of the same kind; but, alas!
Anacharsis himself, all fanatic as he was, could not have imagined that
his opera procession should have been the prototype of the real
appearance of the representatives of all the sovereigns of Europe
themselves, to make the same prostration that was made by those who
dared to represent their people in a complaint against them. But in this
the French Republic has followed, as they always affect to do, and have
hitherto done with success, the example of the ancient Romans, who shook
all governments by listening to the complaints of their subjects, and
soon after brought the kings themselves to answer at their bar. At this
last ceremony the ambassadors had not Clootz for their Cotterel. Pity
that Clootz had not had a reprieve from the guillotine till he had
completed his work! But that engine fell before the curtain had fallen
upon all the dignity of the earth.

On this their gaudy day the new Regicide Directory sent for that
diplomatic rabble, as bad as themselves in principle, but infinitely
worse in degradation. They called them out by a sort of roll of their
nations, one after another, much in the manner in which they called
wretches out of their prison to the guillotine. When these ambassadors
of infamy appeared before them, the chief Director, in the name of the
rest, treated each of them with a short, affected, pedantic, insolent,
theatric laconium,--a sort of epigram of contempt. When they had thus
insulted them in a style and language which never before was heard, and
which no sovereign would for a moment endure from another, supposing any
of them frantic enough to use it, to finish their outrage, they drummed
and trumpeted the wretches out of their hall of audience.

Among the objects of this insolent buffoonery was a person supposed to
represent the King of Prussia. To this worthy representative they did
not so much as condescend to mention his master; they did not seem to
know that he had one; they addressed themselves solely to Prussia in the
abstract, notwithstanding the infinite obligation they owed to their
early protector for their first recognition and alliance, and for the
part of his territory he gave into their hands for the first-fruits of
his homage. None but dead monarchs are so much as mentioned by them, and
those only to insult the living by an invidious comparison. They told
the Prussians they ought to learn, after the example of Frederick the
Great, a love for France. What a pity it is, that he, who loved France
so well as to chastise it, was not now alive, by an unsparing use of the
rod (which, indeed, he would have spared little) to give them another
instance of his paternal affection! But the Directory were mistaken.
These are not days in which monarchs value themselves upon the title of
_great_: they are grown _philosophic_: they are satisfied to be good.

Your Lordship will pardon me for this no very long reflection on the
short, but excellent speech of the plumed Director to the ambassador of
Cappadocia. The Imperial ambassador was not in waiting, but they found
for Austria a good Judean representation. With great judgment, his
Highness, the Grand Duke, had sent the most atheistic coxcomb to be
found in Florence, to represent at the bar of impiety the House of
Apostolic Majesty, and the descendants of the pious, though high-minded,
Maria Theresa. He was sent to humble the whole race of Austria before
those grim assassins, reeking with the blood of the daughter of Maria
Theresa, whom they sent half dead, in a dung-cart, to a cruel execution;
and this true-born son of apostasy and infidelity, this renegado from
the faith and from all honor and all humanity, drove an Austrian coach
over the stones which were yet wet with her blood,--with that blood
which dropped every step through her tumbrel, all the way she was drawn
from the horrid prison, in which they had finished all the cruelty and
horrors not executed in the face of the sun. The Hungarian subjects of
Maria Theresa, when they drew their swords to defend her rights against
France, called her, with correctness of truth, though not with the same
correctness, perhaps, of grammar, a king: "_Moriamur pro rege nostro,
Maria Theresa._" SHE lived and died a king; and others will have
subjects ready to make the same vow, when, in either sex, they show
themselves real kings.

When the Directory came to this miserable fop, they bestowed a
compliment on his matriculation into _their_ philosophy; but as to his
master, they made to him, as was reasonable, a reprimand, not without a
pardon, and an oblique hint at the whole family. What indignities have
been offered through this wretch to his master, and how well borne, it
is not necessary that I should dwell on at present. I hope that those
who yet wear royal, imperial, and ducal crowns will learn to feel as
men and as kings: if not, I predict to them, they will not long exist as
kings or as men.

Great Britain was not there. Almost in despair, I hope she will never,
in any rags and _coversluts_ of infamy, be seen at such an exhibition.
The hour of her final degradation is not yet come; she did not herself
appear in the Regicide presence, to be the sport and mockery of those
bloody buffoons, who, in the merriment of their pride, were insulting
with every species of contumely the fallen dignity of the rest of
Europe. But Britain, though not personally appearing to bear her part in
this monstrous tragi-comedy, was very far from being forgotten. The
new-robed regicides found a representative for her. And who was this
representative? Without a previous knowledge, any one would have given a
thousand guesses before he could arrive at a tolerable divination of
their rancorous insolence. They chose to address what they had to say
concerning this nation to the ambassador of America. They did not apply
to this ambassador for a mediation: that, indeed, would have indicated a
want of every kind of decency; but it would have indicated nothing more.
But in this their American apostrophe, your Lordship will observe, they
did not so much as pretend to hold out to us directly, or through any
mediator, though in the most humiliating manner, any idea whatsoever of
peace, or the smallest desire of reconciliation. To the States of
America themselves they paid no compliment. They paid their compliment
to Washington solely: and on what ground? This most respectable
commander and magistrate might deserve commendation on very many of
those qualities which they who most disapprove some part of his
proceedings, not more justly than freely, attribute to him; but they
found nothing to commend in him "_but the hatred he bore to Great
Britain_." I verily believe, that, in the whole history of our European
wars, there never was such a compliment paid from the sovereign of one
state to a great chief of another. Not one ambassador from any one of
those powers who pretend to live in amity with this kingdom took the
least notice of that unheard-of declaration; nor will Great Britain,
till she is known with certainty to be true to her own dignity, find any
one disposed to feel for the indignities that are offered to her. To say
the truth, those miserable creatures were all silent under the insults
that were offered to themselves. They pocketed their epigrams, as
ambassadors formerly took the gold boxes and miniature pictures set in
diamonds presented them by sovereigns at whose courts they had resided.
It is to be presumed that by the next post they faithfully and promptly
transmitted to their masters the honors they had received. I can easily
conceive the epigram which will be presented to Lord Auckland, or to the
Duke of Bedford, as hereafter, according to circumstances, they may
happen to represent this kingdom. Few can have so little imagination as
not readily to conceive the nature of the boxes of epigrammatic lozenges
that will be presented to them.

But _hae nugae seria ducunt in mala_. The conduct of the Regicide faction
is perfectly systematic in every particular, and it appears absurd only
as it is strange and uncouth, not as it has an application to the ends
and objects of their policy. When by insult after insult they have
rendered the character of sovereigns vile in the eyes of their
subjects, they know there is but one step more to their utter
destruction. All authority, in a great degree, exists in opinion: royal
authority most of all. The supreme majesty of a monarch cannot be allied
with contempt. Men would reason, not unplausibly, that it would be
better to get rid of the monarchy at once than to suffer that which was
instituted, and well instituted, to support the glory of the nation, to
become the instrument of its degradation and disgrace.

A good many reflections will arise in your Lordship's mind upon the time
and circumstances of that most insulting and atrocious declaration of
hostility against this kingdom. The declaration was made subsequent to
the noble lord's encomium on the new Regicide Constitution,--after the
pamphlet had made something more than advances towards a reconciliation
with that ungracious race, and had directly disowned all those who
adhered to the original declaration in favor of monarchy. It was even
subsequent to the unfortunate declaration in the speech from the throne
(which this pamphlet but too truly announced) of the readiness of our
government to enter into connections of friendship with that faction.
Here was the answer from the throne of Regicide to the speech from the
throne of Great Britain. They go out of their way to compliment General
Washington on the supposed rancor of his heart towards this country. It
is very remarkable, that they make this compliment of malice to the
chief of the United States, who had first signed a treaty of peace,
amity, and commerce with this kingdom. This radical hatred, according to
their way of thinking, the most recent, solemn compacts of friendship
cannot or ought not to remove. In this malice to England, as in the one
great comprehensive virtue, all other merits of this illustrious person
are entirely merged. For my part, I do not believe the fact to be so as
they represent it. Certainly it is not for Mr. Washington's honor as a
gentleman, a Christian, or a President of the United States, after the
treaty he has signed, to entertain such sentiments. I have a moral
assurance that the representation of the Regicide Directory is
absolutely false and groundless. If it be, it is a stronger mark of
their audacity and insolence, and still a stronger proof of the support
they mean to give to the mischievous faction they are known to nourish
there, to the ruin of those States, and to the end that no British
affections should ever arise in that important part of the world, which
would naturally lead to a cordial, hearty British alliance, upon the
bottom of mutual interest and ancient affection. It shows in what part
it is, and with what a weapon, they mean a deadly blow at the heart of
Great Britain. One really would have expected, from this new
Constitution of theirs, which had been announced as a great reform, and
which was to be, more than any of their former experimental schemes,
alliable with other nations, that they would, in their very first public
act, and their declaration to the collected representation of Europe and
America, have affected some degree of moderation, or, at least, have
observed a guarded silence with regard to their temper and their views.
No such thing: they were in haste to declare the principles which are
spun into the primitive staple of their frame. They were afraid that a
moment's doubt should exist about them. In their very infancy they were
in haste to put their hand on their infernal altar, and to swear the
same immortal hatred to England which was sworn in the succession of all
the short-lived constitutions that preceded it. With them everything
else perishes almost as soon as it is formed; this hatred alone is
immortal. This is their impure Vestal fire that never is extinguished:
and never will it be extinguished, whilst the system of Regicide exists
in France. What! are we not to believe them? Men are too apt to be
deceitful enough in their professions of friendship, and this makes a
wise man walk with some caution through life. Such professions, in some
cases, may be even a ground of further distrust. But when a man declares
himself your unalterable enemy! No man ever declared to another a rancor
towards him which he did not feel. _Falsos in amore odia, non fingere_,
said an author who points his observations so as to make them

Observe, my Lord, that, from their invasion of Flanders and Holland to
this hour, they have never made the smallest signification of a desire
of peace with this kingdom, with Austria, or, indeed, with any other
power that I know of. As superiors, they expect others to begin. We have
complied, as you may see. The hostile insolence with which they gave
such a rebuff to our first overture, in the speech from the throne, did
not hinder us from making, from the same throne, a second advance. The
two Houses a second time coincided in the same sentiments, with a degree
of apparent unanimity, (for there was no dissentient voice but yours,)
with which, when they reflect on it, they will be as much ashamed as I
am. To this our new humiliating overture (such, at whatever hazard, I
must call it) what did the Regicide Directory answer? Not one public
word of a readiness to treat. No,--they feel their proud situation too
well. They never declared whether they would grant peace to you or not.
They only signified to you their pleasure as to the terms on which alone
they would in any case admit you to it. You showed your general
disposition to peace, and, to forward it, you left everything open to
negotiations. As to any terms you can possibly obtain, they shut out all
negotiation at the very commencement. They declared that they never
would make a peace by which anything that ever belonged to France should
be ceded. We would not treat with the monarchy, weakened as it must
obviously be in any circumstance of restoration, without a reservation
of something for indemnity and security,--and that, too, in words of the
largest comprehension. You treat with the Regicides without any
reservation at all. On their part, they assure you formally and
publicly, that they will give you nothing in the name of indemnity or
security, or for any other purpose.

It is impossible not to pause here for a moment, and to consider the
manner in which such declarations would have been taken by your
ancestors from a monarch distinguished for his arrogance,--an arrogance
which, even more than his ambition, incensed and combined all Europe
against him. Whatever his inward intentions may have been, did Louis the
Fourteenth ever make a declaration that the true bounds of France were
the ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Rhine? In any overtures for peace,
did he ever declare that he would make no sacrifices to promote it? His
declarations were always directly to the contrary; and at the Peace of
Ryswick his actions were to the contrary. At the close of the war,
almost in every instance victorious, all Europe was astonished, even
those who received them were astonished, at his concessions. Let those
who have a mind to see how little, in comparison, the most powerful and
ambitious of all monarchs is to be dreaded consult the very judicious
critical observations on the politics of that reign, inserted in the
military treatise of the Marquis de Montalembert. Let those who wish to
know what is to be dreaded from an ambitious republic consult no author,
no military critic, no historical critic. Let them open their own eyes,
which degeneracy and pusillanimity have shut from the light that pains
them, and let them not vainly seek their security in a voluntary
ignorance of their danger.

To dispose us towards this peace,--an attempt in which our author has, I
do not know whether to call it the good or ill fortune to agree with
whatever is most seditious, factious, and treasonable in this
country,--we are told by many dealers in speculation, but not so
distinctly by the author himself, (too great distinctness of affirmation
not being his fault,)--but we are told, that the French have lately
obtained a very pretty sort of Constitution, and that it resembles the
British Constitution as if they had been twinned together in the
womb,--_mire sagaces fallere hospites discrimen obscurum_. It may be so:
but I confess I am not yet made to it: nor is the noble author. He finds
the "elements" excellent, but the disposition very inartificial indeed.
Contrary to what we might expect at Paris, the meat is good, the cookery
abominable. I agree with him fully in the last; and if I were forced to
allow the first, I should still think, with our old coarse by-word,
that the same power which furnished all their former _restaurateurs_
sent also their present cooks. I have a great opinion of Thomas Paine,
and of all his productions: I remember his having been one of the
committee for forming one of their annual Constitutions, I mean the
admirable Constitution of 1793, after having been a chamber council to
the no less admirable Constitution of 1791. This pious patriot has his
eyes still directed to his dear native country, notwithstanding her in
gratitude to so kind a benefactor. This outlaw of England, and lawgiver
to France, is now, in secret probably, trying his hand again, and
inviting us to him by making his Constitution such as may give his
disciples in England some plausible pretext for going into the house
that he has opened. We have discovered, it seems, that all which the
boasted wisdom of our ancestors has labored to bring to perfection for
six or seven centuries is nearly, or altogether, matched in six or seven
days, at the leisure hours and sober intervals of Citizen Thomas Paine.

    "But though the treacherous tapster, Thomas,
    Hangs a new Angel two doors from us,
    As fine as dauber's hands can make it,
    In hopes that strangers may mistake it,
    We think it both a shame and sin
    To quit the good old Angel Inn,"

Indeed, in this good old house, where everything at least is well aired,
I shall be content to put up my fatigued horses, and here take a bed for
the long night that begins to darken upon me. Had I, however, the honor
(I must now call it so) of being a member of any of the constitutional
clubs, I should think I had carried my point most completely. It is
clear, by the applauses bestowed on what the author calls this new
Constitution, a mixed oligarchy, that the difference between the
clubbists and the old adherents to the monarchy of this country is
hardly worth a scuffle. Let it depart in peace, and light lie the earth
on the British Constitution! By this easy manner of treating the most
difficult of all subjects, the constitution for a great kingdom, and by
letting loose an opinion that they may be made by any adventurers in
speculation in a small given time, and for any country, all the ties,
which, whether of reason or prejudice, attach mankind to their old,
habitual, domestic governments, are not a little loosened; all
communion, which the similarity of the basis has produced between all
the governments that compose what we call the Christian world and the
republic of Europe, would be dissolved. By these hazarded speculations
France is more approximated to us in constitution than in situation; and
in proportion as we recede from the ancient system of Europe, we
approach to that connection which alone can remain to us, a close
alliance with the new-discovered moral and political world in France.

These theories would be of little importance, if we did not only know,
but sorely feel, that there is a strong Jacobin faction in this country,
which has long employed itself in speculating upon constitutions, and to
whom the circumstance of their government being home-bred and
prescriptive seems no sort of recommendation. What seemed to us to be
the best system of liberty that a nation ever enjoyed to them seems the
yoke of an intolerable slavery. This speculative faction had long been
at work. The French Revolution did not cause it: it only discovered it,
increased it, and gave fresh vigor to its operations. I have reason to
be persuaded that it was in this country, and from English writers and
English caballers, that France herself was instituted in this
revolutionary fury. The communion of these two factions upon any
pretended basis of similarity is a matter of very serious consideration.
They are always considering the formal distributions of power in a
constitution: the moral basis they consider as nothing. Very different
is my opinion: I consider the moral basis as everything,--the formal
arrangements, further than as they promote the moral principles of
government, and the keeping desperately wicked persons as the subjects
of laws and not the makers of them, to be of little importance. What
signifies the cutting and shuffling of cards, while the pack still
remains the same? As a basis for such a connection as has subsisted
between the powers of Europe, we had nothing to fear, but from the
lapses and frailties of men,--and that was enough; but this new
pretended republic has given us more to apprehend from what they call
their virtues than we had to dread from the vices of other men. Avowedly
and systematically, they have given the upperhand to all the vicious and
degenerate part of human nature. It is from their lapses and deviations
from their principle that alone we have anything to hope.

I hear another inducement to fraternity with the present rulers. They
have murdered one Robespierre. This Robespierre, they tell us, was a
cruel tyrant, and now that he is put out of the way, all will go well in
France. Astraea will again return to that earth from which she has been
an emigrant, and all nations will resort to her golden scales. It is
very extraordinary, that, the very instant the mode of Paris is known
here, it becomes all the fashion in London. This is their jargon. It is
the old _bon-ton_ of robbers, who cast their common crimes on the
wickedness of their departed associates. I care little about the memory
of this same Robespierre. I am sure he was an execrable villain. I
rejoiced at his punishment neither more nor less than I should at the
execution of the present Directory, or any of its members. But who gave
Robespierre the power of being a tyrant? and who were the instruments of
his tyranny? The present virtuous constitution-mongers. He was a tyrant;
they were his satellites and his hangmen. Their sole merit is in the
murder of their colleague. They have expiated their other murders by a
new murder. It has always been the case among this banditti. They have
always had the knife at each other's throats, after they had almost
blunted it at the throats of every honest man. These people thought,
that, in the commerce of murder, he was like to have the better of the
bargain, if any time was lost; they therefore took one of their short
revolutionary methods, and massacred him in a manner so perfidious and
cruel as would shock all humanity, if the stroke was not struck by the
present rulers on one of their own associates. But this last act of
infidelity and murder is to expiate all the rest, and to qualify them
for the amity of an humane and virtuous sovereign and civilized people.
I have heard that a Tartar believes, when he has killed a man, that all
his estimable qualities pass with his clothes and arms to the murderer;
but I have never heard that it was the opinion of any savage Scythian,
that, if he kills a brother villain, he is, _ipso facto_, absolved of
all his own offences. The Tartarian doctrine is the most tenable
opinion. The murderers of Robespierre, besides what they are entitled to
by being engaged in the same tontine of infamy, are his representatives,
have inherited all his murderous qualities, in addition to their own
private stock. But it seems we are always to be of a party with the last
and victorious assassins. I confess I am of a different mind, and am
rather inclined, of the two, to think and speak less hardly of a dead
ruffian than to associate with the living. I could better bear the
stench of the gibbeted murderer than the society of the bloody felons
who yet annoy the world. Whilst they wait the recompense due to their
ancient crimes, they merit new punishment by the new offences they
commit. There is a period to the offences of Robespierre. They survive
in his assassins. "Better a living dog," says the old proverb, "than a
dead lion." Not so here. Murderers and hogs never look well till they
are hanged. From villany no good can arise, but in the example of its
fate. So I leave them their dead Robespierre, either to gibbet his
memory, or to deify him in their Pantheon with their Marat and their

It is asserted that this government promises stability. God of his mercy
forbid! If it should, nothing upon earth besides itself can be stable.
We declare this stability to be the ground of our making peace with
them. Assuming it, therefore, that the men and the system are what I
have described, and that they have a determined hostility against this
country,--an hostility not only of policy, but of predilection,--then I
think that every rational being would go along with me in considering
its permanence as the greatest of all possible evils. If, therefore, we
are to look for peace with such a thing in any of its monstrous shapes,
which I deprecate, it must be in that state of disorder, confusion,
discord, anarchy, and insurrection, such as might oblige the momentary
rulers to forbear their attempts on neighboring states, or to render
these attempts less operative, if they should kindle new wars. When was
it heard before, that the internal repose of a determined and wicked
enemy, and the strength of his government, became the wish of his
neighbor, and a security, against either his malice or his ambition? The
direct contrary has always been inferred from that state of things:
accordingly, it has ever been the policy of those who would preserve
themselves against the enterprises of such a malignant and mischievous
power to cut out so much work for him in his own states as might keep
his dangerous activity employed at home.

It is said, in vindication of this system, which demands the stability
of the Regicide power as a ground for peace with them, that, when they
have obtained, as now it is said (though not by this noble author) they
have, a permanent government, they will be _able_ to preserve amity with
this kingdom, and with others who have the misfortune to be in their
neighborhood. Granted. They will be _able_ to do so, without question;
but are they willing to do so? Produce the act; produce the declaration.
Have they made any single step towards it? Have they ever once proposed
to treat?

The assurance of a stable peace, grounded on the stability of their
system, proceeds on this hypothesis,--that their hostility to other
nations has proceeded from their anarchy at home, and from the
prevalence of a populace which their government had not strength enough
to master. This I utterly deny. I insist upon it as a fact, that, in the
daring commencement of all their hostilities, and their astonishing
perseverance in them, so as never once, in any fortune, high or low, to
propose a treaty of peace to any power in Europe, they have never been
actuated by the people: on the contrary, the people, I will not say have
been moved, but impelled by them, and have generally acted under a
compulsion, of which most of us are as yet, thank God, unable to form an
adequate idea. The war against Austria was formally declared by the
unhappy Louis the Sixteenth; but who has ever considered Louis the
Sixteenth, since the Revolution, to have been the government? The second
Regicide Assembly, then the only government, was the author of that war;
and neither the nominal king nor the nominal people had anything to do
with it, further than in a reluctant obedience. It is to delude
ourselves, to consider the state of France, since their Revolution, as a
state of anarchy: it is something far worse. Anarchy it is, undoubtedly,
if compared with government pursuing the peace, order, morals, and
prosperity of the people; but regarding only the power that has really
guided from the day of the Revolution to this time, it has been of all
governments the most absolute, despotic, and effective that has hitherto
appeared on earth. Never were the views and politics of any government
pursued with half the regularity, system, and method that a diligent
observer must have contemplated with amazement and terror in theirs.
Their state is not an anarchy, but a series of short-lived tyrannies. We
do not call a republic with annual magistrates an anarchy: theirs is
that kind of republic; but the succession is not effected by the
expiration of the term of the magistrate's service, but by his murder.
Every new magistracy, succeeding by homicide, is auspicated by accusing
its predecessors in the office of tyranny, and it continues by the
exercise of what they charged upon others.

This strong hand is the law, and the sole law, in their state. I defy
any person to show any other law,--or if any such should be found on
paper, that it is in the smallest degree, or in any one instance,
regarded or practised. In all their successions, not one magistrate, or
one form of magistracy, has expired by a mere occasional popular tumult;
everything has been the effect of the studied machinations of the one
revolutionary cabal, operating within itself upon itself. That cabal is
all in all. France has no public; it is the only nation I ever heard of,
where the people are absolutely slaves, in the fullest sense, in all
affairs, public and private, great and small, even down to the minutest
and most recondite parts of their household concerns. The helots of
Laconia, the regardants to the manor in Russia and in Poland, even the
negroes in the West Indies, know nothing of so searching, so
penetrating, so heart-breaking a slavery. Much would these servile
wretches call for our pity under that unheard-of yoke, if for their
perfidious and unnatural rebellion, and for their murder of the mildest
of all monarchs, they did not richly deserve a punishment not greater
than their crime.

On the whole, therefore, I take it to be a great mistake to think that
the want of power in the government furnished a natural cause of war;
whereas the greatness of its power, joined to its use of that power, the
nature of its system, and the persons who acted in it, did naturally
call for a strong military resistance to oppose them, and rendered it
not only just, but necessary. But at present I say no more on the genius
and character of the power set up in France. I may probably trouble you
with it more at large hereafter: this subject calls for a very full
exposure: at present it is enough for me, if I point it out as a matter
well worthy of consideration, whether the true ground of hostility was
not rightly conceived very early in this war, and whether anything has
happened to change that system, except our ill success in a war which in
no principal instance had its true destination as the object of its
operations. That the war has succeeded ill in many cases is undoubted;
but then let us speak the truth, and say we are defeated, exhausted,
dispirited, and must submit. This would be intelligible. The world would
be inclined to pardon the abject conduct of an undone nation. But let us
not conceal from _ourselves_ our real situation, whilst, by every
species of humiliation, we are but too strongly displaying our sense of
it to the enemy.

The writer of the Remarks in the Last Week of October appears to think
that the present government in France contains many of the elements
which, when properly arranged, are known to form the best practical
governments,--and that the system, whatever may become its particular
form, is no longer likely to be an obstacle to negotiation. If its form
now be no obstacle to such negotiation, I do not know why it was ever
so. Suppose that this government promised greater permanency than any of
the former, (a point on which I can form no judgment,) still a link is
wanting to couple the permanence of the government with the permanence
of the peace. On this not one word is said: nor can there be, in my
opinion. This deficiency is made up by strengthening the first ringlet
of the chain, that ought to be, but that is not, stretched to connect
the two propositions. All seems to be done, if we can make out that the
last French edition of Regicide is like to prove stable.

As a prognostic of this stability, it is said to be accepted by the
people. Here again I join issue with the fraternizers, and positively
deny the fact. Some submission or other has been obtained, by some means
or other, to every government that hitherto has been set up. And the
same submission would, by the same means, be obtained for any other
project that the wit or folly of man could possibly devise. The
Constitution of 1790 was universally received. The Constitution which
followed it, under the name of a Convention, was universally submitted
to. The Constitution of 1793 was universally accepted. Unluckily, this
year's Constitution, which was formed, and its genethliacon sung by the
noble author while it was yet in embryo, or was but just come bloody
from the womb, is the only one which in its very formation has been
generally resisted by a very great and powerful party in many parts of
the kingdom, and particularly in the capital. It never had a popular
choice even in show: those who arbitrarily erected the new building out
of the old materials of their own Convention were obliged to send for an
army to support their work: like brave gladiators, they fought it out
in the streets of Paris, and even massacred each other in their house of
assembly, in the most edifying manner, and for the entertainment and
instruction of their Excellencies the foreign ambassadors, who had a box
in this constitutional amphitheatre of a free people.

At length, after a terrible struggle, the troops prevailed over the
citizens. The citizen soldiers, the ever-famed national guards, who had
deposed and murdered their sovereign, were disarmed by the inferior
trumpeters of that rebellion. Twenty thousand regular troops garrison
Paris. Thus a complete military government is formed. It has the
strength, and it may count on the stability, of that kind of power. This
power is to last as long as the Parisians think proper. Every other
ground of stability, but from military force and terror, is clean out of
the question. To secure them further, they have a strong corps of
irregulars, ready-armed. Thousands of those hell-hounds called
Terrorists, whom they had shut up in prison, on their last Revolution,
as the satellites of tyranny, are let loose on the people. The whole of
their government, in its origination, in its continuance, in all its
actions, and in all its resources, is force, and nothing but force: a
forced constitution, a forced election, a forced subsistence, a forced
requisition of soldiers, a forced loan of money.

They differ nothing from all the preceding usurpations, but that to the
same odium a good deal more of contempt is added. In this situation,
notwithstanding all their military force, strengthened with the
undisciplined power of the Terrorists, and the nearly general disarming
of Paris, there would almost certainly have been before this an
insurrection against them, but for one cause. The people of France
languish for peace. They all despaired of obtaining it from the
coalesced powers, whilst they had a gang of professed regicides at their
head; and several of the least desperate republicans would have joined
with better men to shake them wholly off, and to produce something more
ostensible, if they had not been reiteratedly told that their sole hope
of peace was the very contrary to what they naturally imagined: that
they must leave off their cabals and insurrections, which could serve no
purpose but to bring in that royalty which was wholly rejected by the
coalesced kings; that, to satisfy them, they must tranquilly, if they
could not cordially, submit themselves to the tyranny and the tyrants
they despised and abhorred. Peace was held out by the allied monarchies
to the people of France, as a bounty for supporting the Republic of
Regicides. In fact, a coalition, begun for the avowed purpose of
destroying that den of robbers, now exists only for their support. If
evil happens to the princes of Europe from the success and stability of
this infernal business, it is their own absolute crime.

We are to understand, however, (for sometimes so the author hints,) that
something stable in the Constitution of Regicide was required for our
amity with it; but the noble Remarker is no more solicitous about this
point than he is for the permanence of the whole body of his October
speculations. "If," says he, speaking of the Regicide, "they can obtain
a practicable constitution, even for a limited period of time, they will
be in a condition to reestablish the accustomed relations of peace and
amity." Pray let us leave this bush-fighting. What is meant by a
_limited period of time_? Does it mean the direct contrary to the
terms, _an unlimited period_? If it is a limited period, what limitation
does he fix as a ground for his opinion? Otherwise, his limitation is
unlimited. If he only requires a constitution that will last while the
treaty goes on, ten days' existence will satisfy his demands. He knows
that France never did want a practicable constitution, nor a government,
which endured for a limited period of time. Her constitutions were but
too practicable; and short as was their duration, it was but too long.
They endured time enough for treaties which benefited themselves and
have done infinite mischief to our cause. But, granting him his strange
thesis, that hitherto the mere form or the mere term of their
constitutions, and not their indisposition, but their instability, has
been the cause of their not preserving the relations of amity,--how
could a constitution which might not last half an hour after the noble
lord's signature of the treaty, in the company in which he must sign it,
insure its observance? If you trouble yourself at all with their
constitutions, you are certainly more concerned with them after the
treaty than before it, as the observance of conventions is of infinitely
more consequence than the making them. Can anything be more palpably
absurd and senseless than to object to a treaty of peace for want of
durability in constitutions which had an actual duration, and to trust a
constitution that at the time of the writing had not so much as a
practical existence? There is no way of accounting for such discourse in
the mouths of men of sense, but by supposing that they secretly
entertain a hope that the very act of having made a peace with the
Regicides will give a stability to the Regicide system. This will not
clear the discourse from the absurdity, but it will account for the
conduct, which such reasoning so ill defends. What a roundabout way is
this to peace,--to make war for the destruction of regicides, and then
to give them peace in order to insure a stability that will enable them
to observe it! I say nothing of the honor displayed in such a system. It
is plain it militates with itself almost in all the parts of it. In one
part, it supposes stability in their Constitution, as a ground of a
stable peace; in another part, we are to hope for peace in a different
way,--that is, by splitting this brilliant orb into little stars, and
this would make the face of heaven so fine! No, there is no system upon
which the peace which in humility we are to supplicate can possibly

I believe, before this time, that the more form of a constitution, in
any country, never was fixed as the sole ground of objecting to a treaty
with it. With other circumstances it may be of great moment. What is
incumbent on the assertors of the Fourth Week of October system to prove
is not whether their then expected Constitution was likely to be stable
or transitory, but whether it promised to this country and its allies,
and to the peace and settlement of all Europe, more good-will or more
good faith than any of the experiments which have gone before it. On
these points I would willingly join issue.

Observe first the manner in which the Remarker describes (very truly, as
I conceive) the people of France under that auspicious government, and
then observe the conduct of that government to other nations. "The
people without _any_ established constitution; distracted by popular
convulsions; in a state of inevitable bankruptcy; without any commerce;
with their principal ports blockaded; and without a fleet that could
venture to face one of our _detached squadrons_." Admitting, as fully as
he has stated it, this condition of France, I would fain know how he
reconciles this condition with his ideas of _any kind of a practicable
constitution_, or _duration for a limited period_, which are his _sine
qua non_ of peace. But passing by contradictions, as no fair objections
to reasoning, this state of things would naturally, at other times, and
in other governments, have produced a disposition to peace, almost on
any terms. But, in that state of their country, did the Regicide
government solicit peace or amity with other nations, or even lay any
specious grounds for it, in propositions of affected moderation, or in
the most loose and general conciliatory language? The direct contrary.
It was but a very few days before the noble writer had commenced his
Remarks, as if it were to refute him by anticipation, that his France
thought fit to lay out a new territorial map of dominion, and to declare
to us and to all Europe what territories she was willing to allot to her
own empire, and what she is content (during her good pleasure) to leave
to others.

This their law of empire was promulgated without any requisition on that
subject, and proclaimed in a style and upon principles which never had
been heard of in the annals of arrogance and ambition. She prescribed
the limits to her empire, not upon principles of treaty, convention,
possession, usage, habitude, the distinction of tribes, nations, or
languages, but by physical aptitudes. Having fixed herself as the
arbiter of physical dominion, she construed the limits of Nature by her
convenience. That was Nature which most extended and best secured the
empire of France.

I need say no more on the insult offered not only to all equity and
justice, but to the common sense of mankind, in deciding legal property
by physical principles, and establishing the convenience of a party as a
rule of public law. The noble advocate for peace has, indeed, perfectly
well exploded this daring and outrageous system of pride and tyranny. I
am most happy in commending him, when he writes like himself. But hear
still further and in the same good strain the great patron and advocate
of amity with this accommodating, mild, and unassuming power, when he
reports to you the law they give, and its immediate effects:--"They
amount," says he, "to the sacrifice of powers that have been the most
nearly connected with us,--the direct or indirect annexation to France
of all the ports of the Continent from Dunkirk to Hamburg,--an immense
accession of territory,--and, in one word, THE ABANDONMENT OF THE
INDEPENDENCE OF EUROPE!" This is the LAW (the author and I use no
different terms) which this new government, almost as soon as it could
cry in the cradle, and as one of the very first acts by which it
auspicated its entrance into function, the pledge it gives of the
firmness of its policy,--such is the law that this proud power
prescribes to abject nations. What is the comment upon this law by the
great jurist who recommends us to the tribunal which issued the decree?
"An obedience to it would be" (says he) "dishonorable to us, and exhibit
us to the present age and to posterity as submitting to the law
prescribed to us by our enemy."

Here I recognize the voice of a British plenipotentiary: I begin to feel
proud of my country. But, alas! the short date of human elevation! The
accents of dignity died upon his tongue. This author will not assure us
of his sentiments for the whole of a pamphlet; but, in the sole
energetic part of it, he does not continue the same through an whole
sentence, if it happens to be of any sweep or compass. In the very womb
of this last sentence, pregnant, as it should seem, with a Hercules,
there is formed a little bantling of the mortal race, a degenerate, puny
parenthesis, that totally frustrates our most sanguine views and
expectations, and disgraces the whole gestation. Here is this
destructive parenthesis: "Unless some adequate compensation be secured
_to us_." _To us!_ The Christian world may shift for itself, Europe may
groan in slavery, we may be dishonored by receiving law from an
enemy,--but all is well, provided the compensation _to us_ be adequate.
To what are we reserved? An _adequate_ compensation "for the sacrifice
of powers the most nearly connected with us";--an _adequate_
compensation "for the direct or indirect annexation to France of all the
ports of the Continent from Dunkirk to Hamburg";--an _adequate_
compensation "for the abandonment of the independence of Europe"! Would
that, when all our manly sentiments are thus changed, our manly language
were changed along with them, and that the English tongue were not
employed to utter what our ancestors never dreamed could enter into an
English heart!

But let us consider this matter of adequate compensation. Who is to
furnish it? From what funds is it to be drawn? Is it by another treaty
of commerce? I have no objections to treaties of commerce upon
principles of commerce. Traffic for traffic,--all is fair. But commerce
in exchange for empire, for safety, for glory! We set out in our dealing
with a miserable cheat upon ourselves. I know it may be said, that we
may prevail on this proud, philosophical, military Republic, which looks
down with contempt on trade, to declare it unfit for the sovereign of
nations to be _eundem negotiatorem et dominum_: that, in virtue of this
maxim of her state, the English in France may be permitted, as the Jews
are in Poland and in Turkey, to execute all the little inglorious
occupations,--to be the sellers of new and the buyers of old clothes, to
be their brokers and factors, and to be employed in casting up their
debits and credits, whilst the master Republic cultivates the arts of
empire, prescribes the forms of peace to nations, and dictates laws to a
subjected world. But are we quite sure, that, when we have surrendered
half Europe to them in hope of this compensation, the Republic will
confer upon us those privileges of dishonor? Are we quite certain that
she will permit us to farm the guillotine,--to contract for the
provision of her twenty thousand Bastiles,--to furnish transports for
the myriads of her exiles to Guiana,--to become commissioners for her
naval stores,--or to engage for the clothing of those armies which are
to subdue the poor relics of Christian Europe? No! She is bespoke by the
Jew subjects of her own Amsterdam for all these services.

But if these, or matters similar, are not the compensations the Remarker
demands, and that on consideration he finds them neither adequate nor
certain, who else is to be the chapman, and to furnish the
purchase-money, at this market, of all the grand principles of empire,
of law, of civilization, of morals, and of religion, where British faith
and honor are to be sold by inch of candle? Who is to be the _dedecorum
pretiosus emptor_? Is it the _navis Hispanae magister_? Is it to be
furnished by the Prince of Peace? Unquestionably. Spain as yet possesses
mines of gold and silver, and may give us in _pesos duros_ an adequate
compensation for our honor and our virtue. When these things are at all
to be sold, they are the vilest commodities at market.

It is full as singular as any of the other singularities in this work,
that the Remarker, talking so much as he does of cessions and
compensations, passes by Spain in his general settlement, as if there
were no such country on the globe,--as if there were no Spain in Europe,
no Spain in America. But this great matter of political deliberation
cannot be put out of our thoughts by his silence. She _has_ furnished
compensations,--not to you, but to France. The Regicide Republic and the
still nominally subsisting monarchy of Spain are united,--and are united
upon a principle of jealousy, if not of bitter enmity, to Great Britain.
The noble writer has here another matter for meditation. It is not from
Dunkirk to Hamburg that the ports are in the hands of France: they are
in the hands of France from Hamburg to Gibraltar. How long the new
dominion will last I cannot tell; but France the Republic has conquered
Spain, and the ruling party in that court acts by her orders and exists
by her power.

The noble writer, in his views into futurity, has forgotten to look back
to the past. If he chooses it, he may recollect, that, on the prospect
of the death of Philip the Fourth, and still more on the event, all
Europe was moved to its foundations. In the treaties of partition that
first were entered into, and in the war that afterwards blazed out to
prevent those crowns from being actually or virtually united in the
House of Bourbon, the predominance of France in Spain, and above all, in
the Spanish Indies, was the great object of all these movements in the
cabinet and in the field. The Grand Alliance was formed upon that
apprehension. On that apprehension the mighty war was continued during
such a number of years as the degenerate and pusillanimous impatience of
our dwindled race can hardly bear to have reckoned: a war equal, within
a few years, in duration, and not, perhaps, inferior in bloodshed, to
any of those great contests for empire which in history make the most
awful matter of recorded memory.

    Ad confligendum venientibus undique Poenis,
    Omnia cum belli trepido concussa tumultu
    Horrida contremuere sub altis aetheris auris,
    In dubioque fuit sub utrorum regna cadendum
    Omnibus humanis esset terraque marique.--

When this war was ended, (I cannot stay now to examine how,) the object
of the war was the object of the treaty. When it was found
impracticable, or less desirable than before, wholly to exclude a branch
of the Bourbon race from that immense succession, the point of Utrecht
was to prevent the mischiefs to arise from the influence of the greater
upon the lesser branch. His Lordship is a great member of the diplomatic
body; he has, of course, all the fundamental treaties which make the
public statute law of Europe by heart: and, indeed, no active member of
Parliament ought to be ignorant of their general tenor and leading
provisions. In the treaty which closed that war, and of which it is a
fundamental part, because relating to the whole policy of the compact,
it was agreed that Spain should not give anything from her territory in
the West Indies to France. This article, apparently onerous to Spain,
was in truth highly beneficial. But, oh, the blindness of the greatest
statesman to the infinite and unlooked-for combinations of things which
lie hid in the dark prolific womb of futurity! The great trunk of
Bourbon is cut down; the withered branch is worked up into the
construction of a French Regicide Republic. Here we have formed a new,
unlooked-for, monstrous, heterogeneous alliance,--a double-natured
monster, republic above and monarchy below. There is no centaur of
fiction, no poetic satyr of the woods, nothing short of the hieroglyphic
monsters of Egypt, dog in head and man in body, that can give an idea of
it. None of these things can subsist in Nature (so, at least, it is
thought); but the moral world admits monsters which the physical

In this metamorphosis, the first thing done by Spain, in the honey-moon
of her new servitude, was, with all the hardihood of pusillanimity,
utterly to defy the most solemn treaties with Great Britain and the
guaranty of Europe. She has yielded the largest and fairest part of one
of the largest and fairest islands in the West Indies, perhaps on the
globe, to the usurped powers of France. She completes the title of those
powers to the whole of that important central island of Hispaniola. She
has solemnly surrendered to the regicides and butchers of the Bourbon
family what that court never ventured, perhaps never wished, to bestow
on the patriarchal stock of her own august house.

The noble negotiator takes no notice of this portentous junction and
this audacious surrender. The effect is no less than the total
subversion of the balance of power in the West Indies, and indeed
everywhere else. This arrangement, considered in itself, but much more
as it indicates a complete union of France with Spain, is truly
alarming. Does he feel nothing of the change this makes in that part of
his description of the state of France where he supposes her not able to
face one of our detached squadrons? Does he feel nothing for the
condition of Portugal under this new coalition? Is it for this state of
things he recommends our junction in that common alliance as a remedy?
It is surely already monstrous enough. We see every standing principle
of policy, every old governing opinion of nations, completely gone, and
with it the foundation of all their establishments. Can Spain keep
herself internally where she is, with this connection? Does he dream
that Spain, unchristian, or even uncatholic, can exist as a monarchy?
This author indulges himself in speculations of the division of the
French Republic. I only say, that with much greater reason he might
speculate on the republicanism and the subdivision of Spain.

It is not peace with France which secures that feeble government; it is
that peace which, if it shall continue, decisively ruins Spain. Such a
peace is not the peace which the remnant of Christianity celebrates at
this holy season. In it there is no glory to God on high, and not the
least tincture of good-will to man. What things we have lived to see!
The King of Spain in a group of Moors, Jews, and Renegadoes; and the
clergy taxed to pay for his conversion! The Catholic King in the strict
embraces of the most Unchristian Republic! I hope we shall never see his
Apostolic Majesty, his Faithful Majesty, and the King, Defender of the
Faith, added to that unhallowed and impious fraternity.

The noble author has glimpses of the consequences of peace, as well as
I. He feels for the colonies of Great Britain, one of the principal
resources of our commerce and our naval power, if piratical France shall
be established, as he knows she must be, in the West Indies, if we sue
for peace on such terms as they may condescend to grant us. He feels
that their very colonial system for the interior is not compatible with
the existence of our colonies. I tell him, and doubt not I shall be able
to demonstrate, that, being what she is, if she possesses a rock there,
we cannot be safe. Has this author had in his view the transactions
between the Regicide Republic and the yet nominally subsisting monarchy
of Spain?

I bring this matter under your Lordship's consideration, that you may
have a more complete view than this author chooses to give of the _true
France_ you have to deal with, as to its nature, and to its force and
its disposition. Mark it, my Lord, France, in giving her law to Spain,
stipulated for none of her indemnities in Europe, no enlargement
whatever of her frontier. Whilst we are looking for indemnities from
France, betraying our own safety in a sacrifice of the independence of
Europe, France secures hers by the most important acquisition of
territory ever made in the West Indies since their first settlement. She
appears (it is only in appearance) to give up the frontier of Spain; and
she is compensated, not in appearance, but in reality, by a territory
that makes a dreadful frontier to the colonies of Great Britain.

It is sufficiently alarming that she is to have the possession of this
great island. But all the Spanish colonies, virtually, are hers. Is
there so puny a whipster in the _petty form_ of the school of politics
who can be at a loss for the fate of the British colonies, when he
combines the French and Spanish consolidation with the known critical
and dubious dispositions of the United States of America, as they are at
present, but which, when a peace is made, when the basis of a Regicide
ascendency in Spain is laid, will no longer be so good as dubious and
critical? But I go a great deal further; and on much consideration of
the condition and circumstances of the West Indies, and of the genius of
this new republic, as it has operated and is likely to operate on them,
I say, that, if a single rock in the West Indies is in the hands of this
_transatlantic Morocco_, we have not an hour's safety there.

The Remarker, though he slips aside from the main consideration, seems
aware that this arrangement, standing as it does, in the West Indies,
leaves us at the mercy of the new coalition, or rather at the mercy of
the sole guiding part of it. He does not, indeed, adopt a supposition
such as I make, who am confident that anything which can give them a
single good port and opportune piratical station there would lead to our
ruin: the author proceeds upon an idea that the Regicides may be an
existing and considerable territorial power in the West Indies, and, of
course, her piratical system more dangerous and as real. However, for
that desperate case he has an easy remedy; but, surely, in his whole
shop there is nothing so extraordinary. It is, that we three, France,
Spain, and England, (there are no other of any moment,) should adopt
some "_analogy_ in the interior systems of government in the several
islands which we may respectively retain after the closing of the war."
This plainly can be done only by a convention between the parties; and I
believe it would be the first war ever made to terminate in an analogy
of the interior government of any country, or any parts of such
countries. Such a partnership in domestic government is, I think,
carrying fraternity as far as it will go.

It will be an affront to your sagacity to pursue this matter into all
its details: suffice it to say, that, if this convention for analogous
domestic government is made, it immediately gives a right for the
residence of a consul (in all likelihood some negro or man of color) in
every one of your islands; a Regicide ambassador in London will be at
all your meetings of West India merchants and planters, and, in effect,
in all our colonial councils. Not one order of Council can hereafter be
made, or any one act of Parliament relative to the West India colonies
even be agitated, which will not always afford reasons for protests and
perpetual interference; the Regicide Republic will become an integral
part of the colonial legislature, and, so far as the colonies are
concerned, of the British too. But it will be still worse: as all our
domestic affairs are interlaced more or less intimately with our
external, this intermeddling must everywhere insinuate itself into all
other interior transactions, and produce a copartnership in our domestic
concerns of every description.

Such are the plain, inevitable consequences of this arrangement of a
system, of analogous interior government. On the other hand, without it,
the author assures us, and in this I heartily agree with him, "that the
correspondence and communications between the neighboring colonies will
be great, that the disagreements will be incessant, and that causes even
of national quarrels will arise _from day to day_." Most true. But, for
the reasons I have given, the case, if possible, will be worse by the
proposed remedy, by the triple fraternal interior analogy,--an analogy
itself most fruitful, and more foodful than the old Ephesian statue with
the three tier of breasts. Your Lordship must also observe how
infinitely this business must be complicated by our interference in the
slow-paced Saturnian movements of Spain and the rapid parabolic flights
of France. But such is the disease,--such is the cure,--such is, and
must be, the effect of Regicide vicinity.

But what astonishes me is, that the negotiator, who has certainly an
exercised understanding, did not see that every person habituated to
such meditations must necessarily pursue the train of thought further
than he has carried it, and must ask himself whether what he states so
truly of the necessity of our arranging an analogous interior
government, in consequence of the vicinity of our possessions, in the
West Indies, does not as extensively apply, and much more forcibly, to
the circumstance of our much nearer vicinity with the parent and author
of this mischief. I defy even his acuteness and ingenuity to show me any
one point in which the cases differ, except that it is plainly more
necessary in Europe than in America. Indeed, the further we trace the
details of the proposed peace, the more your Lordship will be satisfied
that I have not been guilty of any abuse of terms, when I use
indiscriminately (as I always do, in speaking of arrangements with
Regicide) the words peace and fraternity. An analogy between our
interior governments must be the consequence. The noble negotiator sees
it as well as I do. I deprecate this Jacobin interior analogy. But
hereafter, perhaps, I may say a good deal more upon this part of the

The noble lord insists on very little more than on the excellence of
their Constitution, the hope of their dwindling into little republics,
and this close copartnership in government. I hear of others, indeed,
that offer by other arguments to reconcile us to this peace and
fraternity. The Regicides, they say, have renounced the creed of the
Rights of Man, and declared equality a chimera. This is still more
strange than all the rest. They have apostatized from their apostasy.
They are renegadoes from that impious faith for which they subverted the
ancient government, murdered their king, and imprisoned, butchered,
confiscated, and banished their fellow-subjects, and to which they
forced every man to swear at the peril of his life. And now, to
reconcile themselves to the world, they declare this creed, bought by so
much blood, to be an imposture and a chimera. I have no doubt that they
always thought it to be so, when they were destroying everything at home
and abroad for its establishment. It is no strange thing, to those who
look into the nature of corrupted man, to find a violent persecutor a
perfect unbeliever of his own creed. But this is the very first time
that any man or set of men were hardy enough to attempt to lay the
ground of confidence in them by an acknowledgment of their own
falsehood, fraud, hypocrisy, treachery, heterodox doctrine,
persecution, and cruelty. Everything we hear from them is new, and, to
use a phrase of their own, _revolutionary_; everything supposes a total
revolution in all the principles of reason, prudence, and moral feeling.
If possible, this their recantation of the chief parts in the canon of
the Rights of Man is more infamous and causes greater horror than their
originally promulgating and forcing down the throats of mankind that
symbol of all evil. It is raking too much into the dirt and ordure of
human nature to say more of it.

I hear it said, too, that they have lately declared in favor of
property. This is exactly of the same sort with the former. What need
had they to make this declaration, if they did not know that by their
doctrines and practices they had totally subverted all property? What
government of Europe, either in its origin or its continuance, has
thought it necessary to declare itself in favor of property? The more
recent ones were formed for its protection against former violations;
the old consider the inviolability of property and their own existence
as one and the same thing, and that a proclamation for its safety would
be sounding an alarm on its danger. But the Regicide banditti knew that
this was not the first time they have been obliged to give such
assurances, and had as often falsified them. They knew, that, after
butchering hundreds of men, women, and children, for no other cause than
to lay hold on their property, such a declaration might have a chance of
encouraging other nations to run the risk of establishing a commercial
house amongst them. It is notorious, that these very Jacobins, upon an
alarm of the shopkeeper of Paris, made this declaration in favor of
property. These brave fellows received the apprehensions expressed on
that head with indignation, and said that property could be in no
danger, because all the world knew it was under the protection of the
_sans-culottes_. At what period did they not give this assurance? Did
they not give it; when they fabricated their first Constitution? Did
they not then solemnly declare it one of the rights of a citizen (a
right, of course, only declared, and not then fabricated) to depart from
his country, and choose another _domicilium_, without detriment to his
property? Did they not declare that no property should be confiscated
from the children for the crime of the parent? Can they now declare more
fully their respect for property than they did at that time? And yet was
there ever known such horrid violences and confiscations as instantly
followed under the very persons now in power, many of them leading
members of that Assembly, and all of them violators of that engagement
which was the very basis of their republic,--confiscations in which
hundreds of men, women, and children, not guilty of one act of duty in
resisting their usurpation, were involved? This keeping of their old is,
then, to give us a confidence in their new engagements. But examine the
matter, and you will see that the prevaricating sons of violence give no
relief at all, where at all it can be wanted. They renew their old
fraudulent declaration against confiscations, and then they expressly
exclude all adherents to their ancient lawful government from any
benefit of it: that is to say, they promise that they will secure all
their brother plunderers in their share of the common plunder. The fear
of being robbed by every new succession of robbers, who do not keep even
the faith of that kind of society, absolutely required that they should
give security to the dividends of spoil, else they could not exist a
moment. But it was necessary, in giving security to robbers, that honest
men should be deprived of all hope of restitution; and thus their
interests were made utterly and eternally incompatible. So that it
appears that this boasted security of property is nothing more than a
seal put upon its destruction; this ceasing of confiscation is to secure
the confiscators against the innocent proprietors. That very thing which
is held out to you as your cure is that which makes your malady, and
renders it, if once it happens, utterly incurable. You, my Lord, who
possess a considerable, though not an invidious estate, may be well
assured, that, if, by being engaged, as you assuredly would be, in the
defence of your religion, your king, your order, your laws, and
liberties, that estate should be put under confiscation, the property
would be secured, but in the same manner, at your expense.

But, after all, for what purpose are we told of this reformation in
their principles, and what is the policy of all this softening in ours,
which is to be produced by their example? It is not to soften us to
suffering innocence and virtue, but to mollify us to the crimes and to
the society of robbers and ruffians. But I trust that our countrymen
will not be softened to that kind of crimes and criminals; for, if we
should, our hearts will be hardened to everything which has a claim on
our benevolence. A kind Providence has placed in our breasts a hatred of
the unjust and cruel, in order that we may preserve ourselves from
cruelty and injustice. They who bear cruelty are accomplices in it. The
pretended gentleness which excludes that charitable rancor produces an
indifference which is half an approbation. They never will love where
they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.

There is another piece of policy, not more laudable than this, in
reading these moral lectures, which lessens our hatred to criminals and
our pity to sufferers by insinuating that it has been owing to their
fault or folly that the latter have become the prey of the former. By
flattering us that we are not subject to the same vices and follies, it
induces a confidence that we shall not suffer the same evils by a
contact with the infamous gang of robbers who have thus robbed and
butchered our neighbors before our faces. We must not be flattered to
our ruin. Our vices are the same as theirs, neither more nor less. If
any faults we had, which wanted this French example to call us to a
"_softening_ of character, and a review of our social relations and
duties," there is yet no sign that we have commenced our reformation. We
seem, by the best accounts I have from the world, to go on just as
formerly, "some to undo, and some to be undone." There is no change at
all: and if we are not bettered by the sufferings of war, this peace,
which, for reasons to himself best known, the author fixes as the period
of our reformation, must have something very extraordinary in it;
because hitherto ease, opulence, and their concomitant pleasure have
never greatly disposed mankind to that serious reflection and review
which the author supposes to be the result of the approaching peace with
vice and crime. I believe he forms a right estimate of the nature of
this peace, and that it will want many of those circumstances which
formerly characterizes that state of things.

If I am right in my ideas of this new republic, the different states of
peace and war will make no difference in her pursuits. It is not an
enemy of accident that we have to deal with. Enmity to us, and to all
civilized nations, is wrought into the very stamina of its Constitution.
It was made to pursue the purposes of that fundamental enmity. The
design will go on regularly in every position and in every relation.
Their hostility is to break us to their dominion; their amity is to
debauch us to their principles. In the former, we are to contend with
their force; in the latter, with their intrigues. But we stand in a very
different posture of defence in the two situations. In war, so long as
government is supported, we fight with the whole united force of the
kingdom. When under the name of peace the war of intrigue begins, we do
not contend against our enemies with the whole force of the kingdom.
No,--we shall have to fight, (if it should be a fight at all, and not an
ignominious surrender of everything which has made our country venerable
in our eyes and dear to our hearts,) we shall have to light with but a
portion of our strength against the whole of theirs. Gentlemen who not
long since thought with us, but who now recommend a Jacobin peace, were
at that time sufficiently aware of the existence of a dangerous Jacobin
faction within this kingdom. Awhile ago they seemed to be tremblingly
alive to the number of those who composed it, to their dark subtlety, to
their fierce audacity, to their admiration of everything that passes in
France, to their eager desire of a close communication with the mother
faction there. At this moment, when the question is upon the opening of
that communication, not a word of our English Jacobins. That faction is
put out of sight and out of thought. "It vanished at the crowing of the
cock." Scarcely had the Gallic harbinger of peace and light begun to
utter his lively notes, than all the cackling of us poor Tory geese to
alarm the garrison of the Capitol was forgot.[11] There was enough of
indemnity before. Now a complete act of oblivion is passed about the
Jacobins of England, though one would naturally imagine it would make a
principal object in all fair deliberation upon the merits of a project
of amity with the Jacobins of France. But however others may choose to
forget the faction, the faction does not choose to forget itself, nor,
however gentlemen may choose to flatter themselves, it does not forget

Never, in any civil contest, has a part been taken with more of the
warmth, or carried on with more of the arts of a party. The Jacobins are
worse than lost to their country. Their hearts are abroad. Their
sympathy with the Regicides of France is complete. Just as in a civil
contest, they exult in all their victories, they are dejected and
mortified in all their defeats. Nothing that the Regicides can do (and
they have labored hard for the purpose) can alienate them from their
cause. You and I, my dear Lord, have often observed on the spirit of
their conduct. When the Jacobins of France, by their studied,
deliberated, catalogued files of murders with the poniard, the sabre,
and the tribunal, have shocked whatever remained of human sensibility
in our breasts, then it was they distinguished the resources of party
policy. They did not venture directly to confront the public sentiment;
for a very short time they seemed to partake of it. They began with a
reluctant and sorrowful confession; they deplored the stains which
tarnished the lustre of a good cause. After keeping a decent time of
retirement, in a few days crept out an apology for the excesses of men
cruelly irritated by the attacks of unjust power. Grown bolder, as the
first feeling of mankind decayed and the color of these horrors began to
fade upon the imagination, they proceeded from apology to defence. They
urged, but still deplored, the absolute necessity of such a proceeding.
Then they made a bolder stride, and marched from defence to
recrimination. They attempted to assassinate the memory of those whose
bodies their friends had massacred, and to consider their murder as a
less formal act of justice. They endeavored even to debauch our pity,
and to suborn it in favor of cruelty. They wept over the lot of those
who were driven by the crimes of aristocrats to republican vengeance.
Every pause of their cruelty they considered as a return of their
natural sentiments of benignity and justice. Then they had recourse to
history, and found out all the recorded cruelties that deform the annals
of the world, in order that the massacres of the Regicides might pass
for a common event, and even that the most merciful of princes, who
suffered by their hands, should bear the iniquity of all the tyrants who
have at any time infested the earth. In order to reconcile us the better
to this republican tyranny, they confounded the bloodshed of war with
the murders of peace; and they computed how much greater prodigality of
blood was exhibited in battles and in the storm of cities than in the
frugal, well-ordered massacres of the revolutionary tribunals of France.

As to foreign powers, so long as they were conjoined with Great Britain
in this contest, so long they were treated as the most abandoned
tyrants, and, indeed, the basest of the human race. The moment any of
them quits the cause of this government, and of all governments, he is
rehabilitated, his honor is restored, all attainders are purged. The
friends of Jacobins are no longer despots; the betrayers of the common
cause are no longer traitors.

That you may not doubt that they look on this war as a civil war, and
the Jacobins of France as of their party, and that they look upon us,
though locally their countrymen, in reality as enemies, they have never
failed to run a parallel between our late civil war and this war with
the Jacobins of France. They justify their partiality to those Jacobins
by the partiality which was shown by several here to the Colonies, and
they sanction their cry for peace with the Regicides of France by some
of our propositions for peace with the English in America.

This I do not mention as entering into the controversy how far they are
right or wrong in this parallel, but to show that they do make it, and
that they do consider themselves as of a party with the Jacobins of
France. You cannot forget their constant correspondence with the
Jacobins, whilst it was in their power to carry it on. When the
communication is again opened, the interrupted correspondence will
commence. We cannot be blind to the advantage which such a party affords
to Regicide France in all her views,--and, on the other hand, what an
advantage Regicide France holds out to the views of the republican party
in England. Slightly as they have considered their subject, I think this
can hardly have escaped the writers of political ephemerides for any
month or year. They have told us much of the amendment of the Regicides
of France, and of their returning honor and generosity. Have they told
anything of the reformation and of the returning loyalty of the Jacobins
of England? Have they told us of _their_ gradual softening towards
royalty? Have they told us what measures _they_ are taking for "putting
the crown in commission," and what approximations of any kind _they_ are
making towards the old Constitution of their country? Nothing of this.
The silence of these writers is dreadfully expressive. They dare not
touch the subject. But it is not annihilated by their silence, nor by
our indifference. It is but too plain that our Constitution cannot exist
with such a communication. Our humanity, our manners, our morals, our
religion, cannot stand with such a communication. The Constitution is
made by those things, and for those things: without them it cannot
exist; and without them it is no matter whether it exists or not.

It was an ingenious Parliamentary Christmas play, by which, in both
Houses, you anticipated the holidays; it was a relaxation from your
graver employment; it was a pleasant discussion you had, which part of
the family of the Constitution was the elder branch,--whether one part
did not exist prior to the others, and whether it might exist and
flourish, if "the others were cast into the fire."[12] In order to make
this Saturnalian amusement general in the family, you sent it down
stairs, that judges and juries might partake of the entertainment. The
unfortunate antiquary and augur who is the butt of all this sport may
suffer in the roistering horse-play and practical jokes of the servants'
hall. But whatever may become of him, the discussion itself, and the
timing it, put me in mind of what I have read, (where I do not
recollect,) that the subtle nation of the Greeks were busily employed,
in the Church of Santa Sophia, in a dispute of mixed natural philosophy,
metaphysics, and theology, whether the light on Mount Tabor was created
or uncreated, and were ready to massacre the holders of the
unfashionable opinion, at the very moment when the ferocious enemy of
all philosophy and religion, Mahomet the Second, entered through a
breach into the capital of the Christian world. I may possibly suffer
much more than Mr. Reeves (I shall certainly give much more general
offence) for breaking in upon this constitutional amusement concerning
the created or uncreated nature of the two Houses of Parliament, and by
calling their attention to a problem which may entertain them less, but
which concerns them a great deal more,--that is, whether, with this
Gallic Jacobin fraternity, which they are desired by some writers to
court, all the parts of the government, about whose combustible or
incombustible qualities they are contending, may "not be cast into the
fire" together. He is a strange visionary (but he is nothing worse) who
fancies that any one part of our Constitution, whatever right of
primogeniture it may claim, or whatever astrologers may divine from its
horoscope, can possibly survive the others. As they have lived, so they
will die, together. I must do justice to the impartiality of the
Jacobins. I have not observed amongst _them_ the least predilection for
any of those parts. If there has been any difference in their malice, I
think they have shown a worse disposition to the House of Commons than
to the crown. As to the House of Lords, they do not speculate at all
about it, and for reasons that are too obvious to detail.

The question will be concerning the effect of this French fraternity on
the whole mass. Have we anything to apprehend from Jacobin
communication, or have we not? If we have not, is it by our experience
before the war that we are to presume that after the war no dangerous
communion can exist between those who are well affected to the new
Constitution of France and ill affected to the old Constitution here?

In conversation I have not yet found nor heard of any persons, except
those who undertake to instruct the public, so unconscious of the actual
state of things, or so little prescient of the future, who do not
shudder all over and feel a secret horror at the approach of this
communication. I do not except from this observation those who are
willing, more than I find myself disposed, to submit to this fraternity.
Never has it been mentioned in my hearing, or from what I can learn in
my inquiry, without the suggestion of an Alien Bill, or some other
measures of the same nature, as a defence against its manifest mischief.
Who does not see the utter insufficiency of such a remedy, if such a
remedy could be at all adopted? We expel suspected foreigners from
hence; and we suffer every Englishman to pass over into France to be
initiated in all the infernal discipline of the place, to cabal and to
be corrupted by every means of cabal and of corruption, and then to
return to England, charged with their worst dispositions and designs. In
France he is out of the reach of your police; and when he returns to
England, one such English emissary is worse than a legion of French, who
are either tongue-tied, or whose speech betrays them. But the worst
aliens are the ambassador and his train. These you cannot expel without
a proof (always difficult) of direct practice against the state. A
French ambassador, at the head of a French party, is an evil which we
have never experienced. The mischief is by far more visible than the
remedy. But, after all, every such measure as an Alien Bill is a measure
of hostility, a preparation for it, or a cause of dispute that shall
bring it on. In effect, it is fundamentally contrary to a relation of
amity, whose essence is a perfectly free communication. Everything done
to prevent it will provoke a foreign war. Everything, when we let it
proceed, will produce domestic distraction. We shall be in a perpetual
dilemma. But it is easy to see which side of the dilemma will be taken.
The same temper which brings us to solicit a Jacobin peace will induce
us to temporize with all the evils of it. By degrees our minds will be
made to our circumstances. The novelty of such things, which produces
half the horror and all the disgust, will be worn off. Our ruin will be
disguised in profit, and the sale of a few wretched baubles will bribe a
degenerate people to barter away the most precious jewel of their souls.
Our Constitution is not made for this kind of warfare. It provides
greatly for our happiness, it furnishes few means for our defence. It
is formed, in a great measure, upon the principle of jealousy of the
crown,--and as things stood, when it took that turn, with very great
reason. I go farther: it must keep alive some part of that fire of
jealousy eternally and chastely burning, or it cannot be the British
Constitution. At various periods we have had tyranny in this country,
more than enough. We have had rebellions with more or less
justification. Some of our kings have made adulterous connections
abroad, and trucked away for foreign gold the interests and glory of
their crown. But, before this time, our liberty has never been
corrupted. I mean to say, that it has never been debauched from its
domestic relations. To this time it has been English liberty, and
English liberty only. Our love of liberty and our love of our country
were not distinct things. Liberty is now, it seems, put upon a larger
and more liberal bottom. We are men,--and as men, undoubtedly, nothing
human is foreign to us. We cannot be too liberal in our general wishes
for the happiness of our kind. But in all questions on the mode of
procuring it for any particular community, we ought to be fearful of
admitting those who have no interest in it, or who have, perhaps, an
interest against it, into the consultation. Above all, we cannot be too
cautious in our communication with those who seek their happiness by
other roads than those of humanity, morals, and religion, and whose
liberty consists, and consists alone, in being free from those
restraints which are imposed by the virtues upon the passions.

When we invite danger from a confidence in defensive measures, we ought,
first of all, to be sure that it is a species of danger against which
any defensive measures that can be adopted will be sufficient. Next, we
ought to know that the spirit of our laws, or that our own dispositions,
which are stronger than laws, are susceptible of all those defensive
measures which the occasion may require. A third consideration is,
whether these measures will not bring more odium than strength to
government; and the last, whether the authority that makes them, in a
general corruption of manners and principles, can insure their
execution. Let no one argue, from the state of things, as he sees them
at present, concerning what will be the means and capacities of
government, when the time arrives which shall call for remedies
commensurate to enormous evils.

It is an obvious truth, that no constitution can defend itself: it must
be defended by the wisdom and fortitude of men. These are what no
constitution can give: they are the gifts of God; and He alone knows
whether we shall possess such gifts at the time we stand in need of
them. Constitutions furnish the civil means of getting at the natural:
it is all that in this case they can do. But our Constitution has more
impediments than helps. Its excellencies, when they come to be put to
this sort of proof, may be found among its defects.

Nothing looks more awful and imposing than an ancient fortification. Its
lofty, embattled walls, its bold, projecting, rounded towers, that
pierce the sky, strike the imagination and promise inexpugnable
strength. But they are the very things that make its weakness. You may
as well think of opposing one of these old fortresses to the mass of
artillery brought by a French irruption into the field as to think of
resisting by your old laws and your old forms the new destruction which
the corps of Jacobin engineers of to-day prepare for all such forms and
all such laws. Besides the debility and false principle of their
construction to resist the present modes of attack, the fortress itself
is in ruinous repair, and there is a practicable breach in every part of

Such is the work. But miserable works have been defended by the
constancy of the garrison. Weather-beaten ships have been brought safe
to port by the spirit and alertness of the crew. But it is here that we
shall eminently fail. The day that, by their consent, the seat of
Regicide has its place among the thrones of Europe, there is no longer a
motive for zeal in their favor; it will at best be cold, unimpassioned,
dejected, melancholy duty. The glory will seem all on the other side.
The friends of the crown will appear, not as champions, but as victims;
discountenanced, mortified, lowered, defeated, they will fall into
listlessness and indifference. They will leave things to take their
course, enjoy the present hour, and submit to the common fate.

Is it only an oppressive nightmare with which we have been loaded? Is
it, then, all a frightful dream, and are there no regicides in the
world? Have we not heard of that prodigy of a ruffian who would not
suffer his benignant sovereign, with his hands tied behind him, and
stripped for execution, to say one parting word to his deluded
people,--of Santerre, who commanded the drums and trumpets to strike up
to stifle his voice, and dragged him backward to the machine of murder!
This nefarious villain (for a few days I may call him so) stands high in
France, as in a republic of robbers and murderers he ought. What
hinders this monster from being sent as ambassador to convey to his
Majesty the first compliments of his brethren, the Regicide Directory?
They have none that can represent them more properly. I anticipate the
day of his arrival. He will make his public entry into London on one of
the pale horses of his brewery. As he knows that we are pleased with the
Paris taste for the orders of knighthood,[13] he will fling a bloody
sash across his shoulders, with the order of the holy guillotine
surmounting the crown appendant to the riband. Thus adorned, he will
proceed from Whitechapel to the further end of Pall Mall, all the music
of London playing the Marseillaise Hymn before him, and escorted by a
chosen detachment of the _Legion de l'Echafaud_. It were only to be
wished that no ill-fated loyalist, for the imprudence of his zeal, may
stand in the pillory at Charing Cross, under the statue of King Charles
the First, at the time of this grand procession, lest some of the rotten
eggs which the Constitutional Society shall let fly at his indiscreet
head may hit the virtuous murderer of his king. They might soil the
state dress which the ministers of so many crowned heads have admired,
and in which Sir Clement Cotterel is to introduce him at St. James's.

If Santerre cannot be spared from the constitutional butcheries at home,
Tallien may supply his place, and, in point of figure, with advantage.
He has been habituated to commissions; and he is as well qualified as
Santerre for this. Nero wished the Roman people had but one neck. The
wish of the more exalted Tallien, when he sat in judgment, was, that his
sovereign had eighty-three heads, that he might send one to every one of
the Departments. Tallien will make an excellent figure at Guildhall at
the next Sheriff's feast. He may open the ball with my Lady Mayoress.
But this will be after he has retired from the public table, and gone
into the private room for the enjoyment of more social and unreserved
conversation with the ministers of state and the judges of the bench.
There these ministers and magistrates will hear him entertain the worthy
aldermen with an instructing and pleasing narrative of the manner in
which he made the rich citizens of Bordeaux squeak, and gently led them
by the public credit of the guillotine to disgorge their
anti-revolutionary pelf.

All this will be the display, and the town-talk, when our regicide is on
a visit of ceremony. At home nothing will equal the pomp and splendor of
the _Hotel de la Republique_. There another scene of gaudy grandeur will
be opened. When his Citizen Excellency keeps the festival, which every
citizen is ordered to observe, for the glorious execution of Louis the
Sixteenth, and renews his oath of detestation of kings, a grand ball of
course will be given on the occasion. Then what a hurly-burly! what a
crowding! what a glare of a thousand flambeaux in the square! what a
clamor of footmen contending at the door! what a rattling of a thousand
coaches of duchesses, countesses, and Lady Marys, choking the way, and
overturning each other, in a struggle who should be first to pay her
court to the _Citoyenne_, the spouse of the twenty-first husband, he
the husband of the thirty-first wife, and to hail her in the rank of
honorable matrons before the four days' duration of marriage is
expired!--Morals, as they were, decorum, the great outguard of the sex,
and the proud sentiment of honor, which makes virtue more respectable,
where it is, and conceals human frailty, where virtue may not be, will
be banished from this land of propriety, modesty, and reserve.

We had before an ambassador from the most Christian King. We shall have
then one, perhaps two, as lately, from the most Anti-Christian Republic.
His chapel will be great and splendid, formed on the model of the Temple
of Reason at Paris; while the famous ode of the infamous Chenier will be
sung, and a prostitute of the street adored as a goddess. We shall then
have a French ambassador without a suspicion of Popery. One good it will
have: it will go some way in quieting the minds of that synod of zealous
Protestant lay elders who govern Ireland on the pacific principles of
polemic theology, and who now, from dread of the Pope, cannot take a
cool bottle of claret, or enjoy an innocent Parliamentary job, with any
tolerable quiet.

So far as to the French communication here:--what will be the effect of
our communication there? We know that our new brethren, whilst they
everywhere shut up the churches, increased in Paris, at one time at
least fourfold, the opera-houses, the playhouses, the public shows of
all kinds; and even in their state of indigence and distress, no expense
was spared for their equipment and decoration. They were made an affair
of state. There is no invention of seduction, never wholly wanting in
that place, that has not been increased,--brothels, gaming-houses,
everything. And there is no doubt, but, when they are settled in a
triumphant peace, they will carry all these arts to their utmost
perfection, and cover them with every species of imposing magnificence.
They have all along avowed them as a part of their policy; and whilst
they corrupt young minds through pleasure, they form them to crimes.
Every idea of corporal gratification is carried to the highest excess,
and wooed with all the elegance that belongs to the senses. All elegance
of mind and manners is banished. A theatrical, bombastic, windy
phraseology of heroic virtue, blended and mingled up with a worse
dissoluteness, and joined to a murderous and savage ferocity, forms the
tone and idiom of their language and their manners. Any one, who attends
to all their own descriptions, narratives, and dissertations, will find
in that whole place more of the air of a body of assassins, banditti,
housebreakers, and outlawed smugglers, joined to that of a gang of
strolling players expelled from and exploded orderly theatres, with
their prostitutes in a brothel, at their debauches and bacchanals, than
anything of the refined and perfected virtues, or the polished,
mitigated vices of a great capital.

Is it for this benefit we open "the usual relations of peace and amity"?
Is it for this our youth of both sexes are to form themselves by travel?
Is it for this that with expense and pains we form their lisping infant
accents to the language of France? I shall be told that this abominable
medley is made rather to revolt young and ingenuous minds. So it is in
the description. So perhaps it may in reality to a chosen few. So it may
be, when the magistrate, the law, and the church frown on such manners,
and the wretches to whom they belong,--when they are chased from the
eye of day, and the society of civil life, into night-cellars and caves
and woods. But when these men themselves are the magistrates,--when all
the consequence, weight, and authority of a great nation adopt
them,--when we see them conjoined with victory, glory, power, and
dominion, and homage paid to them by every government,--it is not
possible that the downhill should not be slid into, recommended by
everything which has opposed it. Let it be remembered that no young man
can go to any part of Europe without taking this place of pestilential
contagion in his way; and whilst the less active part of the community
will be debauched by this travel, whilst children are poisoned at these
schools, our trade will put the finishing hand to our ruin. No factory
will be settled in France, that will not become a club of complete
French Jacobins. The minds of young men of that description will receive
a taint in their religion, their morals, and their politics, which they
will in a short time communicate to the whole kingdom.

Whilst everything prepares the body to debauch and the mind to crime, a
regular church of avowed atheism, established by law, with a direct and
sanguinary persecution of Christianity, is formed to prevent all
amendment and remorse. Conscience is formally deposed from its dominion
over the mind. What fills the measure of horror is, that schools of
atheism are set up at the public charge in every part of the country.
That some English parents will be wicked enough to send their children
to such schools there is no doubt. Better this island should be sunk to
the bottom of the sea than that (so far as human infirmity admits) it
should not be a country of religion and morals!

With all these causes of corruption, we may well judge what the general
fashion of mind will be through both sexes and all conditions. Such
spectacles and such examples will overbear all the laws that ever
blackened the cumbrous volumes of our statutes. When royalty shall have
disavowed itself,--when it shall have relaxed all the principles of its
own support,--when it has rendered the system of Regicide fashionable,
and received it as triumphant, in the very persons who have consolidated
that system by the perpetration, of every crime, who have not only
massacred the prince, but the very laws and magistrates which were the
support of royalty, and slaughtered with an indiscriminate proscription,
without regard to either sex or age, every person that was suspected of
an inclination to king, law, or magistracy,--I say, will any one dare to
be loyal? Will any one presume, against both authority and opinion, to
hold up this unfashionable, antiquated, exploded Constitution?

The Jacobin faction in England must grow in strength and audacity; it
will be supported by other intrigues and supplied by other resources
than yet we have seen in action. Confounded at its growth, the
government may fly to Parliament for its support. But who will answer
for the temper of a House of Commons elected under these circumstances?
Who will answer for the courage of a House of Commons to arm the crown
with the extraordinary powers that it may demand? But the ministers will
not venture to ask half of what they know they want. They will lose half
of that half in the contest; and when they have obtained their nothing,
they will be driven by the cries of faction either to demolish the
feeble works they have thrown up in a hurry, or, in effect, to abandon
them. As to the House of Lords, it is not worth mentioning. The peers
ought naturally to be the pillars of the crown; but when their titles
are rendered contemptible, and their property invidious, and a part of
their weakness, and not of their strength, they will be found so many
degraded and trembling individuals, who will seek by evasion to put off
the evil day of their ruin. Both Houses will be in perpetual oscillation
between abortive attempts at energy and still more unsuccessful attempts
at compromise. You will be impatient of your disease, and abhorrent of
your remedy. A spirit of subterfuge and a tone of apology will enter
into all your proceedings, whether of law or legislation. Your judges,
who now sustain so masculine an authority, will appear more on their
trial than the culprits they have before them. The awful frown of
criminal justice will be smoothed into the silly smile of seduction.
Judges will think to insinuate and soothe the accused into conviction
and condemnation, and to wheedle to the gallows the most artful of all
delinquents. But they will not be so wheedled. They will not submit even
to the appearance of persons on their trial. Their claim to this
exemption will be admitted. The place in which some of the greatest
names which ever distinguished the history of this country have stood
will appear beneath their dignity. The criminal will climb from the dock
to the side-bar, and take his place and his tea with the counsel. From
the bar of the counsel, by a natural progress, he will ascend to the
bench, which long before had been virtually abandoned. They who escape
from justice will not suffer a question upon reputation. They will take
the crown of the causeway; they will be revered as martyrs; they will
triumph as conquerors. Nobody will dare to censure that popular part of
the tribunal whose only restraint on misjudgment is the censure of the
public. They who find fault with the decision will be represented as
enemies to the institution. Juries that convict for the crown will be
loaded with obloquy. The juries who acquit will be held up as models of
justice. If Parliament orders a prosecution, and fails, (as fail it
will,) it will be treated to its face as guilty of a conspiracy
maliciously to prosecute. Its care in discovering a conspiracy against
the state will be treated as a forged plot to destroy the liberty of the
subject: every such discovery, instead of strengthening government, will
weaken its reputation.

In this state things will be suffered to proceed, lest measures of vigor
should precipitate a crisis. The timid will act thus from character, the
wise from necessity. Our laws had done all that the old condition of
things dictated to render our judges erect and independent; but they
will naturally fail on the side upon which they had taken no
precautions. The judicial magistrates will find themselves safe as
against the crown, whose will is not their tenure; the power of
executing their office will be held at the pleasure of those who deal
out fame or abuse as they think fit. They will begin rather to consult
their own repose and their own popularity than the critical and perilous
trust that is in their hands. They will speculate on consequences, when
they see at court an ambassador whose robes are lined with a scarlet
dyed in the blood of judges. It is no wonder, nor are they to blame,
when they are to consider how they shall answer for their conduct to the
criminal of to-day turned into the magistrate of to-morrow.

The press------

The army------

When thus the helm of justice is abandoned, an universal abandonment of
all other posts will succeed. Government will be for a while the sport
of contending factions, who, whilst they fight with one another, will
all strike at her. She will be buffeted and beat forward and backward by
the conflict of those billows, until at length, tumbling from the Gallic
coast, the victorious tenth wave shall ride, like the bore, over all the
rest, and poop the shattered, weather-beaten, leaky, water-logged
vessel, and sink her to the bottom of the abyss.

Among other miserable remedies that have been found in the _materia
medica_, of the old college, a change of ministry will be proposed, and
probably will take place. They who go out can never long with zeal and
good-will support government in the hands of those they hate. In a
situation of fatal dependence on popularity, and without one aid from
the little remaining power of the crown, it is not to be expected that
they will take on them that odium which more or less attaches upon every
exertion of strong power. The ministers of popularity will lose all
their credit at a stroke, if they pursue any of those means necessary to
give life, vigor, and consistence to government. They will be considered
as venal wretches, apostates, recreant to all their own principles,
acts, and declarations. They cannot preserve their credit, but by
betraying that authority of which they are the guardians.

To be sure, no prognosticating symptoms of these things have as yet
appeared,--nothing even resembling their beginnings. May they never
appear! May these prognostications of the author be justly laughed at
and speedily forgotten! If nothing as yet to cause them has discovered
itself, let us consider, in the author's excuse, that we have not yet
seen a Jacobin legation in England. The natural, declared, sworn ally of
sedition has not yet fixed its head-quarters in London.

There never was a political contest, upon better or worse grounds, that
by the heat of party-spirit may not ripen into civil confusion. If ever
a party adverse to the crown should be in a condition here publicly to
declare itself, and to divide, however unequally, the natural force of
the kingdom, they are sure of an aid of fifty thousand men, at ten days'
warning, from the opposite coast of France. But against this infusion of
a foreign force the crown has its guaranties, old and new. But I should
be glad to hear something said of the assistance which loyal subjects in
France have received from other powers in support of that lawful
government which secured their lawful property. I should be glad to
know, if they are so disposed to a neighborly, provident, and
sympathetic attention to their public engagements, by what means they
are to come at us. Is it from the powerful states of Holland we are to
reclaim our guaranty? Is it from the King of Prussia, and his steady
good affections, and his powerful navy, that we are to look for the
guaranty of our security? Is it from the Netherlands, which the French
may cover with the swarms of their citizen-soldiers in twenty-four
hours, that we are to look for this assistance? This is to suppose, too,
that all these powers have no views offensive or necessities defensive
of their own. They will cut out work for one another, and France will
cut out work for them all.

That the Christian religion cannot exist in this country with such a
fraternity will not, I think, be disputed with me. On that religion,
according to our mode, all our laws and institutions stand, as upon
their base. That scheme is supposed in every transaction of life; and if
that were done away, everything else, as in France, must be changed
along with it. Thus, religion perishing, and with it this Constitution,
it is a matter of endless meditation what order of things would follow
it. But what disorder would fill the space between the present and that
which is to come, in the gross, is no matter of doubtful conjecture. It
is a great evil, that of a civil war. But, in that state of things, a
civil war, which would give to good men and a good cause some means of
struggle, is a blessing of comparison that England will not enjoy. The
moment the struggle begins, it ends. They talk of Mr. Hume's euthanasia
of the British Constitution gently expiring, without a groan, in the
paternal arms of a mere monarchy. In a monarchy!--fine trifling
indeed!--there is no such euthanasia for the British Constitution.

       *       *       *       *       *

The manuscript copy of this Letter ends here.


[9] Here I have fallen into an unintentional mistake. Rider's Almanack
for 1794 lay before me; and, in troth, I then had no other. For variety,
that sage astrologer has made some small changes on the weather side of
1795; but the caution is the same on the opposite page of instruction.

[10] _Souverains opprimes_.--See the whole proceeding in the
_Proces-Verbal_ of the National Assembly.


  Hic auratis volitans argenteus anser
  Porticibus GALLOS in limine adesse canebat.

[12] See debates in Parliament upon motions made in both Houses for
prosecuting Mr. Reeves for a libel upon the Constitution, Dec., 1795.

[13] "In the costume assumed by the members of the legislative body we
almost behold the revival of the extinguished insignia of knighthood,"
&c., &c.--See _A View of the Relative State of Great Britain and France
at the Commencement of the Year_ 1796.





NOVEMBER 1, 1791.

Madam,--The Comte de Woronzow, your Imperial Majesty's minister, and Mr.
Fawkener, have informed me of the very gracious manner in which your
Imperial Majesty, and, after your example, the Archduke and Archduchess,
have condescended to accept my humble endeavors in the service of that
cause which connects the rights and duties of sovereigns with the true
interest and happiness of their people.

If, confiding in titles derived from your own goodness, I venture to
address directly to your Imperial Majesty the expressions of my
gratitude for so distinguished an honor, I hope it will not be thought a
presumptuous intrusion. I hope, too, that the willing homage I pay to
the high and ruling virtues which distinguish your Imperial Majesty, and
which form the felicity of so large a part of the world, will not be
looked upon as the language of adulation to power and greatness. In my
humble situation, I can behold majesty in its splendor without being
dazzled, and I am capable of respecting it in its fall.

It is, Madam, from my strong sense of what is due to dignity in
undeserved misfortune, that I am led to felicitate your Imperial Majesty
on the use you have lately made of your power. The princes and nobility
of France, who from honor and duty, from blood and from principle, are
attached to that unhappy crown, have experienced your favor and
countenance; and there is no doubt that they will finally enjoy the full
benefit of your protection. The generosity of your Imperial Majesty has
induced you to take an interest in their cause; and your sagacity has
made you perceive that in the case of the sovereign of France the cause
of all sovereigns is tried,--that in the case of its church, the cause
of all churches,--and that in the case of its nobility is tried the
cause of all the respectable orders of all society, and even of society

Your Imperial Majesty has sent your minister to reside where the crown
of France, in this disastrous eclipse of royalty, can alone truly and
freely be represented, that is, in its royal blood,--where alone the
nation can be represented, that is, in its natural and inherent dignity.
A throne cannot be represented by a prison. The honor of a nation cannot
be represented by an assembly which disgraces and degrades it: at
Coblentz only the king and the nation of France are to be found.

Your Imperial Majesty, who reigns and lives for glory, has nobly and
wisely disdained to associate your crown with a faction which has for
its object the subversion of all thrones.

You have not recognized this universal public enemy as a part of the
system of Europe. You have refused to sully the lustre of your empire by
any communion with a body of fanatical usurpers and tyrants, drawn out
of the dregs of society, and exalted to their evil eminence by the
enormity of their crimes,--an assemblage of tyrants, wholly destitute of
any distinguished qualification in a single person amongst them, that
can command reverence from our reason, or seduce it from our
prejudices. These enemies of sovereigns, if at all acknowledged, must be
acknowledged on account of that enmity alone: they have nothing else to
recommend them.

Madam, it is dangerous to praise any human virtue before the
accomplishment of the tasks which it imposes on itself. But in
expressing my part of what I hope is, or will become, the general voice,
in admiration of what you have done, I run no risk at all. With your
Imperial Majesty, declaration and execution, beginning and conclusion,
are, at their different seasons, one and the same thing.

On the faith and declaration of some of the first potentates of Europe,
several thousands of persons, comprehending the best men and the best
gentlemen in France, have given up their country, their houses, their
fortunes, their professional situation, their all, and are now in
foreign lands, struggling under the most grievous distresses. Whatever
appearances may menace, nobody fears that they can be finally abandoned.
Such a dereliction could not be without a strong imputation on the
public and private honor of sovereignty itself, nor without an
irreparable injury to its interests. It would give occasion to represent
monarchs as natural enemies to each other, and that they never support
or countenance any subjects of a brother prince, except when they rebel
against him. We individuals, mere spectators of the scene, but who sock
our liberties under the shade of legal authority, and of course
sympathize with the sufferers in that cause, never can permit ourselves
to believe that such an event can disgrace the history of our time. The
only thing to be feared is delay, in winch are included many mischiefs.
The constancy of the oppressed will be broken; the power of tyrants
will be confirmed. Already the multitude of French officers, drawn from
their several corps by hopes inspired by the freely declared disposition
of sovereigns, have left all the posts in which they might one day have
effectually served the good cause abandoned to the enemy.

Tour Imperial Majesty's just influence, which is still greater than your
extensive power, will animate and expedite the efforts of other
sovereigns. From your wisdom other states will learn that they who wait
until all the powers of Europe are at once in motion can never move at
all. It would add to the unexampled calamities of our time, if the
uncommon union of sentiment in so many powers should prove the very
cause of defeating the benefit which ought to flow from their general
good disposition. No sovereign can run any risk from the designs of
other powers, whilst engaged in tins glorious and necessary work. If any
attempt could be feared, your Imperial Majesty's power and justice would
secure your allies against all danger. Madam, your glory will be
complete, if, after having given peace to Europe by your moderation, you
shall bestow stability on all its governments by your vigor and
decision. The debt which your Imperial Majesty's august predecessors
have contracted to the ancient manners of Europe, by means of which they
civilized a vast empire, will be nobly repaid by preserving those
manners from the hideous change with which they are now menaced. By the
intervention of Russia the world will be preserved from barbarism and

A private individual, of a remote country, in himself wholly without
importance, unauthorized and unconnected, not as an English subject,
but as a citizen of the world, presumes to submit his thoughts to one of
the greatest and wisest sovereigns that Europe has seen. He does it
without fear, because he does not involve in his weakness (if such it
is) his king, his country, or his friends. He is not' afraid that he
shall offend your Imperial Majesty,--because, secure in itself, true
greatness is always accessible, and because respectfully to speak what
we conceive to be truth is the best homage which can be paid to true

I am, Madam, with the utmost possible respect and veneration,

Your Imperial Majesty's

Most obedient and most humble servant,


BEACONSFIELD, November 1st, 1791.







OCTOBER 30, 1773.


    From authentic documents found with the copy of this Letter
    among Mr. Burke's papers, it appears that in the year 1773 a
    project of imposing a tax upon all proprietors of landed
    estates in Ireland, whose ordinary residence should be in
    Great Britain, had been adopted and avowed by his Majesty's
    ministers at that time. A remonstrance against this measure,
    as highly unjust and impolitic, was presented to the
    ministers by several of the principal Irish absentees, and
    the project was subsequently abandoned.


Dear Sir,--I am much flattered by your very obliging letter, and the
rather because it promises an opening to our future correspondence. This
may be my only indemnification for very great losses. One of the most
odious parts of the proposed Absentee Tax is its tendency to separate
friends, and to make as ugly breaches in private society as it must make
in the unity of the great political body. I am sure that much of the
satisfaction of some circles in London will be lost by it. Do you think
that our friend Mrs. Vesey will suffer her husband to vote for a tax
that is to destroy the evenings at Bolton Row? I trust we shall have
other supporters of the same sex, equally powerful, and equally
deserving to be so, who will not abandon the common cause of their own
liberties and our satisfactions. We shall be barbarized on both sides of
the water, if we do not see one another now and then. _We_ shall sink
into surly, brutish Johns, and _you_ will degenerate into wild Irish. It
is impossible that we should be the wiser or the more agreeable,
certainly we shall not love one another the better, for this forced
separation, which our ministers, who have already done so much for the
dissolution of every other sort of good connection, are now meditating
for the further improvement of this too well united empire. Their next
step will be to encourage all the colonies, about thirty separate
governments, to keep their people from all intercourse with each other
and with the mother country. A gentleman of New York or Barbadoes will
be as much gazed at as a strange animal from Nova Zembla or Otaheite;
and those rogues, the travellers, will tell us what stories they please
about poor old Ireland.

In all seriousness, (though I am a great deal more than half serious in
what I have been saying,) I look upon this projected tax in a very evil
light; I think it is not advisable; I am sure it is not necessary; and
as it is not a mere matter of finance, but involves a political question
of much, importance, I consider the principle and precedent as far worse
than the thing itself. You are too kind in imagining I can suggest
anything new upon the subject. The objections to it are very glaring,
and must strike the eyes of all those who have not their reasons for
shutting them against evident truth. I have no feelings or opinions on
this subject which I do not partake with all the sensible and informed
people that I meet with. At first I could scarcely meet with any one who
could believe that this scheme originated from the English government.
They considered it not only as absurd, but as something monstrous and
unnatural. In the first instance, it strikes at the power of this
country; in the end, at the union of the whole empire. I do not mean to
express, most certainly I do not entertain in my mind, anything
invidious concerning the superintending authority of Great Britain. But
if it be true that the several bodies which make up this complicated
mass are to be preserved as one empire, an authority sufficient to
preserve that unity, and by its equal weight and pressure to
consolidate the various parts that compose it, must reside somewhere:
that somewhere can only be in England. Possibly any one member,
distinctly taken, might decide in favor of that residence within itself;
but certainly no member would give its voice for any other except this.
So that I look upon the residence of the supreme power to be settled
here: not by force, or tyranny, or even by mere long usage, but by the
very nature of things, and the joint consent of the whole body.

If all this be admitted, then without question this country must have
the sole right to the imperial legislation: by which I mean that law
which regulates the polity and economy of the several parts, as they
relate to one another and to the whole. But if any of the parts, which
(not for oppression, but for order) are placed in a subordinate
situation, will assume to themselves the power of hindering or checking
the resort of their municipal subjects to the centre, or even to any
other part of the empire, they arrogate to themselves the imperial
rights, which do not, which cannot, belong to them, and, so far as in
them lies, destroy the happy arrangement of the entire empire.

A free communication by _discretionary residence_ is necessary to all
the other purposes of communication. For what purpose are the Irish and
Plantation laws sent hither, but as means of preserving this sovereign
constitution? Whether such a constitution was originally right or wrong
this is not the time of day to dispute. If any evils arise from it, let
us not strip it of what may be useful in it. By taking the English Privy
Council into your legislature, you obtain a new, a further, and possibly
a more liberal consideration of all your acts. If a local legislature
shall by oblique means tend to deprive any of the people of this
benefit, and shall make it penal to them to follow into England the laws
which may affect them, then the English Privy Council will have to
decide upon your acts without those lights that may enable them to judge
upon what grounds you made them, or how far they ought to be modified,
received, or rejected.

To what end is the ultimate appeal in judicature lodged in this kingdom,
if men may be disabled from following their suits here, and may be taxed
into an absolute _denied of justice_? You observe, my dear Sir, that I
do not assert that in all cases two shillings will necessarily cut off
this means of correcting legislative and judicial mistakes, and thus
amount to a denial of justice. I might, indeed, state cases in which
this very quantum of tax would be fully sufficient to defeat this right.
But I argue not on the case, but on the principle, and I am sure the
principle implies it. They who may restrain may prohibit; they who may
impose two shillings may impose ten shillings in the pound; and those
who may condition the tax to six months' annual absence may carry that
condition to six weeks, or even to six days, and thereby totally defeat
the wise means which have been provided for extensive and impartial
justice, and for orderly, well-poised, and well-connected government.

What is taxing the resort to and residence in any place, but declaring
that your connection with that place is a grievance? Is not such an
Irish tax as is now proposed a virtual declaration that England is a
foreign country, and a renunciation on your part of the principle of
_common naturalization_, which runs through this whole empire?

Do you, or does any Irish gentleman, think it a mean privilege, that,
the moment he sets his foot upon this ground, he is to all intents and
purposes an Englishman? You will not be pleased with a law which by its
operation tends to disqualify you from a seat in this Parliament; and if
your own virtue or fortune, or if that of your children, should carry
you or them to it, should you like to be excluded from the possibility
of a peerage in this kingdom? If in Ireland we lay it down as a maxim,
that a residence in Great Britain is a political evil, and to be
discouraged by penal taxes, you must necessarily reject all the
privileges and benefits which are connected with such a residence.

I can easily conceive that a citizen of Dublin, who looks no further
than his counter, may think that Ireland will be repaid for such a loss
by any small diminution of taxes, or any increase in the circulation of
money that may be laid out in the purchase of claret or groceries in his
corporation. In such a man an error of that kind, as it would be
natural, would be excusable. But I cannot think that any educated man,
any man who looks with an enlightened eye on the interest of Ireland,
can believe that it is not highly for the advantage of Ireland, that
this Parliament, which, whether right or wrong, whether we will or not,
will make some laws to bind Ireland, should always have in it some
persons who by connection, by property, or by early prepossessions and
affections, are attached to the welfare of that country. I am so clear
upon this point, not only from the clear reason of the thing, but from
the constant course of my observation, by now having sat eight sessions
in Parliament, that I declare it to you as my sincere opinion, that (if
you must do either the one or the other) it would be wiser by far, and
far better for Ireland, that some new privileges should attend the
estates of Irishmen, members of the two Houses here, than that their
characters should be stained by penal impositions, and their properties
loaded by unequal and unheard-of modes of taxation. I do really trust,
that, when the matter comes a little to be considered, a majority of our
gentlemen will never consent to establish such a principle of
disqualification against themselves and their posterity, and, for the
sake of gratifying the schemes of a transitory administration of the
cockpit or the castle, or in compliance with the lightest part of the
most vulgar and transient popularity, fix so irreparable an injury on
the permanent interest of their country.

This law seems, therefore, to me to go directly against the fundamental
points of the legislative and judicial constitution of these kingdoms,
and against the happy communion of their privileges. But there is
another matter in the tax proposed, that contradicts as essentially a
very great principle necessary for preserving the union of the various
parts of a state; because it does, in effect, discountenance mutual
intermarriage and inheritance, things that bind countries more closely
together than any laws or constitutions whatsoever. Is it right that a
woman who marries into Ireland, and perhaps well purchases her jointure
or her dower there, should not after her husband's death have it in her
choice to return to her country and her friends without being taxed for
it? If an Irish heiress should marry into an English family, and that
great property in both countries should thereby come to be united in
this common issue, shall the descendant of that marriage abandon his
natural connection, his family interests, his public and his private
duties, and be compelled to take up his residence in Ireland? Is there
any sense or any justice in it, unless you affirm that there should be
no such intermarriage and no such mutual inheritance between the
natives? Is there a shadow of reason, that, because a Lord Rockingham, a
Duke of Devonshire, a Sir George Savile, possess property in Ireland,
which has descended to them without any act of theirs, they should
abandon their duty in Parliament, and spend the winters in Dublin? or,
having spent the session in Westminster, must they abandon their seats
and all their family interests in Yorkshire and Derbyshire, and pass the
rest of the year in Wicklow, in Cork, or Tyrone?

See what the consequence must be from a municipal legislature
considering itself as an unconnected body, and attempting to enforce a
partial residence. A man may have property in more parts than two of
this empire. He may have property in Jamaica and in North America, as
well as in England and Ireland. I know some that have property in all of
them. What shall we say to this case? After the poor distracted citizen
of the whole empire has, in compliance with your partial law, removed
his family, bid adieu to his connections, and settled himself quietly
and snug in a pretty box by the Liffey, he hears that the Parliament of
Great Britain is of opinion that all English estates ought to be spent
in England, and that they will tax him double, if he does not return.
Suppose him then (if the nature of the two laws will permit it)
providing a flying camp, and dividing his year as well as he can
between England and Ireland, and at the charge of two town houses and
two country-houses in both kingdoms; in this situation he receives an
account, that a law is transmitted from Jamaica, and another from
Pennsylvania, to tax absentees from these provinces, which are
impoverished by the European residence of the possessors of their lands.
How is he to escape this _ricochet_ cross-firing of so many opposite
batteries of police and regulation? If he attempts to comply, he is
likely to be more a citizen of the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea than
of any of these countries. The matter is absurd and ridiculous, and,
while ever the idea of mutual marriages, inheritances, purchases, and
privileges subsist, can never be carried into execution with common
sense or common justice.

I do not know how gentlemen of Ireland reconcile such an idea to their
own liberties, or to the natural use and enjoyment of their estates. If
any of their children should be left in a minority, and a guardian
should think, as many do, (it matters not whether properly or no,) that
his ward had better he educated in a school or university here than in
Ireland, is he sure that he can justify the bringing a tax of ten per
cent, perhaps twenty, on his pupil's estate, by giving what in his
opinion is the best education in general, or the best for that pupil's
particular character and circumstances? Can he justify his sending him
to travel, a necessary part of the higher style of education, and,
notwithstanding what some narrow writers have said, of great benefit to
all countries, but very particularly so to Ireland? Suppose a guardian,
under the authority or pretence of such a tax of police, had prevented
our dear friend, Lord Charlemont, from going abroad, would he have lost
no satisfaction? would his friends have lost nothing in the companion?
would his country have lost nothing in the cultivated taste with which
he has adorned it in so many ways? His natural elegance of mind would
undoubtedly do a great deal; but I will venture to assert, without the
danger of being contradicted, that he adorns his present residence in
Ireland much the more for having resided a long time out of it. Will Mr.
Flood himself think he ought to have been driven by taxes into Ireland,
whilst he prepared himself by an English education to understand and to
defend the rights of the subject in Ireland, or to support the dignity
of government there, according as his opinions, or the situation of
things, may lead him to take either part, upon respectable principles? I
hope it is not forgot that an Irish act of Parliament sends its youth to
England for the study of the law, and compels a residence in the inns of
court hero for some years. Will you send out with one breath and recall
with another? This act plainly provides for that intercourse which
supposes the strictest union in laws and policy, in both which the
intended tax supposes an entire separation.

It would be endless to go into all the inconveniences this tax will lead
to, in the conduct of private life, and the use of property. How many
infirm people are obliged to change their climate, whose life depends
upon that change! How many families straitened in their circumstances
are there, who, from the shame, sometimes from the utter impossibility
otherwise of retrenching, are obliged to remove from their country, in
order to preserve their estates in their families! You begin, then, to
burden these people precisely at the time when their circumstances of
health and fortune render them rather objects of relief and

I know very well that a great proportion of the money of every
subordinate country will flow towards the metropolis. This is
unavoidable. Other inconveniences, too, will result to particular parts:
and why? Why, because they are particular parts,--each a member of a
greater, and not an whole within itself. But those members are to
consider whether these inconveniences are not fully balanced, perhaps
more than balanced, by the united strength of a great and compact body.
I am sensible, too, of a difficulty that will be started against the
application of some of the principles which I reason upon to the case of
Ireland. It will be said, that Ireland, in many particulars, is not
bound to consider itself as a part of the British body; because this
country, in many instances, is mistaken enough to treat you as
foreigners, and draws away your money by absentees, without suffering
you to enjoy your natural advantages in trade and commerce. No man
living loves restrictive regulations of any kind less than myself; at
best, nine times in ten, they are little better than laborious and
vexatious follies. Often, as in your case, they are great oppressions,
as well as great absurdities. But still an injury is not always a reason
for retaliation; nor is the folly of others with regard to us a reason
for imitating it with regard to them. Before we attempt to retort, we
ought to consider whether we may not injure ourselves even more than our
adversary; since, in the contest who shall go the greatest length in
absurdity, the victor is generally the greatest sufferer. Besides, when
there is an unfortunate emulation in restraints and oppressions, the
question of _strength_ is of the highest importance. It little becomes
the feeble to be unjust. Justice is the shield of the weak; and when
they choose to lay this down, and fight naked in the contest of mere
power, the event will be what must be expected from such imprudence.

I ought to beg your pardon for running into this length. You want no
arguments to convince you on this subject, and you want no resources of
matter to convince others. I ought, too, to ask pardon for having
delayed my answer so long; but I received your letter on Tuesday, in
town, and I was obliged to come to the country on business. From the
country I write at present; but this day I shall go to town again. I
shall see Lord Rockingham, who has spared neither time nor trouble in
making a vigorous opposition to this inconsiderate measure. I hope to be
able to send you the papers which will give you information of the steps
he has taken. He has pursued this business with the foresight,
diligence, and good sense with which he generally resists
unconstitutional attempts of government. A life of disinterestedness,
generosity, and public spirit are his titles to have it believed that
the effect which the tax may have upon his private property is not the
sole nor the principal motive to his exertions. I know he is of opinion
that the opposition in Ireland ought to be carried on with that spirit
as if no aid was expected from this country, and here as if nothing
would be done in Ireland: many things have been lost by not acting in
this manner.

I am told that you are not likely to be alone in the generous stand you
are to make against this unnatural monster of court popularity. It is
said, Mr. Hussey, who is so very considerable at present, and who is
everything in expectation, will give you his assistance. I rejoice to
see (that very rare spectacle) a good mind, a great genius, and public
activity united together, and united so early in life. By not running
into every popular humor, he may depend upon it, the popularity of his
character will wear the better.

    Non ponebat enim rumores ante salutem;
    Ergo postque magisque viri nunc gloria claret.

Adieu, my dear Sir. Give my best respects to Lady Bingham; and believe
me, with great truth and esteem,

Your most obedient and most humble servant,


BEACONSFIELD, 30th October, 1773.







OCTOBER 8, 1777.

My Dear Charles,--I am, on many accounts, exceedingly pleased with your
journey to Ireland. I do not think it was possible to dispose better of
the interval between this and the meeting of Parliament. I told you as
much, in the same general terms, by the post. My opinion of the
infidelity of that conveyance hindered me from being particular. I now
sit down with malice prepense to kill you with a very long letter, and
must take my chance for some safe method of conveying the dose. Before I
say anything to you of the place you are in, or the business of it, on
which, by the way, a great deal might be said, I will turn myself to the
concluding part of your letter from Chatsworth.

You are sensible that I do not differ from you in many things; and most
certainly I do not dissent from the main of your doctrine concerning the
heresy of depending upon contingencies. You must recollect how uniform
my sentiments have been on that subject. I have ever wished a settled
plan of our own, founded in the very essence of the American business,
wholly unconnected with the events of the war, and framed in such a
manner as to keep up our credit and maintain our system at home, in
spite of anything which may happen abroad. I am now convinced, by a long
and somewhat vexatious experience, that such a plan is absolutely
impracticable. I think with you, that some faults in the constitution
of those whom we must love and trust are among the causes of this
impracticability; they are faults, too, that one can hardly wish them
perfectly cured of, as I am afraid they are intimately connected with
honest, disinterested intentions, plentiful fortunes, assured rank, and
quiet homes. A great deal of activity and enterprise can scarcely ever
be expected from such men, unless some horrible calamity is just over
their heads, or unless they suffer some gross personal insults from
power, the resentment of which may be as unquiet and stimulating a
principle in their minds as ambition is in those of a different
complexion. To say the truth, I cannot greatly blame them. We live at a
time when men are not repaid in fame for what they sacrifice in interest
or repose.

On the whole, when I consider of what discordant, and particularly of
what fleeting materials the opposition has been all along composed, and
at the same time review what Lord Rockingham has done, with that and
with his own shattered constitution, for these last twelve years, I
confess I am rather surprised that he has done so much and persevered so
long, than that he has felt now and then some cold fits, and that he
grows somewhat languid and desponding at last. I know that he, and those
who are much prevalent with him, though they are not thought so much
devoted to popularity as others, do very much look to the people, and
more than I think is wise in them, who do so little to guide and direct
the public opinion. Without this they act, indeed; but they act as it
were from compulsion, and because it is impossible, in their situation,
to avoid taking some part. All this it is impossible to change, and to
no purpose to complain of.

As to that popular humor which is the medium we float in, if I can
discern anything at all of its present state, it is far worse than I
have ever known or could ever imagine it. The faults of the people are
not popular vices; at least, they are not such as grow out of what we
used to take to be the English temper and character. The greatest number
have a sort of an heavy, lumpish acquiescence in government, without
much respect or esteem for those that compose it. I really cannot avoid
making some very unpleasant prognostics from this disposition of the
people. I think that many of the symptoms must have struck you: I will
mention one or two that are to me very remarkable. You must know that at
Bristol we grow, as an election interest, and even as a party interest,
rather stronger than we were when I was chosen. We have just now a
majority in the corporation. In this state of matters, what, think you,
have they done? They have voted their freedom to Lord Sandwich and Lord
Suffolk!--to the first, at the very moment when the American privateers
were domineering in the Irish Sea, and taking the Bristol traders in the
Bristol Channel;--to the latter, when his remonstrances on the subject
of captures were the jest of Paris and of Europe. This fine step was
taken, it seems, in honor of the zeal of these two profound statesmen in
the prosecution of John the Painter: so totally negligent are they of
everything essential, and so long and so deeply affected with trash the
most low and contemptible; just as if they thought the merit of Sir John
Fielding was the most shining point in the character of great
ministers, in the most critical of all times, and, of all others, the
most deeply interesting to the commercial world! My best friends in the
corporation had no other doubts on the occasion than whether it did not
belong to me, by right of my representative capacity, to be the bearer
of this auspicious compliment. In addition to this, if it could receive
any addition, they now employ me to solicit, as a favor of no small
magnitude, that, after the example of Newcastle, they may be suffered to
arm vessels for their own defence in the Channel. Their memorial, under
the seal of Merchants' Hall, is now lying on the table before me. Not a
soul has the least sensibility, on finding themselves, now for the first
time, obliged to act as if the community were dissolved, and, after
enormous payments towards the common protection, each part was to defend
itself, as if it were a separate state.

I don't mention Bristol as if that were the part furthest gone in this
mortification. Far from it: I know that there is, rather, a little more
life in us than in any other place. In Liverpool they are literally
almost ruined by this American war; but they love it as they suffer from
it. In short, from whatever I see, and from whatever quarter I hear, I
am convinced that everything that is not absolute stagnation is
evidently a party-spirit very adverse to our politics, and to the
principles from whence they arise. There are manifest marks of the
resurrection of the Tory party. They no longer criticize, as all
disengaged people in the world will, on the acts of government; but they
are silent under every evil, and hide and cover up every ministerial
blander and misfortune, with the officious zeal of men who think they
have a party of their own to support in power. The Tories do
universally think their power and consequence involved in the success of
this American business. The clergy are astonishingly warm in it; and
what the Tories are, when embodied and united with their natural head,
the crown, and animated by their clergy, no man knows better than
yourself. As to the Whigs, I think them far from extinct. They are, what
they always were, (except by the able use of opportunities,) by far the
weakest party in this country. They have not yet learned the application
of their principles to the present state of things; and as to the
Dissenters, the main effective part of the Whig strength, they are, to
use a favorite expression of our American campaign style, "not all in
force." They will do very little, and, as far as I can discern, are
rather intimidated than provoked at the denunciations of the court in
the Archbishop of York's sermon. I thought that sermon rather imprudent,
when I first saw it; but it seems to have done its business.

In this temper of the people, I do not wholly wonder that our Northern
friends look a little towards events. In war, particularly, I am afraid
it must be so. There is something so weighty and decisive in the events
of war, something that so completely overpowers the imagination of the
vulgar, that all counsels must in a great degree be subordinate to and
attendant on them. I am sure it was so in the last war, very eminently.
So that, on the whole, what with the temper of the people, the temper of
our own friends, and the domineering necessities of war, we must quietly
give up all ideas of any settled, preconcerted plan. We shall be lucky
enough, if, keeping ourselves attentive and alert, we can contrive to
profit of the occasions as they arise: though I am sensible that those
who are best provided with a general scheme are fittest to take
advantage of all contingencies. However, to act with any people with the
least degree of comfort, I believe we must contrive a little to
assimilate to their character. We must gravitate towards them, if we
would keep in the same system, or expect that they should approach
towards us. They are, indeed, worthy of much concession and management.
I am quite convinced that they are the honestest public men that ever
appeared in this country, and I am sure that they are the wisest, by
far, of those who appear in it at present. None of those who are
continually complaining of them, but are themselves just as chargeable
with all their faults, and have a decent stock of their own into the
bargain. They (our friends) are, I admit, as you very truly represent
them, but indifferently qualified for storming a citadel. After all, God
knows whether this citadel is to be stormed by them, or by anybody else,
by the means they use, or by any means. I know that as they are,
abstractedly speaking, to blame, so there are those who cry out against
them for it, not with a friendly complaint, as we do, but with the
bitterness of enemies. But I know, too, that those who blame them for
want of enterprise have shown no activity at all against the common
enemy: all their skill and all their spirit have been shown only in
weakening, dividing, and indeed destroying their allies. What they are
and what we are is now pretty evidently experienced; and it is certain,
that, partly by our common faults, but much more by the difficulties of
our situation, and some circumstances of unavoidable misfortune, we are
in little better than a sort of _cul-de-sac_. For my part, I do all I
can to give ease to my mind in this strange position. I remember, some
years ago, when I was pressing some points with great eagerness and
anxiety, and complaining with great vexation to the Duke of Richmond of
the little progress I make, he told me kindly, and I believe very truly,
that, though he was far from thinking so himself, other people could not
be persuaded I had not some latent private interest in pushing these
matters, which I urged with an earnestness so extreme, and so much
approaching to passion. He was certainly in the right. I am thoroughly
resolved to give, both to myself and to my friends, less vexation on
these subjects than hitherto I have done,--much less, indeed.

If _you_ should grow too earnest, you will be still more inexcusable
than I was. Your having entered into affairs so much younger ought to
make them too familiar to you to be the cause of much agitation, and you
have much more before you for your work. Do not be in haste. Lay your
foundations deep in public opinion. Though (as you are sensible) I have
never given you the least hint of advice about joining yourself in a
declared connection with our party, nor do I now, yet, as I love that
party very well, and am clear that you are better able to serve them
than any man I know, I wish that things should be so kept as to leave
you mutually very open to one another in all changes and contingencies;
and I wish this the rather, because, in order to be very great, as I am
anxious that you should be, (always presuming that you are disposed to
make a good use of power,) you will certainly want some better support
than merely that of the crown. For I much doubt, whether, with all your
parts, you are the man formed for acquiring real interior favor in this
court, or in any; I therefore wish you a firm ground in the country; and
I do not know so firm and so sound a bottom to build on as our
party.--Well, I have done with this matter; and you think I ought to
have finished it long ago. Now I turn to Ireland.

Observe, that I have not heard a word of any news relative to it, from
thence or from London; so that I am only going to state to you my
conjectures as to facts, and to speculate again on these conjectures. I
have a strong notion that the lateness of our meeting is owing to the
previous arrangements intended in Ireland. I suspect they mean that
Ireland should take a sort of lead, and act an efficient part in this
war, both with men and money. It will sound well, when we meet, to tell
us of the active zeal and loyalty of the people of Ireland, and contrast
it with the rebellious spirit of America. It will be a popular
topic,--the perfect confidence of Ireland in the power of the British
Parliament. From thence they will argue the little danger which any
dependency of the crown has to apprehend from the enforcement of that
authority. It will be, too, somewhat flattering to the country
gentlemen, who might otherwise begin to be sullen, to hold out that the
burden is not wholly to rest upon them; and it will pique our pride to
be told that Ireland has cheerfully stepped forward: and when a
dependant of this kingdom has already engaged itself in another year's
war, merely for our dignity, how can we, who are principals in the
quarrel, hold off? This scheme of policy seems to me so very obvious,
and is likely to be of so much service to the present system, that I
cannot conceive it possible they should neglect it, or something like
it. They have already put the people of Ireland to the proof. Have they
not borne the Earl of Buckinghamshire, the person who was employed to
move the fiery committee in the House of Lords in order to stimulate the
ministry to this war, who was in the chair, and who moved the

It is within a few days of eleven years since I was in Ireland, and then
after an absence of two. Those who have been absent from any scene for
even a much shorter time generally lose the true practical notion of the
country, and of what may or may not be done in it. When I knew Ireland,
it was very different from the state of England, where government is a
vast deal, the public something, but individuals comparatively very
little. But if Ireland bears any resemblance to what it was some years
ago, neither government nor public opinion can do a great deal; almost
the whole is in the hands of a few leading people. The populace of
Dublin, and some parts in the North, are in some sort an exception. But
the Primate, Lord Hillsborough, and Lord Hertford have great sway in the
latter; and the former may be considerable or not, pretty much as the
Duke of Leinster pleases. On the whole, the success of government
usually depended on the bargain made with a very few men. The resident
lieutenancy may have made some change, and given a strength to
government, which formerly, I know, it had not; still, however, I am of
opinion, the former state, though in other hands perhaps, and in another
manner, still continues. The house you are connected with is grown into
a much greater degree of power than it had, though it was very
considerable, at the period I speak of. If the D. of L. takes a popular
part, he is sure of the city of Dublin, and he has a young man attached
to him who stands very forward in Parliament and in profession, and, by
what I hear, with more good-will and less envy than usually attends so
rapid a progress. The movement of one or two principal men, if they
manage the little popular strength which is to be found in Dublin and
Ulster, may do a great deal, especially when money is to be saved and
taxes to be kept off. I confess I should despair of your succeeding with
any of them, if they cannot be satisfied that every job which they can
look for on account of carrying this measure would be just as sure to
them for their ordinary support of government. They are essential to
government, which at this time must not be disturbed, and their
neutrality will be purchased at as high a price as their alliance
offensive and defensive. Now, as by supporting they may get as much as
by betraying their country, it must be a great leaning to turpitude that
can make them take a part in this war. I am satisfied, that, if the Duke
of Leinster and Lord Shannon would act together, this business could not
go on; or if either of them took part with Ponsonby, it would have no
better success. Hutchinson's situation is much altered since I saw you.
To please Tisdall, he had been in a manner laid aside at the Castle. It
is now to be seen whether he prefers the gratification of his resentment
and his appetite for popularity, both of which are strong enough in him,
to the advantages which his independence gives him, of making a new
bargain, and accumulating new offices on his heap. Pray do not be asleep
in this scene of action,--at this time, if I am right, the principal.
The Protestants of Ireland will be, I think, in general, backward: they
form infinitely the greatest part of the landed and the moneyed
interests; and they will not like to pay. The Papists are reduced to
beasts of burden: they will give all they have, their shoulders, readily
enough, if they are flattered. Surely the state of Ireland ought forever
to teach parties moderation in their victories. People crushed by law
have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be
enemies to laws; and those who have much to hope and nothing to lose
will always be dangerous, more or less. But this is not our present
business. If all this should prove a dream, however, let it not hinder
you from writing to me and tolling me so. You will easily refute, in
your conversation, the little topics which they will set afloat: such
as, that Ireland is a boat, and must go with the ship; that, if the
Americans contended only for their liberties, it would be
different,--but since they have declared independence, and so forth--

You are happy in enjoying Townshend's company. Remember me to him. How
does he like his private situation in a country where he was the son of
the sovereign?--Mrs. Burke and the two Richards salute you cordially.


BEACONSFIELD, October 8th, 1777.











JANUARY, 1777.


    This Letter, with the two Addresses which follow it, was
    written upon occasion of a proposed secession from Parliament
    of the members in both Houses who had opposed the measures of
    government, in the contest between this country and the
    colonies in North America, from the time of the repeal of the
    Stamp Act. It appears, from an indorsement written by Mr.
    Burke on the manuscript, that he warmly recommended the
    measure, but (for what reasons is not stated) it was not



My Dear Lord,--I am afraid that I ought rather to beg your pardon for
troubling you at all in this season of repose, than to apologize for
having been so long silent on the approaching business. It comes upon
us, not indeed in the most agreeable manner, but it does come-upon us;
and I believe your friends in general are in expectation of finding your
Lordship resolved in what way you are to meet it. The deliberation is
full of difficulties; but the determination is necessary.

The affairs of America seem to be drawing towards a crisis. The Howes
are at this time in possession of, or are able to awe, the whole middle
coast of America, from Delaware to the western boundary of Massachusetts
Bay; the naval barrier on the side of Canada is broken; a great tract of
country is open for the supply of the troops; the river Hudson opens a
way into the heart of the provinces; and nothing can, in all
probability, prevent an early and offensive campaign. What the Americans
_have_ done is, in their circumstances, truly astonishing; it is,
indeed, infinitely more than I expected from them. But having done so
much, for some short time I began to entertain an opinion that they
might do more. It is now, however, evident that they cannot look
standing armies in the face. They are inferior in everything, even in
numbers,--I mean, in the number of those whom they keep in constant duty
and in regular pay. There seem, by the best accounts, not to be above
ten or twelve thousand men, at most, in their grand army. The rest are
militia, and not wonderfully well composed or disciplined. They decline
a general engagement,--prudently enough, if their object had been to
make the war attend upon a treaty of good terms of subjection; but when
they look further, this will not do. An army that is obliged at all
times and in all situations to decline an engagement may delay their
ruin, but can never defend their country. Foreign assistance they have
little or none, nor are likely soon to have more. France, in effect, has
no king, nor any minister accredited enough either with the court or
nation to undertake a design of great magnitude.

In this state of things, I persuade myself Franklin is come to Paris to
draw from that court a definitive and satisfactory answer concerning the
support of the colonies. If he cannot get such an answer, (and I am of
opinion that at present he cannot,) then it is to be presumed he is
authorized to negotiate with Lord Stormont on the basis of dependence on
the crown. This I take to be his errand: for I never can believe that he
is come thither as a fugitive from his cause in the hour of its
distress, or that he is going to conclude a long life, which has
brightened every hour it has continued, with so foul and dishonorable a
flight. On this supposition, I thought it not wholly impossible that the
Whig party might be made a sort of mediators of the peace. It is
unnatural to suppose, that, in making an accommodation, the Americans
should not choose rather to give credit to those who all along have
opposed the measure of ministers, than to throw themselves wholly on the
mercy of their bitter, uniform, and systematic enemies. It is, indeed,
the victorious enemy that has the terms to offer; the vanquished party
and their friends are, both of them, reduced in their power; and it is
certain that those who are utterly broken and subdued have no option.
But, as this is hardly yet the case of the Americans, in this middle
state of their affairs, (much impaired, but not perfectly ruined,) one
would think it must be their interest to provide, if possible, some
further security for the terms which they may obtain from their enemies.
If the Congress could be brought to declare in favor of those terms for
which one hundred members of the House of Commons voted last year, with
some civility to the party which held out those terms, it would
undoubtedly have an effect to revive the cause of our liberties in
England, and to give the colonies some sort of mooring and anchorage in
this country. It seemed to me that Franklin might be made to feel the
propriety of such a step; and as I have an acquaintance with him, I had
a strong desire of taking a turn to Paris. Everything else failing, one
might obtain a better knowledge of the general aspect of affairs abroad
than, I believe, any of us possess at present. The Duke of Portland
approved the idea. But when I had conversed with the very few of your
Lordship's friends who were in town, and considered a little more
maturely the constant temper and standing maxims of the party, I laid
aside the design,--not being desirous of risking the displeasure of
those for whose sake alone I wished to take that fatiguing journey at
this severe season of the year.

The Duke of Portland has taken with him some heads of deliberation,
which were the result of a discourse with his Grace and Mr. Montagu at
Burlington House. It seems essential to the cause that your Lordship
should meet your friends with some settled plan either of action or
inaction. Your friends will certainly require such a plan; and I am sure
the state of affairs requires it, whether they call for it or not. As to
the measure of a secession with reasons, after rolling the matter in my
head a good deal, and turning it an hundred ways, I confess I still
think it the most advisable, notwithstanding the serious objections that
lie against it, and indeed the extreme uncertainty of all political
measures, especially at this time. It provides for your honor. I know of
nothing else that can so well do this. It is something, perhaps all,
that can be done in our present situation. Some precaution, in this
respect, is not without its motives. That very estimation for which you
have sacrificed everything else is in some danger of suffering in the
general wreck; and perhaps it is likely to suffer the more, because you
have hitherto confided more than was quite prudent in the clearness of
your intentions, and in the solidity of the popular judgment upon them.
The former, indeed, is out of the power of events; the latter is full of
levity, and the very creature of fortune. However, such as it is, (and
for one I do not think I am inclined to overvalue it,) both our interest
and our duty make it necessary for us to attend to it very carefully, so
long as we act a part in public. The measure you take for this purpose
may produce no immediate effect; but with regard to the party, and the
principles for whose sake the party exists, all hope of their
preservation or recovery depends upon your preserving your reputation.

By the conversation of some friends, it seemed as if they were willing
to fall in with this design, because it promised to emancipate them from
the servitude of irksome business, and to afford them an opportunity of
retiring to ease and tranquillity. If that be their object in the
secession and addresses proposed, there surely never were means worse
chosen to gain their end; and if this be any part of the project, it
were a thousand times better it were never undertaken. The measure is
not only unusual, and as such critical, but it is in its own nature
strong and vehement in a high degree. The propriety, therefore, of
adopting it depends entirely upon the spirit with which it is supported
and followed. To pursue violent measures with languor and irresolution
is not very consistent in speculation, and not more reputable or safe in
practice. If your Lordship's friends do not go to this business with
their whole hearts, if they do not feel themselves uneasy without it, if
they do not undertake it with a certain degree of zeal, and even with
warmth and indignation, it had better be removed wholly out of our
thoughts. A measure of less strength, and more in the beaten circle of
affairs, if supported with spirit and industry, would be on all accounts
infinitely more eligible. We have to consider what it is that in this
undertaking we have against us. We have the weight of King, Lords, and
Commons in the other scale; we have against us, within a trifle, the
whole body of the law; we oppose the more considerable part of the
landed and mercantile interests; we contend, in a manner, against the
whole Church; we set our faces against great armies flushed with
victory, and navies who have tasted of civil spoil, and have a strong
appetite for more; our strength, whatever it is, must depend, for a good
part of its effect, upon events not very probable. In such a situation,
such a step requires not only great magnanimity, but unwearied activity
and perseverance, with a good deal, too, of dexterity and management, to
improve every accident in our favor.

The delivery of this paper may have very important consequences. It is
true that the court may pass it over in silence, with a real or affected
contempt. But this I do not think so likely. If they do take notice of
it, the mildest course will be such an address from Parliament as the
House of Commons made to the king on the London Remonstrance in the year
1769. This address will be followed by addresses of a similar tendency,
from all parts of the kingdom, in order to overpower you with what they
will endeavor to pass as the united voice and sense of the nation. But
if they intend to proceed further, and to take steps of a more decisive
nature, you are then to consider, not what they may legally and justly
do, but what a Parliament omnipotent in power, influenced with party
rage and personal resentment, operating under the implicit military
obedience of court discipline, is capable of. Though they have made some
successful experiments on juries, they will hardly trust enough to them
to order a prosecution for a supposed libel. They may proceed in two
ways: either by an _impeachment_, in which the Tories may retort on the
Whigs (but with better success, though in a worse cause) the
proceedings in the case of Sacheverell, or they may, without this form,
proceed, as against the Bishop of Rochester, by a bill of pains and
penalties more or less grievous. The similarity of the cases, or the
justice, is (as I said) out of the question. The mode of proceeding has
several very ancient and very recent precedents. None of these methods
is impossible. The court may select three or four of the most
distinguished among you for the victims; and therefore nothing is more
remote from the tendency of the proposed act than any idea of retirement
or repose. On the contrary, you have, all of you, as principals or
auxiliaries, a much better [hotter?] and more desperate conflict, in all
probability, to undergo, than any you have been yet engaged in. The only
question is, whether the risk ought to be run for the chance (and it is
no more) of recalling the people of England to their ancient principles,
and to that personal interest which formerly they took in all public
affairs. At any rate, I am sure it is right, if we take this step, to
take it with a full view of the consequences, and with minds and
measures in a state of preparation to meet them. It is not becoming that
your boldness should arise from a want of foresight. It is more
reputable, and certainly it is more safe too, that it should be grounded
on the evident necessity of encountering the dangers which you foresee.

Your Lordship will have the goodness to excuse me, if I state in strong
terms the difficulties attending a measure which on the whole I heartily
concur in. But as, from my want of importance, I can be personally
little subject to the most trying part of the consequences, it is as
little my desire to urge others to dangers in which I am myself to have
no inconsiderable a share.

If this measure should be thought too great for our strength or the
dispositions of the times, then the point will be to consider what is to
be done in Parliament. A weak, irregular, desultory, peevish opposition
there will be as much too little as the other may be too big. Our scheme
ought to be such as to have in it a succession of measures: else it is
impossible to secure anything like a regular attendance; opposition will
otherwise always carry a disreputable air; neither will it be possible,
without that attendance, to persuade the people that we are in earnest.
Above all, a motion should be well digested for the first day. There is
one thing in particular I wish to recommend to your Lordship's
consideration: that is, the opening of the doors of the House of
Commons. Without this, I am clearly convinced, it will be in the power
of ministry to make our opposition appear without doors just in what
light they please. To obtain a gallery is the easiest thing in the
world, if we are satisfied to cultivate the esteem of our adversaries by
the resolution and energy with which we act against them: but if their
satisfaction and good-humor be any part of our object, the attempt, I
admit, is idle.

I had some conversation, before I left town, with the D. of M. He is of
opinion, that, if you adhere to your resolution of seceding, you ought
not to appear on the first day of the meeting. He thinks it can have no
effect, except to break the continuity of your conduct, and thereby to
weaken and fritter away the impression of it. It certainly will seem
odd to give solemn reasons for a discontinuance of your attendance in
Parliament, after having two or three times returned to it, and
immediately after a vigorous act of opposition. As to trials of the
temper of the House, there have been of that sort so many already that I
see no reason for making another that would not hold equally good for
another after that,--particularly as nothing has happened in the least
calculated to alter the disposition of the House. If the secession were
to be general, such an attendance, followed by such an act, would have
force; but being in its nature incomplete and broken, to break it
further by retreats and returns to the chase must entirely destroy its
effect. I confess I am quite of the D. of M.'s opinion in this point.

I send your Lordship a corrected copy of the paper: your Lordship will
be so good to communicate it, if you should approve of the alterations,
to Lord J.C. and Sir G.S. I showed it to the D. of P. before his Grace
left town; and at his, the D. of P.'s, desire, I have sent it to the D.
of R. The principal alteration is in the pages last but one. It is made
to remove a difficulty which had been suggested to Sir G.S., and which
he thought had a good deal in it. I think it much the better for that
alteration. Indeed, it may want still more corrections, in order to
adapt it to the present or probable future state of things.

What shall I say in excuse for this long letter, which frightens me when
I look back upon it? Your Lordship will take it, and all in it, with
your usual incomparable temper, which carries you through so much both
from enemies and friends. My most humble respects to Lady R., and
believe me, with the highest regard, ever, &o.


I hear that Dr. Franklin has had a most extraordinary reception at Paris
from all ranks of people.

BEACONSFIELD, Monday night, Jan. 6, 1777.


We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, several of the peers
of the realm, and several members of the House of Commons chosen by the
people to represent them in Parliament, do in our individual capacity,
but with hearts filled with a warm affection to your Majesty, with a
strong attachment to your royal house, and with the most unfeigned
devotion to your true interest, beg leave, at this crisis of your
affairs, in all humility to approach your royal presence.

Whilst we lament the measures adopted by the public councils of the
kingdom, we do not mean to question the legal validity of their
proceedings. We do not desire to appeal from them to any person
whatsoever. We do not dispute the conclusive authority of the bodies in
which we have a place over all their members. We know that it is our
ordinary duty to submit ourselves to the determinations of the majority
in everything, except what regards the just defence of our honor and
reputation. But the situation into which the British empire has been
brought, and the conduct to which we are reluctantly driven in that
situation, we hold ourselves bound by the relation in which we stand
both to the crown and the people clearly to explain to your Majesty and
our country.

We have been called upon in the speech from the throne at the opening of
this session of Parliament, in a manner peculiarly marked, singularly
emphatical, and from a place from whence anything implying censure falls
with no common weight, to concur in unanimous approbation of those
measures which have produced our present distresses and threaten us in
future with others far more grievous. We trust, therefore, that we shall
stand justified in offering to our sovereign and the public our reasons
for persevering inflexibly in our uniform dissent from every part of
those measures. We lament them from an experience of their mischief, as
we originally opposed them from a sure foresight of their unhappy and
inevitable tendency.

We see nothing in the present events in the least degree sufficient to
warrant an alteration in our opinion. We were always steadily averse to
this civil war,--not because we thought it impossible that it should be
attended with victory, but because we were fully persuaded that in such
a contest victory would only vary the mode of our ruin, and by making it
less immediately sensible would render it the more lasting and the more
irretrievable. Experience had but too fully instructed us in the
possibility of the reduction of a free people to slavery by foreign
mercenary armies. But we had an horror of becoming the instruments in a
design, of which, in our turn, we might become the victims. Knowing the
inestimable value of peace, and the contemptible value of what was
sought by war, we wished to compose the distractions of our country, not
by the use of foreign arms, but by prudent regulations in our own
domestic policy. We deplored, as your Majesty has done in your speech
from the throne, the disorders which prevail in your empire; but we are
convinced that the disorders of the people, in the present time and in
the present place, are owing to the usual and natural cause of such
disorders at all times and in all places, where such have
prevailed,--the misconduct of government;--that they are owing to plans
laid in error, pursued with obstinacy, and conducted without wisdom.

We cannot attribute so much to the power of faction, at the expense of
human nature, as to suppose, that, in any part of the world, a
combination of men, few in number, not considerable in rank, of no
natural hereditary dependencies, should be able, by the efforts of their
policy alone, or the mere exertion of any talents, to bring the people
of your American dominions into the disposition which has produced the
present troubles. We cannot conceive, that, without some powerful
concurring cause, any management should prevail on some millions of
people, dispersed over an whole continent, in thirteen provinces, not
only unconnected, but, in many particulars of religion, manners,
government, and local interest, totally different and adverse,
voluntarily to submit themselves to a suspension of all the profits of
industry and all the comforts of civil life, added to all the evils of
an unequal war, carried on with circumstances of the greatest asperity
and rigor. This, Sir, we conceive, could never have happened, but from a
general sense of some grievance so radical in its nature and so
spreading in its effects as to poison all the ordinary satisfactions of
life, to discompose the frame of society, and to convert into fear and
hatred that habitual reverence ever paid by mankind to an ancient and
venerable government.

That grievance is as simple in its nature, and as level to the most
ordinary understanding, as it is powerful in affecting the most languid
passions: it is--


Your Majesty's English subjects in the colonies, possessing the ordinary
faculties of mankind, know that to live under such a plan of government
is not to live in a state of freedom. Your English subjects in the
colonies, still impressed with the ancient feelings of the people from
whom they are derived, cannot live under a government which does not
establish freedom as its basis.

This scheme, being, therefore, set up in direct opposition to the rooted
and confirmed sentiments and habits of thinking of an whole people, has
produced the effects which ever must result from such a collision of
power and opinion. For we beg leave, with all duty and humility, to
represent to your Majesty, (what we fear has been industriously
concealed from you,) that it is not merely the opinion of a very great
number, or even of the majority, but the universal sense of the whole
body of the people in those provinces, that the practice of taxing, in
the mode and on the principles which have been lately contended for and
enforced, is subversive of all their rights.

This sense has been declared, as we understand on good information, by
the unanimous voice of all their Assemblies: each Assembly also, on this
point, is perfectly unanimous within itself. It has been declared as
fully by the actual voice of the people without these Assemblies as by
the constructive voice within them, as well by those in that country who
addressed as by those who remonstrated; and it is as much the avowed
opinion of those who have hazarded their all, rather than take up arms
against your Majesty's forces, as of those who have run the same risk to
oppose them. The difference among them is not on the grievance, but on
the mode of redress; and we are sorry to say, that they who have
conceived hopes from the placability of the ministers who influence the
public councils of this kingdom disappear in the multitude of those who
conceive that passive compliance only confirms and emboldens oppression.

The sense of a whole people, most gracious sovereign, never ought to be
contemned by wise and beneficent rulers,--whatever may be the abstract
claims, or even rights, of _the supreme power_. We have been too early
instructed, and too long habituated to believe, that the only firm seat
of all authority is in the minds, affections, and interests of the
people, to change our opinions on the theoretic reasonings of
speculative men, or for the convenience of a mere temporary arrangement
of state. It is not consistent with equity or wisdom to set at defiance
the general feelings of great communities, and of all the orders which
compose them. Much power is tolerated, and passes unquestioned, where
much is yielded to opinion. All is disputed, where everything is

Such are our sentiments on the duty and policy of conforming to the
prejudices of a whole people, even where the foundation of such
prejudices may be false or disputable. But permit us to lay at your
Majesty's feet our deliberate judgment on the real merits of that
principle, the violation of which is the known ground and origin of
these troubles. We assure your Majesty, that, on our parts, we should
think ourselves unjustifiable, as good citizens, and not influenced by
the true spirit of Englishmen, if, with any effectual means of
prevention in our hands, we were to submit to taxes to which we did not
consent, either directly, or by a representation of the people securing
to us the substantial benefit of an absolutely free disposition of our
own property in that important case. And we add, Sir, that, if fortune,
instead of blessing us with a situation where we may have daily access
to the propitious presence of a gracious prince, had fixed us in
settlements on the remotest part of the globe, we must carry these
sentiments with us, as part of our being,--persuaded that the distance
of situation would render this privilege in the disposal of property but
the more necessary. If no provision had been made for it, such provision
ought to be made or permitted. Abuses of subordinate authority increase,
and all means of redress lessen, as the distance of the subject removes
him from the seat of the supreme power. What, in those circumstances,
can save him from the last extremes of indignity and oppression, but
something left in his own hands which may enable him to conciliate the
favor and control the excesses of government? When no means of power to
awe or to oblige are possessed, the strongest ties which connect mankind
in every relation, social and civil, and which teach them mutually to
respect each other, are broken. Independency, from that moment,
virtually exists. Its formal declaration will quickly follow. Such must
be our feelings for ourselves: we are not in possession of another rule
for our brethren.

When the late attempt practically to annihilate that inestimable
privilege was made, great disorders and tumults, very unhappily and very
naturally, arose from it. In this state of things, we were of opinion
that satisfaction ought instantly to be given, or that, at least, the
punishment of the disorder ought to be attended with the redress of the
grievance. We were of opinion, that, if our dependencies had so outgrown
the positive institutions made for the preservation of liberty in this
kingdom, that the operation of their powers was become rather a pressure
than a relief to the subjects in the colonies, wisdom dictated that the
spirit of the Constitution should rather be applied to their
circumstances, than its authority enforced with violence in those very
parts where its reason became wholly inapplicable.

Other methods were then recommended and followed, as infallible means of
restoring peace and order. We looked upon them to be, what they have
since proved to be, the cause of inflaming discontent into disobedience,
and resistance into revolt. The subversion of solemn, fundamental
charters, on a suggestion of abuse, without citation, evidence, or
hearing,--the total suspension of the commerce of a great maritime city,
the capital of a great maritime province, during the pleasure of the
crown,--the establishment of a military force, not accountable to the
ordinary tribunals of the country in which it was kept up,--these and
other proceedings at that time, if no previous cause of dissension had
subsisted, were sufficient to produce great troubles: unjust at all
times, they were then irrational.

We could not conceive, when disorders had arisen from the complaint of
one violated right, that to violate every other was the proper means of
quieting an exasperated people. It seemed to us absurd and preposterous
to hold out, as the means of calming a people in a state of extreme
inflammation, and ready to take up arms, the austere law which a rigid
conqueror would impose as the sequel of the most decisive victories.

Recourse, indeed, was at the same time had to force; and we saw a force
sent out, enough to menace liberty, but not to awe opposition,--tending
to bring odium on the civil power, and contempt on the military,--at
once to provoke and encourage resistance. Force was sent out not
sufficient to hold one town; laws were passed to inflame thirteen

This mode of proceeding, by harsh laws and feeble armies, could not be
defended on the principle of mercy and forbearance. For mercy, as we
conceive, consists, not in the weakness of the means, but in the
benignity of the ends. We apprehend that mild measures may be powerfully
enforced, and that acts of extreme rigor and injustice may be attended
with as much feebleness in the execution as severity in the formation.

In consequence of these terrors, which, falling upon some, threatened
all, the colonies made a common cause with the sufferers, and proceeded,
on their part, to acts of resistance. In that alarming situation, we
besought your Majesty's ministers to entertain some distrust of the
operation of coercive measures, and to profit of their experience.
Experience had no effect. The modes of legislative rigor were construed,
not to have been erroneous in their policy, but too limited in their
extent. New severities were adopted. The fisheries of your people in
America followed their charters; and their mutual combination to defend
what they thought their common rights brought on a total prohibition of
their mutual commercial intercourse. No distinction of persons or merits
was observed: the peaceable and the mutinous, friends and foes, were
alike involved, as if the rigor of the laws had a certain tendency to
recommend the authority of the legislator.

Whilst the penal laws increased in rigor, and extended in application
over all the colonies, the direct force was applied but to one part. Had
the great fleet and foreign army since employed been at that time called
for, the greatness of the preparation would have declared the magnitude
of the danger. The nation would have been alarmed, and taught the
necessity of some means of reconciliation with our countrymen in
America, who, whenever they are provoked to resistance, demand a force
to reduce them to obedience full as destructive to us as to them. But
Parliament and the people, by a premeditated concealment of their real
situation, were drawn into perplexities which furnished excuses for
further armaments, and whilst they were taught to believe themselves
called to suppress a riot, they found themselves involved in a mighty

At length British blood was spilled by British hands: a fatal era, which
we must ever deplore, because your empire will forever feel it. Your
Majesty was touched with a sense of so great a disaster. Your paternal
breast was affected with the sufferings of your English subjects in
America. In your speech from the throne, in the beginning of the session
of 1775, you were graciously pleased to declare yourself inclined to
relieve their distresses and to pardon their errors. You felt their
sufferings under the late penal acts of Parliament. But your ministry
felt differently. Not discouraged by the pernicious effects of all they
had hitherto advised, and notwithstanding the gracious declaration of
your Majesty, they obtained another act of Parliament, in which the
rigors of all the former were consolidated, and embittered by
circumstances of additional severity and outrage. The whole trading
property of America (even unoffending shipping in port) was
indiscriminately and irrecoverably given, as the plunder of foreign
enemies, to the sailors of your navy. This property was put out of the
reach of your mercy. Your people were despoiled; and your navy, by a
new, dangerous, and prolific example, corrupted with the plunder of
their countrymen. Your people in that part of your dominions were put,
in their general and political, as well as their personal capacity,
wholly out of the protection of your government.

Though unwilling to dwell on all the improper modes of carrying on this
unnatural and ruinous war, and which have led directly to the present
unhappy separation of Great Britain and its colonies, we must beg leave
to represent two particulars, which we are sure must have been entirely
contrary to your Majesty's order or approbation. Every course of action
in hostility, however that hostility may be just or merited, is not
justifiable or excusable. It is the duty of those who claim to rule over
others not to provoke them beyond the necessity of the case, nor to
leave stings in their minds which must long rankle even when the
appearance of tranquillity is restored. We therefore assure your Majesty
that it is with shame and sorrow we have seen several acts of hostility
which could have no other tendency than incurably to alienate the minds
of your American subjects. To excite, by a proclamation issued by your
Majesty's governor, an universal insurrection of negro slaves in any of
the colonies is a measure full of complicated horrors, absolutely
illegal, suitable neither to the practice of war nor to the laws of
peace. Of the same quality we look upon all attempts to bring down on
your subjects an irruption of those fierce and cruel tribes of savages
and cannibals in whom the vestiges of human nature are nearly effaced by
ignorance and barbarity. They are not fit allies for your Majesty in a
war with your people. They are not fit instruments of an English
government. These and many other acts we disclaim as having advised, or
approved when done; and we clear ourselves to your Majesty, and to all
civilized nations, from any participation whatever, before or after the
fact, in such unjustifiable and horrid proceedings.

But there is one weighty circumstance which we lament equally with the
causes of the war, and with the modes of carrying it on,--that no
disposition whatsoever towards peace or reconciliation has ever been
shown by those who have directed the public councils of this kingdom,
either before the breaking out of these hostilities or during the
unhappy continuance of them. Every proposition made in your Parliament
to remove the original cause of these troubles, by taking off taxes
obnoxious for their principle or their design, has been
overruled,--every bill brought in for quiet rejected, even on the first
proposition. The petitions of the colonies have not been admitted even
to an hearing. The very possibility of public agency, by which such
petitions could authentically arrive at Parliament, has been evaded and
chicaned away. All the public declarations which indicate anything
resembling a disposition to reconciliation seem to us loose, general,
equivocal, capable of various meanings, or of none; and they are
accordingly construed differently, at different times, by those on whose
recommendation they have been made: being wholly unlike the precision
and stability of public faith, and bearing no mark of that ingenuous
simplicity and native candor and integrity which formerly characterized
the English nation.

Instead of any relaxation of the claim of taxing at the discretion of
Parliament, your ministers have devised a new mode of enforcing that
claim, much more effectual for the oppression of the colonies, though
not for your Majesty's service, both as to the quantity and application,
than any of the former methods; and their mode has been expressly held
out by ministers as a plan not to be departed from by the House of
Commons, and as the very condition on which the legislature is to accept
the dependence of the colonies.

At length, when, after repeated refusals to hear or to conciliate, an
act dissolving your government, by putting your people in America out of
your protection, was passed, your ministers suffered several months to
elapse without affording to them, or to any community or any individual
amongst them, the means of entering into that protection, even on
unconditional submission, contrary to your Majesty's gracious
declaration from the throne, and in direct violation of the public

We cannot, therefore, agree to unite in new severities against the
brethren of our blood for their asserting an independency, to which we
know, in our conscience, they have been necessitated by the conduct of
those very persons who now make use of that argument to provoke us to a
continuance and repetition of the acts which in a regular series have
led to this great misfortune.

The reasons, dread Sir, which have been used to justify this
perseverance in a refusal to hear or conciliate have been reduced into a
sort of Parliamentary maxims which we do not approve. The first of these
maxims is, "that the two Houses ought not to receive (as they have
hitherto refused to receive) petitions containing matter derogatory to
any part of the authority they claim." We conceive this maxim and the
consequent practice to be unjustifiable by reason or the practice of
other sovereign powers, and that it must be productive, if adhered to,
of a total separation between this kingdom and its dependencies. The
supreme power, being in ordinary cases the ultimate judge, can, as we
conceive, suffer nothing in having any part of his rights excepted to,
or even discussed before himself. We know that sovereigns in other
countries, where the assertion of absolute regal power is as high as the
assertion of absolute power in any politic body can possibly be here,
have received many petitions in direct opposition to many of their
claims of prerogative,--have listened to them,--condescended to discuss,
and to give answers to them. This refusal to admit even the discussion
of any part of an undefined prerogative will naturally tend to
annihilate any privilege that can be claimed by every inferior dependent
community, and every subordinate order in the state.

The next maxim which has been put as a bar to any plan of accommodation
is, "that no offer of terms of peace ought to be made, before Parliament
is assured that these terms will be accepted." On this we beg leave to
represent to your Majesty, that, if, in all events, the policy of this
kingdom is to govern the people in your colonies as a free people, no
mischief can possibly happen from a declaration to them, and to the
world, of the manner and form in which Parliament proposes that they
shall enjoy the freedom it protects. It is an encouragement to the
innocent and meritorious, that they at least shall enjoy those
advantages which they patiently expected rather from the benignity of
Parliament than their own efforts. Persons more contumacious may also
see that they are resisting terms of perhaps greater freedom and
happiness than they are now in arms to obtain. The glory and propriety
of offered mercy is neither tarnished nor weakened by the folly of those
who refuse to take advantage of it.

We cannot think that the declaration of independency makes any natural
difference in the reason and policy of the offer. No prince out of the
possession of his dominions, and become a sovereign _de jure_ only, ever
thought it derogatory to his rights or his interests to hold out to his
former subjects a distinct prospect of the advantages to be derived from
his readmission, and a security for some of the most fundamental of
those popular privileges in vindication of which he had been deposed. On
the contrary, such offers have been almost uniformly made under similar
circumstances. Besides, as your Majesty has been graciously pleased, in
your speech from the throne, to declare your intention of restoring
your people in the colonies to a state of law and liberty, no objection
can possibly lie against defining what that law and liberty are; because
those who offer and those who are to receive terms frequently differ
most widely and most materially in the signification of these words, and
in the objects to which they apply.

To say that we do not know, at this day, what the grievances of the
colonies are (be they real or pretended) would be unworthy of us. But
whilst we are thus waiting to be informed of what we perfectly know, we
weaken the powers of the commissioners,--we delay, perhaps we lose, the
happy hour of peace,--we are wasting the substance of both
countries,--we are continuing the effusion of human, of Christian, of
English blood.

We are sure that we must have your Majesty's heart along with us, when
we declare in favor of mixing something conciliatory with our force.
Sir, we abhor the idea of making a conquest of our countrymen. We wish
that they may yield to well-ascertained, well-authenticated, and
well-secured terms of reconciliation,--not that your Majesty should owe
the recovery of your dominions to their total waste and destruction.
Humanity will not permit us to entertain such a desire; nor will the
reverence we bear to the civil rights of mankind make us even wish that
questions of great difficulty, of the last importance, and lying deep in
the vital principles of the British Constitution, should be solved by
the arms of foreign mercenary soldiers.

It is not, Sir, from a want of the most inviolable duty to your Majesty,
not from a want of a partial and passionate regard to that part of your
empire in which we reside, and which we wish to be supreme, that we
have hitherto withstood all attempts to render the supremacy of one part
of your dominions inconsistent with the liberty and safety of all the
rest. The motives of our opposition are found in those very sentiments
which we are supposed to violate. For we are convinced beyond a doubt,
that a system of dependence which leaves no security to the people for
any part of their freedom in their own hands cannot be established in
any inferior member of the British empire, without consequentially
destroying the freedom of that very body in favor of whose boundless
pretensions such a scheme is adopted. We know and feel that arbitrary
power over distant regions is not within the competence, nor to be
exercised agreeably to the forms or consistently with the spirit, of
great popular assemblies. If such assemblies are called to a nominal
share in the exercise of such power, in order to screen, under general
participation, the guilt of desperate measures, it tends only the more
deeply to corrupt the deliberative character of those assemblies, in
training them to blind obedience, in habituating them to proceed upon
grounds of fact with which they can rarely be sufficiently acquainted,
and in rendering them executive instruments of designs the bottom of
which they cannot possibly fathom.

To leave any real freedom to Parliament, freedom must be left to the
colonies. A military government is the only substitute for civil
liberty. That the establishment of such a power in America will utterly
ruin our finances (though its certain effect) is the smallest part of
our concern. It will become an apt, powerful, and certain engine for the
destruction of our freedom here. Great bodies of armed men, trained to
a contempt of popular assemblies representative of an English
people,--kept up for the purpose of exacting impositions without their
consent, and maintained by that exaction,--instruments in subverting,
without any process of law, great ancient establishments and respected
forms of governments,--set free from, and therefore above, the ordinary
English tribunals of the country where they serve,--these men cannot so
transform themselves, merely by crossing the sea, as to behold with love
and reverence, and submit with profound obedience to, the very same
things in Great Britain which in America they had been taught to
despise, and had been accustomed to awe and humble. All your Majesty's
troops, in the rotation of service, will pass through this discipline
and contract these habits. If we could flatter ourselves that this would
not happen, we must be the weakest of men; we must be the worst, if we
were indifferent whether it happened or not. What, gracious sovereign,
is the empire of America to us, or the empire of the world, if we lose
our own liberties? We deprecate this last of evils. We deprecate the
effect of the doctrines which must support and countenance the
government over conquered Englishmen.

As it will be impossible long to resist the powerful and equitable
arguments in favor of the freedom of these unhappy people that are to be
drawn from the principle of our own liberty, attempts will be made,
attempts have been made, to ridicule and to argue away this principle,
and to inculcate into the minds of your people other maxims of
government and other grounds of obedience than those which have
prevailed at and since the glorious Revolution. By degrees, these
doctrines, by being convenient, may grow prevalent. The consequence is
not certain; but a general change of principles rarely happens among a
people without leading to a change of government.

Sir, your throne cannot stand secure upon the principles of
unconditional submission and passive obedience,--on powers exercised
without the concurrence of the people to be governed,--on acts made in
defiance of their prejudices and habits,--on acquiescence procured by
foreign mercenary troops, and secured by standing armies. These may
possibly be the foundation of other thrones: they must be the subversion
of yours. It was not to passive principles in our ancestors that we owe
the honor of appearing before a sovereign who cannot feel that he is a
prince without knowing that we ought to be free. The Revolution is a
departure from the ancient course of the descent of this monarchy. The
people at that time reentered into their original rights; and it was not
because a positive law authorized what was then done, but because the
freedom and safety of the subject, the origin and cause of all laws,
required a proceeding paramount and superior to them. At that ever
memorable and instructive period, the letter of the law was superseded
in favor of the substance of liberty. To the free choice, therefore, of
the people, without either King or Parliament, we owe that happy
establishment out of which both King and Parliament were regenerated.
From that great principle of liberty have originated the statutes
confirming and ratifying the establishment from which your Majesty
derives your right to rule over us. Those statutes have not given us
our liberties: our liberties have produced them. Every hour of your
Majesty's reign, your title stands upon the very same foundation on
which it was at first laid; and we do not know a better on which it can
possibly be placed.

Convinced, Sir, that you cannot have different rights and a different
security in different parts of your dominions, we wish to lay an even
platform for your throne, and to give it an unmovable stability, by
laying it on the general freedom of your people, and by securing to your
Majesty that confidence and affection in all parts of your dominions
which makes your best security and dearest title in this the chief seat
of your empire.

Such, Sir, being, amongst us, the foundation of monarchy itself, much
more clearly and much more peculiarly is it the ground of all
Parliamentary power. Parliament is a security provided for the
protection of freedom, and not a subtile fiction, contrived to amuse the
people in its place. The authority of both Houses can still less than
that of the crown be supported upon different principles in different
places, so as to be for one part of your subjects a protector of
liberty, and for another a fund of despotism, through which prerogative
is extended by occasional powers, whenever an arbitrary will finds
itself straitened by the restrictions of law. Had it seemed good to
Parliament to consider itself as the indulgent guardian and strong
protector of the freedom of the subordinate popular assemblies, instead
of exercising its powers to their annihilation, there is no doubt that
it never could have been their inclination, because not their interest,
to raise questions on the extent of Parliamentary rights, or to
enfeeble privileges which were the security of their own. Powers evident
from necessity, and not suspicious from an alarming mode or purpose in
the exertion, would, as formerly they were, be cheerfully submitted to;
and these would have been fully sufficient for conservation of unity in
the empire, and for directing its wealth to one common centre. Another
use has produced other consequences; and a power which refuses to be
limited by moderation must either be lost, or find other more distinct
and satisfactory limitations.

As for us, a supposed, or, if it could be, a real, participation in
arbitrary power would never reconcile our minds to its establishment. We
should be ashamed to stand before your Majesty, boldly asserting in our
own favor inherent rights which bind and regulate the crown itself, and
yet insisting on the exercise, in our own persons, of a more arbitrary
sway over our fellow-citizens and fellow-freemen.

These, gracious sovereign, are the sentiments which we consider
ourselves as bound, in justification of our present conduct, in the most
serious and solemn manner to lay at your Majesty's feet. We have been
called by your Majesty's writs and proclamations, and we have been
authorized, either by hereditary privilege or the choice of your people,
to confer and treat with your Majesty, in your highest councils, upon
the arduous affairs of your kingdom. We are sensible of the whole
importance of the duty which this constitutional summons implies. We
know the religious punctuality of attendance which, in the ordinary
course, it demands. It is no light cause which, even for a time, could
persuade us to relax in any part of that attendance. The British empire
is in convulsions which threaten its dissolution. Those particular
proceedings which cause and inflame this disorder, after many years'
incessant struggle, we find ourselves wholly unable to oppose and
unwilling to behold. All our endeavors having proved fruitless, we are
fearful at this time of irritating by contention those passions which we
have found it impracticable to compose by reason. We cannot permit
ourselves to countenance, by the appearance of a silent assent,
proceedings fatal to the liberty and unity of the empire,--proceedings
which exhaust the strength of all your Majesty's dominions, destroy all
trust and dependence of our allies, and leave us, both at home and
abroad, exposed to the suspicious mercy and uncertain inclinations of
our neighbor and rival powers, to whom, by this desperate course, we are
driving our countrymen for protection, and with whom we have forced them
into connections, and may bind them by habits and by interests,--an evil
which no victories that may be obtained, no severities which may be
exorcised, ever will or can remove.

If but the smallest hope should from any circumstances appear of a
return to the ancient maxims and true policy of this kingdom, we shall
with joy and readiness return to our attendance, in order to give our
hearty support to whatever means may be left for alleviating the
complicated evils which oppress this nation.

If this should not happen, we have discharged our consciences by this
faithful representation to your Majesty and our country; and however few
in number, or however we may be overborne by practices whose operation
is but too powerful, by the revival of dangerous exploded principles,
or by the misguided zeal of such arbitrary factions as formerly
prevailed in this kingdom, and always to its detriment and disgrace, we
have the satisfaction of standing forth and recording our names in
assertion of those principles whose operation hath, in better times,
made your Majesty a great prince, and the British dominions a mighty




The very dangerous crisis into which the British empire is brought, as
it accounts for, so it justifies, the unusual step we take in addressing
ourselves to you.

The distempers of the state are grown to such a degree of violence and
malignity as to render all ordinary remedies vain and frivolous. In such
a deplorable situation, an adherence to the common forms of business
appears to us rather as an apology to cover a supine neglect of duty
than the means of performing it in a manner adequate to the exigency
that presses upon us. The common means we have already tried, and tried
to no purpose. As our last resource, we turn ourselves to you. We
address you merely in our private capacity, vested with no other
authority than what will naturally attend those in whose declarations of
benevolence you have no reason to apprehend any mixture of dissimulation
or design.

We have this title to your attention: we call upon it in a moment of the
utmost importance to us all. We find, with infinite concern, that
arguments are used to persuade you of the necessity of separating
yourselves from your ancient connection with your parent country,
grounded on a supposition that a general principle of alienation and
enmity to you had pervaded the whole of this kingdom, and that there
does no longer subsist between you and us any common and kindred
principles upon which we can possibly unite, consistently with those
ideas of liberty in which you have justly placed your whole happiness.

If this fact were true, the inference drawn from it would be
irresistible. But nothing is less founded. We admit, indeed, that
violent addresses have been procured with uncommon pains by wicked and
designing men, purporting to be the genuine voice of the whole people of
England,--that they have been published by authority here, and made
known to you by proclamations, in order, by despair and resentment,
incurably to poison your minds against the origin of your race, and to
render all cordial reconciliation between us utterly impracticable. The
same wicked men, for the same bad purposes, have so far surprised the
justice of Parliament as to cut off all communication betwixt us, except
what is to go in their own fallacious and hostile channel.

But we conjure you by the invaluable pledges which have hitherto united,
and which we trust will hereafter lastingly unite us, that you do not
suffer yourselves to be persuaded or provoked into an opinion that you
are at war with this nation. Do not think that the whole, or even the
uninfluenced majority, of Englishmen in this island are enemies to their
own blood on the American continent. Much delusion has been practised,
much corrupt influence treacherously employed. But still a large, and we
trust the largest and soundest, part of this kingdom perseveres in the
most perfect unity of sentiments, principles, and affections with you.
It spreads out a large and liberal platform of common liberty, upon
which we may all unite forever. It abhors the hostilities which have
been carried on against you, as much as you who feel the cruel effect of
them. It has disclaimed in the most solemn manner, at the foot of the
throne itself, the addresses which tended to irritate your sovereign
against his colonies. We are persuaded that even many of those who
unadvisedly have put their hands to such intemperate and inflammatory
addresses have not at all apprehended to what such proceedings naturally
lead, and would sooner die than afford them the least countenance, if
they were sensible of their fatal effects on the union and liberty of
the empire.

For ourselves, we faithfully assure you, that we have ever considered
you as rational creatures, as free agents, as men willing to pursue and
able to discern your own true interest. We have wished to continue
united with you, in order that a people of one origin and one character
should be directed to the rational objects of government by joint
counsels, and protected in them by a common force. Other subordination
in you we require none. We have never pressed that argument of general
union to the extinction of your local, natural, and just privileges.
Sensible of what is due both to the dignity and weakness of man, we have
never wished to place over you any government, over which, in great,
fundamental points, you should have no sort of check or control in your
own hands, or which should be repugnant to your situation, principles,
and character.

No circumstances of fortune, you may be assured, will ever induce us to
form or tolerate any such design. If the disposition of Providence
(which we deprecate) should even prostrate you at our feet, broken in
power and in spirit, it would be our duty and inclination to revive, by
every practicable means, that free energy of mind which a fortune
unsuitable to your virtue had damped and dejected, and to put you
voluntarily in possession of those very privileges which you had in vain
attempted to assert by arms. For we solemnly declare, that, although we
should look upon a separation from you as an heavy calamity, (and the
heavier, because we know you must have your full share in it,) yet we
had much rather see you totally independent of this crown and kingdom
than joined to it by so unnatural a conjunction as that of freedom with
servitude,--a conjunction which, if it were at all practicable, could
not fail, in the end, of being more mischievous to the peace,
prosperity, greatness, and power of this nation than beneficial by any
enlargement of the bounds of nominal empire.

But because, brethren, these professions are general, and such as even
enemies may make, when they reserve to themselves the construction of
what servitude and what liberty are, we inform you that we adopt your
own standard of the blessing of free government. We are of opinion that
you ought to enjoy the sole and exclusive right of freely granting, and
applying to the support of your administration, what God has freely
granted as a reward to your industry. And we do not confine this
immunity from exterior coercion, in this great point, solely to what
regards your local establishment, but also to what may be thought proper
for the maintenance of the whole empire. In this resource we cheerfully
trust and acquiesce, satisfied by evident reason that no other
expectation of revenue can possibly be given by freemen, and knowing
from an experience uniform both on yours and on our side of the ocean
that such an expectation has never yet been disappointed. We know of no
road to your coffers but through your affections.

To manifest our sentiments the more clearly to you and to the world on
this subject, we declare our opinion, that, if no revenue at all (which,
however, we are far from supposing) were to be obtained from you to this
kingdom, yet, as long as it is our happiness to be joined with you in
the bonds of fraternal charity and freedom, with an open and flowing
commerce between us, one principle of enmity and friendship pervading,
and one right of war and peace directing the strength of the whole
empire, we are likely to be at least as powerful as any nation, or as
any combination of nations, which in the course of human events may be
formed against us. We are sensible that a very large proportion of the
wealth and power of every empire must necessarily be thrown upon the
presiding state. We are sensible that such a state ever has borne and
ever must bear the greatest part, and sometimes the whole, of the public
expenses: and we think her well indemnified for that (rather apparent
than real) inequality of charge, in the dignity and preeminence she
enjoys, and in the superior opulence which, after all charges defrayed,
must necessarily remain at the centre of affairs. Of this principle we
are not without evidence in our remembrance (not yet effaced) of the
glorious and happy days of this empire. We are therefore incapable of
that prevaricating style, by which, when taxes without your consent are
to be extorted from you, this nation is represented as in the lowest
state of impoverishment and public distress, but when we are called upon
to oppress you by force of arms, it is painted as scarcely feeling its
impositions, abounding with wealth, and inexhaustible in its resources.

We also reason and feel as you do on the invasion of your charters.
Because the charters comprehend the essential forms by which you enjoy
your liberties, we regard them as most sacred, and by no means to be
taken away or altered without process, without examination, and without
hearing, as they have lately been. We even think that they ought by no
means to be altered at all, but at the desire of the greater part of the
people who live under them. We cannot look upon men as delinquents in
the mass; much less are we desirous of lording over our brethren,
insulting their honest pride, and wantonly overturning establishments
judged to be just and convenient by the public wisdom of this nation at
their institution, and which long and inveterate use has taught you to
look up to with affection and reverence. As we disapproved of the
proceedings with regard to the forms of your constitution, so we are
equally tender of every leading principle of free government. We never
could think with approbation of putting the military power out of the
coercion of the civil justice in the country where it acts.

We disclaim also any sort of share in that other measure which has been
used to alienate your affections from this country,--namely, the
introduction of foreign mercenaries. We saw their employment with shame
and regret, especially in numbers so far exceeding the English forces as
in effect to constitute vassals, who have no sense of freedom, and
strangers, who have no common interest or feelings, as the arbiters of
our unhappy domestic quarrel.

We likewise saw with shame the African slaves, who had been sold to you
on public faith, and under the sanction of acts of Parliament, to be
your servants and your guards, employed to cut the throats of their

You will not, we trust, believe, that, born in a civilized country,
formed to gentle manners, trained in a merciful religion, and living in
enlightened and polished times, where even foreign hostility is softened
from its original sternness, we could have thought of letting loose upon
you, our late beloved brethren, these fierce tribes of savages and
cannibals, in whom the traces of human nature are effaced by ignorance
and barbarity. We rather wished to have joined with you in bringing
gradually that unhappy part of mankind into civility, order, piety, and
virtuous discipline, than to have confirmed their evil habits and
increased their natural ferocity by fleshing them in the slaughter of
you, whom our wiser and better ancestors had sent into the wilderness
with the express view of introducing, along with our holy religion, its
humane and charitable manners. We do not hold that all things are lawful
in war. We should think that every barbarity, in fire, in wasting, in
murders, in tortures, and other cruelties, too horrible and too full of
turpitude for Christian mouths to utter or ears to hear, if done at our
instigation, by those who we know will make war thus, if they make it at
all, to be, to all intents and purposes, as if done by ourselves. We
clear ourselves to you our brethren, to the present age, and to future
generations, to our king and our country, and to Europe, which, as a
spectator, beholds this tragic scene, of every part or share in adding
this last and worst of evils to the inevitable mischiefs of a civil war.

We do not call you rebels and traitors. We do not call for the vengeance
of the crown against you. We do not know how to qualify millions of our
countrymen, contending with one heart for an admission to privileges
which we have ever thought our own happiness and honor, by odious and
unworthy names. On the contrary, we highly revere the principles on
which you act, though we lament some of their effects. Armed as you are,
we embrace you as our friends and as our brethren by the best and
dearest ties of relation.

We view the establishment of the English colonies on principles of
liberty as that which is to render this kingdom venerable to future
ages. In comparison of this, we regard all the victories and conquests
of our warlike ancestors, or of our own times, as barbarous, vulgar
distinctions, in which many nations, whom we look upon with little
respect or value, have equalled, if not far exceeded us. This is the
peculiar and appropriated glory of England. Those who _have and who
hold_ to that foundation of common liberty, whether on this or on your
side of the ocean, we consider as the true, and the only true,
Englishmen. Those who depart from it, whether there or here, are
attainted, corrupted in blood, and wholly fallen from their original
rank and value. They are the real rebels to the fair constitution and
just supremacy of England.

We exhort you, therefore, to cleave forever to those principles, as
being the true bond of union in this empire,--and to show by a manly
perseverance that the sentiments of honor and the rights of mankind are
not held by the uncertain events of war, as you have hitherto shown a
glorious and affecting example to the world that they are not dependent
on the ordinary conveniences and satisfactions of life.

Knowing no other arguments to be used to men of liberal minds, it is
upon these very principles, and these alone, we hope and trust that no
flattering and no alarming circumstances shall permit you to listen to
the seductions of those who would alienate you from your dependence on
the crown and Parliament of this kingdom. That very liberty which you so
justly prize above all things originated here; and it may be very
doubtful, whether, without being constantly fed from the original
fountain, it can be at all perpetuated or preserved in its native purity
and perfection. Untried forms of government may, to unstable minds,
recommend themselves even by their novelty. But you will do well to
remember that England has been great and happy under the present limited
monarchy (subsisting in more or less vigor and purity) for several
hundred years. None but England can communicate to you the benefits of
such a constitution. We apprehend you are not now, nor for ages are
likely to be, capable of that form of constitution in an independent
state. Besides, let us suggest to you our apprehensions that your
present union (in which we rejoice, and which we wish long to subsist)
cannot always subsist without the authority and weight of this great and
long respected body, to equipoise, and to preserve you amongst
yourselves in a just and fair equality. It may not even be impossible
that a long course of war with the administration of this country may be
but a prelude to a series of wars and contentions among yourselves, to
end at length (as such scenes have too often ended) in a species of
humiliating repose, which nothing but the preceding calamities would
reconcile to the dispirited few who survived them. We allow that even
this evil is worth the risk to men of honor, when rational liberty is at
stake, as in the present case we confess and lament that it is. But if
ever a real security by Parliament is given against the terror or the
abuse of unlimited power, and after such security given you should
persevere in resistance, we leave you to consider whether the risk is
not incurred without an object, or incurred for an object infinitely
diminished by such concessions in its importance and value.

As to other points of discussion, when these grand fundamentals of your
grants and charters are once settled and ratified by clear Parliamentary
authority, as the ground for peace and forgiveness on our side, and for
a manly and liberal obedience on yours, treaty and a spirit of
reconciliation will easily and securely adjust whatever may remain. Of
this we give you our word, that, so far as we are at present concerned,
and if by any event we should become more concerned hereafter, you may
rest assured, upon the pledges of honor not forfeited, faith not
violated, and uniformity of character and profession not yet broken, we
at least, on these grounds, will never fail you.

Respecting your wisdom, and valuing your safety, we do not call upon you
to trust your existence to your enemies. We do not advise you to an
unconditional submission. With satisfaction we assure you that almost
all in both Houses (however unhappily they have been deluded, so as not
to give any immediate effect to their opinion) disclaim that idea. You
can have no friends in whom you cannot rationally confide. But
Parliament is your friend from the moment in which, removing its
confidence from those who have constantly deceived its good intentions,
it adopts the sentiments of those who have made sacrifices, (inferior,
indeed, to yours,) but have, however, sacrificed enough to demonstrate
the sincerity of their regard and value for your liberty and prosperity.

Arguments may be used to weaken your confidence in that public security;
because, from some unpleasant appearances, there is a suspicion that
Parliament itself is somewhat fallen from its independent spirit. How
far this supposition may be founded in fact we are unwilling to
determine. But we are well assured from experience, that, even if all
were true that is contended for, and in the extent, too, in which it is
argued, yet, as long as the solid and well-disposed forms of this
Constitution remain, there ever is within Parliament itself a power of
renovating its principles, and effecting a self-reformation, which no
other plan of government has ever contained. This Constitution has
therefore admitted innumerable improvements, either for the correction
of the original scheme, or for removing corruptions, or for bringing its
principles better to suit those changes which have successively happened
in the circumstances of the nation or in the manners of the people.

We feel that the growth of the colonies is such a change of
circumstances, and that our present dispute is an exigency as pressing
as any which ever demanded a revision of our government. Public troubles
have often called upon this country to look into its Constitution. It
has ever been bettered by such a revision. If our happy and luxuriant
increase of dominion, and our diffused population, have outgrown the
limits of a Constitution made for a contracted object, we ought to bless
God, who has furnished us with this noble occasion for displaying our
skill and beneficence in enlarging the scale of rational happiness, and
of making the politic generosity of this kingdom as extensive as its
fortune. If we set about this great work, on both sides, with the same
conciliatory turn of mind, we may now, as in former times, owe even to
our mutual mistakes, contentions, and animosities, the lasting concord,
freedom, happiness, and glory of this empire.

Gentlemen, the distance between us, with other obstructions, has caused
much misrepresentation of our mutual sentiments. We, therefore, to
obviate them as well as we are able, take this method of assuring you of
our thorough detestation of the whole war, and particularly the
mercenary and savage war carried on or attempted against you,--our
thorough abhorrence of all addresses adverse to you, whether public or
private,--our assurances of an invariable affection towards you,--our
constant regard to your privileges and liberties,--and our opinion of
the solid security you ought to enjoy for them, under the paternal care
and nurture of a protecting Parliament.

Though many of us have earnestly wished that the authority of that
august and venerable body, so necessary in many respects to the union of
the whole, should be rather limited by its own equity and discretion,
than by any bounds described by positive laws and public compacts,--and
though we felt the extreme difficulty, by any theoretical limitations,
of qualifying that authority, so as to preserve one part and deny
another,--and though you (as we gratefully acknowledge) had acquiesced
most cheerfully under that prudent reserve of the Constitution, at that
happy moment when neither you nor we apprehended a further return of the
exercise of invidious powers, we are now as fully persuaded as you can
be, by the malice, inconstancy, and perverse inquietude of many men, and
by the incessant endeavors of an arbitrary faction, now too powerful,
that our common necessities do require a full explanation and ratified
security for your liberties and our quiet.

Although his Majesty's condescension, in committing the direction of his
affairs into the hands of the known friends of his family and of the
liberties of all his people, would, we admit, be a great means of giving
repose to your minds, as it must give infinite facility to
reconciliation, yet we assure you that we think, with such a security as
we recommend, adopted from necessity and not choice, even by the unhappy
authors and instruments of the public misfortunes, that the terms of
reconciliation, if once accepted by Parliament, would not be broken. We
also pledge ourselves to you, that we should give, even to those
unhappy persons, an hearty support in effectuating the peace of the
empire, and every opposition in an attempt to cast it again into

When that happy hour shall arrive, let us in all affection, recommend to
you the wisdom of continuing, as in former times, or even in a more
ample measure, the support of your government, and even to give to your
administration some degree of reciprocal interest in your freedom. We
earnestly wish you not to furnish your enemies, here or elsewhere, with
any sort of pretexts for reviving quarrels by too reserved and severe or
penurious an exercise of those sacred rights which no pretended abuse in
the exercise ought to impair, nor, by overstraining the principles of
freedom, to make them less compatible with those haughty sentiments in
others which the very same principles may be apt to breed in minds not
tempered with the utmost equity and justice.

The well-wishers of the liberty and union of this empire salute you, and
recommend you most heartily to the Divine protection.








JULY 18, 1778.


    This Letter is addressed to Mr. Pery, (afterwards Lord Pery,)
    then Speaker of the House of Commons of Ireland. It appears,
    there had been much correspondence between that gentleman and
    Mr. Burke, on the subject of Heads of a bill (which had
    passed the Irish House of Commons in the summer of the year
    1778, and had been transmitted by the Irish Privy Council of
    [to?] England) for the relief of his Majesty's Roman Catholic
    subjects in Ireland. The bill contained a clause for
    exempting the Protestant Dissenters of Ireland from the
    sacramental test, which created a strong objection to the
    whole measure on the part of the English government. Mr.
    Burke employed his most strenuous efforts to remove the
    prejudice which the king's ministers entertained against the
    clause, but the bill was ultimately returned without it, and
    in that shape passed the Irish Parliament. (17th and 18th
    Geo. III cap. 49.) In the subsequent session, however, a
    separate act was passed for the relief of the Protestant
    Dissenters of Ireland.


My Dear Sir,--I received in due course your two very interesting and
judicious letters, which gave me many new lights, and excited me to
fresh activity in the important subject they related to. However, from
that time I have not been perfectly free from doubt and uneasiness. I
used a liberty with those letters, which, perhaps, nothing can
thoroughly justify, and which certainly nothing but the delicacy of the
crisis, the clearness of my intentions, and your great good-nature can
at all excuse. I might conceal this from you; but I think it better to
lay the whole matter before you, and submit myself to your
mercy,--assuring you, at the same time, that, if you are so kind as to
continue your confidence on this, or to renew it upon any other
occasion, I shall never be tempted again to make so bold and
unauthorized an use of the trust you place in me. I will state to you
the history of the business since my last, and then you will see how far
I am excusable by the circumstances.

On the 3rd of July I received a letter from the Attorney-General, dated
the day before, in which, in a very open and obliging manner, he desires
my thoughts of the Irish Toleration Bill, and particularly of the
Dissenters' clause. I gave them to him, by the return of the post, at
large; but, as the time pressed, I kept no copy of the letter. The
general drift was strongly to recommend the _whole_, and principally to
obviate the objections to the part that related to the Dissenters, with
regard both to the general propriety and to the temporary policy at this
juncture. I took, likewise, a good deal of pains to state the difference
which had always subsisted with regard to the treatment of the
Protestant Dissenters in Ireland and in England, and what I conceived
the reason of that difference to be. About the same time I was called to
town for a day; and I took an opportunity, in Westminster Hall, of
urging the same points, with all the force I was master of, to the
Solicitor-General. I attempted to see the Chancellor for the same
purpose, but was not fortunate enough to meet him at home. Soon after my
return hither, on Tuesday, I received a very polite and I may say
friendly letter from him, wishing me (on supposition that I had
continued in town) to dine with him as [on?] that day, in order to talk
over the business of the Toleration Act, then before him. Unluckily I
had company with me, and was not able to leave them until Thursday, when
I went to town and called at his house, but missed him. However, in
answer to his letter, I had before, and instantly on the receipt of it,
written to him at large, and urged such topics, both with regard to the
Catholics and Dissenters, as I imagined were the most likely to be
prevalent with him. This letter I followed to town on Thursday. On my
arrival I was much alarmed with a report that the ministry had thoughts
of rejecting the whole bill. Mr. M'Namara seemed apprehensive that it
was a determined measure; and there seemed to be but too much reason for
his fears.

Not having met the Chancellor at home, either on my first visit or my
second after receiving his letter, and fearful that the Cabinet should
come to come unpleasant resolution, I went to the Treasury on Friday.
There I saw Sir G. Cooper. I possessed him of the danger of a partial,
and the inevitable mischief of the total rejection of the bill. I
reminded him of the understood compact between parties, upon which the
whole scheme of the toleration originating in the English bill was
formed,--of the fair part which the Whigs had acted in a business which,
though first started by them, was supposed equally acceptable to all
sides, and the risk of which they took upon themselves, when others
declined it. To this I added such matter as I thought most fit to engage
government, as government,--not to sport with a singular opportunity
which offered for the union of every description of men amongst us in
support of the common interest of the whole; and I ended by desiring to
see Lord North upon the subject. Sir Grey Cooper showed a very right
sense of the matter, and in a few minutes after our conversation I went
down from the Treasury chambers to Lord North's house. I had a great
deal of discourse with him. He told me that his ideas of toleration were
large, but that, large as they were, they did not comprehend a
promiscuous establishment, even in matters merely civil; that he thought
the established religion ought to be the religion of the state; that, in
this idea, he was not for the repeal of the sacramental test; that,
indeed, he knew the Dissenters in general did not greatly scruple it;
but that very want of scruple showed less zeal against the
Establishment; and, after all, there could no provision be made by human
laws against those who made light of the tests which were formed to
discriminate opinions. On all this he spoke with a good deal of temper.
He did not, indeed, seem to think the test itself, which was rightly
considered by Dissenters as in a manner dispensed with by an annual act
of Parliament, and which in Ireland was of a late origin, and of much
less extent than here, a matter of much moment. The thing which seemed
to affect him most was the offence that would be taken at the repeal by
the leaders among the Church clergy here, on one hand, and, on the
other, the steps which would be taken for its repeal in England in the
next session, in consequence of the repeal in Ireland. I assured him,
with great truth, that we had no idea among the Whigs of moving the
repeal of the test. I confessed very freely, for my own part, that, if
it were brought in, I should certainly vote for it; but that I should
neither use, nor did I think applicable, any arguments drawn from the
analogy of what was done in other parts of the British dominions. We did
not argue from analogy, even in this island and United Kingdom.
Presbytery was established in Scotland. It became no reason either for
its religious or civil establishment here. In New England the
Independent Congregational Churches had an established legal
maintenance; whilst that country continued part of the British empire,
no argument in favor of Independency was adduced from the practice of
New England. Government itself lately thought fit to establish the Roman
Catholic religion in Canada; but they would not suffer an argument of
analogy to be used for its establishment anywhere else. These things
were governed, as all things of that nature are governed, not by general
maxims, but their own local and peculiar circumstances. Finding,
however, that, though he was very cool and patient, I made no great way
in the business of the Dissenters, I turned myself to try whether,
falling in with his maxims, some modification might not be found, the
hint of which I received from your letter relative to the Irish Militia
Bill, and the point I labored was so to alter the clause as to repeal
the test _quoad_ military and revenue offices: for these being only
subservient parts in the economy and execution, rather than the
administration of affairs, the politic, civil, and judicial parts would
still continue in the hands of the conformists to religious
establishments. Without giving any hopes, he, however, said that this
distinction deserved to be considered. After this, I strongly pressed
the mischief of rejecting the whole bill: that a notion went abroad,
that government was not at this moment very well pleased with the
Dissenters, as not very well affected to the monarchy; that, in general,
I conceived this to be a mistake,--but if it were not, the rejection of
a bill in favor _of others_, because something in favor of _them_ was
inserted, instead of humbling and mortifying, would infinitely exalt
them: for, if the legislature had no means of favoring those whom they
meant to favor, as long as the Dissenters could find means to get
themselves included, this would make them, instead of their only being
subject to restraint themselves, the arbitrators of the fate of others,
and that not so much by their own strength (which could not be prevented
in its operation) as by the cooeperation of those whom they opposed. In
the conclusion, I recommended, that, if they wished well to the measure
which was the main object of the bill, they must explicitly make it
their own, and stake themselves upon it; that hitherto all their
difficulties had arisen from their indecision and their wrong measures;
and to make Lord North sensible of the necessity of giving a firm
support to some part of the bill, and to add weighty authority to my
reasons, I read him your letter of the 10th of July. It seemed, in some
measure, to answer the purpose which I intended. I pressed the necessity
of the management of the affair, both as to conduct and as to gaining of
men; and I renewed my former advice, that the Lord Lieutenant should be
instructed to consult and cooperate with you in the whole affair. All
this was, apparently, very fairly taken.

In the evening of that day I saw the Lord Chancellor. With him, too, I
had much discourse. You know that he is intelligent, sagacious,
systematic, and determined. At first he seemed of opinion that the
relief contained in the bill was so inadequate to the mass of oppression
it was intended to remove, that it would be better to let it stand over,
until a more perfect and better digested plan could be settled. This
seemed to possess him very strongly. In order to combat this notion, and
to show that the bill, all things considered, was a very great
acquisition, and that it was rather a preliminary than an obstruction to
relief, I ventured to show him your letter. It had its effect. He
declared himself roundly against giving anything to a confederacy, real
or apparent, to distress government; that, if anything was done for
Catholics or Dissenters, it should be done on its own separate merits,
and not by way of bargain and compromise; that they should be each of
them obliged to government, not each to the other; that this would be a
perpetual nursery of faction. In a word, he seemed so determined on not
uniting these plans, that all I could say, and I said everything I could
think of, was to no purpose. But when I insisted on the disgrace to
government which must arise from their rejecting a proposition
recommended by themselves, because their opposers had made a mixture,
separable too by themselves, I was better heard. On the whole, I found
him well disposed.

As soon as I had returned to the country, this affair lay so much on my
mind, and the absolute necessity of government's making a serious
business of it, agreeably to the seriousness they professed, and the
object required, that I wrote to Sir G. Cooper, to remind him of the
principles upon which we went in our conversation, and to press the plan
which was suggested for carrying them into execution. He wrote to me on
the 20th, and assured me, "that Lord North had given all due attention
and respect to what you said to him on Friday, and will pay the same
respect to the sentiments conveyed in your letter: everything you say or
write on the subject undoubtedly demands it." Whether this was mere
civility, or showed anything effectual in their intentions, time and the
success of this measure will show. It is wholly with them; and if it
should fail, you are a witness that nothing on our part has been wanting
to free so large a part of our fellow-subjects and fellow-citizens from
slavery, and to free government from the weakness and danger of ruling
them by force. As to my own particular part, the desire of doing this
has betrayed me into a step which I cannot perfectly reconcile to
myself. You are to judge how far, on the circumstances, it may be
excused. I think it had a good effect. You may be assured that I made
this communication in a manner effectually to exclude so false and
groundless an idea as that I confer with you, any more than I confer
with them, on any party principle whatsoever,--or that in this affair we
look further than the measure which is in profession, and I am sure
ought to be in reason, theirs.

I am ever, with the sincerest affection and esteem,

My dear Sir,

Your most faithful and obedient humble servant,


BEACONSFIELD, 18th July, 1778.

I intended to have written sooner, but it has not been in my power.

To the Speaker of the House of Commons of Ireland.










My Dear Sir,--I do not know in what manner I am to thank you properly
for the very friendly solicitude you have been so good as to express for
my reputation. The concern you have done me the honor to take in my
affairs will be an ample indemnity from all that I may suffer from the
rapid judgments of those who choose to form their opinions of men, not
from the life, but from their portraits in a newspaper. I confess to you
that my frame of mind is so constructed, I have in me so little of the
constitution of a great man, that I am more gratified with a very
moderate share of approbation from those few who know me than I should
be with the most clamorous applause from those multitudes who love to
admire at a due distance.

I am not, however, Stoic enough to be able to affirm with truth, or
hypocrite enough affectedly to pretend, that I am wholly unmoved at the
difficulty which you and others of my friends in Ireland have found in
vindicating my conduct towards my native country. It undoubtedly hurts
me in some degree: but the wound is not very deep. If I had sought
popularity in Ireland, when, in the cause of that country, I was ready
to sacrifice, and did sacrifice, a much nearer, a much more immediate,
and a much more advantageous popularity here, I should find myself
perfectly unhappy, because I should be totally disappointed in my
expectations,--because I should discover, when it was too late, what
common sense might have told me very early, that I risked the capital of
my fame in the most disadvantageous lottery in the world. But I acted
then, as I act now, and as I hope I shall act always, from a strong
impulse of right, and from motives in which popularity, either here or
there, has but a very little part.

With the support of that consciousness I can bear a good deal of the
coquetry of public opinion, which has her caprices, and must have her
way. _Miseri, quibus intentata nitet_! I, too, have had my holiday of
popularity in Ireland. I have even heard of an intention to erect a
statue.[15] I believe my intimate acquaintance know how little that idea
was encouraged by me; and I was sincerely glad that it never took
effect. Such honors belong exclusively to the tomb,--the natural and
only period of human inconstancy, with regard either to desert or to
opinion: for they are the very same hands which erect, that very
frequently (and sometimes with reason enough) pluck down the statue. Had
such an unmerited and unlooked-for compliment been paid to me two years
ago, the fragments of the piece might at this hour have the advantage of
seeing actual service, while they were moving, according to the law of
projectiles, to the windows of the Attorney-General, or of my old
friend, Monk Mason.

To speak seriously,--let me assure you, my dear Sir, that, though I am
not permitted to rejoice at _all_ its effects, there is not one man on
your side of the water more pleased to see the situation of Ireland so
prosperous as that she can afford to throw away her friends. She has
obtained, solely by her own efforts, the fruits of a great victory,
which I am very ready to allow that the best efforts of her best
well-wishers here could not have done for her so effectually in a great
number of years, and perhaps could not have done at all. I could wish,
however, merely for the sake of her own dignity, that, in turning her
poor relations and antiquated friends out of doors, (though one of the
most common effects of new prosperity,) she had thought proper to
dismiss us with fewer tokens of unkindness. It is true that there is no
sort of danger in affronting men who are not of importance enough to
have any trust of ministerial, of royal, or of national honor to
surrender. The unforced and unbought services of humble men, who have no
medium of influence in great assemblies, but through the precarious
force of reason, must be looked upon with contempt by those who by their
wisdom and spirit have improved the critical moment of their fortune,
and have debated with authority against pusillanimous dissent and
ungracious compliance, at the head of forty thousand men.

Such feeble auxiliaries (as I talk of) to such a force, employed
against such resistance, I must own, in the present moment, very little
worthy of your attention. Yet, if one were to look forward, it scarcely
seems altogether politic to bestow so much liberality of invective on
the Whigs of this kingdom as I find has been the fashion to do both in
and out of Parliament. That you should pay compliments, in some tone or
other, whether ironical or serious, to the minister from whose
imbecility you have extorted what you could never obtain from his
bounty, is not unnatural. In the first effusions of Parliamentary
gratitude to that minister for the early and voluntary benefits he has
conferred upon Ireland, it might appear that you were wanting to the
triumph of his surrender, if you did not lead some of his enemies
captive before him. Neither could you feast him with decorum, if his
particular taste were not consulted. A minister, who has never defended
his measures in any other way than by railing at his adversaries, cannot
have his palate made all at once to the relish of positive commendation.
I cannot deny but that on this occasion there was displayed a great deal
of the good-breeding which consists in the accommodation of the
entertainment to the relish of the guest.

But that ceremony being past, it would not be unworthy of the wisdom of
Ireland to consider what consequences the extinguishing every spark of
freedom in this country may have upon your own liberties. You are at
this instant flushed with victory, and full of the confidence natural to
recent and untried power. We are in a temper equally natural, though
very different. We feel as men do, who, having placed an unbounded
reliance on their force, have found it totally to fail on trial. We
feel faint and heartless, and without the smallest degree of
self-opinion. In plain words, we are _cowed_. When men give up their
violence and injustice without a struggle, their condition is next to
desperate. When no art, no management, no argument, is necessary to
abate their pride and overcome their prejudices, and their uneasiness
only excites an obscure and feeble rattling in their throat, their final
dissolution seems not far off. In this miserable state we are still
further depressed by the overbearing influence of the crown. It acts
with the officious cruelty of a mercenary nurse, who, under pretence of
tenderness, stifles us with our clothes, and plucks the pillow from our
heads. _Injectu multae vestis opprimi senem jubet_. Under this influence
we have so little will of our own, that, even in any apparent activity
we may be got to assume, I may say, without any violence to sense, and
with very little to language, we are merely passive. We have yielded to
your demands this session. In the last session we refused to prevent
them. In both cases, the passive and the active, our principle was the
same. Had the crown pleased to retain the spirit, with regard to
Ireland, which seems to be now all directed to America, we should have
neglected our own immediate defence, and sent over the last man of our
militia to fight with the last man of your volunteers.

To this influence the principle of action, the principle of policy, and
the principle of union of the present minority are opposed. These
principles of the opposition are the only thing which preserves a single
symptom of life in the nation. That opposition is composed of the far
greater part of the independent property and independent rank of the
kingdom, of whatever is most untainted in character, and of whatever
ability remains unextinguished in the people, and of all which tends to
draw the attention of foreign countries upon this. It is now in its
final and conclusive struggle. It has to struggle against a force to
which, I am afraid, it is not equal. The _whole_ kingdom of Scotland
ranges with the venal, the unprincipled, and the wrong-principled of
this; and if the kingdom of Ireland thinks proper to pass into the same
camp, we shall certainly be obliged to quit the field. In that case, if
I know anything of this country, another constitutional opposition _can
never_ be formed in it; and if this be impossible, it will be at least
as much so (if there can be degrees in impossibility) to have a
constitutional administration at any future time. The possibility of the
former is the only security for the existence of the latter. Whether the
present administration be in the least like one, I must venture to
doubt, even in the honey-moon of the Irish fondness to Lord North, which
has succeeded to all their slappings and scratchings.

If liberty cannot maintain its ground in this kingdom, I am sure that it
cannot have any long continuance in yours. Our liberty might now and
then jar and strike a discord with that of Ireland. The thing is
possible: but still the instruments might play in concert. But if ours
be unstrung, yours will be hung up on a peg, and both will be mute
forever. Your new military force may give you confidence, and it serves
well for a turn; but you and I know that it has not root. It is not
perennial, and would prove but a poor shelter for your liberty, when
this nation, having no interest in its own, could look upon yours with
the eye of envy and disgust. I cannot, therefore, help thinking, and
telling you what with great submission I think, that, if the Parliament
of Ireland be so jealous of the spirit of our common Constitution as she
seems to be, it was not so discreet to mix with the panegyric on the
minister so large a portion of acrimony to the independent part of this
nation. You never received any sort of injury from them, and you are
grown to that degree of importance that the discourses in your
Parliament will have a much greater effect on our immediate fortune than
our conversation can have upon yours. In the end they will seriously,
affect both.

I have looked back upon our conduct and our public conversations in
order to discover what it is that can have given you offence. I have
done so, because I am ready to admit that to offend you without any
cause would be as contrary to true policy as I am sure it must be to the
inclinations of almost every one of us. About two years ago Lord Nugent
moved six propositions in favor of Ireland in the House of Commons. At
the time of the motions, and during the debate, Lord North was either
wholly out of the House, or engaged in other matters of business or
pleasantry, in the remotest recesses of the West Saxon corner. He took
no part whatsoever in the affair; but it was supposed his neutrality was
more inclined towards the side of favor. The mover being a person in
office was, however, the only indication that was given of such a
leaning. We who supported the propositions, finding them better relished
than at first we looked for, pursued our advantage, and began to open a
way for more essential benefits to Ireland. On the other hand, those
who had hitherto opposed them in vain redoubled their efforts, and
became exceedingly clamorous. Then it was that Lord North found it
necessary to come out of his fastness, and to interpose between the
contending parties. In this character of mediator, he declared, that, if
anything beyond the first six resolutions should be attempted, he would
oppose the whole, but that, if we rested there, the original motions
should have his support. On this a sort of convention took place between
him and the managers of the Irish business, in which the six resolutions
were to be considered as an _uti possidetis_, and to be held sacred.

By this time other parties began to appear. A good many of the trading
towns, and manufactures of various kinds, took the alarm. Petitions
crowded in upon one another, and the bar was occupied by a formidable
body of council. Lord N. was staggered by this new battery. He is not of
a constitution to encounter such an opposition as had then risen, when
there were no other objects in view than those that were then before the
House. In order not to lose him, we were obliged to abandon, bit by bit,
the most considerable part of the original agreement.

In several parts, however, he continued fair and firm. For my own part,
I acted, as I trust I commonly do, with decision. I saw very well that
the things we had got were of no great consideration; but they were,
even in their defects, somewhat leading. I was in hopes that we might
obtain gradually and by parts what we might attempt at once and in the
whole without success,--that one concession would lead to another,--and
that the people of England discovering by a progressive experience that
none of the concessions actually made were followed by the consequences
they had dreaded, their fears from what they were yet to yield would
considerably diminish. But that to which I attached myself the most
particularly was, to fix _the principle_ of a free trade in all the
ports of these islands, as founded in justice, and beneficial to the
whole, but principally to this, the seat of the supreme power. And this
I labored to the utmost of my might, upon general principles,
illustrated by all the commercial detail with which my little inquiries
in life were able to furnish me. I ought to forget such trifling things
as those, with all concerning myself; and possibly I might have
forgotten them, if the Lord Advocate of Scotland had not, in a very
flattering manner, revived them in my memory, in a full House in this
session. He told me that my arguments, such as they were, had made him,
at the period I allude to, change the opinion with which he had come
into the House strongly impressed. I am sure that at the time at least
twenty more told me the same thing. I certainly ought not to take their
style of compliment as a testimony to fact; neither do I. But all this
showed sufficiently, not what they thought of my ability, but what they
saw of my zeal. I could say more in proof of the effects of that zeal,
and of the unceasing industry with which I then acted, both in my
endeavors which were apparent and those that were not so visible. Let it
be remembered that I showed those dispositions while the Parliament of
England was in a capacity to deliberate and in a situation to refuse,
when there was something to be risked here by being suspected of a
partiality to Ireland, when there was an honorable danger attending the
profession of friendship to you, which heightened its relish, and made
it worthy of a reception in manly minds. But as for the awkward and
nauseous parade of debate without opposition, the flimsy device of
tricking out necessity and disguising it in the habit of choice, the
shallow stratagem of defending by argument, what all the world must
perceive is yielded to force,--these are a sort of acts of friendship
which I am sorry that any of my countrymen should require of their real
friends. They are things not _to my taste_; and if they are looked upon
as tests of friendship, I desire for one that I may be considered as an

What party purpose did my conduct answer at that time? I acted with Lord
N. I went to all the ministerial meetings,--and he and his associates in
office will do me the justice to say, that, aiming at the concord of the
empire, I made it my business to give his concessions all the value of
which they were capable, whilst some of those who were covered with his
favors derogated from them, treated them with contempt, and openly
threatened to oppose them. If I had acted with my dearest and most
valued friends, if I had acted with the Marquis of Rockingham or the
Duke of Richmond, in that situation, I could not have attended more to
their honor, or endeavored more earnestly to give efficacy to the
measures I had taken in common with them. The return which I, and all
who acted as I did, have met with from him, does not make me repent the
conduct which I then held.

As to the rest of the gentlemen with whom I have the honor to act, they
did not then, or at any other time, make a party affair of Irish
politics. That matter was always taken up without concert; but, in
general, from the operation of our known liberal principles in
government, in commerce, in religion, in everything, it was taken up
favorably for Ireland. Where some local interests bore hard upon the
members, they acted on the sense of their constituents, upon ideas
which, though I do not always follow, I cannot blame. However, two or
three persons, high in opposition, and high in public esteem, ran great
risks in their boroughs on that occasion. But all this was without any
particular plan. I need not say, that Ireland was in that affair much
obliged to the liberal mind and enlarged understanding of Charles Fox,
to Mr. Thomas Townshend, to Lord Midleton, and others. On reviewing that
affair, which gave rise to all the subsequent manoeuvres, I am convinced
that the whole of what has this day been done might have then been
effected. But then the minister must have taken it up as a great plan of
national policy, and paid with his person in every lodgment of his
approach. He must have used that influence to quiet prejudice, which he
has so often, used to corrupt principle: and I know, that, if he had, he
must have succeeded. Many of the most active in opposition would have
given him an unequivocal support. The corporation of London, and the
great body of the London West India merchants and planters, which forms
the greatest mass of that vast interest, were disposed to fall in with
such a plan. They certainly gave no sort of discountenance to what was
done or what was proposed. But these are not the kind of objects for
which our ministers bring out the heavy artillery of the state.
Therefore, as things stood at that time, a great deal more was not

Last year another proposition was brought out for the relief of Ireland.
It was started without any communication with a single person of
activity in the country party, and, as it should seem, without any kind
of concert with government. It appeared to me extremely raw and
undigested. The behavior of Lord N., on the opening of that business,
was the exact transcript of his conduct on the Irish question in the
former session. It was a mode of proceeding which his nature has wrought
into the texture of his politics, and which is inseparable from them. He
chose to absent himself on the proposition and during the agitation of
that business,--although the business of the House is that alone for
which he has any kind of relish, or, as I am told, can be persuaded to
listen to with any degree of attention. But he was willing to let it
take its course. If it should pass without any considerable difficulty,
he would bring his acquiescence to tell for merit in Ireland, and he
would have the credit, out of his indolence, of giving quiet to that
country. If difficulties should arise on the part of England, he knew
that the House was so well trained that he might at his pleasure call us
off from the hottest scent. As he acted in his usual manner and upon his
usual principle, opposition acted upon theirs, and rather generally
supported the measure. As to myself, I expressed a disapprobation at the
practice of bringing imperfect and indigested projects into the House,
before means were used to quiet the clamors which a misconception of
what we were doing might occasion at home, and before measures were
settled with men of weight and authority in Ireland, in order to render
our acts useful and acceptable to that country. I said, that the only
thing which could make the influence of the crown (enormous without as
well as within the House) in any degree tolerable was, that it might be
employed to give something of order and system to the proceedings of a
popular assembly; that government being so situated as to have a large
range of prospect, and as it were a bird's-eye view of everything, they
might see distant dangers and distant advantages which were not so
visible to those who stood on the common level; they might, besides,
observe them, from this advantage, in their relative and combined state,
which people locally instructed and partially informed could behold only
in an insulated and unconnected manner;--but that for many years past we
suffered under all the evils, without any one of the advantages of a
government influence; that the business of a minister, or of those who
acted as such, had been still further to contract the narrowness of
men's ideas, to confirm inveterate prejudices, to inflame vulgar
passions, and to abet all sorts of popular absurdities, in order the
better to destroy popular rights and privileges; that, so far from
methodizing the business of the House, they had let all things run into
an inextricable confusion, and had left affairs of the most delicate
policy wholly to chance.

After I had expressed myself with the warmth I felt on seeing all
government and order buried under the ruins of liberty, and after I had
made my protest against the insufficiency of the propositions, I
supported the principle of enlargement at which they aimed, though short
and somewhat wide of the mark,--giving, as my sole reason, that the more
frequently these matters came into discussion, the more it would tend
to dispel fears and to eradicate prejudices.

This was the only part I took. The detail was in the hands of Lord
Newhaven and Lord Beauchamp, with some assistance from Earl Nugent and
some independent gentlemen of Irish property. The dead weight of the
minister being removed, the House recovered its tone and elasticity. We
had a temporary appearance of a deliberative character. The business was
debated freely on both sides, and with sufficient temper. And the sense
of the members being influenced by nothing but what will naturally
influence men unbought, their reason and their prejudices, these two
principles had a fair conflict, and prejudice was obliged to give way to
reason. A majority appeared, on a division, in favor of the

As these proceedings got out of doors, Glasgow and Manchester, and, I
think, Liverpool, began to move, but in a manner much more slow and
languid than formerly. Nothing, in my opinion, would have been less
difficult than entirely to have overborne their opposition. The London
West India trade was, as on the former occasion, so on this, perfectly
liberal and perfectly quiet; and there is abroad so much respect for the
united wisdom of the House, when supposed to act upon a fair view of a
political situation, that I scarcely ever remember any considerable
uneasiness out of doors, when the most active members, and those of most
property and consideration in the minority, have joined themselves to
the administration. Many factious people in the towns I mentioned began,
indeed, to revile Lord North, and to reproach his neutrality as
treacherous and ungrateful to those who had so heartily and so warmly
entered into all his views with regard to America. That noble lord,
whose decided character it is to give way to the latest and nearest
pressure, without any sort of regard to distant consequences of any
kind, thought fit to appear, on this signification of the pleasure of
those his worthy friends and partisans, and, putting himself at the head
of the _posse scaccarii_, wholly regardless of the dignity and
consistency of our miserable House, drove the propositions entirely out
of doors by a majority newly summoned to duty.

In order to atone to Ireland for this gratification to Manchester, he
graciously permitted, or rather forwarded, two bills,--that for
encouraging the growth of tobacco, and that for giving a bounty on
exportation of hemp from Ireland. They were brought in by two very
worthy members, and on good principles; but I was sorry to see them,
and, after expressing my doubts of their propriety, left the House.
Little also [else?] was said upon them. My objections were two: the
first, that the cultivation of those weeds (if one of them could be at
all cultivated to profit) was adverse to the introduction of a good
course of agriculture; the other, that the encouragement given to them
tended to establish that mischievous policy of considering Ireland as a
country of staple, and a producer of raw materials.

When the rejection of the first propositions and the acceptance of the
last had jointly, as it was natural, raised a very strong discontent in
Ireland, Lord Rockingham, who frequently said that there never seemed a
more opportune time for the relief of Ireland than that moment when Lord
North had rejected all rational propositions for its relief, without
consulting, I believe, any one living, did what he is not often very
willing to do; but he thought this an occasion of magnitude enough to
justify an extraordinary step. He went into the closet, and made a
strong representation on the matter to the king, which was not ill
received, and I believe produced good effects. He then made the motion
in the House of Lords which you may recollect; but he was content to
withdraw all of censure which it contained, on the solemn promise of
ministry, that they would in the recess of Parliament prepare a plan for
the benefit of Ireland, and have it in readiness to produce at the next
meeting. You may recollect that Lord Gower became in a particular manner
bound for the fulfilling this engagement. Even this did not satisfy, and
most of the minority were very unwilling that Parliament should be
prorogued until something effectual on the subject should be
done,--particularly as we saw that the distresses, discontents, and
armaments of Ireland were increasing every day, and that we are not so
much lost to common sense as not to know the wisdom and efficacy of
early concession in circumstances such as ours.

The session was now at an end. The ministers, instead of attending to a
duty that was so urgent on them, employed themselves, as usual, in
endeavors to destroy the reputation of those who were bold enough to
remind them of it. They caused it to be industriously circulated through
the nation, that the distresses of Ireland were of a nature hard to be
traced to the true source, that they had been monstrously magnified, and
that, in particular, the official reports from Ireland had given the lie
(that was their phrase) to Lord Rockingham's representations: and
attributing the origin of the Irish proceedings wholly to us, they
asserted that everything done in Parliament upon the subject was with a
view of stirring up rebellion; "that neither the Irish legislature nor
their constituents had signified any dissatisfaction at the relief
obtained in the session preceding the last; that, to convince both of
the impropriety of their _peaceable_ conduct, opposition, by making
demands in the name of Ireland, pointed out what she might extort from
Great Britain; that the facility with which relief was (formerly)
granted, instead of satisfying opposition, was calculated to create new
demands; these demands, as they _interfered_ with the commerce of Great
Britain, were _certain_ of being opposed,--a circumstance which could
not fail to create that desirable confusion which suits the views of the
party; that they (the Irish) had long felt their own misery, _without
knowing well from whence it came_; our worthy patriots, by _pointing out
Great Britain_ as the _cause of Irish distress_, may have some chance of
rousing Irish resentment." This I quote from a pamphlet as perfectly
contemptible in point of writing as it is false in its facts and wicked
in its design: but as it is written under the authority of ministers, by
one of their principal literary pensioners, and was circulated with
great diligence, and, as I am credibly informed, at a considerable
expense to the public, I use the words of that book to let you see in
what manner the friends and patrons of Ireland, the heroes of your
Parliament, represented all efforts for your relief here, what means
they took to dispose the minds of the people towards that great object,
and what encouragement they gave to all who should choose to exert
themselves in your favor. Their unwearied endeavors were not wholly
without success, and the unthinking people in many places became
ill-affected towards us on this account. For the ministers proceeded in
your affairs just as they did with regard to those of America. They
always represented you as a parcel of blockheads, without sense, or even
feeling; that all your words were only the echo of faction here; and (as
you have seen above) that you had not understanding enough to know that
your trade was cramped by restrictive acts of the British Parliament,
unless we had, for factious purposes, given you the information. They
were so far from giving the least intimation of the measures which have
since taken place, that those who were supposed the best to know their
intentions declared them impossible in the actual state of the two
kingdoms, and spoke of nothing but an act of union, as the only way that
could be found of giving freedom of trade to Ireland, consistently with
the interests of this kingdom. Even when the session opened, Lord North
declared that he did not know what remedy to apply to a disease of the
cause of which he was ignorant; and ministry not being then entirely
resolved how far they should submit to your energy, they, by
anticipation, set the above author or some of his associates to fill the
newspapers with invectives against us, as distressing the minister by
extravagant demands in favor of Ireland.

I need not inform you, that everything they asserted of the steps taken
in Ireland, as the result of our machinations, was utterly false and
groundless. For myself, I seriously protest to you, that I neither wrote
a word or received a line upon any matter relative to the trade of
Ireland, or to the polities of it, from the beginning of the last
session to the day that I was honored with your letter. It would be an
affront to the talents in the Irish Parliament to say one word more.

What was done in Ireland during that period, in and out of Parliament,
never will be forgotten. You raised an army new in its kind and adequate
to its purposes. It effected its end without its exertion. It was not
under the authority of law, most certainly, but it derived from an
authority still higher; and as they say of faith, that it is not
contrary to reason, but above it, so this army did not so much
contradict the spirit of the law as supersede it. What you did in the
legislative body is above all praise. By your proceeding with regard to
the supplies, you revived the grand use and characteristic benefit of
Parliament, which was on the point of being entirely lost amongst us.
These sentiments I never concealed, and never shall; and Mr. Fox
expressed them with his usual power, when he spoke on the subject.

All this is very honorable to you. But in what light must we see it? How
are we to consider your armament without commission from the crown, when
some of the first people in _this_ kingdom have been refused arms, at
the time they did not only not reject, but solicited the king's
commissions? Here to arm and embody would be represented as little less
than high treason, if done on private authority: with you it receives
the thanks of a Privy Counsellor of Great Britain, who obeys the Irish
House of Lords in that point with pleasure, and is made Secretary of
State, the moment he lands here, for his reward. You shortened the
credit given to the crown to six months; you hung up the public credit
of your kingdom by a thread; you refused to raise any taxes, whilst you
confessed the public debt and public exigencies to be great and urgent
beyond example. You certainly acted in a great style, and on sound and
invincible principles. But if we in the opposition, which fills Ireland
with such loyal horrors, had even attempted, what we never did even
attempt, the smallest delay or the smallest limitation of supply, in
order to a constitutional coercion of the crown, we should have been
decried by all the court and Tory mouths of this kingdom, as a desperate
faction, aiming at the direct ruin of the country, and to surrender it
bound hand and foot to a foreign enemy. By actually doing what we never
ventured to attempt, you have paid your court with such address, and
have won so much favor with his Majesty and his cabinet, that they have,
of their special grace and mere motion, raised you to new titles, and
for the first time, ill a speech from the throne, complimented you with
the appellation of "faithful and loyal,"--and, in order to insult our
low-spirited and degenerate obedience, have thrown these epithets and
your resistance together in our teeth! What do you think were the
feelings of every man who looks upon Parliament in an higher light than
that of a market-overt for legalizing a base traffic of votes and
pensions, when he saw you employ such means of coercion to the crown, in
order to coerce our Parliament through _that_ medium? How much his
Majesty is pleased with _his_ part of the civility must be left to his
own taste. But as to us, you declared to the world that you knew that
the way of bringing us to reason was to apply yourselves to the true
source of all our opinions and the only motive to all our conduct! Now,
it seems, you think yourselves affronted, because a few of us express
some indignation at the minister who has thought fit to strip us stark
naked, and expose the true state of our poxed and pestilential habit to
the world! Think or say what you will in Ireland, I shall ever think it
a crime hardly to be expiated by his blood. He might, and ought, by a
longer continuance or by an earlier meeting of this Parliament, to have
given us the credit of some wisdom in foreseeing and anticipating an
approaching force. So far from it, Lord Gower, coming out of his own
cabinet, declares that one principal cause of his resignation was his
not being able to prevail on the present minister to give any sort of
application to this business. Even on the late meeting of Parliament,
nothing determinate could be drawn from him, or from any of his
associates, until you had actually passed the short money bill,--which
measure they flattered themselves, and assured others, you would never
come up to. Disappointed in their expectation at [of?] seeing the siege
raised, they surrendered at discretion.

Judge, my dear Sir, of our surprise at finding your censure directed
against those whose only crime was in accusing the ministers of not
having prevented your demands by our graces, of not having given you the
natural advantages of your country in the most ample, the most early,
and the most liberal manner, and for not having given away authority in
such a manner as to insure friendship. That you should make the
panegyric of the ministers is what I expected; because, in praising
their bounty, you paid a just compliment to your own force. But that you
should rail at us, either individually or collectively, is what I can
scarcely think a natural proceeding. I can easily conceive that
gentlemen might grow frightened at what they had done,--that they might
imagine they had undertaken a business above their direction,--that,
having obtained a state of independence for their country, they meant to
take the deserted helm into their own hands, and supply by their very
real abilities the total inefficacy of the nominal government. All these
might be real, and might be very justifiable motives for their
reconciling themselves cordially to the present court system. But I do
not so well discover the reasons that could induce them, at the first
feeble dawning of life in this country, to do all in their power to cast
a cloud over it, and to prevent the least hope of our effecting the
necessary reformations which are aimed at in our Constitution and in our
national economy.

But, it seems, I was silent at the passing the resolutions. Why, what
had I to say? If I had thought them too much, I should have been accused
of an endeavor to inflame England. If I should represent them as too
little, I should have been charged with a design of fomenting the
discontents of Ireland into actual rebellion. The Treasury bench
represented that the affair was a matter of state: they represented it
truly. I therefore only asked whether they knew these propositions to be
such as would satisfy Ireland; for if they were so, they would satisfy
me. This did not indicate that I thought them too ample. In this our
silence (however dishonorable to Parliament) there was one
advantage,--that the whole passed, as far as it is gone, with complete
unanimity, and so quickly that there was no time left to excite any
opposition to it out of doors. In the West India business, reasoning on
what had lately passed in the Parliament of Ireland, and on the mode in
which it was opened here, I thought I saw much matter of perplexity.
But I have now better reason than ever to be pleased with my silence. If
I had spoken, one of the most honest and able men[16] in the Irish
Parliament would probably have thought my observation an endeavor to sow
dissension, which he was resolved to prevent,--and one of the most,
ingenious and one of the most amiable men[17] that ever graced yours or
any House of Parliament might have looked on it as a chimera. In the
silence I observed, I was strongly countenanced (to say no more of it)
by every gentleman of Ireland that I had the honor of conversing with in
London. The only word, for that reason, which I spoke, was to restrain a
worthy county member,[18] who had received some communication from a
great trading place in the county he represents, which, if it had been
opened to the House, would have led to a perplexing discussion of one of
the most troublesome matters that could arise in this business. I got up
to put a stop to it; and I believe, if you knew what the topic was, you
would commend my discretion.

That it should be a matter of public discretion in me to be silent on
the affairs of Ireland is what on all accounts I bitterly lament. I
stated to the House what I felt; and I felt, as strongly as human
sensibility can feel, the extinction of my Parliamentary capacity, where
I wished to use it most. When I came into this Parliament, just fourteen
years ago,--into this Parliament, then, in vulgar opinion at least, the
presiding council of the greatest empire existing, (and perhaps, all
things considered, that ever did exist,) obscure and a stranger as I
was, I considered myself as raised to the highest dignity to which a
creature of our species could aspire. In that opinion, one of the chief
pleasures in my situation, what was first and-uppermost in my thoughts,
was the hope, without injury to this country, to be somewhat useful to
the place of my birth and education, which in many respects, internal
and external, I thought ill and impolitically governed. But when I found
that the House, surrendering itself to the guidance of an authority, not
grown out of an experienced wisdom and integrity, but out of the
accidents of court favor, had become the sport of the passions of men at
once rash and pusillanimous,--that it had even got into the habit of
refusing everything to reason and surrendering everything to force, all
my power of obliging either my country or individuals was gone, all the
lustre of my imaginary rank was tarnished, and I felt degraded even by
my elevation. I said this, or something to this effect. If it gives
offence to Ireland, I am sorry for it: it was the reason I gave for my
silence; and it was, as far as it went, the true one.

With you, this silence of mine and of others was represented as
factious, and as a discountenance to the measure of your relief. Do you
think us children? If it had been our wish to embroil matters, and, for
the sake of distressing ministry, to commit the two kingdoms in a
dispute, we had nothing to do but (without at all condemning the
propositions) to have gone into the commercial detail of the objects of
them. It could not have been refused to us: and you, who know the nature
of business so well, must know that this would have caused such delays,
and given rise during that delay to such discussions, as all the wisdom
of your favorite minister could never have settled. But, indeed, you
mistake your men. We tremble at the idea of a disunion of these two
nations. The only thing in which we differ with you is this,--that we do
not think your attaching yourselves to the court and quarrelling with
the independent part of this people is the way to promote the union of
two free countries, or of holding them together by the most natural and
salutary ties.

       *       *       *       *       *

You will be frightened, when you see this long letter. I smile, when I
consider the length of it myself. I never, that I remember, wrote any of
the same extent. But it shows me that the reproaches of the country that
I once belonged to, and in which I still have a dearness of instinct
more than I can justify to reason, make a greater impression on me than
I had imagined. But parting words are admitted to be a little tedious,
because they are not likely to be renewed. If it will not be making
yourself as troublesome to others as I am to you, I shall be obliged to
you, if you will show this, at their greatest leisure, to the Speaker,
to your excellent kinsman, to Mr. Grattan, Mr. Yelverton, and Mr. Daly:
all these I have the honor of being personally known to, except Mr.
Yelverton, to whom I am only known by my obligations to him. If you live
in any habits with my old friend, the Provost, I shall be glad that he,
too, sees this my humble apology.

Adieu! once more accept my best thanks for the interest you take in me.
Believe that it is received by an heart not yet so old as to have lost
its susceptibility. All here give you the best old-fashioned wishes of
the season; and believe me, with the greatest truth and regard,

My dear Sir,

Your most faithful and obliged humble servant,


BEACONSFIELD, New year's Day, 1780.

I am frightened at the trouble I give you and our friends; but I
recollect that you are mostly lawyers, and habituated to read long,
tiresome papers--and, where your friendship is concerned, without a fee;
I am sure, too, that you will not act the lawyer in scrutinizing too
minutely every expression which my haste may make me use. I forgot to
mention my friend O'Hara, and others; but you will communicate it as you


[14] Mr. Thomas Burgh, of Old Town, was a member of the House of Commons
in Ireland.--It appears from a letter written by this gentleman to Mr.
Burke, December 24, 1779, and to which the following is an answer, that
the part Mr. Burke had taken in the discussion which the affairs of
Ireland had undergone in the preceding sessions of Parliament in England
had been grossly misrepresented and much censured in Ireland.

[15] This intention was communicated to Mr. Burke in a letter from Mr.
Pery, the Speaker of the House of Commons in Ireland.

[16] Mr. Grattan.

[17] Mr. Hussey Burgh

[18] Mr. Stanley, member for Lancashire.



Dear Sir,--I am very unhappy to find that my conduct in the business of
Ireland, on a former occasion, had made many to be cold and indifferent
who would otherwise have been warm in my favor. I really thought that
events would have produced a quite contrary effect, and would have
proved to all the inhabitants of Bristol that it was no desire of
opposing myself to their wishes, but a certain knowledge of the
necessity of their affairs, and a tender regard to their honor and
interest, which induced me to take the part which I then took. They
placed me in a situation which might enable me to discern what was fit
to be done, on a consideration of the relative circumstances of this
country and all its neighbors. This was what you could not so well do
yourselves; but you had a right to expect that I should avail myself of
the advantage which I derived from your favor. Under the impression-of
this duty and this trust, I had endeavored to render, by preventive
graces and concessions, every act of power at the same time an act of
lenity,--the result of English bounty, and not of English timidity and
distress. I really flattered myself that the events which have proved
beyond dispute the prudence of such a maxim would have obtained pardon
for me, if not approbation. But if I have not been so fortunate, I do
most sincerely regret my great loss,--this comfort, however, that, if I
have disobliged my constituents, it was not in pursuit of any sinister
interest or any party passion of my own, but in endeavoring to save them
from disgrace, along with the whole community to which they and I
belong. I shall be concerned for this, and very much so; but I should be
more concerned, if, in gratifying a present humor of theirs, I had
rendered myself unworthy of their former or their future choice. I
confess that I could not bear to face my constituents at the next
general election, if I had been a rival to Lord North in the glory of
having refused some small, insignificant concessions, in favor of
Ireland, to the arguments and supplications of English members of
Parliament,--and in the very next session, on the demand of forty
thousand Irish bayonets, of having made a speech of two hours long to
prove that my former conduct was founded upon no one right principle,
either of policy, justice, or commerce. I never heard a more elaborate,
more able, more convincing, and more shameful speech. The debater
obtained credit, but the statesman was disgraced forever. Amends were
made for having refused small, but timely concessions, by an unlimited
and untimely surrender, not only of every one of the objects of former
restraints, but virtually of the whole legislative power itself which
had made them. For it is not necessary to inform you, that the
unfortunate Parliament of this kingdom did not dare to qualify the very
liberty she gave of trading with her _own_ plantations, by applying, of
her _own_ authority, any one of the commercial regulations to the new
traffic of Ireland, which bind us here under the several Acts of
Navigation. We were obliged to refer them to the Parliament of Ireland,
as conditions, just in the same manner as if we were bestowing a
privilege of the same sort on France and Spain, or any other independent
power, and, indeed, with more studied caution than we should have used,
not to shock the principle of their independence. How the minister
reconciled the refusal to reason, and the surrender to arms raised in
defiance of the prerogatives of the crown, to his master, I know not: it
has probably been settled, in some way or other, between themselves. But
however the king and his ministers may settle the question of his
dignity and his rights, I thought it became me, by vigilance and
foresight, to take care of yours: I thought I ought rather to lighten
the ship in time than expose it to a total wreck. The conduct pursued
seemed to me without weight or judgment, and more fit for a member for
Banbury than a member for Bristol. I stood, therefore, silent with grief
and vexation, on that day of the signal shame and humiliation of this
degraded king and country. But it seems the pride of Ireland, in the day
of her power, was equal to ours, when we dreamt we were powerful too. I
have been abused there even for my silence, which was construed into a
desire of exciting discontent in England. But, thank God, my letter to
Bristol was in print, my sentiments on the policy of the measure were
known and determined, and such as no man could think me absurd enough to
contradict. When I am no longer a free agent, I am obliged in the crowd
to yield to necessity: it is surely enough that I silently submit to
power; it is enough that I do not foolishly affront the conqueror; it is
too hard to force me to sing his praises, whilst I am led in triumph
before him,--or to make the panegyric of our own minister, who would put
me neither in a condition to surrender with honor or to fight with the
smallest hope of victory. I was, I confess, sullen and silent on that
day,--and shall continue so, until I see some disposition to inquire
into this and other causes of the national disgrace. If I suffer in my
reputation for it in Ireland, I am sorry; but it neither does nor can
affect me so nearly as my suffering in Bristol for having wished to
unite the interests of the two nations in a manner that would secure the
supremacy of this.

Will you have the goodness to excuse the length of this letter? My
earnest desire of explaining myself in every point which may affect the
mind of any worthy gentleman in Bristol is the cause of it. To yourself,
and to your liberal and manly notions, I know it is not so necessary.
Believe me,

My dear Sir,

Your most faithful and obedient humble servant,


BEACONSFIELD, April 4th, 1780.

To JOHN MERLOTT, Esq., Bristol.


[19] An eminent merchant in the city of Bristol, of which Mr. Burke was
one of the representatives in Parliament.--It relates to the same
subject as the preceding Letter.




IN 1780.


_To the Lord Chancellor_.

My Lord,--I hope I am not too late with the inclosed slight
observations. If the execution already ordered cannot be postponed,
might I venture to recommend that it should extend to one only? and then
the plan suggested in the inclosed paper may, if your Lordship thinks
well of it, take place, with such improvements as your better judgment
may dictate. As to fewness of the executions, and the good effects of
that policy, I cannot, for my own part, entertain the slightest doubt.

If you have no objection, and think it may not occupy more of his
Majesty's time than such a thing is worth, I should not be sorry that
the inclosed was put into the king's hands.

I have the honor to be, my Lord,

Your Lordship's most obedient humble servant,


CHARLES STREET, July 10, 1780.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To the Earl Bathurst, Lord President of the Council_

My Lord,--

I came to town but yesterday, and therefore did not learn more early the
probable extent of the executions in consequence of the late
disturbances. I take the liberty of laying before you, with the
sincerest deference to your judgment, what appeared to me very early as
reasonable in this business. Further thoughts have since occurred to me.
I confess my mind is under no small degree of solicitude and anxiety on
the subject; I am fully persuaded that a proper use of mercy would not
only recommend the wisdom and steadiness of government, but, if properly
used, might be made a means of drawing out the principal movers in this
wicked business, who have hitherto eluded your scrutiny. I beg pardon
for this intrusion, and have the honor to be, with great regard and

My Lord,

Your Lordship's most obedient humble servant,


CHARLES STREET, July 18, 1780.

       *       *       *       *       *

_To Sir Grey Cooper, Bart_.[20]

Dear Sir,--

According to your desire, I send you a copy of the few reflections on
the subject of the present executions which occurred to me in the
earliest period of the late disturbances, and which all my experience
and observation since have most strongly confirmed. The executions,
taking those which have been made, which are now ordered, and which may
be the natural consequence of the convictions in Surrey, will be
undoubtedly too many to answer any good purpose. Great slaughter
attended the suppression of the tumults, and this ought to be taken in
discount from the execution of the law. For God's sake entreat of Lord
North to take a view of the sum total of the deaths, before any are
ordered for execution; for by not doing something of this kind people
are decoyed in detail into severities they never would have dreamed of,
if they had the whole in their view at once. The scene in Surrey would
have affected the hardest heart that ever was in an human breast.
Justice and mercy have not such opposite interests as people are apt to
imagine. I saw Lord Loughborough last night. He seemed strongly
impressed with the sense of what necessity obliged him to go through,
and I believe will enter into our ideas on the subject. On this matter
you see that no time is to be lost. Before a final determination, the
first thing I would recommend is, that, if the very next execution
cannot be delayed, (by the way, I do not see why it may not,) it may be
of but a single person, and that afterwards you should not exceed two or
three; for it is enough for one riot, where the very act of Parliament
on which you proceed is rather a little hard in its sanctions and its
construction: not that I mean to complain of the latter as either new or
strained, but it was rigid from the first.

I am, dear Sir,

Your most obedient humble servant,


Tuesday, 18th July, 1780.

I really feel uneasy on this business, and should consider it as a sort
of personal favor, if you do something to limit the extent and severity
of the law on this point. Present my best compliments to Lord North, and
if he thinks that I have had wishes to be serviceable to government on
the late occasion, I shall on my part think myself abundantly rewarded,
if a few lives less than first intended should be saved [taken?]; I
should sincerely set it down as a personal obligation, though the thing
stands upon general and strong reason of its own.[21]


[20] One of the Secretaries of the Treasury.

[21] It appears by the following extract from a letter written by the
Earl of Mansfield to Mr. Burke, dated the 17th July, 1780, that these
Reflections had also been communicated to him:--"I have received the
honor of your letter and very judicious thoughts. Having been so greatly
injured myself, I have thought it more decent not to attend the reports,
and consequently have not been present at any deliberation upon the




As the number of persons convicted on account of the late unhappy
tumults will probably exceed what any one's idea of vengeance or example
would deliver to capital punishment, it is to be wished that the whole
business, as well with regard to the number and description of those who
are to suffer death as with regard to those who shall be delivered over
to lighter punishment or wholly pardoned, should be entirely a work of

It has happened frequently, in cases of this nature, that the fate of
the convicts has depended more upon the accidental circumstance of their
being brought earlier or later to trial than to any steady principle of
equity applied to their several cases. Without great care and sobriety,
criminal justice generally begins with anger and ends in negligence. The
first that are brought forward suffer the extremity of the law, with
circumstances of mitigation of their case; and after a time, the most
atrocious delinquents escape merely by the satiety of punishment.

In the business now before his Majesty, the following thoughts are
humbly submitted.

If I understand the temper of the public at this moment, a very great
part of the lower and some of the middling people of this city are in a
very critical disposition, and such as ought to be managed with firmness
and delicacy. In general, they rather approve than blame the principles
of the rioters, though the better sort of them are afraid of the
consequences of those very principles which they approve. This keeps
their minds in a suspended and anxious state, which may very easily be
exasperated by an injudicious severity into desperate resolutions,--or
by weak measures on the part of government it may be encouraged to the
pursuit of courses which may be of the most dangerous consequences to
the public.

There is no doubt that the approaching executions will very much
determine the future conduct of those people. They ought to be such as
will humble, not irritate. Nothing will make government more awful to
them than to see that it does not proceed by chance or under the
influence of passion.

It is therefore proposed that no execution should be made until the
number of persons which government thinks fit to try is completed. When
the whole is at once under the eye, an examination ought to be made into
the circumstances of every particular convict; and _six_, at the very
utmost, of the fittest examples may then be selected for execution, who
ought to be brought out and put to death on one and the same day, in six
different places, and in the most solemn manner that can be devised.
Afterwards great care should be taken that their bodies may not be
delivered to their friends, or to others who may make them objects of
compassion or even veneration: some instances of the kind have happened
with regard to the bodies of those killed in the riots. The rest of the
malefactors ought to be either condemned, for larger [longer?] or
shorter terms, to the lighters, houses of correction, service in the
navy, and the like, according to the case.

This small number of executions, and all at one time, though in
different places, is seriously recommended; because it is certain that a
great havoc among criminals hardens rather than subdues the minds of
people inclined to the same crimes, and therefore fails of answering its
purpose as an example. Men who see their lives respected and thought of
value by others come to respect that gift of God themselves. To have
compassion for oneself, or to care, more or less, for one's own life, is
a lesson to be learned just as every other; and I believe it will be
found that conspiracies have been most common and most desperate where
their punishment has been most extensive and most severe.

Besides, the least excess in this way excites a tenderness in the milder
sort of people, which makes them consider government in an harsh and
odious light. The sense of justice in men is overloaded and fatigued
with a long series of executions, or with such a carnage at once as
rather resembles a massacre than a sober execution of the laws. The laws
thus lose their terror in the minds of the wicked, and their reverence
in the minds of the virtuous.

I have ever observed that the execution of one man fixes the attention
and excites awe; the execution of multitudes dissipates and weakens the
effect: but men reason themselves into disapprobation and disgust; they
compute more as they feel less; and every severe act which does not
appear to be necessary is sure to be offensive.

In selecting the criminals, a very different line ought to be followed
from that recommended by the champions of the Protestant Association.
They recommend that the offenders for plunder ought to be punished, and
the offenders from principle spared. But the contrary rule ought to be
followed. The ordinary executions, of which there are enough in
conscience, are for the former species of delinquents; but such common
plunderers would furnish no example in the present case, where the false
or pretended principle of religion, which leads to crimes, is the very
thing to be discouraged.

But the reason which ought to make these people objects of selection for
punishment confines the selection to very few. For we must consider that
the whole nation has been for a long time guilty of their crime.
Toleration is a new virtue in any country. It is a late ripe fruit in
the best climates. We ought to recollect the poison which, under the
name of antidotes against Popery, and such like mountebank titles, has
been circulated from our pulpits and from our presses, from the heads of
the Church of England and the heads of the Dissenters. These
publications, by degrees, have tended to drive all religion from our own
minds, and to fill them with nothing but a violent hatred of the
religion of other people, and, of course, with a hatred of their
persons; and so, by a very natural progression, they have led men to the
destruction of their goods and houses, and to attempts upon their lives.

This delusion furnishes no reason for suffering that abominable spirit
to be kept alive by inflammatory libels or seditious assemblies, or for
government's yielding to it, in the smallest degree, any point of
justice, equity, or sound policy. The king certainly ought not to give
up any part of his subjects to the prejudices of another. So far from
it, I am clearly of opinion that on the late occasion the Catholics
ought to have been taken, more avowedly than they were, under the
protection of government, as the Dissenters had been on a similar

But though we ought to protect against violence the bigotry of others,
and to correct our own too, if we have any left, we ought to reflect,
that an offence which in its cause is national ought not in its effects
to be vindicated on individuals, but with a very well-tempered severity.

For my own part, I think the fire is not extinguished,--on the contrary,
it seems to require the attention of government more than ever; but, as
a part of any methodical plan for extinguishing this flame, it really
seems necessary that the execution of justice should be as steady and as
cool as possible.



The great number of sufferers seems to arise from the misfortune
incident to the variety of judicatures which have tried the crimes. It
were well, if the whole had been the business of one commission; for now
every trial seems as if it were a separate business, and in that light
each offence is not punished with greater severity than single offences
of the kind are commonly marked: but in reality and fact, this
unfortunate affair, though diversified in the multitude of overt acts,
has been one and the same riot; and therefore the executions, so far as
regards the general effect on the minds of men, will have a reference to
the unity of the offence, and will appear to be much more severe than
such a riot, atrocious as it was, can well justify in government. I pray
that it may be recollected that the chief delinquents have hitherto
escaped, and very many of those who are fallen into the hands of justice
are a poor, thoughtless set of creatures, very little aware of the
nature of their offence. None of the list-makers, the assemblers of the
mob, the directors and arrangers, have been convicted. The preachers of
mischief remain safe, and are wicked enough not to feel for their
deluded disciples,--no, not at all. I would not plead the ignorance of
the law in any, even the most ignorant, as a justification; but I am
sure, that, when the question is of mercy, it is a very great and
powerful argument. I have all the reason in the world to believe that
they did not know their offence was capital.

There is one argument, which I beg may not be considered as brought for
any invidious purpose, or meant as imputing blame anywhere, but which, I
think, with candid and considerate men, will have much weight. The
unfortunate delinquents were perhaps much encouraged by some remissness
on the part of government itself. The absolute and entire impunity
attending the same offence in Edinburgh, which was over and over again
urged as an example and encouragement to these unfortunate people, might
be a means of deluding them. Perhaps, too, a languor in the beginning of
the riots here (which suffered the leaders to proceed, until very many,
as it were by the contagion of a sort of fashion, were carried to these
excesses) might make these people think that there was something in the
case which induced government to wink at the irregularity of the

The conduct and condition of the Lord Mayor ought, in my opinion, to be
considered. His answers to Lord Beauchamp, to Mr. Malo, and to Mr.
Langdale make him appear rather an accomplice in the crimes than guilty
of negligence as a magistrate. Such an example set to the mob by the
first magistrate of the city tends greatly to palliate their offence.

The license, and complete impunity too, of the publications which from
the beginning instigated the people to such actions, and in the midst of
trials and executions still continues, does in a great degree render
these creatures an object of compassion. In the Public Advertiser of
this morning there are two or three paragraphs strongly recommending
such outrages, and stimulating the people to violence against the houses
and persons of Roman Catholics, and even against the chapels of the
foreign ministers.

I would not go so far as to adopt the maxim, _Quicquid multis peccatur
inultum_; but certainly offences committed by vast multitudes are
somewhat palliated in the _individuals_, who, when so many escape, are
always looked upon rather as unlucky than criminal. All our loose ideas
of justice, as it affects any individual, have in them something of
comparison to the situation of others; and no systematic reasoning can
wholly free us from such impressions.

Phil. de Comines says our English civil wars were less destructive than
others, because the cry of the conqueror always was, "Spare the common
people." This principle of war should be at least as prevalent in the
execution of justice. The appetite of justice is easily satisfied, and
it is best nourished with the least possible blood. We may, too,
recollect that between capital punishment and total impunity there are
many stages.

On the whole, every circumstance of mercy, and of comparative justice,
does, in my opinion, plead in favor of such low, untaught, or ill-taught
wretches. But above all, the policy of government is deeply interested
that the punishments should appear _one_, solemn, deliberate act, aimed
not at random, and at particular offences, but done with a relation to
the general spirit of the tumults; and they ought to be nothing more
than what is sufficient to mark and discountenance that spirit.


  Not being principal.
  Probable want of early and deliberate purposes.
  Youth where the highest malice does not appear.
  Sex where the highest malice does not appear.
  Intoxication and levity, or mere wantonness of any kind.









Dear Sir,--I should have been punctual in sending you the sketch I
promised of my old African Code, if some friends from London had not
come in upon me last Saturday, and engaged me till noon this day: I send
this packet by one of them who is still here. If what I send be, as
under present circumstances it must be, imperfect, you will excuse it,
as being done near twelve years ago. About four years since I made an
abstract of it, upon which I cannot at present lay my hands; but I hope
the marginal heads will in some measure supply it.

If the African trade could be considered with regard to itself only, and
as a single object, I should think the utter abolition to be on the
whole more advisable than any scheme of regulation an reform. Rather
than suffer it to continue as it is, I heartily wish it at an end. What
has been lately done has been done by a popular spirit, which seldom
calls for, and indeed very rarely relishes, a system made up of a great
variety of parts, and which is to operate its effect in a great length
of time. The people like short methods; the consequences of which they
sometimes have reason to repent of. Abolition is but a single act. To
prove the nature of the trade, and to expose it properly, required,
indeed, a vast collection of materials, which have been laboriously
collected, and compiled with great judgment. It required also much
perseverance and address to excite the spirit which has been excited
without doors, and which has carried it through. The greatest eloquence
ever displayed in the House has been employed to second the efforts
which have been made abroad. All this, however, leads but to one single
resolve. When this was done, all was done. I speak of absolute and
immediate abolition, the point which the first motions went to, and
which is in effect still pressed; though in this session, according to
order, it cannot take effect. A _remote_, and a _gradual_ abolition,
though they may be connected, are not the same thing. The idea of the
House seems to me, if I rightly comprehend it, that the two things are
to be combined: that is to say, that the trade is gradually to decline,
and to cease entirely at a determinate period. To make the abolition
gradual, the regulations must operate as a strong discouragement. But it
is much to be feared that a trade continued and discouraged, and with a
sentence of death passed upon it, will perpetuate much ill blood between
those who struggle for the abolition and those who contend for an
effectual continuance.

At the time when I formed the plan which I have the honor to transmit to
you, an abolition of the slave trade would have appeared a very
chimerical project. My plan, therefore, supposes the continued existence
of that commerce. Taking for my basis that I had an incurable evil to
deal with, I cast about how I should make it as small an evil as
possible, and draw out of it some collateral good.

In turning the matter over in my mind at that time and since, I never
was able to consider the African trade upon a ground disconnected with
the employment of negroes in the West Indies, and distinct from their
condition in the plantations whereon they serve. I conceived that the
true origin of the trade was not in the place it was begun at, but at
the place of its final destination. I therefore was, and I still am, of
opinion that the whole work ought to be taken up together, and that a
gradual abolition of slavery in the West Indies ought to go hand in hand
with anything which, should be done with regard to its supply from the
coast of Africa. I could not trust a cessation of the demand for this
supply to the mere operation of any abstract principle, (such as, that,
if their supply was cut off, the planters would encourage and produce an
effectual population,) knowing that nothing can be more uncertain than
the operation of general principles, if they are not embodied in
specific regulations. I am very apprehensive, that, so long as the
slavery continues, some means for its supply will be found. If so, I am
persuaded that it is better to allow the evil, in order to correct it,
than, by endeavoring to forbid what we cannot be able wholly to prevent,
to leave it under an illegal, and therefore an unreformed existence. It
is not that my plan does not lead to the extinction of the slave trade,
but it is through a very slow progress, the chief effect of which is to
be operated in our own plantations, by rendering, in a length of time,
all foreign supply unnecessary. It was my wish, whilst the slavery
continued, and the consequent commerce, to take such measures as to
civilize the coast of Africa by the trade, which now renders it more
barbarous, and to lead by degrees to a more reputable, and, possibly, a
more profitable connection with it, than we maintain at present.

I am sure that you will consider as a mark of my confidence in yours and
Mr. Pitt's honor and generosity, that I venture to put into your hands
a scheme composed of many and intricate combinations, without a full
explanatory preface, or any attendant notes, to point out the principles
upon which I proceeded in every regulation which I have proposed towards
the civilization and gradual manumission of negroes in the two
hemispheres. I confess I trust infinitely more (according to the sound
principles of those who ever have at any time meliorated the state of
mankind) to the effect and influence of religion than to all the rest of
the regulations put together.

Whenever, in my proposed reformation, we take our _point of departure_
from a state of slavery, we must precede the donation of freedom by
disposing the minds of the objects to a disposition to receive it
without danger to themselves or to us. The process of bringing _free_
savages to order and civilization is very different. When a state of
slavery is that upon which we are to work, the very means which lead to
liberty must partake of compulsion. The minds of men, being crippled
with that restraint, can do nothing for themselves: everything must be
done for them. The regulations can owe little to consent. Everything
must be the creature of power. Hence it is that regulations must be
multiplied, particularly as you have two parties to deal with. The
planter you must at once restrain and support, and you must control at
the same time that you ease the servant. This necessarily makes the work
a matter of care, labor, and expense. It becomes in its nature complex.
But I think neither the object impracticable nor the expense
intolerable; and I am fully convinced that the cause of humanity would
be far more benefited by the continuance of the trade and servitude,
regulated and reformed, than by the total destruction of both or either.
What I propose, however, is but a beginning of a course of measures
which an experience of the effects of the evil and the reform will
enable the legislature hereafter to supply and correct.

I need not observe to you, that the forms are often neglected, penalties
not provided, &c., &c., &c. But all this is merely mechanical, and what
a couple of days' application would set to rights.

I have seen what has been done by the West Indian Assemblies. It is
arrant trifling. They have done little; and what they have done is good
for nothing,--for it is totally destitute of an _executory_ principle.
This is the point to which I have applied my whole diligence. It is easy
enough to say what shall be done: to cause it to be done,--_hic labor,
hoc opus_.

I ought not to apologize for letting this scheme lie beyond the period
of the Horatian keeping,--I ought much more to entreat an excuse for
producing it now. Its whole value (if it has any) is the coherence and
mutual dependency of parts in the scheme; separately they can be of
little or no use.

I have the honor to be, with very great respect and regard,

Dear Sir,

Your most faithful and obedient humble servant,


BEACONSFIELD, Easter-Monday night, 1792.


This constitution consists of four principal members.

I. The rules for qualifying a ship for the African trade.

II. The mode of carrying on the trade upon the coast of Africa, which
includes a plan for introducing civilization in that part of the world.

III. What is to be observed from the time of shipping negroes to the
sale in the West India islands.

IV. The regulations relative to the state and condition of slaves in the
West Indies, their manumission, &c.

[Sidenote: PREAMBLE.]

Whereas it is expedient, and comformable to the principles of true
religion and morality, and to the rules of sound policy, to put an end
to all traffic in the persons of men, and to the detention of their said
persons in a state of slavery, as soon as the same may be effected
without producing great inconveniences in the sudden change of practices
of such long standing, and during the time of the continuance of the
said practices it is desirable and expedient by proper regulations to
lessen the inconveniences and evils attendant on the said traffic and
state of servitude, until both shall be gradually done away:

And whereas the objects of the said trade and consequential servitude,
and the grievances resulting therefrom, come under the principal heads
following, the regulations ought thereto to be severally applied: that
is to say, that provision should be made by the said regulations,

1st, For duly qualifying ships for the said traffic;

2nd, For the mode and conditions of permitting the said trade to be
carried on upon the coast of Africa;

3rd, For the treatment of the negroes in their passage to the West India

4th, For the government of the negroes which are or shall be employed in
his Majesty's colonies and plantations in the West Indies:

[Sidenote: Ships to be registered.]

Be it therefore enacted, that every ship or trading vessel which is
intended for the negro trade, with the name of the owner or owners
thereof, shall be entered and registered as ships trading to the West
Indies are by law to be registered, with the further provisions

[Sidenote: Measured and surveyed.]

1. The same entry and register shall contain an account of the greatest
number of negroes of all descriptions which are proposed to be taken
into the said ship or trading vessel; and the said ship, before she is
permitted to be entered outwards, shall be surveyed by a ship-carpenter,
to be appointed by the collector of the port from which the said vessel
is to depart, and by a surgeon, also appointed by the collector, who
hath been conversant in the service of the said trade, but not at the
time actually engaged or covenanted therein; and the said carpenter and
surgeon shall report to the collector, or in his absence, to the next
principal officer of the port; upon oath, (which oath the said collector
or principal officer is hereby empowered to administer,) her
measurement, and what she contains in builder's tonnage, and that she
has ---- feet of grated portholes between the decks, and that she is
otherwise fitly found as a good transport vessel.

[Sidenote: Number of slaves limited.]

2. And be it enacted, that no ship employed in the said trade shall upon
any pretence take in more negroes than one grown man or woman for one
ton and half of builder's tonnage, nor more than one boy or girl for one

[Sidenote: Provisions.]

3. That the said ship or other vessel shall lay in, in proportion to the
ship's company of the said vessel, and the number of negroes registered,
a full and sufficient store of sound provision, so as to be secure
against all probable delays and accidents, namely, salted beef, pork,
salt-fish, butter, cheese, biscuit, flour, rice, oat-meal, and white
peas, but no horse-beans, or other inferior provisions; and the said
ship shall be properly provided with water-casks or jars, in proportion
to the intended number of the said negroes; and the said ship shall be
also provided with a proper and sufficient stock of coals or firewood.

[Sidenote: Stores.]

4. And every ship entered as aforesaid shall take out a coarse shirt and
a pair of trousers, or petticoat, for each negro intended to be taken
aboard; as also a mat, or coarse mattress, or hammock, for the use of
the said negroes. The proportions of provision, fuel, and clothing to be
regulated by the table annexed to this act.

[Sidenote: Certificate thereof.]

5. And be it enacted, that no ship shall be permitted to proceed on the
said voyage or adventure, until the searcher of the port from whence the
said vessel shall sail, or such person as he shall appoint to act for
him, shall report to the collector that he hath inspected the said
stores, and that the ship is accommodated and provided in the manner
hereby directed.

[Sidenote: Guns for trade to be inspected.]

6. And be it enacted, that no guns be exported to the coast of Africa,
in the said or any other trade, unless the same be duly marked with the
maker's name on the barrels before they are put into the stocks, and
vouched by an inspector in the place where the same are made to be
without fraud, and sufficient and merchantable arms.

[Sidenote: Owners and masters to enter into bonds.]

7. And be it enacted, that, before any ship as aforesaid shall proceed
on her voyage, the owner or owners, or an attorney by them named, if the
owners are more than two, and the master, shall severally give bond, the
owners by themselves, the master for himself, that the said master shall
duly conform himself in all things to the regulations in this act
contained, so far as the same regards his part in executing and
conforming to the same.

       *       *       *       *       *

II. And whereas, in providing for the second object of this act, that is
to say, for the trade on the coast of Africa, it is first prudent not
only to provide against the manifold abuses to which a trade of that
nature is liable, but that the same may be accompanied, as far as it is
possible, with such advantages to the natives as may tend to the
civilizing them, and enabling them to enrich themselves by means more
desirable, and to carry on hereafter a trade more advantageous and
honorable to all parties:

And whereas religion, order, morality, and virtue are the elemental
principles, and the knowledge of letters, arts, and handicraft trades,
the chief means of such civilization and improvement: for the better
attainment of the said good purposes,

[Sidenote: Marts to be established on the coast.]

1. Be it hereby enacted, that the coast of Africa, on which the said
trade for negroes may be carried on, shall be and is hereby divided into
marts or staples, as hereafter follows. [Here name the marts.] And be it
enacted, that it shall not be lawful for the master of any ship to
purchase any negro or negroes, but at one of the said marts or staples.

[Sidenote: Governors and counsellors.]

2. That the directors of the African Company shall appoint, where not
already appointed, a governor, with three counsellors, at each of the
said marts, with a salary of ---- to the governor, and of ---- to each
of the said counsellors. The said governor, or, in his absence or
illness, the senior counsellor, shall and is hereby empowered to act as
a justice of the peace, and they, or either of them, are authorized,
ordered, and directed to provide for the peace of the settlement, and
the good regulation of their station and stations severally, according
to the rules of justice, to the directions of this act, and the
instructions they shall receive from time to time from the said African
Company. And the said African Company is hereby authorized to prepare
instructions, with the assent of the Lords of his Majesty's Privy
Council, which shall be binding in all things not contrary to this act,
or to the laws of England, on the said governors and counsellors, and
every of them, and on all persons acting in commission with them under
this act, and on all persons residing within the jurisdiction of the
magistrates of the said mart.

[Sidenote: Ships of war stationed.]

3. And be it enacted, that the Lord High Admiral, or commissioners for
executing his office, shall appoint one or more, as they shall see
convenient, of his Majesty's ships or sloops of war, under the command
severally of a post-captain, or master and commander, to each mart, as a
naval station.

[Sidenote: Inspectors appointed.]

4. And be it enacted, that the Lord High Treasurer, or the commissioners
for executing his office, shall name two inspectors of the said trade at
every mart, who shall provide for the execution of this act, according
to the directions thereof, so far as shall relate to them; and it is
hereby provided and enacted, that, as cases of sudden emergency may
arise, the said governor or first counsellor, and the first commander of
his Majesty's ship or ships on the said station, and the said
inspectors, or the majority of them, the governor having a double or
casting vote, shall have power and authority to make such occasional
rules and orders relating to the said trade as shall not be contrary to
the instructions of the African Company, and which shall be valid until
the same are revoked by the said African Company.

[Sidenote: Lands may be purchased.]

5. That the said African Company is hereby authorized to purchase, if
the same may conveniently be done, with the consent of the Privy
Council, any lands adjoining to the fort or principal mart aforesaid,
not exceeding ---- acres, and to make allotments of the same; no
allotment to one person to exceed (on pain of forfeiture) ---- acres.

[Sidenote: Churches and schoolhouses, and hospitals to be erected.]

[Sidenote: Chaplain and assistant.]

[Sidenote: Clerk and catechist.]

6. That the African Company shall, at each fort or mart, cause to be
erected, in a convenient place, and at a moderate cost, the estimate of
which shall be approved by the Treasury, one church, and one
school-house, and one hospital; and shall appoint one principal
chaplain, with a curate or assistant in holy orders, both of whom shall
be recommended by the Lord Bishop of London; and the said chaplain or
his assistant shall perform divine service, and administer the
sacraments, according to the usage of the Church of England, or to such
mode not contrary thereto as to the said bishop shall seem more suitable
to the circumstances of the people. And the said principal chaplain
shall be the third member in the council, and shall be entitled to
receive from the directors of the said African Company a salary of ----,
and his assistant a salary of ----, and he shall have power to appoint
one sober and discreet person, white or black, to be his clerk and
catechist, at a salary of ----.

[Sidenote: Schoolmaster.]

[Sidenote: Carpenter and blacksmith.]

[Sidenote: Native apprentices.]

[Sidenote: Surgeon and mate.]

[Sidenote: Native apprentice.]

7. And be it enacted, that the African Company shall appoint one
sufficient schoolmaster, who shall be approved by the Bishop of London,
and who shall be capable of teaching writing, arithmetic, surveying, and
mensuration, at a salary of ----. And the said African Company is hereby
authorized to provide for each settlement a carpenter and blacksmith,
with such encouragement as to them shall seem expedient, who shall take
each two apprentices from amongst the natives; to instruct them in the
several trades, the African Company allowing them, as a fee for each
apprentice, ----. And the said African Company shall appoint one surgeon
and one surgeon's mate, who are to be approved on examination, at
Surgeons' Hall, to each fort or mart, with a salary of ---- for the
surgeon, and for his mate ----; and the said surgeon shall take one
native apprentice, at a fee to be settled by the African Company.

[Sidenote: How removable.]

8. And be it enacted, that the said catechist, schoolmaster, surgeon,
and surgeon's mate, as well as the tradesmen in the Company's service,
shall be obedient to the orders they shall from time to time receive
from the governor and council of each fort; and if they, or any of them,
or any other person, in whatever station, shall appear, on complaint and
proof to the majority of the commissioners, to lead a disorderly and
debauched life, or use any profane or impious discourses, to the danger
of defeating the purposes of this institution, and to the scandal of the
natives, who are to be led by all due means into a respect for our holy
religion, and a desire of partaking of the benefits thereof, they are
authorized and directed to suspend the said person from his office, or
the exercise of his trade, and to send him to England (but without any
hard confinement, except in case of resistance) with a complaint, with
inquiry and proofs adjoined, to the African Company.

9. And be it enacted, that the Bishop of London for the time being shall
have full authority to remove the said chaplain for such causes as to
him shall seem reasonable.

[Sidenote: No public officer to be concerned in the negro trade.]

10. That no governor, counsellor, inspector, chaplain, surgeon, or
schoolmaster shall be concerned, or have any share, directly or
indirectly, in the negro trade, on pain of ----.

[Sidenote: Journals and letter-books to be kept and transmitted.]

11. Be it enacted, that the said governor and council shall keep a
journal of all their proceedings, and a book in which copies of all
their correspondence shall be entered, and they shall transmit copies of
the said journals and letter-book, and their books of accounts, to the
African Company, who, within ---- of their receipt thereof, shall
communicate the same to one of his Majesty's principal secretaries of

[Sidenote: Chaplain to report to the Bishop of London.]

12. And be it enacted, that the said chaplain or principal minister,
shall correspond with the Bishop of London, and faithfully and
diligently transmit to him an account of whatever hath been done for the
advancement of religion, morality, and learning amongst the natives.

[Sidenote: Negroes to be attested before sale.]

13. And be it enacted, that no negro shall be conclusively sold, until
he shall be attested by the two inspectors and chaplain, or, in case of
the illness of any of them, by one inspector, and the governor, or one
of the council, who are hereby authorized and directed, by the best
means in their power, to examine into the circumstances and condition of
the persons exposed to sale.

[Sidenote: Causes for rejection.]

14. And for the better direction of the said inspectors, no persons are
to be sold, who, to the best judgment of the said inspectors, shall be
above thirty-five years of age, or who shall appear, on examination,
stolen or carried away by the dealers by surprise; nor any person who is
able to read in the Arabian or any other book; nor any woman who shall
appear to be advanced three months in pregnancy; nor any person
distorted or feeble, unless the said persons are consenting to such
sale; or any person afflicted with a grievous or contagious distemper:
but if any person so offered is only lightly disordered, the said person
may be sold, but must be kept in the hospital of the mart, and shall not
be shipped until completely cured.

[Sidenote: Traders to be licensed by the governors.]

15. Be it enacted, that no black or European factor or trader into the
interior country, or on the coast, (the masters of English ships only
excepted, for whose good conduct provision is otherwise herein made,)
shall be permitted to buy or sell in any of the said marts, unless he be
approved by the governor of the mart in which he is to deal, or, in his
absence or disability, by the senior counsellor for the time being, and
obtaining a license from such governor or counsellor; and the said
traders and factors shall, severally or jointly, as they shall be
concerned, before they shall obtain the said license, be bound in a
recognizance, with such surety for his or their good behavior as to the
said governor shall seem the best that can be obtained.

[Sidenote: Offences how to be tried and punished.]

16. Be it enacted, that the said governor, or other authority aforesaid,
shall examine, by duty of office, into the conduct of all such traders
and factors, and shall receive and publicly hear (with the assistance of
the council and inspectors aforesaid, and of the commodore, captain, or
other principal commander of one of his Majesty's ships on the said
station, or as many of the same as can be assembled, two whereof, with
the governor, are hereby enabled to act) all complaints against them, or
any of them; and if any black or white trader or factor, (other than in
this act excepted,) either on inquisition of office or on complaint,
shall be convicted by a majority of the said commissioners present of
stealing or taking by surprise any person or persons whatsoever, whether
free or the slaves of others, without the consent of their masters, or
of wilfully and maliciously killing or maiming any person, or of any
cruelty, (necessary restraint only excepted,) or of firing houses, or
destroying goods, the said trader or factor shall be deemed to have
forfeited his recognizance, and his surety to have forfeited his; and
the said trader or factor, so convicted, shall be forever disabled from
dealing in any of the said marts, unless the offence shall not be that
of murder, maiming, arson, or stealing or surprising the person, and
shall appear to the commissioners aforesaid to merit only, besides the
penalty of his bond, a suspension for one year; and the said trader or
factor, so convicted of murder, maiming, arson, stealing or surprising
the person, shall, if a native, be delivered over to the prince to whom
he belongs, to execute further justice on him. But it is hereby provided
and enacted, that, if any European shall be convicted of any of the said
offences, he shall be sent to Europe, together with the evidence against
him; and on the warrant of the said commissioners, the keeper of any of
his Majesty's jails in London, Bristol, Liverpool, or Glasgow shall
receive him, until he be delivered according to due course of law, as if
the said offences had been committed within the cities and towns

[Sidenote: Negroes exposed to sale contrary to the provisions of this
act, how to be dealt with.]

17. Be it further enacted, that, if the said governor, &c, shall be
satisfied that person or persons are exposed to sale, who have been
stolen or surprised as aforesaid, or are not within the qualifications
of sale in this act described, they are hereby authorized and required,
if it can be done, to send the persons so exposed to sale to their
original habitation or settlement, in the manner they shall deem best
for their security, (the reasonable charges whereof shall be allowed to
the said governor by the African Company,) unless the said persons
choose to sell themselves; and then, and in that case, their value in
money and goods, at their pleasure, shall be secured to them, and be
applicable to their use,-without any dominion over the same of any
purchaser, or of any master to whom they may in any colony or plantation
be sold, and which shall always be in some of his master's [Majesty's?]
colonies and plantations only. And the master of the ship in which such
person shall embark shall give bond for the faithful execution of his
part of the trust at the island where he shall break bulk.

18. Be it further enacted, that, besides the hospitals on shore, one or
more hospital-ships shall be employed at each of the said chief marts,
wherein slaves taken ill in the trading ships shall be accommodated,
until they shall be cured; and then the owner may reclaim and shall
receive them, paying the charges which shall be settled by regulation to
be made by the authority in this act enabled to provide such

       *       *       *       *       *

III. And whereas it is necessary that regulations be made to prevent
abuses in the passage from Africa to the West Indies:

[Sidenote: Slave ships to be examined on the coast.]

1. Be it further enacted, that the commander or lieutenant of the king's
ship on each station shall have authority, as often as he shall see
occasion, attended with one other of his officers, and his surgeon or
mate, to enter into and inspect every trading ship, in order to provide
for the due execution of this act, and of any ordinances made in virtue
thereof and conformable thereto by the authorities herein constituted
and appointed; and the said officer and officers are hereby required to
examine every trading ship before she sails, and to stop the sailing of
the said ship for the breach of the said rules and ordinances, until the
governor in council shall order and direct otherwise: and the master of]
the said ship shall not presume, under the penalty of ----, to be
recovered in the courts of the West Indies, to sail without a
certificate from the commander aforesaid, and one of the inspectors in
this act appointed, that the vessel is provided with stores and other
accommodation sufficient for her voyage, and has not a greater number of
slaves on board than by the provisions of this act is allowed.

[Sidenote: Governor to give special instructions.]

2. And be it enacted, that the governor and council, with the assistance
of the said naval commander, shall have power to give such special
written instructions for the health, discipline, and care of the said
slaves, during their passage, as to them shall seem good,

[Sidenote: Presents and musical instruments to be provided.]

3. And be it further enacted, that each slave, at entering the said
ship, is to receive some present, not exceeding in value ----, to be
provided according to the instructions aforesaid; and musical
instruments, according to the fashion of the country, are to be

[Sidenote: Table of allowances.]

4. And be it further enacted, that the negroes on board the transports,
and the seamen who navigate the same, are to receive their daily
allowance according to the table hereunto annexed, together with a
certain quantity of spirits to be mixed with their water. And it is
enacted, that the table is to be fixed, and continue for one week after
sailing, in some conspicuous part of the said ship, for the seamen's
inspection of the same.

[Sidenote: Negro superintendents to be appointed.]

5. And be it enacted, that the captain of each trading vessel shall be
enabled and is to divide the slaves in his ship into crews of not less
than ten nor more than twenty persons each, and to appoint one negro man
to have such authority severally over each crew, as according to his
judgment, with the advice of the mate and surgeon, he and they shall see
good to commit to them, and to allow to each of them some compensation,
in extraordinary diet and presents, not exceeding [ten shillings].

[Sidenote: Communication with female slaves, how punished.]

6. And be it enacted, that any European officer or seaman, having
unlawful communication with any woman slave, shall, if an officer, pay
five pounds to the use of the said woman, on landing her from the said
ship, to be stopped out of his wages, or if a seaman, forty shillings:
the said penalties to be recovered on the testimony of the woman so
abused, and one other.

[Sidenote: Premium to commanders of slave-ships.]

7. And be it enacted, that all and every commander of a vessel or
vessels employed in slave trade, having received certificates from the
port of the outfit, and from the proper officers in Africa and the West
Indies, of their having conformed to the regulations of this act, and of
their not having lost more than one in thirty of their slaves by death,
shall be entitled to a bounty or premium of [ten pounds].

       *       *       *       *       *

IV. And whereas the condition of persons in a state of slavery is such
that they are utterly unable to take advantage of any remedy which the
laws may provide for their protection and the amendment of their
condition, and have not the proper means of pursuing any process for
the same, but are and must be under guardianship: and whereas it is not
fitting that they should be under the sole guardianship of their
masters, or their attorneys and overseers, to whom their grievances,
whenever they suffer any, must ordinarily be owing:

[Sidenote: Attorney-General to be protector of negroes.]

[Sidenote: To inquire and file information _ex officio_.]

1. Be it therefore enacted, that his Majesty's Attorney-General for the
time being successively shall, by his office, exercise the trust and
employment of protector of negroes within the island in which he is or
shall be Attorney-General to his Majesty, his heirs and successors; and
that the said Attorney-General, protector of negroes, is hereby
authorized to hear any complaint on the part of any negro or negroes,
and inquire into the same, or to institute an inquiry _ex officio_ into
any abuses, formations and to call before him and examine witnesses upon
oath, relative to the subject-matter of the said official inquiry or
complaint: and it is hereby enacted and declared, that the said
Attorney-General, protector of negroes, is hereby authorized and
empowered, at his discretion, to file an information _ex officio_ for
any offences committed against the provisions of this act, or for any
misdemeanors or wrongs against the said negroes, or any of them.

[Sidenote: Power to challenge jurors.]

2. And it is further enacted, that in all trials of such informations
the said protector of negroes may and is hereby authorized to challenge
peremptorily a number not exceeding ---- of the jury who shall be
impanelled to try the charge in the said information contained.

[Sidenote: To appoint inspectors of districts.]

[Sidenote: who are to report to him twice in the year the number and
condition of the slaves.]

3. And be it enacted, that the said Attorney-General, protector of
negroes, shall appoint inspectors, not exceeding the number of ----, at
his discretion; and the said inspectors shall be placed in convenient
districts in each island severally, or shall twice in the year make a
circuit in the same, according to the direction which they shall receive
from the protector of negroes aforesaid; and the inspectors shall and
they are hereby required, twice in the year, to report in writing to the
protector aforesaid the state and condition of the negroes in their
districts or on their circuit severally, the number, sex, age, and
occupation of the said negroes on each plantation; and the overseer or
chief manager on each plantation is hereby required to furnish an
account thereof within [ten days] after the demand of the said
inspectors, and to permit the inspector or inspectors aforesaid to
examine into the same; and the said inspectors shall set forth, in the
said report, the distempers to which the negroes are most liable in the
several parts of the island.

[Sidenote: Instructions to be formed for inspectors.]

4. And be it enacted, that the said protector of negroes, by and with
the consent the governor and chief judge of each island, shall form
instructions, by which the said inspectors shall discharge their trust
in the manner the least capable of exciting any unreasonable hopes in
the said negroes, or of weakening the proper authority of the overseer,
and shall transmit them to one of his Majesty's principal secretaries of
state; and when sent back with his approbation, the same shall become
the rule for the conduct of the said inspectors.

[Sidenote: Registry.]

5. And be it enacted, that the said Attorney-General, protector of
negroes, shall appoint an office for registering all proceedings
relative to the duty of his place as protector of negroes, and shall
appoint his chief clerk to be registrar, with a salary not exceeding

[Sidenote: Ports where negroes are to be landed. Vessels to be

[Sidenote: Masters or officers offending to be fined.]

6. And be it enacted, that no negroes shall be landed for sale in any
but the ports following: that is to say, ----. And the collector of each
of the said ports severally shall, within ---- days after the arrival of
any ship transporting negroes, report the same to the protector of
negroes, or to one of his inspectors; and the said protector is hereby
authorized and required to examine, or cause to be examined by one of
his inspectors, with the assistance of the said collector, or his
deputy, and a surgeon to be called in on the occasion, the state of the
said ship and negroes; and upon what shall appear to them, the said
protector of negroes, and the said collector and surgeon, to be a
sufficient proof, either as arising from their own inspection, or
sufficient information on a summary process, of any contravention of
this act, or cruelty to the negroes, or other malversation of the said
captain, or any of his officers the said protector shall impose a fine
on him or them, not exceeding ----; which shall not, however, weaken or
invalidate any penalty growing from the bond of the said master or his
owners. And it is hereby provided, that, if the said master, or any of
his officers, shall find himself aggrieved by the said fine, he may
within ---- days appeal to the chief judge, if the court shall be
sitting, or to the governor, who shall and are required to hear the said
parties, and on hearing are to annul or confirm the same.

[Sidenote: Rates respecting the sale of negroes.]

7. And be it enacted, that no sale of negroes shall be made but in the
presence of an inspector, and all negroes shall be sold severally, or in
known and ascertained lots, and not otherwise; and a paper containing
the state and description of each negro severally sold, and of each lot,
shall be taken and registered in the office aforesaid; and if, on
inspection or information, it shall be found that any negroes shall
have, in the same ship, or any other at the same time examined, a wife,
an husband, a brother, sister, or child, the person or persons so
related shall not be sold separately at that or any future sale.

[Sidenote: Every island to be divided into districts.]

[Sidenote: A church to be built in each.]

8. And be it enacted, that each and every of his Majesty's islands and
plantations, in which negroes are used in cultivation, shall be, by the
governor and the protector of negroes for the time being, divided into
districts, allowing as much as convenience will admit to the present
division into parishes, and subdividing them, where necessary, into
districts, according to the number of negroes. And the said governor and
protector of negroes shall cause in each district a church to be built
in a convenient place, and a cemetery annexed, and an house for the
residence of a clergyman, with ---- acres of land annexed; and they are
hereby authorized to treat for the necessary ground with the proprietor,
who is hereby obliged to sell and dispose of the same to the said use;
and in case of dispute concerning the value, the same to be settled by a
jury, as in like cases is accustomed.

[Sidenote: Appointment of a priest and clerk.]

9. And be it enacted, that in each of the said districts shall be
established a presbyter of the Church of England as by law established,
who shall appoint under him one clerk, who shall be a free negro, when
such properly qualified can be found, (otherwise, a white man,) with a
salary, in each case, of ----; and the said minister and clerk, both or
one, shall instruct the said negroes in the Church Catechism, or such
other as shall be provided by the authority in this act named; and the
said minister shall baptize, as he shall think fit, all negroes not
baptized, and not belonging to Dissenters from the Church of England.

[Sidenote: Owner to deliver a list of negroes to the minister, and to
cause them to attend divine service.]

10. And the principal overseer of each plantation is hereby required to
deliver annually unto the minister a list of all the negroes upon his
plantation, distinguishing their sex and age, and shall, under a penalty
of ----, cause all the negroes under his care, above the age of ----
years, to attend divine service once on every Sunday, except in case of
sickness, infirmity, or other necessary cause, to be given at the time,
and shall, by himself or one of those who are under him, provide for the
orderly behavior of the negroes under him, and cause them to return to
his plantation, when divine service, or administration of sacraments, or
catechism, is ended.

[Sidenote: Mister to direct punishment for disorderly conduct.]

11. And be it enacted, that the minister shall have power to punish any
negro for disorderly conduct during divine service, by a punishment not
exceeding [ten] blows to be given in one day and for one offence, which
the overseer or his under agent or agents is hereby directed, according
to the orders of the said minister, effectually to inflict, whenever the
same shall be ordered.

[Sidenote: Spirituous liquors not to be sold.]

12. And be it enacted, that no spirituous liquors of any kind shall be
sold, except in towns, within ---- miles distance of any church, nor
within any district during divine service, and an hour preceding and an
hour following the same; and the minister of each parish shall and is
hereby authorized to act as a justice of the peace in enforcing the said

[Sidenote: Register of births, burials, and marriages.]

13. And be it enacted, that every minister shall keep a register of
births, burials, and marriages of all negroes and mulattoes in his

[Sidenote: Synod to assemble annually, and to form regulations,]

14. And be it enacted, that the ministers of the several districts shall
meet annually, on the ---- day of ----, in a synod of the island to
which they belong; and the said synod shall have for its president such
person as the Bishop of London shall appoint for his commissary; and the
said synod or general assembly is hereby authorized, by a majority of
voices, to make regulations, which regulations shall be transmitted by
the said president or commissary to the Bishop of London; and when
returned by the Bishop of London approved of, then, and not before, the
said regulations shall be held in force to bind the said clergy, their
assistants, clerks, and schoolmasters only, and no other persons.

[Sidenote: and to report to the Bishop of London.]

15. And be it enacted, that the said president shall collect matter in
the said assembly, and shall make a report of the state of religion and
morals in the several parishes from whence the synod is deputed, and
shall transmit the same, once in the year, in duplicate, through the
governor and protector of negroes, to the Bishop of London.

[Sidenote: Bishop of London to be patron of the cures.]

16. And be it enacted and declared, that the Bishop of London for the
time being patron of the shall be patron to all and every the said
cures in this act directed; and the said bishop is hereby required to
provide for the due filling thereof, and is to receive, from the fund in
this act provided for the due execution of this act, a sum not exceeding
---- for each of the said ministers, for his outfit and passage.

[Sidenote: and to have power of suspending and removing ministers.]

17. And be it enacted, that, on misbehavior, and on complaint from the
said synod, and on hearing the party accused in a plain and summary
manner, it shall and may be lawful for the Bishop of London to suspend
or to remove any minister from his cure, as his said offences shall
appear to merit.

[Sidenote: Schools for young negroes.]

18. And be it enacted, that for every two districts a school shall be
established for young negroes to be taught three days in the week, and
to be detained from their owner four hours in each day, the number not
to be more or fewer than twenty males in each district, who shall be
chosen, and vacancies filled, by the minister of the district; and the
said minister shall pay to the owner of the said boy, and shall be
allowed the same in his accounts at the synod, to the age of twelve
years old, three-pence by the day, and for every boy from twelve years
old to fifteen, five-pence by the day.

[Sidenote: Extraordinary abilities to be encouraged.]

19. And it is enacted, that, if the president of the synod aforesaid
shall certify to the protector of negroes, that any boys in the said
schools (provided that the number in no one year shall exceed one in the
island of Jamaica, and one in two years in the islands of Barbadoes,
Antigua, and Grenada, and one in four years in any of the other islands)
do show a remarkable aptitude for learning, the said protector is hereby
authorized and directed to purchase the said boy at the best rate at
which boys of that age and strength have been sold within the year; and
the said negro so purchased shall be under the entire guardianship of
the said protector of negroes, who shall send him to the Bishop of
London for his further education in England, and may charge in his
accounts for the expense of transporting him to England; and the Bishop
of London shall provide for the education of such of the said negroes as
he shall think proper subjects, until the age of twenty-four years, and
shall order those who shall fall short of expectation after one year to
be bound apprentice to some handicraft trade; and when his
apprenticeship is finished, the Lord Mayor of London is hereby
authorized and directed to receive the said negro from his master, and
to transmit him to the island from which he came, in the West Indies, to
be there as a free negro, subject, however, to the direction of the
protector of negroes, relatively to his behavior and employment.

[Sidenote: Negroes of Dissenters.]

[Sidenote: their marriages, &c., to be registered.]

20. And it is hereby enacted and provided, that any planter, or owner of
negroes, not being of the Church of England, and not choosing to send
his negroes to attend divine service in manner by this act directed,
shall give, jointly or severally, as the case shall require, security to
the protector of negroes that a competent minister of some Christian
church or congregation shall be provided for the due instruction of the
negroes, and for their performing divine service according to the
description of the religion of the master or masters, in some church or
house thereto allotted, in the manner and with the regulations in this
act prescribed with regard to the exercise of religion according to the
Church of England: provided always, that the marriages of the said
negroes belonging to Dissenters shall be celebrated only in the church
of the said district, and that a register of the births shall be
transmitted to the minister of the said district.

[Sidenote: Regulations concerning marriage.]

21. And whereas a state of matrimony, and the government of a family, is
a principal means of forming men to a fitness for freedom, and to become
good citizens: Be it enacted, that all negro men and women, above
eighteen years of age for the man and sixteen for the woman, who have
cohabited together for twelve months or upwards, or shall cohabit for
the same time, and have a child or children, shall be deemed to all
intents and purposes to be married, and either of the parties is
authorized to require of the ministers of the district to be married in
the face of the church.

[Sidenote: Concerning the same.]

22. And be it enacted, that, from and after the ---- of ----, all negro
men in an healthy condition, and so reported to be, in case the same is
denied, by a surgeon and by an inspector of negroes, and being
twenty-one years old, or upwards, until fifty, and not being before
married, shall, on requisition of the inspectors, be provided by their
masters or overseers with a woman not having children living, and not
exceeding the age of the man, nor, in any case, exceeding the age of
twenty-five years; and such persons shall be married publicly in the
face of the church.

[Sidenote: Concerning the same.]

23. And be it enacted, that, if any negro shall refuse a competent
marriage tendered to him, and shall not demand another specifically,
such as it may be in his master's power to provide, the master or
overseer shall be authorized to constrain him by an increase of work or
a lessening of allowance.

[Sidenote: Adultery, &c., how to be punished.]

24. And be it enacted, that the minister in each district shall have,
with the assent of the inspector, full power and authority to punish all
acts of adultery, unlawful concubinage, and fornication, amongst
negroes, on hearing and a summary process, by ordering a number of
blows, not exceeding ----, for each offence; and if any white person
shall be proved, on information in the supreme court, to be exhibited by
the protector of negroes, to have committed adultery with any negro
woman, or to have corrupted any negro woman under sixteen years of age
he shall be fined in the sum of ----, and shall be forever disabled from
serving the office of overseer of negroes, or being attorney to any

[Sidenote: Concerning marriage.]

25. And be it enacted, that no slaves shall be compelled to do any work
for their masters for [three] days after their marriage.

[Sidenote: Concerning pregnant women.]

26. And be it enacted, that no woman shall be obliged to field-work, or
any other laborious work, for one month before her delivery, or for six
weeks afterwards.

[Sidenote: Separation of husband and wife, and children, to be avoided.]

27. And be it enacted, that no husband and wife shall be sold
separately, if originally belonging to the same master; nor shall any
children under sixteen be sold separately from their parents, or one
parent, if one be living.

[Sidenote: Concerning the same.]

28. And be it enacted, that, if an husband and wife, which before their
intermarriage belonged to different owners, shall be sold, they shall
not be sold at such a distance as to prevent mutual help and
cohabitation; and of this distance the minister shall judge, and his
certificate of the inconvenient distance shall be valid, so as to make
such sale unlawful, and to render the same null and void.

[Sidenote: Negroes not to work on Saturday afternoon or Sunday.]

29. And be it enacted, that no negro shall be compelled to work for his
owner at field-work, or any service relative to a plantation, or to work
at any handicraft trade, from eleven o'clock on Saturday forenoon until
the usual working hour on Monday morning.

[Sidenote: Other cases of exemption from labor.]

30. And whereas habits of industry and sobriety, and the means of
acquiring and preserving property, are proper and reasonable
preparatives to freedom, and will secure against an abuse of the same:
Be it enacted, that every negro man, who shall have served ten years,
and is thirty years of age, and is married, and has had two children
born of any marriage, shall obtain the whole of Saturday for himself and
his wife, and for his own benefit, and after thirty-seven years of age,
the whole of Friday for himself and his wife: provided that in both
cases the minister of the district and the inspector of negroes shall
certify that they know nothing against his peaceable, orderly, and
industrious behavior.

[Sidenote: Huts and land to be appropriated.]

31. And be it enacted, that the master of every plantation shall provide
the materials of a good and substantial hut for each married field
negro; and if his plantation shall exceed ---- acres, he shall allot to
the same a portion of land not less than ----: and the said hut and land
shall remain and stand annexed to the said negro, for his natural life,
or during his bondage; but the same shall not be alienated without the
consent of the owners.

[Sidenote: Property of negroes secured.]

32. And be it enacted, that it shall not be lawful for the owner of any
negro, by himself or any other, to take from him any land, house,
cattle, goods, or money, acquired by the said negro, whether by
purchase, donation, or testament, whether the same has been derived from
the owner of the said negro, or any other.

33. And be it enacted, that, if the said negro shall die possessed of
any lands, goods, or chattels, and dies without leaving a wife or issue,
it shall be lawful for the said negro to devise or bequeath the same by
his last will; but in case the said negro shall die intestate, and leave
a wife and children, the same shall be distributed amongst them,
according to the usage under the statute, commonly called the Statute of
Distributions; but if the said negro shall die intestate without wife or
children, then, and in that case, his estate shall go to the fund
provided for the better execution of this act.

34. And be it enacted, that no negro, who is married, and hath resided
upon any plantation for twelve months, shall be sold, either privately
or by the decree of any court, but along with the plantation on which he
hath resided, unless he should himself request to be separated

[Sidenote: Of the punishment of negroes.]

35. And be it enacted, that no blows or stripes exceeding thirteen,
shall be inflicted for one offence upon any negro, without the order of
one of his Majesty's justices of peace.

[Sidenote: Of the same.]

36. And it is enacted, that it shall be lawful for the protector of
negroes, as often as on complaint and hearing he shall be of opinion
that any negro hath been cruelly and inhumanly treated, or when it
shall be made to appear to him that an overseer hath any particular
malice, to order, at the desire of the suffering party, the said negro
to be sold to another master.

37. And be it enacted, that, in all cases of injury to member or life,
the offences against a negro shall be deemed and taken to all intents
and purposes as if the same were perpetrated against any of his
Majesty's subjects; and the protector of negroes, on complaint, or if he
shall receive credible information thereof, shall cause an indictment to
be presented for the same; and in case of suspicion of any murder of a
negro, an inquest by the coroner, or officer acting as such, shall, if
practicable, be held into the same.

[Sidenote: Of the manumission of negroes.]

38. And in order to a gradual manumission of slaves, as they shall seem
fitted to fill the offices of freemen, be it enacted, that every negro
slave, being thirty years of ago and upwards, and who has had three
children born to him in lawful matrimony, and who hath received a
certificate from the minister of his district, or any other Christian
teacher, of his regularity in the duties of religion, and of his orderly
and good behavior, may purchase, at rates to be fixed by two justices of
peace, the freedom of himself, or his wife or children, or of any of
them separately, valuing the wife and children, if purchased into
liberty by the father of the family, at half only of their marketable
values: provided that the said father shall bind himself in a penalty of
---- for the good behavior of his children.

[Sidenote: Of the same.]

39. And be it enacted, that it shall be lawful for the protector of
negroes to purchase the freedom of any negro who shall appear to him to
excel in any mechanical art, or other knowledge or practice deemed
liberal, and the value shall be settled by a jury.

[Sidenote: Free negroes how to be punished.]

40. And be it enacted, that the protector of negroes shall be and is
authorized and required to act as a magistrate for the coercion of all
idle, disobedient, or disorderly free negroes, and he shall by office
prosecute them for the offences of idleness, drunkenness, quarrelling,
gaming, or vagrancy, in the supreme court, or cause them to be
prosecuted before one justice of peace, as the case may require.

[Sidenote: Of the same.]

41. And be it enacted, that, if any free negro hath been twice convicted
for any of the said misdemeanors, and is judged by the said protector of
negroes, calling to his assistance two justices of the peace, to be
incorrigibly idle, dissolute, and vicious, it shall be lawful, by the
order of the said protector and two justices of peace, to sell the said
free negro into slavery: the purchase-money to be paid to the person so
remanded into servitude, or kept in hand by the protector and governor
for the benefit of his family.

[Sidenote: Governor to receive and transmit annual reports.]

42. And be it enacted, that the governor in each colony shall be
assistant to the execution of this act, and shall receive the reports of
the protector, and such other accounts as he shall judge material,
relative thereto, and shall transmit the same annually to one of his
Majesty's principal secretaries of state.








    The meeting of the freeholders of the County of Buckingham,
    which occasioned the following Letter, was called for the
    purpose of taking into consideration a petition to Parliament
    for shortening the duration of Parliaments, and for a more
    equal representation of the people in the House of Commons.

Sir,--Having heard yesterday, by mere accident, that there is an
intention of laying before the county meeting _new matter, which is not
contained in our petition_, and the consideration of which had been
deferred to a fitter time by a majority of our committee in London,
permit me to take this method of submitting to you my reasons for
thinking, with our committee, that nothing ought to be hastily deter
mined upon the subject.

Our petition arose naturally from distresses which we _felt_; and the
requests which we made were in effect nothing more than that such things
should be done in Parliament as it was evidently the duty of Parliament
to do. But the affair which will be proposed to you by a person of rank
and ability is an alteration in the constitution of Parliament itself.
It is impossible for you to have a subject before you of more
importance, and that requires a more cool and more mature consideration,
both on its own account, and for the credit of our sobriety of mind, who
are to resolve upon it.

The county will in some way or other be called upon to declare it your
opinion, that the House of Commons is not sufficiently numerous, and
that the elections are not sufficiently frequent,--that an hundred new
knights of the shire ought to be added, and that we are to have a new
election once in three years for certain, and as much oftener as the
king pleases. Such will be the state of things, if the proposition made
shall take effect.

All this may be proper. But, as an honest man, I cannot possibly give my
rote for it, until I have considered it more fully. I will not deny that
our Constitution may have faults, and that those faults, when found,
ought to be corrected; but, on the whole, that Constitution has been our
own pride, and an object of admiration to all other nations. It is not
everything which appears at first view to be faulty, in such a
complicated plan, that is to be determined to be so in reality. To
enable us to correct the Constitution, the whole Constitution must be
viewed together; and it must be compared with the actual state of the
people, and the circumstances of the time. For that which taken singly
and by itself may appear to be wrong, when considered with relation to
other things, may be perfectly right,--or at least such as ought to be
patiently endured, as the means of preventing something that is worse.
So far with regard to what at first view may appear a _distemper_ in the
Constitution. As to the _remedy_ of that distemper an equal caution
ought to be used; because this latter consideration is not single and
separate, no more than the former. There are many things in reformation
which would be proper to be done, if other things can be done along with
them, but which, if they cannot be so accompanied, ought not to be done
at all. I therefore wish, when any new matter of this deep nature is
proposed to me, to have the whole scheme distinctly in my view, and full
time to consider of it. Please God, I will walk with caution, whenever I
am not able clearly to see my way before me.

I am now growing old. I have from my very early youth been conversant in
reading and thinking upon the subject of our laws and Constitution, as
well as upon those of other times and other countries; I have been for
fifteen years a very laborious member of Parliament, and in that time
have had great opportunities of seeing with my own eyes the working of
the machine of our government, and remarking where it went smoothly and
did its business, and where it checked in its movements, or where it
damaged its work; I have also had and used the opportunities of
conversing with men of the greatest wisdom and fullest experience in
those matters; and I do declare to you most solemnly and most truly,
that, on the result of all this reading, thinking, experience, and
communication, I am not able to come to an immediate resolution in favor
of a change of the groundwork of our Constitution, and in particular,
that, in the present state of the country, in the present state of our
representation, in the present state of our rights and modes of
electing, in the present state of the several prevalent interests, in
the present state of the affairs and manners of this country, the
addition of an hundred knights of the shire, and hurrying election on
election, will be things advantageous to liberty or good government.

This is the present condition of my mind; and this is my apology for not
going as fast as others may choose to go in this business. I do not by
any means reject the propositions; much less do I condemn the gentlemen
who, with equal good intentions, with much better abilities, and with
infinitely greater personal weight and consideration than mine, are of
opinion that this matter ought to be decided upon instantly.

I most heartily wish that the deliberate sense of the kingdom on this
great subject should be known. When it is known, it _must_ be prevalent.
It would be dreadful indeed, if there was any power in the nation
capable of resisting its unanimous desire, or even the desire of any
very great and decided majority of the people. The people may be
deceived in their choice of an object; but I can scarcely conceive any
choice they can make to be so very mischievous as the existence of any
human force capable of resisting it. It will certainly be the duty of
every man, in the situation to which God has called him, to give his
best opinion and advice upon the matter: it will _not_ be his duty, let
him think what he will, to use any violent or any fraudulent means of
counteracting the general wish, or even of employing the legal and
constructive organ of expressing the people's sense against the sense
which they do actually entertain.

In order that the real sense of the people should be known upon so great
an affair as this, it is of absolute necessity that timely notice should
be given,--that the matter should be prepared in open committees, from a
choice into which no class or description of men is to be excluded,--and
the subsequent county meetings should be as full and as well attended as
possible. Without these precautions, the true sense of the people will
ever be uncertain. Sure I am, that no precipitate resolution on a great
change in the fundamental constitution of any country can ever be called
the real sense of the people.

I trust it will not be taken amiss, if, as an inhabitant and freeholder
of this county, (one, indeed, among the most inconsiderable,) I assert
my right of dissenting (as I do dissent fully and directly) from any
resolution whatsoever on the subject of an alteration in the
representation and election of the kingdom _at this time_. By preserving
this light, and exercising it with temper and moderation, I trust I
cannot offend the noble proposer, for whom no man professes or feels
more respect and regard than I do. A want of concurrence in _everything_
which _can_ be proposed will in no sort weaken the energy or distract
the efforts of men of upright intentions upon those points in which they
are agreed. Assemblies that are met, and with a resolution to be all of
a mind, are assemblies that can have no opinion at all of their own. The
first proposer of any measure must be their master. I do not know that
an amicable variety of sentiment, conducted with mutual good-will, has
any sort of resemblance to discord, or that it can give any advantage
whatsoever to the enemies of our common cause. On the contrary, a forced
and fictitious agreement (which every universal agreement must be) is
not becoming the cause of freedom. If, however, any evil should arise
from it, (which I confess I do not foresee,) I am happy that those who
have brought forward new and arduous matter, when very great doubts and
some diversity of opinion must be foreknown, are of authority and weight
enough to stand against the consequences.

I humbly lay these my sentiments before the county. They are not taken
up to serve any interests of my own, or to be subservient to the
interests of any man or set of men under heaven. I could wish to be able
to attend our meeting, or that I had time to reason this matter more
fully by letter; but I am detained here upon our business: what you have
already put upon us is as much as we can do. If we are prevented from
going through it with any effect, I fear it will be in part owing not
more to the resistance of the enemies of our cause than to our imposing
on ourselves such tasks as no human faculties, employed as we are, can
be equal to. Our worthy members have shown distinguished ability and
zeal in support of our petition. I am just going down to a bill brought
in to frustrate a capital part of your desires. The minister is
preparing to transfer the cognizance of the public accounts from those
whom you and the Constitution have chosen to control them, to unknown
persons, creatures of his own. For so much he annihilates Parliament.

I have the honor, &c.


CHARLES STREET, 12th April, 1780.






    The condition of the Roman Catholics in Ireland appears to
    lave engaged the attention of Mr. Burke at a very early
    period of his political life. It was probably soon after the
    year 1765 that he formed the plan of a work upon that
    subject, the fragments of which are now given to the public.
    No title is prefixed to it in the original manuscript; and
    the _Plan_, which it has been thought proper to insert here,
    was evidently designed merely for the convenience of the
    author. Of the first chapter some unconnected fragments only,
    too imperfect for publication, have been found. Of the second
    there is a considerable portion, perhaps nearly the whole;
    but the copy from which it is printed is evidently a first
    rough draught. The third chapter, as far as it goes, is taken
    from a fair, corrected copy; but the end of the second part
    of the first head is left unfinished, and the discussion of
    the second and third heads was either never entered upon or
    the manuscript containing it has unfortunately been lost.
    What follows the third chapter appears to have been designed
    for the beginning of the fourth, and is evidently the first
    rough draught; and to this we have added a fragment which
    appears to have been a part either of this or the first

    In the volume with which it is intended to close this
    posthumous publication of Mr. Burke's Works, we shall have
    occasion to enter into a more particular account of the part
    which he took in the discussion of this great political
    question. At present it may suffice to say, that the Letter
    to Mr. Smith, the Second Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe,
    and the Letter to his Son, which here follow in order the
    Fragment on the Popery Laws, are the only writings upon this
    subject found amongst his papers in a state fit to appear in
    this stage of the publication. What remain are some small
    fragments of the Tract, and a few letters containing no new
    matter of importance.




I propose, first, to make an Introduction, in order to show the
propriety of a closer inspection into the affairs of Ireland; and this
takes up the first chapter, which is to be spent in this introductory
matter, and in stating the Popery laws in general, as one leading cause
of the imbecility of the country.

CH. II. states particularly the laws themselves, in a plain and popular

CH. III. begins the remarks upon them, under the heads of, 1st, The
object,--which is a numerous people; 2ndly, Their means,--a restraint on
property; 3rdly, Their instruments of execution,--corrupted morals,
which affect the national prosperity.

CH. IV. The impolicy of those laws, as they affect the national

CH. V. Reasons by which the laws are supported, and answers to them.


In order to lay this matter with full satisfaction before the reader, I
shall collect into one point of view, and state as shortly and as
clearly as I am able, the purport of these laws, according to the
objects which they affect, without making at present any further
observation upon them, but just what shall be necessary to render the
drift; and intention of the legislature and the tendency and operation
of the laws the more distinct and evident.

I shall begin with those which relate to the possession and inheritance
of landed property in Popish hands. The first operation of those acts
upon this object was wholly to change the course of descent by the
Common Law, to take away the right of primogeniture, and, in lieu
thereof, to substitute and establish a new species of Statute Gavelkind.
By this law, on the death of a Papist possessed of an estate in fee
simple or in fee tail, the land is to be divided by equal portions
between all the male children; and those portions are likewise to be
parcelled out, share and share alike, amongst the descendants of each
son, and so to proceed in a similar distribution _ad infinitum_. From
this regulation it was proposed that some important consequences should
follow. First, by taking away the right of primogeniture, perhaps in the
very first generation, certainly in the second, the families of Papists,
however respectable, and their fortunes, however considerable, would be
wholly dissipated, and reduced to obscurity and indigence, without any
possibility that they should repair them by their industry or
abilities,--being, as we shall see anon, disabled from every species of
permanent acquisition. Secondly, by this law the right of testamentation
is taken away, which the inferior tenures had always enjoyed, and all
tenures from the 27th Hen. VIII; Thirdly, the right of settlement was
taken away, that no such persons should, from the moment the act passed,
be enabled to advance themselves in fortune or connection by marriage,
being disabled from making any disposition, in consideration of such
marriage, but what the law had previously regulated: the reputable
establishment of the eldest son, as representative of the family, or to
settle a jointure, being commonly the great object in such settlements,
which was the very power which the law had absolutely taken away.

The operation of this law, however certain, might be too slow. The
present possessors might happen to be long-lived. The legislature knew
the natural impatience of expectants, and upon this principle they gave
encouragement to children to anticipate the inheritance. For it is
provided, that the eldest son of any Papist shall, immediately on his
conformity, change entirely the nature and properties of his father's
legal estate: if he before held in fee simple, or, in other words, had
the entire and absolute dominion over the land, he is reduced to an
estate for his life only, with all the consequences of the natural
debility of that estate, by which he becomes disqualified to sell,
mortgage, charge, (except for his life,) or in any wise to do any act by
which he may raise money for relief in his most urgent necessities. The
eldest son, so conforming, immediately acquires, and in the lifetime of
his father, the permanent part, what our law calls the reversion and
inheritance of the estate; and he discharges it by retrospect, and
annuls every sort of voluntary settlement made by the father ever so
long before his conversion. This he may sell or dispose of immediately,
and alienate it from the family forever.

Having thus reduced his father's estate, he may also bring his father
into the Court of Chancery, where he may compel him to swear to the
value of his estate, and to allow him out of that possession (which had
been before reduced to an estate for life) such an immediate annual
allowance as the Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper shall judge suitable to
his ago and quality.

This indulgence is not confined to the eldest son. The other children
likewise, by conformity, may acquire the same privileges, and in the
same manner force from their father an immediate and independent
maintenance. It is very well worth remarking, that the statutes have
avoided to fix any determinate age for these emancipating conversions;
so that the children, at any age, however incapable of choice in other
respects, however immature or even infantile, are yet considered
sufficiently capable to disinherit their parents, and totally to
subtract themselves from their direction and control, either at their
own option, or by the instigation of others. By this law the tenure and
value of a Roman Catholic in his real property is not only rendered
extremely limited and altogether precarious, but the paternal power is
in all such families so enervated that it may well be considered as
entirely taken away; even the principle upon which it is founded seems
to be directly reversed. However, the legislature feared that enough was
not yet done upon this head. The Roman Catholic parent, by selling his
real estate, might in some sort preserve the dominion over his substance
and his family, and thereby evade the operation of these laws, which
intended to take away both. Besides, frequent revolutions and many
conversions had so broken the landed property of Papists in that
kingdom, that it was apprehended that this law could have in a short
time but a few objects upon which it would be capable of operating.

To obviate these inconveniences another law was made, by which the
dominion of children over their parents was extended universally
throughout the whole Popish part of the nation, and every child of every
Popish parent was encouraged to come into what is called a court of
equity, to prefer a bill against his father, and compel him to confess,
upon oath, the quantity and value of his substance, personal as well as
real, of what nature soever, or howsoever it might be employed; upon
which discovery, the court is empowered to seize upon and allocate, for
the immediate maintenance of such child or children, any sum not
exceeding a third of the whole fortune: and as to their future
establishment on the death of the father, no limits are assigned; the
Chancery may, if it thinks fit, take the whole property, personal as
well as real, money, stock in trade, &c, out of the power of the
possessor, and secure it in any manner they judge expedient for that
purpose; for the act has not assigned any sort of limit with regard to
the quantity which is to be charged, or given any direction concerning
the means of charging and securing it: a law which supersedes all

But the law is still more extensive in its provision. Because there was
a possibility that the parent, though sworn, might by false
representations evade the discovery of the ultimate value of his estate,
a new bill may be at any time brought, by one, any, or all of the
children, for a further discovery; his effects are to undergo a fresh
scrutiny, and a now distribution is to be made in consequence of it. So
that the parent has no security against perpetual inquietude, and the
reiteration of Chancery suits, but by (what is somewhat difficult for
human nature to comply with) fully, and without reserve, abandoning his
whole property to the discretion of the court, to be disposed of in
favor of such children.

But is this enough, and has the parent purchased his repose by such a
surrender? Very far from it. The law expressly, and very carefully,
provides that he shall not: before he can be secure from the persecution
of his children, it requires another and a much more extraordinary
condition: the children are authorized, if they can find that their
parent has by his industry, or otherwise, increased the value of his
property since their first bill, to bring another, compelling a new
account of the value of his estate, in order to a new distribution
proportioned to the value of the estate at the time of the new bill
preferred. They may bring such bills, _toties quoties_, upon every
improvement of his fortune, without any sort of limitation of time, or
regard to the frequency of such bills, or to the quantity of the
increase of the estate, which shall justify the bringing them. This act
expressly provides that he shall have no respite from the persecution of
his children, but by totally abandoning all thoughts of improvement and

This is going a great way, surely: but the laws in question have gone
much further. Not satisfied with calling upon children to revolt against
their parents, and to possess themselves of their substance, there are
cases where the withdrawing of the child from his father's obedience is
not left to the option of the child himself: for, if the wife of a Roman
Catholic should choose to change her religion, from that moment she
deprives her husband of all management and direction of his children,
and even of all the tender satisfaction which a parent can feel in their
society, and which is the only indemnification he can have for all his
cares and sorrows; and they are to be torn forever, at the earliest age,
from his house and family: for the Lord Chancellor is not only
authorized, but he is strongly required, to take away all his children
from such Popish parent, to appoint where, in what manner, and by whom
they are to be educated; and the father is compelled to pay, not for the
ransom, but for the deprivation of his children, and to furnish such a
sum as the Chancellor thinks proper to appoint for their education to
the age of eighteen years. The case is the same, if the husband should
be the conformist; though how the law is to operate in this case I do
not see: for the act expressly says, that the child shall be taken from
such Popish parent; and whilst such husband and wife cohabit, it will be
impossible to put it into execution without taking the child from one as
well as from the other; and then the effect of the law will be, that, if
either husband or wife becomes Protestant, both are to be deprived of
their children.

The paternal power thus being wholly abrogated, it is evident that by
the last regulation the power of an husband over his wife is also
considerably impaired; because, if it be in her power, whenever she
pleases, to subtract the children from his protection and obedience, she
herself by that hold inevitably acquires a power and superiority over
her husband.

But she is not left dependent upon this oblique influence: for, if in
any marriage settlement the husband has reserved to him a power of
making a jointure, and he dies without settling any, her conformity
executes his powers, and executes them in as large extent as the
Chancellor thinks fit. The husband is deprived of that coercive power
over his wife which he had in his hands by the use he might make of the
discretionary power reserved in the settlement.

But if no such power had been reserved, and no such settlement existed,
yet, if the husband dies, leaving his conforming wife without a filed
provision by some settlement on his real estate, his wife may apply to
Chancery, where she shall be allotted a portion from his leases, and
other personal estate, not exceeding one third of his whole clear
substance. The laws in this instance, as well as in the former, have
presumed that the husband has omitted to make all the provision which he
might have done, for no other reason than that of her religion. If,
therefore, she chooses to balance any domestic misdemeanors to her
husband by the public merit of conformity to the Protestant religion,
the law will suffer no plea of such misdemeanors to be urged on the
husband's part, nor proof of that kind to be entered into. She acquires
a provision totally independent of his favor, and deprives him of that
source of domestic authority which the Common Law had left to him, that
of rewarding or punishing, by a voluntary distribution of his effects,
what in his opinion was the good or ill behavior of his wife.

Thus the laws stand with regard to the property already acquired, to its
mode of descent, and to family powers. Now as to the new acquisition of
real property, and both to the acquisition and security of personal, the
law stands thus:--

All persons of that persuasion are disabled from taking or purchasing,
directly or by a trust, any lands, any mortgage upon land, any rents or
profits from land, any lease, interest, or term of any land, any
annuity for life or lives or years, or any estate whatsoever, chargeable
upon, or which may in any manner affect, any lands.

One exception, and one only, is admitted by the statutes to the
universality of this exclusion, viz., a lease for a term not exceeding
thirty-one years. But even this privilege is charged with a prior
qualification. This remnant of a right is doubly curtailed: 1st, that on
such a short lease a rent not less than two thirds of the full improved
yearly value, at the time of the making it, shall be reserved during the
whole continuance of the term; and, 2ndly, it does not extend to the
whole kingdom. This lease must also be in possession, and not in
reversion. If any lease is made, exceeding either in duration or value,
and in the smallest degree, the above limits, the whole interest is
forfeited, and vested _ipso facto_ in the first Protestant discoverer or
informer. This discoverer, thus invested with the property, is enabled
to sue for it as his own right. The courts of law are not alone open to
him; he may (and this is the usual method) enter into either of the
courts of equity, and call upon the parties, and those whom he suspects
to be their trustees, upon oath, and under the penalties of perjury, to
discover against themselves the exact nature and value of their estates
in every particular, in order to induce their forfeiture on the
discovery. In such suits the informer is not liable to those delays
which the ordinary procedure of those courts throws into the way of the
justest claimant; nor has the Papist the indulgence which he [it?]
allows to the most fraudulent defendant, that of plea and demurrer; but
the defendant is obliged to answer the whole directly upon oath. The
rule of _favores ampliandi,_ &c., is reversed by this act, lest any
favor should be shown, or the force and operation of the law in any part
of its progress be enervated. All issues to be tried on this act are to
be tried by none but known Protestants.

It is here necessary to state as a part of this law what has been for
some time generally understood as a certain consequence of it. The act
had expressly provided that a Papist could possess no sort of estate
which might affect land (except as before excepted). On this a
difficulty did, not unnaturally, arise. It is generally known, a
judgment being obtained or acknowledged for any debt, since the statute
of Westm. 2, 13 Ed. I. c. 18, one half of the debtor's land is to be
delivered unto the creditor until the obligation is satisfied, under a
writ called _Elegit_, and this writ has been ever since the ordinary
assurance of the land, and the great foundation of general credit in the
nation. Although the species of holding under this writ is not specified
in the statute, the received opinion, though not juridically delivered,
has been, that, if they attempt to avail themselves of that security,
because it may create an estate, however precarious, in land, their
whole debt or charge is forfeited, and becomes the property of the
Protestant informer. Thus you observe, first, that by the express words
of the law all possibility of acquiring any species of valuable
property, in any sort connected with land, is taken away; and, secondly,
by the construction all security for money is also cut off. No security
is left, except what is merely personal, and which, therefore, most
people who lend money would, I believe, consider as none at all.

Under this head of the acquisition of property, the law meets them in
every road of industry, and in its direct and consequential provisions
throws almost all sorts of obstacles in their way. For they are not only
excluded from all offices in Church and State, which, though a just and
necessary provision, is yet no small restraint in the acquisition, but
they are interdicted from the army, and the law, in all its branches.
This point is carried to so scrupulous a severity, that chamber
practice, and even private conveyancing, the most voluntary agency, are
prohibited to them under the severest penalties and the most rigid modes
of inquisition. They have gone beyond even this: for every barrister,
six clerk, attorney, or solicitor, is obliged to take a solemn oath not
to employ persons of that persuasion,--no, not as hackney clerks, at the
miserable salary of seven shillings a week. No tradesman of that
persuasion is capable by any service or settlement to obtain his freedom
in any town corporate; so that they trade and work in their own native
towns as aliens, paying, as such, quarterage, and other charges and
impositions. They are expressly forbidden, in whatever employment, to
take more than two apprentices, except in the linen manufacture only.

       *       *       *       *       *

In every state, next to the care of the life and properties of the
subject, the education of their youth has been a subject of attention.
In the Irish laws this point has not been neglected. Those who are
acquainted with the constitution of our universities need not be
informed that none but those who conform to the Established Church can
be at all admitted to study there, and that none can obtain degrees in
them who do not previously take all the tests, oaths, and declarations.
Lest they should be enabled to supply this defect by private academies
and schools of their own, the law has armed itself with all its terrors
against such a practice. Popish schoolmasters of every species are
proscribed by those acts, and it is made felony to teach even in a
private family. So that Papists are entirely excluded from an education
in any of our authorized establishments for learning at home. In order
to shut up every avenue to instruction, the act of King William in
Ireland has added to this restraint by precluding them from all foreign

This act is worthy of attention on account of the singularity of some of
its provisions. Being sent for education to any Popish school or college
abroad, upon conviction, incurs (if the party sent has any estate of
inheritance) a kind of unalterable and perpetual outlawry. The tender
and incapable age of such a person, his natural subjection to the will
of others, his necessary, unavoidable ignorance of the laws, stands for
nothing in his favor. He is disabled to sue in law or equity; to be
guardian, executor, or administrator; he is rendered incapable of any
legacy or deed of gift; he forfeits all his goods and chattels forever;
and he forfeits for his life all his lands, hereditaments, offices, and
estate of freehold, and all trusts, powers, or interests therein. All
persons concerned in sending them or maintaining them abroad, by the
least assistance of money or otherwise, are involved in the same
disabilities, and subjected to the same penalties.

The mode of conviction is as extraordinary as the penal sanctions of
this act. A justice of peace, upon information that any child is sent
away, may require to be brought before him all persons charged or even
suspected of sending or assisting, and examine them and other persons
on oath concerning the fact. If on this examination he finds it
_probable_ that the party was sent contrary to this act, he is then, to
bind over the parties and witnesses in any sum he thinks fit, but not
less than two hundred pounds, to appear and take their trial at the next
quarter sessions. Here the justices are to reexamine evidence, until
they arrive, as before, to what shall appear to them a probability. For
the rest they resort to the accused: if they can prove that any person,
or any money, or any bill of exchange, has been sent abroad by the party
accused, they throw the proof upon him to show for what innocent
purposes it was sent; and on failure of such proof, he is subjected to
all the above-mentioned penalties. Half the forfeiture is given to the
crown; the other half goes to the informer.

It ought here to be remarked, that this mode of conviction not only
concludes the party has failed in his expurgatory proof, but it is
sufficient also to subject to the penalties and incapacities of the law
the infant upon whose account the person has been so convicted. It must
be confessed that the law has not left him without some species of
remedy in this case apparently of much hardship, where one man is
convicted upon evidence given against another, if he has the good
fortune to live; for, within a twelvemonth after his return, or his age
of twenty-one, he has a, right to call for a new trial, in which he also
is to undertake the negative proof, and to show by sufficient evidence
that he has not been sent abroad against the intention of the act. If he
succeeds in this difficult exculpation, and demonstrates his innocence
to the satisfaction of the court, he forfeits all his goods and
chattels, and all the profits of his lands incurred and received before
such acquittal; but he is freed from all other forfeitures, and from all
subsequent incapacities. There is also another method allowed by the law
in favor of persons under such unfortunate circumstances, as in the
former case for their innocence, in this upon account of their
expiation: if within six months after their return, with the punctilious
observation of many ceremonies, they conform to the Established Church,
and take all the oaths and subscriptions, the legislature, in
consideration of the incapable age in which they were sent abroad, of
the merit of their early conformity, and to encourage conversions, only
confiscates, as in the former case, the whole personal estate, and the
profits of the real; in all other respects, restoring and rehabilitating
the party.

       *       *       *       *       *

So far as to property and education. There remain some other heads upon
which the acts have changed the course of the Common Law; and first,
with regard to the right of self-defence, which consists in the use of
arms. This, though one of the rights by the law of Nature, yet is so
capable of abuses that it may not be unwise to make some regulations
concerning them; and many wise nations have thought proper to set
several restrictions on this right, especially temporary ones, with
regard to suspected persons, and on occasion of some imminent danger to
the public from foreign invasion or domestic commotions.

But provisions in time of trouble proper, and perhaps necessary, may
become in time of profound peace a scheme of tyranny. The method which
the statute law of Ireland has taken upon this delicate article is, to
get rid of all difficulties at once by an universal prohibition to all
persons, at all times, and under all circumstances, who are not
Protestants, of using or keeping any kind of weapons whatsoever. In
order to enforce this regulation, the whole spirit of the Common Law is
changed, very severe penalties are enjoined, the largest powers are
vested in the lowest magistrates. Any two justices of peace, or
magistrates of a town, with or without information, at their pleasure,
by themselves or their warrant, are empowered to enter and search the
house of any Papist, or even of any other person, whom they suspect to
keep such arms in trust for them. The only limitation to the extent of
this power is, that the search is to be made between the rising and
setting of the sun: but even this qualification extends no further than
to the execution of the act in the open country; for in all cities and
their suburbs, in towns corporate and market-towns, they may at their
discretion, and without information, break open houses and institute
such search at any hour of the day or night. This, I say, they may do at
their discretion; and it seems a pretty ample power in the hands of such
magistrates. However, the matter does by no means totally rest on their
discretion. Besides the discretionary and occasional search, the statute
has prescribed one that is general and periodical. It is to be made
annually, by the warrant of the justices at their midsummer quarter
sessions, by the high and petty constables, or any others whom they may
authorize, and by all corporate magistrates, in all houses of Papists,
and every other where they suspect arms for the use of such persons to
be concealed, with the same powers, in all respects, which attend the
occasional search. The whole of this regulation, concerning both the
general and particular search, seems to have been made by a legislature
which was not at all extravagantly jealous of personal liberty. Not
trusting, however, to the activity of the magistrate acting officially,
the law has invited all voluntary informers by considerable rewards, and
even pressed involuntary informers into this service by the dread of
heavy penalties. With regard to the latter method, two justices of
peace, or the magistrate of any corporation, are empowered to summon
before them any persons whatsoever, to tender them an oath by which they
oblige them to discover all persons who have any arms concealed contrary
to law. Their refusal or declining to appear, or, appearing, their
refusal to inform, subjects them to the severest penalties. If peers or
peeresses are summoned (for they may be summoned by the bailiff of a
corporation of six cottages) to perform this honorable service, and
refuse to inform, the first offence is three hundred pounds penalty; the
second is _praemunire_,--that is to say, imprisonment for life, and
forfeiture of all their goods. Persons of an inferior order are, for the
first offence, fined thirty pounds; for the second, they, too, are
subjected to _praemunire_. So far as to involuntary;--now as to voluntary
informers: the law entitles them to half the penalty incurred by
carrying or keeping arms; for, on conviction of this offence, the
penalty upon persons, of whatever substance, is the sum of fifty pounds
and a year's imprisonment, which cannot be remitted even by the crown.

The only exception to this law is a license from the Lord Lieutenant and
Council to carry arms, which, by its nature, is extremely limited, and I
do not suppose that there are six persons now in the kingdom who have
been fortunate enough to obtain it.

       *       *       *       *       *

There remains, after this system concerning property and defence, to say
something concerning the exercise of religion, winch is carried on in
all persuasions, but especially in the Romish, by persons appointed for
that purpose. The law of King William and Queen Anne ordered all Popish
parsons exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction, all orders of monks and
friars, and all priests, not then actually in parishes, and to be
registered, to be banished the kingdom; and if they should return from
exile, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Twenty pounds reward is given
for apprehending them. Penalty on harboring and concealing.

As all the priests then in being and registered are long since dead, and
as these laws are made perpetual, every Popish priest is liable to the

       *       *       *       *       *

The reader has now before him a tolerably complete view of the Popery
laws relative to property by descent or acquisition, to education, to
defence, and to the free exercise of religion, which may be necessary to
enable him to form some judgment of the spirit of the whole system, and
of the subsequent reflections that are to be made upon it.



The system which we have just reviewed, and the manner in which
religious influence on the public is made to operate upon the laws
concerning property in Ireland, is in its nature very singular, and
differs, I apprehend, essentially, and perhaps to its disadvantage, from
any scheme of religious persecution now existing in any other country in
Europe, or which has prevailed in any time or nation with which history
has made us acquainted. I believe it will not be difficult to show that
it is unjust, impolitic, and inefficacious; that it has the most unhappy
influence on the prosperity, the morals, and the safety of that country;
that this influence is not accidental, but has flowed as the necessary
and direct consequence of the laws themselves, first on account of the
object which they affect, and next by the quality of the greatest part
of the instruments they employ. Upon all these points, first upon the
general, and then on the particular, this question will be considered
with as much order as can be followed in a matter of itself as involved
and intricate as it is important.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first and most capital consideration with regard to this, as to
every object, is the extent of it. And here it is necessary to premise,
this system of penalty and incapacity has for its object no small sect
or obscure party, but a very numerous body of men,--a body which
comprehends at least two thirds of that whole nation: it amounts to
2,800,000 souls, a number sufficient for the materials constituent of a
great people. Now it is well worthy of a serious and dispassionate
examination, whether such a system, respecting such an object, be in
reality agreeable to any sound principles of legislation or any
authorized definition of law; for if our reasons or practices differ
from the general informed sense of mankind, it is very moderate to say
that they are at least suspicious.

This consideration of the magnitude of the object ought to attend us
through the whole inquiry: if it does not always affect the reason, it
is always decisive on the importance of the question. It not only makes
in itself a more leading point, but complicates itself with every other
part of the matter, giving every error, minute in itself, a character
and significance from its application. It is therefore not to be
wondered at, if we perpetually recur to it in the course of this essay.

In the making of a new law it is undoubtedly the duty of the legislator
to see that no injustice be done even to an individual: for there is
then nothing to be unsettled, and the matter is under his hands to mould
it as he pleases; and if he finds it untractable in the working, he may
abandon it without incurring any new inconvenience. But in the question
concerning the repeal of an old one, the work is of more difficulty;
because laws, like houses, lean on one another, and the operation is
delicate, and should be necessary: the objection, in such a case, ought
not to arise from the natural infirmity of human institutions, but from
substantial faults which contradict the nature and end of law
itself,--faults not arising from the imperfection, but from the
misapplication and abuse of our reason. As no legislators can regard the
_minima_ of equity, a law may in some instances be a just subject of
censure without being at all an object of repeal. But if its
transgressions against common right and, the ends of just government
should be considerable in their nature and spreading in their effects,
as this objection goes to the root and principle of the law, it renders
it void in its obligatory quality on the mind, and therefore determines
it as the proper object of abrogation and repeal, so far as regards its
civil existence. The objection here is, as we observed, by no means on
account of the imperfection of the law; it is on account of its
erroneous principle: for if this be fundamentally wrong, the more
perfect the law is made, the worse it becomes. It cannot be said to have
the properties of genuine law, even in its imperfections and defects.
The true weakness and opprobrium of our best general constitutions is,
that they cannot provide beneficially for every particular case, and
thus fill, adequately to their intentions, the circle of universal
justice. But where the principle is faulty, the erroneous part of the
law is the beneficial, and justice only finds refuge in those holes and
corners which had escaped the sagacity and inquisition of the
legislator. The happiness or misery of multitudes can never be a thing
indifferent. A law against the majority of the people is in substance a
law against the people itself; its extent determines its invalidity; it
even changes its character as it enlarges its operation: it is not
particular injustice, but general oppression; and can no longer be
considered as a private hardship, which might be borne, but spreads and
grows up into the unfortunate importance of a national calamity.

Now as a law directed against the mass of the nation has not the nature
of a reasonable institution, so neither has it the authority: for in all
forms of government the people is the true legislator; and whether the
immediate and instrumental cause of the law be a single person or many,
the remote and efficient cause is the consent of the people, either
actual or implied; and such consent is absolutely essential to its
validity. To the solid establishment of every law two things are
essentially requisite: first, a proper and sufficient human power to
declare and modify the matter of the law; and next, such a fit and
equitable constitution as they have a right to declare and render
binding. With regard to the first requisite, the human authority, it is
their judgment they give up, not their right. The people, indeed, are
presumed to consent to whatever the legislature ordains for their
benefit; and they are to acquiesce in it, though they do not clearly see
into the propriety of the means by which they are conducted to that
desirable end. This they owe as an act of homage and just deference to a
reason which the necessity of government has made superior to their own.
But though the means, and indeed the nature, of a public advantage may
not always be evident to the understanding of the subject, no one is so
gross and stupid as not to distinguish between a benefit and an injury.
No one can imagine, then, an exclusion of a great body of men, not from
favors, privileges, and trusts, but from the common advantages of
society, can ever be a thing intended for their good, or can ever be
ratified by any implied consent of theirs. If, therefore, at least an
implied human consent is necessary to the existence of a law, such a
constitution cannot in propriety be a law at all.

But if we could suppose that such a ratification was made, not
virtually, but actually, by the people, not representatively, but even
collectively, still it would be null and void. They have no right to
make a law prejudicial to the whole community, even though the
delinquents in making such an act should be themselves the chief
sufferers by it; because it would be-made against the principle of a
superior law, which it is not in the power of any community, or of the
whole race of man, to alter,--I mean the will of Him who gave us our
nature, and in giving impressed an invariable law upon it. It would be
hard to point out any error more truly subversive of all the order and
beauty, of all the peace and happiness of human society, than the
position, that any body of men have a right to make what laws they
please,--or that laws can derive any authority from their institution
merely, and independent of the quality of the subject-matter. No
arguments of policy, reason of state, or preservation of the
constitution can be pleaded in favor of such a practice. They may,
indeed, impeach the frame of that constitution, but can never touch this
immovable principle. This seems to be, indeed, the doctrine which Hobbes
broached in the last century, and which was then so frequently and so
ably refuted. Cicero exclaims with the utmost indignation and contempt
against such a notion:[22] he considers it not only as unworthy of a
philosopher, but of an illiterate peasant; that of all things this was
the most truly absurd, to fancy that the rule of justice was to be taken
from the constitutions of commonwealths, or that laws derived their
authority from the statutes of the people, the edicts of princes, or
the decrees of judges. If it be admitted that it is not the black-letter
and the king's arms that makes the law, we are to look for it elsewhere.

In reality there are two, and only two, foundations of law; and they are
both of them conditions without which nothing can give it any force: I
mean equity and utility. With respect to the former, it grows out of the
great rule of equality, which is grounded upon our common nature, and
which Philo, with propriety and beauty, calls the mother of justice. All
human laws are, properly speaking, only declaratory; they may alter the
mode and application, but have no power over the substance of original
justice. The other foundation of law, which is utility, must be
understood, not of partial or limited, but of general and public
utility, connected in the same manner with, and derived directly from,
our rational nature: for any other utility may be the utility of a
robber, but cannot be that of a citizen,--the interest of the domestic
enemy, and not that of a member of the commonwealth. This present
equality can never be the foundation of statutes which create an
artificial difference between men, as the laws before us do, in order to
induce a consequential inequality in the distribution of justice. Law is
a mode of human action respecting society, and must be governed by the
same rules of equity which govern every private action; and so Tully
considers it in his Offices as the only utility agreeable to that
nature: "_Unum debet esse omnibus propositum, ut eadem sit utilitas
uniuscujusque et universorum; quam si ad se quisque rapiat, dissolvetur
omnis humana consortio_."

If any proposition can be clear in itself, it is this: that a law which
shuts out from all secure and valuable property the bulk of the people
cannot be made for the utility of the party so excluded. This,
therefore, is not the utility which Tully mentions. But if it were true
(as it is not) that the real interest of any part of the community could
be separated from the happiness of the rest, still it would afford no
just foundation for a statute providing exclusively for that interest at
the expense of the other; because it would be repugnant to the essence
of law, which requires that it be made as much as possible for the
benefit of the whole. If this principle be denied or evaded, what ground
have we left to reason on? We must at once make a total change in all
our ideas, and look for a new definition of law. Where to find it I
confess myself at a loss. If we resort to the fountains of
jurisprudence, they will not supply us with any that is for our purpose.
"_Jus_" (says Paulus) "_pluribus modis dicitur: uno modo, cum id, quod
semper aequum et bonum est, jus dicitur, ut est jus naturale"_;--this
sense of the word will not be thought, I imagine, very applicable to our
penal laws;--"_altero modo, quod omnibus aut pluribus in unaquaque
civitate utile est, ut est jus civile_." Perhaps this latter will be as
insufficient, and would rather seem a censure and condemnation of the
Popery Acts than a definition that includes them; and there is no other
to be found in the whole Digest; neither are there any modern writers
whose ideas of law are at all narrower.

It would be far more easy to heap up authorities on this article than to
excuse the prolixity and tediousness of producing any at all in proof of
a point which, though too often practically denied, is in its theory
almost self-evident. For Suarez, handling this very question, _Utrum de
ratione et substantia legis esse ut propter commune bonum feratur_, does
not hesitate a moment, finding no ground in reason or authority to
render the affirmative in the least degree disputable: "_In quaestione
ergo proposita"_ (says he) "_nulla est inter authores controversia; sed
omnium commune est axioma de substantia et ratione legis esse, ut pro
communi bono feratur; ita ut propter illud praecipue tradatur_"; having
observed in another place, "_Contra omnem rectitudinem est bonum commune
ad privatum ordinare, seu totum ad partem propter ipsum referre_."
Partiality and law are contradictory terms. Neither the merits nor the
ill deserts, neither the wealth and importance nor the indigence and
obscurity, of the one part or of the other, can make any alteration in
this fundamental truth. On any other scheme, I defy any man living to
settle a correct standard which may discriminate between equitable rule
and the most direct tyranny. For if we can once prevail upon ourselves
to depart from the strictness and integrity of this principle in favor
even of a considerable party, the argument will hold for one that is
less so; and thus we shall go on, narrowing the bottom of public right,
until step by step we arrive, though after no very long or very forced
deduction, at what one of our poets calls the _enormous faith_,--the
faith of the many, created for the advantage of a single person. I
cannot see a glimmering of distinction to evade it; nor is it possible
to allege any reason for the proscription of so large a part of the
kingdom, which would not hold equally to support, under parallel
circumstances, the proscription of the whole.

I am sensible that these principles, in their abstract light, will not
be very strenuously opposed. Reason is never inconvenient, but when it
comes to be applied. Mere general truths interfere very little with the
passions. They can, until they are roused by a troublesome application,
rest in great tranquillity, side by side with tempers and proceedings
the most directly opposite to them. Men want to be reminded, who do not
want to be taught; because those original ideas of rectitude, to which
the mind is compelled to assent when they are proposed, are not always
as present to it as they ought to be. When people are gone, if not into
a denial, at least into a sort of oblivion of those ideas, when they
know them only as barren speculations, and not as practical motives for
conduct, it will be proper to press, as well as to offer them to the
understanding; and when one is attacked by prejudices which aim to
intrude themselves into the place of law, what is left for us but to
vouch and call to warranty those principles of original justice from
whence alone our title to everything valuable in society is derived? Can
it be thought to arise from a superfluous, vain parade of displaying
general and uncontroverted maxims, that we should revert at this time to
the first principles of law, when we have directly under our
consideration a whole body of statutes, which, I say, are so many
contradictions, which their advocates allow to be so many exceptions
from those very principles? Take them in the most favorable light, every
exception from the original and fixed rule of equality and justice ought
surely to be very well authorized in the reason of their deviation, and
very rare in their use. For, if they should grow to be frequent, in what
would they differ from an abrogation of the rule itself? By becoming
thus frequent, they might even go further, and, establishing themselves
into a principle, convert the rule into the exception. It cannot be
dissembled that this is not at all remote from the case before us, where
the great body of the people are excluded from all valuable
property,--where the greatest and most ordinary benefits of society are
conferred as privileges, and not enjoyed on the footing of common

The clandestine manner in which those in power carry on such designs is
a sufficient argument of the sense they inwardly entertain of the true
nature of their proceedings. Seldom is the title or preamble of the law
of the same import with the body and enacting part; but they generally
place some other color uppermost, which differs from that which is
afterwards to appear, or at least one that is several shades fainter.
Thus, the penal laws in question are not called laws to oblige men
baptized and educated in Popery to renounce their religion or their
property, but are called laws to prevent the growth of Popery; as if
their purpose was only to prevent conversions to that sect, and not to
persecute a million of people already engaged in it. But of all the
instances of this sort of legislative artifice, and of the principles
that produced it, I never met with any which made a stronger impression
on me than that of Louis the Fourteenth, in the revocation of the Edict
of Nantes. That monarch had, when he made that revocation, as few
measures to keep with public opinion as any man. In the exercise of the
most unresisted authority at home, in a career of uninterrupted victory
abroad, and in a course of flattery equal to the circumstances of his
greatness in both these particulars, he might be supposed to have as
little need as disposition to render any sort of account to the world of
his procedure towards his subjects. But the persecution of so vast a
body of men as the Huguenots was too strong a measure even for the law
of pride and power. It was too glaring a contradiction even to those
principles upon which persecution itself is supported. Shocked at the
naked attempt, he had recourse, for a palliation of his conduct, to an
unkingly denial of the fact which made against him. In the preamble,
therefore, to his Act of Revocation, he sets forth that the Edict of
Nantes was no longer necessary, as the object of it (the Protestants of
his kingdom) were then reduced to a very small number. The refugees in
Holland cried out against this misrepresentation. They asserted, I
believe with truth, that this revocation had driven two hundred thousand
of them out of their country, and that they could readily demonstrate
there still remained six hundred thousand Protestants in France. If this
were the fact, (as it was undoubtedly,) no argument of policy could have
been strong enough to excuse a measure by which eight hundred thousand
men were despoiled, at one stroke, of so many of their rights and
privileges. Louis the Fourteenth confessed, by this sort of apology,
that, if the number had been large, the revocation had been unjust. But,
after all, is it not most evident that this act of injustice, which let
loose on that monarch such a torrent of invective and reproach, and
which threw so dark a cloud over all the splendor of a most illustrious
reign, falls far short of the case in Ireland? The privileges which the
Protestants of that kingdom enjoyed antecedent to this revocation were
far greater than the Roman Catholics of Ireland ever aspired to under a
contrary establishment. The number of their sufferers, if considered
absolutely, is not half of ours; if considered relatively to the body of
each community, it is not perhaps a twentieth part. And then the
penalties and incapacities which grew from that revocation are not so
grievous in their nature, nor so certain in their execution, nor so
ruinous by a great deal to the civil prosperity of the state, as those
which we have established for a perpetual law in our unhappy country. It
cannot be thought to arise from affectation, that I call it so. What
other name can be given to a country which contains so many hundred
thousands of human creatures reduced to a state of the most abject

In putting this parallel, I take it for granted that we can stand for
this short time very clear of our party distinctions. If it were enough,
by the use of an odious and unpopular word, to determine the question,
it would be no longer a subject of rational disquisition; since that
very prejudice which gives these odious names, and which is the party
charged for doing so, and for the consequences of it, would then become
the judge also. But I flatter myself that not a few will be found who do
not think that the names of Protestant and Papist can make any change in
the nature of essential justice. Such men will not allow that to be
proper treatment to the one of these denominations which would be
cruelty to the other, and which converts its very crime into the
instrument of its defence: they will hardly persuade themselves that
what was bad policy in France can be good in Ireland, or that what was
intolerable injustice in an arbitrary monarch becomes, only by being
more extended and more violent, an equitable procedure in a country
professing to be governed by law. It is, however, impossible not to
observe with some concern, that there are many also of a different
disposition,--a number of persons whose minds are so formed that they
find the communion of religion to be a close and an endearing tie, and
their country to be no bond at all,--to whom common altars are a better
relation than common habitations and a common civil interest,--whose
hearts are touched with the distresses of foreigners, and are abundantly
awake to all the tenderness of human feeling on such an occasion, even
at the moment that they are inflicting the very same distresses, or
worse, on their fellow-citizens, without the least sting of compassion
or remorse. To commiserate the distresses of all men suffering
innocently, perhaps meritoriously, is generous, and very agreeable to
the better part of our nature,--a disposition that ought by all means to
be cherished. But to transfer humanity from its natural basis, our
legitimate and home-bred connections,--to lose all feeling for those who
have grown up by our sides, in our eyes, the benefit of whose cares and
labors we have partaken from our birth, and meretriciously to hunt
abroad after foreign affections, is such a disarrangement of the whole
system of our duties, that I do not know whether benevolence so
displaced is not almost the same thing as destroyed, or what effect
bigotry could have produced that is more fatal to society. This no one
could help observing, who has seen our doors kindly and bountifully
thrown open to foreign sufferers for conscience, whilst through the same
ports were issuing fugitives of our own, driven from their country for a
cause which to an indifferent person would seem to be exactly similar,
whilst we stood by, without any sense of the impropriety of this
extraordinary scene, accusing and practising injustice. For my part,
there is no circumstance, in all the contradictions of our most
mysterious nature, that appears to be more humiliating than the use we
are disposed to make of those sad examples which seem purposely marked
for our correction and improvement. Every instance of fury and bigotry
in other men, one should think, would naturally fill us with an horror
of that disposition. The effect, however, is directly contrary. We are
inspired, it is true, with a very sufficient hatred for the party, but
with no detestation at all of the proceeding. Nay, we are apt to urge
our dislike of such measures as a reason for imitating them,--and, by an
almost incredible absurdity, because some powers have destroyed their
country by their persecuting spirit, to argue, that we ought to
retaliate on them by destroying our own. Such are the effects, and such,
I fear, has been the intention, of those numberless books which are
daily printed and industriously spread, of the persecutions in other
countries and other religious persuasions.--These observations, which
are a digression, but hardly, I think, can be considered as a departure
from the subject, have detained us some time: we will now come more
directly to our purpose.

It has been shown, I hope with sufficient evidence, that a constitution
against the interest of the many is rather of the nature of a grievance
than of a law; that of all grievances it is the most weighty and
important; that it is made without due authority, against all the
acknowledged principles of jurisprudence, against the opinions of all
the great lights in that science; and that such is the tacit sense even
of those who act in the most contrary manner. These points are, indeed,
so evident, that I apprehend the abettors of the penal system will
ground their defence on an admission, and not on a denial of them. They
will lay it down as a principle, that the Protestant religion is a thing
beneficial for the whole community, as well in its civil interests as in
those of a superior order. From thence they will argue, that, the end
being essentially beneficial, the means become instrumentally so; that
these penalties and incapacities are not final causes of the law, but
only a discipline to bring over a deluded people to their real interest,
and therefore, though they may be harsh in their operation, they will be
pleasant in their effects; and be they what they will, they cannot be
considered as a very extraordinary hardship, as it is in the power of
the sufferer to free himself when he pleases, and that only by
converting to a better religion, which it is his duty to embrace, even
though it were attended with all those penalties from whence in reality
it delivers him: if he suffers, it is his own fault; _volenti non fit

I shall be very short, without being, I think, the less satisfactory, in
my answer to these topics, because they never can be urged from a
conviction of their validity, and are, indeed, only the usual and
impotent struggles of those who are unwilling to abandon a practice
which they are unable to defend. First, then, I observe, that, if the
principle of their final and beneficial intention be admitted as a just
ground for such proceedings, there never was, in the blamable sense of
the word, nor ever can be, such a thing as a religious persecution in
the world. Such an intention is pretended by all men,--who all not only
insist that their religion has the sanction of Heaven, but is likewise,
and for that reason, the best and most convenient to human society. All
religious persecution, Mr. Bayle well observes, is grounded upon a
miserable _petitio principii_. You are wrong, I am right; you must come
over to me, or you must suffer. Let me add, that the great inlet by
which a color for oppression has entered into the world is by one man's
pretending to determine concerning the happiness of another, and by
claiming a right to use what means he thinks proper in order to bring
him to a sense of it. It is the ordinary and trite sophism of
oppression. But there is not yet such a convenient ductility in the
human understanding as to make us capable of being persuaded that men
can possibly mean the ultimate good of the whole society by rendering
miserable for a century together the greater part of it,--or that any
one has such a reversionary benevolence as seriously to intend the
remote good of a late posterity, who can give up the present enjoyment
which every honest man must have in the happiness of his contemporaries.
Everybody is satisfied that a conservation and secure enjoyment of our
natural rights is the great and ultimate purpose of civil society, and
that therefore all forms whatsoever of government are only good as they
are subservient to that purpose to which they are entirely subordinate.
Now to aim at the establishment of any form of government by sacrificing
what is the substance of it, to take away or at least to suspend the
rights of Nature in order to an approved system for the protection of
them, and for the sake of that about which men must dispute forever to
postpone those things about which they have no controversy at all, and
this not in minute and subordinate, but large and principal objects, is
a procedure as preposterous and absurd in argument as it is oppressive
and cruel in its effect. For the Protestant religion, nor (I speak it
with reverence, I am sure) the truth of our common Christianity, is not
so clear as this proposition,--that all men, at least the majority of
men in the society, ought to enjoy the common advantages of it. You
fall, therefore, into a double error: first, you incur a certain
mischief for an advantage which is comparatively problematical, even
though you were sure of obtaining it; secondly, whatever the proposed
advantage may be, were it of a certain nature, the attainment of it is
by no means certain; and such deep gaming for stakes so valuable ought
not to be admitted: the risk is of too much consequence to society. If
no other country furnished examples of this risk, yet our laws and our
country are enough fully to demonstrate the fact: Ireland, after almost
a century of persecution, is at this hour full of penalties and full of
Papists. This is a point which would lead us a great way; but it is only
just touched here, having much to say upon it in its proper place. So
that you have incurred a certain and an immediate inconvenience for a
remote and for a doubly uncertain benefit.--Thus far as to the argument
which would sanctify the injustice of these laws by the benefits which
are proposed to arise from them, and as to that liberty which, by a new
political chemistry, was to be extracted out of a system of oppression.

Now as to the other point, that the objects of these laws suffer
voluntarily: this seems to me to be an insult rather than an argument.
For, besides that it totally annihilates every characteristic and
therefore every faulty idea of persecution, just as the former does, it
supposes, what is false in fact, that it is in a man's moral power to
change his religion whenever his convenience requires it. If he be
beforehand satisfied that your opinion is better than his, he will
voluntarily come over to you, and without compulsion, and then your law
would be unnecessary; but if he is not so convinced, he must know that
it is his duty in this point to sacrifice his interest here to his
opinion of his eternal happiness, else he could have in reality no
religion at all. In the former case, therefore, as your law would be
unnecessary, in the latter it would be persecuting: that is, it would
put your penalty and his ideas of duty in the opposite scales; which is,
or I know not what is, the precise idea of persecution. If, then, you
require a renunciation of his conscience, as a preliminary to his
admission to the rights of society, you annex, morally speaking, an
impossible condition to it. In this case, in the language of reason and
jurisprudence, the condition would be void, and the gift absolute; as
the practice runs, it is to establish the condition, and to withhold the
benefit. The suffering is, then, not voluntary. And I never heard any
other argument, drawn from the nature of laws and the good of human
society, urged in favor of those proscriptive statutes, except those
which have just been mentioned.


[22] Cicero _de Legibus_, Lib. L 14,15 et 16.--"O rem dignam, in qua non
modo docti, verum etiam agrestes erubescant! Jam vero illud stultissimum
existimare omnia justa esse, quae scita sint in populorum institutis aut
legibus," etc. "Quod si populorum jussis, si principum decretis, si
sententiis judicum jura constituerentur, jus esset latrocinari, jus
adulterare, jus testamenta falsa supponere, si haec suffragiis aut scitis
multitudinis probarentur."



The second head upon which I propose to consider those statutes with
regard to their object, and which is the next in importance to the
magnitude, and of almost equal concern in the inquiry into the justice
of these laws, is its possession. It is proper to recollect that this
religion, which is so persecuted in its members, is the old religion of
the country, and the once established religion of the state,--the very
same which had for centuries received the countenance and sanction of
the laws, and from which it would at one time have been highly penal to
have dissented. In proportion as mankind has become enlightened, the
idea of religious persecution, under any circumstances, has been almost
universally exploded by all good and thinking men. The only faint shadow
of difficulty which remains is concerning the introduction of new
opinions. Experience has shown, that, if it has been favorable to the
cause of truth, it has not been always conducive to the peace of
society. Though a new religious sect should even be totally free in
itself from any tumultuous and disorderly zeal, which, however, is
rarely the case, it has a tendency to create a resistance from the
establishment in possession, productive of great disorders, and thus
becomes, innocently indeed, but yet very certainly, the cause of the
bitterest dissensions in the commonwealth. To a mind not thoroughly
saturated with the tolerating maxims of the Gospel, a preventive
persecution, on such principles, might come recommended by strong, and,
apparently, no immoral motives of policy, whilst yet the contagion was
recent, and had laid hold but on a few persons. The truth is, these
politics are rotten and hollow at bottom, as all that are founded upon
any however minute a degree of positive injustice must ever be. But they
are specious, and sufficiently so to delude a man of sense and of
integrity. But it is quite otherwise with the attempt to eradicate by
violence a wide-spreading and established religious opinion. If the
people are in an error, to inform them is not only fair, but charitable;
to drive them is a strain of the most manifest injustice. If not the
right, the presumption, at least, is ever on the side of possession. Are
they mistaken? if it does not fully justify them, it is a great
alleviation of guilt, which may be mingled with their misfortune, that
the error is none of their forging,--that they received it on as good a
footing as they can receive your laws and your legislative authority,
because it was handed down to them from their ancestors. The opinion may
be erroneous, but the principle is undoubtedly right; and you punish
them for acting upon a principle which of all others is perhaps the most
necessary for preserving society, an implicit admiration and adherence
to the establishments of their forefathers.

If, indeed, the legislative authority was on all hands admitted to be
the ground of religious persuasion, I should readily allow that dissent
would be rebellion. In this case it would make no difference whether the
opinion was sucked in with the milk or imbibed yesterday; because the
same legislative authority which had settled could destroy it with all
the power of a creator over his creature. But this doctrine is
universally disowned, and for a very plain reason. Religion, to have
any force on men's understandings, indeed to exist at all, must be
supposed paramount to laws, and independent for its substance upon any
human institution,--else it would be the absurdest thing in the world,
an acknowledged cheat. Religion, therefore, is not believed because the
laws have established it, but it is established because the leading part
of the community have previously believed it to be true. As no water can
rise higher than its spring, no establishment can have more authority
than it derives from its principle; and the power of the government can
with no appearance of reason go further coercively than to bind and hold
down those who have once consented to their opinions. The consent is the
origin of the whole. If they attempt to proceed further, they disown the
foundation upon which their own establishment was built, and they claim
a religious assent upon mere human authority, which has been just now
shown to be absurd and preposterous, and which they in fact confess to
be so.

However, we are warranted to go thus far. The people often actually do
(and perhaps they cannot in general do better) take their religion, not
on the coercive, which is impossible, but on the influencing authority
of their governors, as wise and informed men. But if they once take a
religion on the word of the state, they cannot in common sense do so a
second time, unless they have some concurrent reason for it. The
prejudice in favor of your wisdom is shook by your change. You confess
that you have been wrong, and yet you would pretend to dictate by your
sole authority; whereas you disengage the mind by embarrassing it. For
why should I prefer your opinion of to-day to your persuasion of
yesterday? If we must resort to prepossessions for the ground of
opinion, it is in the nature of man rather to defer to the wisdom of
times past, whose weakness is not before his eyes, than to the present,
of whose imbecility he has daily experience. Veneration of antiquity is
congenial to the human, mind. When, therefore, an establishment would
persecute an opinion in possession, it sets against it all the powerful
prejudices of human nature. It even sets its own authority, when it is
of most weight, against itself in that very circumstance in which it
must necessarily have the least; and it opposes the stable prejudice of
time against a new opinion founded on mutability: a consideration that
must render compulsion in such a case the more grievous, as there is no
security, that, when the mind is settled in the new opinion, it may not
be obliged to give place to one that is still newer, or even, to a
return of the old. But when an ancient establishment begins early to
persecute an innovation, it stands upon quite other grounds, and it has
all the prejudices and presumptions on its side. It puts its own
authority, not only of compulsion, but prepossession, the veneration of
past age, as well as the activity of the present time, against the
opinion only of a private man or set of men. If there be no reason,
there is at least some consistency in its proceedings. Commanding to
constancy, it does nothing but that of which it sets an example itself.
But an opinion at once new and persecuting is a monster; because, in the
very instant in which it takes a liberty of change, it does not leave to
you even a liberty of perseverance.

Is, then, no improvement to be brought into society? Undoubtedly; but
not by compulsion,--but by encouragement,--but by countenance, favor,
privileges, which are powerful, and are lawful instruments. The coercive
authority of the state is limited to what is necessary for its
existence. To this belongs the whole order of criminal law. It considers
as crimes (that is, the object of punishment) trespasses against those
rules for which society was instituted. The law punishes delinquents,
not because they are not good men, but because they are intolerably
wicked. It does bear, and must, with the vices and the follies of men,
until they actually strike at the root of order. This it does in things
actually moral. In all matters of speculative improvement the case is
stronger, even where the matter is properly of human cognizance. But to
consider an averseness to improvement, the not arriving at perfection,
as a crime, is against all tolerably correct jurisprudence; for, if the
resistance to improvement should be great and any way general, they
would in effect give up the necessary and substantial part in favor of
the perfection and the finishing.

But, say the abettors of our penal laws, this old possessed superstition
is such in its principles, that society, on its general principles,
cannot subsist along with it. Could a man think such an objection
possible, if he had not actually heard it made,--an objection
contradicted, not by hypothetical reasonings, but the clear evidence of
the most decisive facts? Society not only exists, but flourishes at this
hour, with this superstition, in many countries, under every form of
government,--in some established, in some tolerated, in others upon an
equal footing. And was there no civil society at all in these kingdoms
before the Reformation? To say it was not as well constituted as it
ought to be is saying nothing at all to the purpose; for that assertion
evidently regards improvement, not existence. It certainly did then
exist; and it as certainly then was at least as much to the advantage of
a very great part of society as what we have brought in the place of it:
which is, indeed, a great blessing to those who have profited of the
change; but to all the rest, as we have wrought, that is, by blending
general persecution with partial reformation, it is the very reverse. We
found the people heretics and idolaters; we have, by way of improving
their condition, rendered them slaves and beggars: they remain in all
the misfortune of their old errors, and all the superadded misery of
their recent punishment. They were happy enough, in their opinion at
least, before the change; what benefits society then had, they partook
of them all. They are now excluded from those benefits; and, so far as
civil society comprehends them, and as we have managed the matter, our
persecutions are so far from being necessary to its existence, that our
very reformation is made in a degree noxious. If this be improvement,
truly I know not what can be called a depravation of society.

But as those who argue in this manner are perpetually shifting the
question, having begun with objecting, in order to give a fair and
public color to their scheme, to a toleration of those opinions as
subversive of society in general, they will surely end by abandoning the
broad part of the argument, and attempting to show that a toleration of
them is inconsistent with the established government among us. Now,
though this position be in reality as untenable as the other, it is not
altogether such an absurdity on the face of it. All I shall here observe
is, that those who lay it down little consider what a wound they are
giving to that establishment for which they pretend so much zeal.
However, as this is a consideration, not of general justice, but of
particular and national policy, and as I have reserved a place
expressly, where it will undergo a thorough discussion, I shall not here
embarrass myself with it,--being resolved to preserve all the order in
my power, in the examination of this important, melancholy subject.

However, before we pass from this point concerning possession, it will
be a relaxation of the mind, not wholly foreign to our purpose, to take
a short review of the extraordinary policy which has been held with
regard to religion in that kingdom, from the time our ancestors took
possession of it. The most able antiquaries are of opinion, and
Archbishop Usher, whom I reckon amongst the first of them, has, I think,
shown, that a religion not very remote from the present Protestant
persuasion was that of the Irish before the union of that kingdom to the
crown of England. If this was not directly the fact, this at least seems
very probable, that Papal authority was much lower in Ireland than in
other countries. This union was made under the authority of an arbitrary
grant of Pope Adrian, in order that the Church of Ireland should be
reduced to the same servitude with those that were nearer to his see. It
is not very wonderful that an ambitious monarch should make use of any
pretence in his way to so considerable an object. What is extraordinary
is, that for a very long time, even quite down to the Reformation, and
in their most solemn acts, the kings of England founded their title
wholly on this grant: they called for obedience from the people of
Ireland, not on principles of subjection, but as vassals and mesne lords
between them and the Popes; and they omitted no measure of force or
policy to establish that Papal authority, with all the distinguishing
articles of religion connected with it, and to make it take deep root in
the minds of the people. Not to crowd instances unnecessary, I shall
select two, one of which is in print, the other on record,--the one a
treaty, the other an act of Parliament. The first is the submission of
the Irish chiefs to Richard the Second, mentioned by Sir John Davies. In
this pact they bind themselves for the future to preserve peace and
allegiance to the kings of England, under certain pecuniary penalties.
But what is remarkable, these fines were all covenanted to be paid into
the Apostolical Chamber, supposing the Pope as the superior power, whose
peace was broken and whose majesty was violated in disobeying his
governor. By this time, so far as regarded England, the kings had
extremely abridged the Papal power in many material particulars: they
had passed the Statute of Provisors, the Statute of _Praemunire_,--and,
indeed, struck out of the Papal authority all things, at least, that
seemed to infringe on their temporal independence. In Ireland, however,
their proceeding was directly the reverse: there they thought it
expedient to exalt it at least as high as ever: for, so late as the
reign of Edward the Fourth, the following short, but very explicit, act
of Parliament was passed:--

    IV. ED. Cap. 3.

    "An act, whereby letters patent of pardon from the king to
    those that sue to Rome for certain benefices is void. Rot.

    "Item, At the request of the commons, it is ordeyned and
    established, by authority of the said Parliament, that all
    maner letters patents of the king, of pardons or pardon
    granted by the king, or hereafter to be granted, to any
    provisor that claim any title by the bulls of the Pope to any
    maner benefices, where, at the time of the impetrating of the
    said bulls of provision, the benefice is full of an
    incumbent, that then the said letters patents of pardon or
    pardons be void in law and of none effect."

When, by every expedient of force and policy, by a war of some
centuries, by extirpating a number of the old, and by bringing in a
number of new people full of those opinions and intending to propagate
them, they had fully compassed their object, they suddenly took another
turn,--commenced an opposite persecution, made heavy laws, carried on
mighty wars, inflicted and suffered the worst evils, extirpated the mass
of the old, brought in new inhabitants; and they continue at this day an
oppressive system, and may for four hundred years to come, to eradicate
opinions which by the same violent means they had been four hundred
years endeavoring by every means to establish. They compelled the people
to submit, by the forfeiture of all their civil rights, to the Pope's
authority, in its most extravagant and unbounded sense, as a giver of
kingdoms; and now they refuse even to tolerate them in the most moderate
and chastised sentiments concerning it. No country, I believe, since
the world began, has suffered so much on account of religion, or has
been so variously harassed both for Popery and for Protestantism.

It will now be seen, that, even if these laws could be supposed
agreeable to those of Nature in these particulars, on another and almost
as strong a principle they are yet unjust, as being contrary to positive
compact, and the public faith most solemnly plighted. On the surrender
of Limerick, and some other Irish garrisons, in the war of the
Revolution, the Lords Justices of Ireland and the commander-in-chief of
the king's forces signed a capitulation with the Irish, which was
afterwards ratified by the king himself by _inspeximus_ under the great
seal of England. It contains some public articles relative to the whole
body of the Roman Catholics in that kingdom, and some with regard to the
security of the greater part of the inhabitants of five counties. What
the latter were, or in what manner they were observed, is at this day of
much less public concern. The former are two,--the first and the ninth.
The first is of this tenor:--"The Roman Catholics of this kingdom
[Ireland] shall enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion
as are consistent with the laws of Ireland, or as they did enjoy in the
reign of King Charles the Second. And their Majesties, as soon as
affairs will permit them to summon a Parliament in this kingdom, will
endeavor to procure the said Roman Catholics such farther security in
that particular as may preserve them from any disturbance upon the
account of their said religion." The ninth article is to this
effect:--"The oath to be administered to such Roman Catholics as submit
to their Majesties' government shall be the oath abovesaid, and no
other,"--viz., the oath of allegiance, made by act of Parliament in
England, in the first year of their then Majesties; as required by the
second of the Articles of Limerick. Compare this latter article with the
penal laws, as they are stated in the Second Chapter, and judge whether
they seem to be the public acts of the same power, and observe whether
other oaths are tendered to them, and under what penalties. Compare the
former with the same laws, from the beginning to the end, and judge
whether the Roman Catholics have been preserved, agreeably to the sense
of the article, from any disturbance upon account of their religion,--or
rather, whether on that account there is a single right of Nature or
benefit of society which has not been either totally taken away or
considerably impaired.

But it is said, that the legislature was not bound by this article, as
it has never been ratified in Parliament. I do admit that it never had
that sanction, and that the Parliament was under no obligation to ratify
these articles by any express act of theirs But still I am at a loss how
they came to be the less valid, on the principles of our Constitution,
by being without that sanction. They certainly bound the king and his
successors. The words of the article do this, or they do nothing; and so
far as the crown had a share in passing those acts, the public faith was
unquestionably broken. In Ireland such a breach on the part of the crown
was much more unpardonable in administration than it would have been
here. They have in Ireland a way of preventing any bill even from
approaching the royal presence, in matters of far less importance than
the honor and faith of the crown and the well-being of a great body of
the people. For, besides that they might have opposed the very first
suggestion of it in the House of Commons, it could not be framed into a
bill without the approbation of the Council in Ireland. It could not be
returned to them again without the approbation of the King and Council
here. They might have met it again in its second passage through that
House of Parliament in which it was originally suggested, as well as in
the other. If it had escaped them through all these mazes, it was again
to come before the Lord Lieutenant, who might have sunk it by a refusal
of the royal assent. The Constitution of Ireland has interposed all
those checks to the passing of any constitutional act, however
insignificant in its own nature. But did the administration in that
reign avail themselves of any one of those opportunities? They never
gave the act of the eleventh of Queen Anne the least degree of
opposition in any one stage of its progress. What is rather the fact,
many of the queen's servants encouraged it, recommended it, were in
reality the true authors of its passing in Parliament, instead of
recommending and using their utmost endeavor to establish a law directly
opposite in its tendency, as they were bound to do by the express letter
of the very first article of the Treaty of Limerick. To say nothing
further of the ministry, who in this instance most shamefully betrayed
the faith of government, may it not be a matter of some degree of doubt,
whether the Parliament, who do not claim a right of dissolving the force
of moral obligation, did not make themselves a party in this breach of
contract, by presenting a bill to the crown in direct violation of those
articles so solemnly and so recently executed, which by the
Constitution they had full authority to execute?

It may be further objected, that, when the Irish requested the
ratification of Parliament to those articles, they did, in effect,
themselves entertain a doubt concerning their validity without such a
ratification. To this I answer, that the collateral security was meant
to bind the crown, and to hold it firm to its engagements. They did not,
therefore, call it a _perfecting_ of the security, but an _additional_
security, which it could not have been, if the first had been void; for
the Parliament could not bind itself more than the crown had bound
itself. And if all had made but _one_ security, neither of them could be
called _additional_ with propriety or common sense. But let us suppose
that they did apprehend there might have been something wanting in this
security without the sanction of Parliament. They were, however,
evidently mistaken; and this surplusage of theirs did not weaken the
validity of the single contract, upon the known principle of law, _Non
solent, quae abundant, vitiare scripturas_. For nothing is more evident
than that the crown was bound, and that no act can be made without the
royal assent. But the Constitution will warrant us in going a great deal
further, and in affirming, that a treaty executed by the crown, and
contradictory of no preceding law, is full as binding on the whole body
of the nation as if it had twenty times received the sanction of
Parliament; because the very same Constitution which has given to the
Houses of Parliament their definite authority has also left in the crown
the trust of making peace, as a consequence, and much the best
consequence, of the prerogative of making war. If the peace was ill
made, my Lord Galmoy, Coningsby, and Porter, who signed it, were
responsible; because they were subject to the community. But its own
contracts are not subject to it: it is subject to them; and the compact
of the king acting constitutionally was the compact of the nation.

Observe what monstrous consequences would result from a contrary
position. A foreign enemy has entered, or a strong domestic one has
arisen in the nation. In such events the circumstances may be, and often
have been, such that a Parliament cannot sit. This was precisely the
case in that rebellion in Ireland. It will be admitted also, that their
power may be so great as to make it very prudent to treat with them, in
order to save effusion of blood, perhaps to save the nation. Now could
such a treaty be at all made, if your enemies, or rebels, were fully
persuaded, that, in these times of confusion, there was no authority in
the state which could hold out to them an inviolable pledge for their
future security, but that there lurked in the Constitution a dormant,
but irresistible power, who would not think itself bound by the ordinary
subsisting and contracting authority, but might rescind its acts and
obligations at pleasure? This would be a doctrine made to perpetuate and
exasperate war; and on that principle it directly impugns the law of
nations, which is built upon this principle, that war should be softened
as much as possible, and that it should cease as soon as possible,
between contending parties and communities. The king has a power to
pardon individuals. If the king holds out his faith to a robber, to come
in on a promise of pardon, of life and estate, and, in all respects, of
a full indemnity, shall the Parliament say that he must nevertheless be
executed, that his estate must be forfeited, or that he shall be
abridged of any of the privileges which he before held as a subject?
Nobody will affirm it. In such a case, the breach of faith would not
only be on the part of the king who assented to such an act, but on the
part of the Parliament who made it. As the king represents the whole
contracting capacity of the nation, so far as his prerogative
(unlimited, as I said before, by any precedent law) can extend, he acts
as the national procurator on all such occasions. What is true of a
robber is true of a rebel; and what is true of one robber or rebel is as
true, and it is a much more important truth, of one hundred thousand.

To urge this part of the argument further is, indeed, I fear, not
necessary, for two reasons: first, that it seems tolerably evident in
itself; and next, that there is but too much ground to apprehend that
the actual ratification of Parliament would, in the then temper of
parties, have proved but a very slight and trivial security. Of this
there is a very strong example in the history of those very articles:
for, though the Parliament omitted in the reign of King William to
ratify the first and most general of them, they did actually confirm the
second and more limited, that which related to the security of the
inhabitants of those five counties which were in arms when the treaty
was made.


In the foregoing book we considered these laws in a very simple point of
view, and in a very general one,--merely as a system of hardship
imposed on the body of the community; and from thence, and from some
other arguments, inferred the general injustice of such a procedure. In
this we shall be obliged to be more minute; and the matter will become
more complex as we undertake to demonstrate the mischievous and
impolitic consequences which the particular mode of this oppressive
system, and the instruments which it employs, operating, as we said, on
this extensive object, produce on the national prosperity, quiet, and

The stock of materials by which any nation is rendered flourishing and
prosperous are its industry, its knowledge or skill, its morals, its
execution of justice, its courage, and the national union in directing
these powers to one point, and making them all centre in the public
benefit. Other than these, I do not know and scarcely can conceive any
means by which a community may flourish.

If we show that these penal laws of Ireland destroy not one only, but
every one, of these materials of public prosperity, it will not be
difficult to perceive that Great Britain, whilst they subsist, never can
draw from that country all the advantages to which the bounty of Nature
has entitled it.

To begin with the first great instrument of national happiness and
strength, its industry: I must observe, that, although these penal laws
do, indeed, inflict many hardships on those who are obnoxious to them,
yet their chief, their most extensive, and most certain operation is
upon property. Those civil constitutions which promote industry are such
as facilitate the acquisition, secure the holding, enable the fixing,
and suffer the alienation of property. Every law which obstructs it in
any part of this distribution is, in proportion to the force and extent
of the obstruction, a discouragement to industry. For a law against
property is a law against industry,--the latter having always the
former, and nothing else, for its object. Now as to the acquisition of
landed property, which is the foundation and support of all the other
kinds, the laws have disabled three fourths of the inhabitants of
Ireland from acquiring any estate of inheritance for life or years, or
any charge whatsoever on which two thirds of the improved yearly value
is not reserved for thirty years.

This confinement of landed property to one set of hands, and preventing
its free circulation through the community, is a most leading article of
ill policy; because it is one of the most capital discouragements to all
that industry which may be employed on the lasting improvement of the
soil, or is any way conversant about land. A tenure of thirty years is
evidently no tenure upon which to build, to plant, to raise inclosures,
to change the nature of the ground, to make any new experiment which
might improve agriculture, or to do anything more than what may answer
the immediate and momentary calls of rent to the landlord, and leave
subsistence to the tenant and his family. The desire of acquisition is
always a passion of long views. Confine a man to momentary possession,
and you at once cut off that laudable avarice which every wise state has
cherished as one of the first principles of its greatness. Allow a man
but a temporary possession, lay it down as a maxim that he never can
have any other, and you immediately and infallibly turn him to temporary
enjoyments: and these enjoyments are never the pleasures of labor and
free industry, whose quality it is to famish the present hours and
squander all upon prospect and futurity; they are, on the contrary,
those of a thoughtless, loitering, and dissipated life. The people must
be inevitably disposed to such pernicious habits, merely from the short
duration of their tenure which the law has allowed. But it is not enough
that industry is checked by the confinement of its views; it is further
discouraged by the limitation of its own direct object, profit. This is
a regulation extremely worthy of our attention, as it is not a
consequential, but a direct discouragement to melioration,--as directly
as if the law had said in express terms, "Thou shalt not improve."

But we have an additional argument to demonstrate the ill policy of
denying the occupiers of land any solid property in it. Ireland is a
country wholly unplanted. The farms have neither dwelling-houses nor
good offices; nor are the lands, almost anywhere, provided with fences
and communications: in a word, in a very unimproved state. The
land-owner there never takes upon him, as it is usual in this kingdom,
to supply all these conveniences, and to set down his tenant in what may
be called a completely furnished farm. If the tenant will not do it, it
is never done. This circumstance shows how miserably and peculiarly
impolitic it has been in Ireland to tie down the body of the tenantry to
short and unprofitable tenures. A finished and furnished house will be
taken for any term, however short: if the repair lies on the owner, the
shorter the better. But no one will take one not only unfurnished, but
half built, but upon a term which, on calculation, will answer with
profit all his charges. It is on this principle that the Romans
established their _emphyteusis_, or fee-farm. For though they extended
the ordinary term of their location only to nine years, yet they
encouraged a more permanent letting to farm with the condition of
improvement, as well as of annual payment, on the part of the tenant,
where the land had lain rough and neglected,--and therefore invented
this species of engrafted holding, in the later times, when property
came to be worse distributed by falling into a few hands.

This denial of landed property to the gross of the people has this
further evil effect in preventing the improvement of land, that it
prevents any of the property acquired in trade to be regorged, as it
were, upon the land. They must have observed very little, who have not
remarked the bold and liberal spirit of improvement which persons bred
to trade have often exerted on their land-purchases: that they usually
come to them with a more abundant command of ready money than most
landed men possess; and that they have in general a much better idea, by
long habits of calculative dealings, of the propriety of expending in
order to acquire. Besides, such men often bring their spirit of commerce
into their estates with them, and make manufactures take a root, where
the mere landed gentry had perhaps no capital, perhaps no inclination,
and, most frequently, not sufficient knowledge, to effect anything of
the kind. By these means, what beautiful and useful spots have there not
been made about trading and manufacturing towns, and how has agriculture
had reason to bless that happy alliance with commerce! and how miserable
must that nation be, whose frame of polity has disjoined the landing and
the trading interests!

       *       *       *       *       *

The great prop of this whole system is not pretended to be its justice
or its utility, but the supposed danger to the state, which gave rise to
it originally, and which, they apprehend, would return, if this system
were overturned. Whilst, say they, the Papists of this kingdom were
possessed of landed property, and of the influence consequent to such
property, their allegiance to the crown of Great Britain was ever
insecure, the public peace was ever liable to be broken, and Protestants
never could be a moment secure either of their properties or of their
lives. Indulgence only made them arrogant, and power daring; confidence
only excited and enabled them to exert their inherent treachery; and the
times which they generally selected for their most wicked and desperate
rebellions were those in which they enjoyed the greatest ease and the
most perfect tranquillity.

Such are the arguments that are used, both publicly and privately, in
every discussion upon this point. They are generally full of passion and
of error, and built upon facts which in themselves are most false. It
cannot, I confess, be denied, that those miserable performances which go
about under the names of Histories of Ireland do, indeed, represent
those events after this manner; and they would persuade us, contrary to
the known order of Nature, that indulgence and moderation in governors
is the natural incitement in subjects to rebel. But there is an interior
history of Ireland, the genuine voice of its records and monuments,
which speaks a very different language from these histories, from Temple
and from Clarendon: these restore Nature to its just rights, and policy
to its proper order. For they even now show to those who have been at
the pains to examine them, and they may show one day to all the world,
that these rebellions were not produced by toleration, but by
persecution,--that they arose not from just and mild government, but
from the most unparalleled oppression. These records will be far from
giving the least countenance to a doctrine so repugnant to humanity and
good sense as that the security of any establishment, civil or
religious, can ever depend upon the misery of those who live under it,
or that its danger can arise from their quiet and prosperity. God forbid
that the history of this or any country should give such encouragement
to the folly or vices of those who govern! If it can be shown that the
great rebellions of Ireland have arisen from attempts to reduce the
natives to the state to which they are now reduced, it will show that an
attempt to continue them in that state will rather be disadvantageous to
the public peace than any kind of security to it. These things have in
some measure begun to appear already; and as far as regards the argument
drawn from former rebellions, it will fall readily to the ground. But,
for my part, I think the real danger to every state is, to render its
subjects justly discontented; nor is there in polities or science any
more effectual secret for their security than to establish in their
people a firm opinion that no change can be for their advantage. It is
true that bigotry and fanaticism may for a time draw great multitudes of
people from a knowledge of their true and substantial interest. But upon
this I have to remark three things. First, that such a temper can never
become universal, or last for a long time. The principle of religion is
seldom lasting; the majority of men are in no persuasion bigots; they
are not willing to sacrifice, on every vain imagination that
superstition or enthusiasm holds forth, or that even zeal and piety
recommend, the certain possession of their temporal happiness. And if
such a spirit has been at any time roused in a society, after it has had
its paroxysm it commonly subsides and is quiet, and is even the weaker
for the violence of its first exertion: security and ease are its mortal
enemies. But, secondly, if anything can tend to revive and keep it up,
it is to keep alive the passions of men by ill usage. This is enough to
irritate even those who have not a spark of bigotry in their
constitution to the most desperate enterprises; it certainly will
inflame, darken, and render more dangerous the spirit of bigotry in
those who are possessed by it. Lastly, by rooting out any sect, you are
never secure against the effects of fanaticism; it may arise on the side
of the most favored opinions; and many are the instances wherein the
established religion of a state has grown ferocious and turned upon its
keeper, and has often torn to pieces the civil establishment that had
cherished it, and which it was designed to support:

But there may be danger of wishing a change, even where no religious
motive can operate; and every enemy to such a state comes as a friend to
the subject; and where other countries are under terror, they begin to

This argument _ad verecundiam_ has as much force as any such have. But I
think it fares but very indifferently with those who make use of it; for
they would get but little to be proved abettors of tyranny at the
expense of putting me to an inconvenient acknowledgment. For if I were
to confess that there are circumstances in which it would be better to
establish such a religion....

       *       *       *       *       *

With regard to the Pope's interest. This foreign chief of their religion
cannot be more formidable to us than to other Protestant countries. To
conquer that country for himself is a wild chimera; to encourage revolt
in favor of foreign princes is an exploded idea in the politics of that
court. Perhaps it would be full as dangerous to have the people under
the conduct of factious pastors of their own as under a foreign
ecclesiastical court.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the second year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth were enacted several
limitations in the acquisition or the retaining of property, which had,
so far as regarded any general principles, hitherto remained untouched
under all changes.

These bills met no opposition either in the Irish Parliament or in the
English Council, except from private agents, who were little attended
to; and they passed into laws with the highest and most general
applauses, as all such things are in the beginning, not as a system of
persecution, but as masterpieces of the most subtle and refined
politics. And to say the truth, these laws, at first view, have rather
an appearance of a plan of vexatious litigation and crooked
law-chicanery than of a direct and sanguinary attack upon the rights of
private conscience: because they did not affect life, at least with
regard to the laity; and making the Catholic opinions rather the subject
of civil regulations than of criminal prosecutions, to those who are
not lawyers and read these laws they only appear to be a species of
jargon. For the execution of criminal law has always a certain
appearance of violence. Being exercised directly on the persons of the
supposed offenders, and commonly executed in the face of the public,
such executions are apt to excite sentiments of pity for the sufferers,
and indignation against those who are employed in such cruelties,--being
seen as single acts of cruelty, rather than as ill general principles of
government. But the operation of the laws in question being such as
common feeling brings home to every man's bosom, they operate in a sort
of comparative silence and obscurity; and though their cruelty is
exceedingly great, it is never seen in a single exertion, and always
escapes commiseration, being scarce known, except to those who view them
in a general, which is always a cold and phlegmatic light. The first of
these laws being made with so general a satisfaction, as the chief
governors found that such things were extremely acceptable to the
leading people in that country, they were willing enough to gratify them
with the ruin of their fellow-citizens; they were not sorry to divert
their attention from other inquiries, and to keep them fixed to this, as
if this had been the only real object of their national politics; and
for many years there was no speech from the throne which did not with
great appearance of seriousness recommend the passing of such laws, and
scarce a session went over without in effect passing some of them, until
they have by degrees grown to be the most considerable head in the Irish
statute-book. At the same time giving a temporary and occasional
mitigation to the severity of some of the harshest of those laws, they
appeared in some sort the protectors of those whom they were in reality
destroying by the establishment of general constitutions against them.
At length, however, the policy of this expedient is worn out; the
passions of men are cooled; those laws begin to disclose themselves, and
to produce effects very different from those which were promised in
making them: for crooked counsels are ever unwise; and nothing can be
more absurd and dangerous than to tamper with the natural foundations of
society, in hopes of keeping it up by certain contrivances.

       *       *       *       *       *







JANUARY 29, 1795.


My Dear sir,--Your letter is, to myself, infinitely obliging: with
regard to you, I can find no fault with it, except that of a tone of
humility and disqualification, which neither your rank, nor the place
you are in, nor the profession you belong to, nor your very
extraordinary learning and talents, will in propriety demand or perhaps
admit. These dispositions will be still less proper, if you should feel
them in the extent your modesty leads you to express them. You have
certainly given by far too strong a proof of self-diffidence by asking
the opinion of a man circumstanced as I am, on the important subject of
your letter. You are far more capable of forming just conceptions upon
it than I can be. However, since you are pleased to command me to lay
before you my thoughts, as materials upon which your better judgment may
operate, I shall obey you, and submit them, with great deference, to
your melioration or rejection.

But first permit me to put myself in the right. I owe you an answer to
your former letter. It did not desire one, but it deserved it. If not
for an answer, it called for an acknowledgment. It was a new favor; and,
indeed, I should be worse than insensible, if I did not consider the
honors you have heaped upon me with no sparing hand with becoming
gratitude. But your letter arrived to me at a time when the closing of
my long and last business in life, a business extremely complex, and
full of difficulties and vexations of all sorts, occupied me in a manner
which those who have not seen the interior as well as exterior of it
cannot easily imagine. I confess that in the crisis of that rude
conflict I neglected many things that well deserved my best
attention,--none that deserved it better, or have caused me more regret
in the neglect, than your letter. The instant that business was over,
and the House had passed its judgment on the conduct of the managers, I
lost no time to execute what for years I had resolved on: it was, to
quit my public station, and to seek that tranquillity, in my very
advanced age, to which, after a very tempestuous life, I thought myself
entitled. But God has thought fit (and I unfeignedly acknowledge His
justice) to dispose of things otherwise. So heavy a calamity has fallen
upon me as to disable me for business and to disqualify me for repose.
The existence I have I do not know that I can call life. Accordingly, I
do not meddle with any one measure of government, though, for what
reasons I know not, you seem to suppose me deeply in the secret of
affairs. I only know, so far as your side of the water is concerned,
that your present excellent Lord Lieutenant (the best man in every
relation that I have ever been acquainted with) has perfectly pure
intentions with regard to Ireland, and of course that he wishes
cordially well to those who form the great mass of its inhabitants, and
who, as they are well or ill managed, must form an important part of its
strength or weakness. If with regard to that great object he has
carried over any ready-made system, I assure you it is perfectly unknown
to me: I am very much retired from the world, and live in much
ignorance. This, I hope, will form my humble apology, if I should err in
the notions I entertain of the question which is soon to become the
subject of your deliberations. At the same time accept it as an apology
for my neglects.

You need make no apology for your attachment to the religious
description you belong to. It proves (as in you it is sincere) your
attachment to the great points in which the leading divisions are
agreed, when the lesser, in which they differ, are so dear to you. I
shall never call any religious opinions, which appear important to
serious and pious minds, things of no consideration. Nothing is so fatal
to religion as indifference, which is, at least, half infidelity. As
long as men hold charity and justice to be essential integral parts of
religion, there can be little danger from a strong attachment to
particular tenets in faith. This I am perfectly sure is your case; but I
am not equally sure that either zeal for the tenets of faith, or the
smallest degree of charity or justice, have much influenced the
gentlemen who, under pretexts of zeal, have resisted the enfranchisement
of their country. My dear son, who was a person of discernment, as well
as clear and acute in his expressions, said, in a letter of his which I
have seen, "that, in order to grace their cause, and to draw some
respect to their persons, they pretend to be bigots." But here, I take
it, we have not much to do with the theological tenets on the one side
of the question or the other. The point itself is practically decided.
That religion is owned by the state. Except in a settled maintenance, it
is protected. A great deal of the rubbish, which, as a nuisance, long
obstructed the way, is removed. One impediment remained longer, as a
matter to justify the proscription of the body of our country; after the
rest had been abandoned as untenable ground. But the business of the
Pope (that mixed person of polities and religion) has long ceased to be
a bugbear: for some time past he has ceased to be even a colorable
pretext. This was well known, when the Catholics of these kingdoms, for
our amusement, were obliged on oath to disclaim him in his political
capacity,--which implied an allowance for them to recognize him in some
sort of ecclesiastical superiority. It was a compromise of the old

For my part, I confess I wish that we had been less eager in this point.
I don't think, indeed, that much mischief will happen from it, if things
are otherwise properly managed. Too nice an inquisition ought not to be
made into opinions that are dying away of themselves. Had we lived an
hundred and fifty years ago, I should have been as earnest and anxious
as anybody for this sort of abjuration; but, living at the time in which
I live, and obliged to speculate forward instead of backward, I must
fairly say, I could well endure the existence of every sort of
collateral aid which opinion might, in the now state of things, afford
to authority. I must see much more danger than in my life I have seen,
or than others will venture seriously to affirm that they see, in the
Pope aforesaid, (though a foreign power, and with his long tail of _et
ceteras_,) before I should be active in weakening any hold which
government might think it prudent to resort to, in the management of
that large part of the king's subjects. I do not choose to direct all my
precautions to the part where the danger does not press, and to leave
myself open and unguarded where I am not only really, but visibly

My whole politics, at present, centre in one point, and to this the
merit or demerit of every measure (with me) is referable,--that is, what
will most promote or depress the cause of Jacobinism. What is
Jacobinism? It is an attempt (hitherto but too successful) to eradicate
prejudice out of the minds of men, for the purpose of putting all power
and authority into the hands of the persons capable of occasionally
enlightening the minds of the people. For this purpose the Jacobins have
resolved to destroy the whole frame and fabric of the old societies of
the world, and to regenerate them after their fashion. To obtain an army
for this purpose, they everywhere engage the poor by holding out to them
as a bribe the spoils of the rich. This I take to be a fair description
of the principles and leading maxims of the enlightened of our day who
are commonly called Jacobins.

As the grand prejudice, and that which holds all the other prejudices
together, the first, last, and middle object of their hostility is
religion. With that they are at inexpiable war. They make no distinction
of sects. A Christian, as such, is to them an enemy. What, then, is left
to a real Christian, (Christian as a believer and as a statesman,) but
to make a league between all the grand divisions of that name, to
protect and to cherish them all, and by no means to proscribe in any
manner, more or less, any member of our common party? The divisions
which formerly prevailed in the Church, with all their overdone zeal,
only purified and ventilated our common faith, because there was no
common enemy arrayed and embattled to take advantage of their
dissensions; but now nothing but inevitable ruin will be the consequence
of our quarrels. I think we may dispute, rail, persecute, and provoke
the Catholics out of their prejudices; but it is not in ours they will
take refuge. If anything is, one more than another, out of the power of
man, it is to _create_ a prejudice. Somebody has said, that a king may
make a nobleman, but he cannot make a gentleman.

All the principal religions in Europe stand upon one common bottom. The
support that the whole or the favored parts may have in the secret
dispensations of Providence it is impossible to tell; but, humanly
speaking, they are all _prescriptive_ religions. They have all stood
long enough to make prescription and its chain of legitimate prejudices
their main stay. The people who compose the four grand divisions of
Christianity have now their religion as an habit, and upon authority,
and not on disputation,--as all men who have their religion derived from
their parents and the fruits of education _must_ have it, however the
one more than the other may be able to reconcile his faith to his own
reason or to that of other men. Depend upon it, they must all be
supported, or they must all fall in the crash of a common ruin. The
Catholics are the far more numerous part of the Christians in your
country; and how can Christianity (that is now the point in issue) be
supported under the persecution, or even under the discountenance, of
the greater number of Christians? It is a great truth, and which in one
of the debates I stated as strongly as I could to the House of Commons
in the last session, that, if the Catholic religion is destroyed by the
infidels, it is a most contemptible and absurd idea, that this, or any
Protestant Church, can survive that event. Therefore my humble and
decided opinion is, that all the three religions prevalent more or less
in various parts of these islands ought all, in subordination to the
legal establishments as they stand in the several countries, to be all
countenanced, protected, and cherished, and that in Ireland particularly
the Roman Catholic religion should be upheld in high respect and
veneration, and should be, in its place, provided with all the means of
making it a blessing to the people who profess it,--that it ought to be
cherished as a good, (though not as the most preferable good, if a
choice was now to be made,) and not tolerated as an inevitable evil. If
this be my opinion as to the Catholic religion as a sect, you must see
that I must be to the last degree averse to put a man, upon that
account, upon a bad footing with relation to the privileges which the
fundamental laws of this country give him as a subject. I am the more
serious on the positive encouragement to be given to this religion,
(always, however, as secondary,) because the serious and earnest belief
and practice of it by its professors forms, as things stand, the most
effectual barrier, if not the sole barrier, against Jacobinism. The
Catholics form the great body of the lower ranks of your community, and
no small part of those classes of the middling that come nearest to
them. You know that the seduction of that part of mankind from the
principles of religion, morality, subordination, and social order is the
great object of the Jacobins. Let them grow lax, skeptical, careless,
and indifferent with regard to religion, and, so sure as we have an
existence, it is not a zealous Anglican or Scottish Church principle,
but direct Jacobinism, which will enter into that breach. Two hundred
years dreadfully spent in experiments to force that people to change the
form of their religion have proved fruitless. You have now your choice,
for full four fifths of your people, of the Catholic religion or
Jacobinism. If things appear to you to stand on this alternative, I
think you will not be long in making your option.

You have made, as you naturally do, a very able analysis of powers, and
have separated, as the things are separable, civil from political
powers. You start, too, a question, whether the civil can be secured
without some share in the political. For my part, as abstract questions,
I should find some difficulty in an attempt to resolve them. But as
applied to the state of Ireland, to the form of our commonwealth, to the
parties that divide us, and to the dispositions of the leading men in
those parties, I cannot hesitate to lay before you my opinion, that,
whilst any kind of discouragements and disqualifications remain on the
Catholics, an handle will be made by a factious power utterly to defeat
the benefits of any civil rights they may apparently possess. I need not
go to very remote times for my examples. It was within the course of
about a twelvemonth, that, after Parliament had been led into a step
quite unparalleled in its records, after they had resisted all
concession, and even hearing, with an obstinacy equal to anything that
could have actuated a party domination in the second or eighth of Queen
Anne, after the strange adventure of the Grand Juries, and after
Parliament had listened to the sovereign pleading for the emancipation
of his subjects,--it was after all this, that such a grudging and
discontent was expressed as must justly have alarmed, as it did
extremely alarm, the whole of the Catholic body: and I remember but one
period in my whole life (I mean the savage period between 1781 and 1767)
in which they have been more harshly or contumeliously treated than
since the last partial enlargement. And thus I am convinced it will be,
by paroxysms, as long as any stigma remains on them, and whilst they are
considered as no better than half citizens. If they are kept such for
any length of time, they will be made whole Jacobins. Against this grand
and dreadful evil of our time (I do not love to cheat myself or others)
I do not know any solid security whatsoever; but I am quite certain that
what will come nearest to it is to interest as many as you can in the
present order of things, religiously, civilly, politically, by all the
ties and principles by which mankind are held. This is like to be
effectual policy: I am sure it is honorable policy: and it is better to
fail, if fail we must, in the paths of direct and manly than of low and
crooked wisdom.

As to the capacity of sitting in Parliament, after all the capacities
for voting, for the army, for the navy, for the professions, for civil
offices, it is a dispute _de lana caprina_, in my poor opinion,--at
least on the part of those who oppose it. In the first place, this
admission to office, and this exclusion from Parliament, on the
principle of an exclusion from political power, is the very reverse of
the principle of the English Test Act. If I were to form a judgment from
experience rather than theory, I should doubt much whether the capacity
for or even the possession of a seat in Parliament did really convey
much of power to be properly called political. I have sat there, with
some observation, for nine-and-twenty years, or thereabouts. The power
of a member of Parliament is uncertain and indirect; and if power,
rather than splendor and fame, were the object, I should think that any
of the principal clerks in office, to say nothing of their superiors,
(several of whom are disqualified by law for seats in Parliament,)
possess far more power than nine tenths of the members of the House of
Commons. I might say this of men who seemed, from their fortunes, their
weight in their country, and their talents, to be persons of figure
there,--and persons, too, not in opposition to the prevailing party in
government. But be they what they will, on a fair canvass of the several
prevalent Parliamentary interests in Ireland, I cannot, out of the three
hundred members of whom the Irish Parliament is composed, discover that
above three, or at the utmost four, Catholics would be returned to the
House of Commons. But suppose they should amount to thirty, that is, to
a tenth part, (a thing I hold impossible for a long series of years, and
never very likely to happen,) what is this to those who are to balance
them in the one House, and the clear and settled majority in the other?
For I think it absolutely impossible, that, in the course of many years,
above four or five peers should be created of that communion. In fact,
the exclusion of them seems to me only to mark jealousy and suspicion,
and not to provide security in any way.--But I return to the old ground.
The danger is not there: these are things long since done away. The
grand controversy is no longer between you and them.

Forgive this length. My pen has insensibly run on. You are yourself to
blame, if you are much fatigued. I congratulate you on the auspicious
opening of your session. Surely Great Britain and Ireland ought to join
in wreathing a never-fading garland for the head of Grattan. Adieu, my
dear Sir. Good nights to you!--I never can have any.

Yours always most sincerely,


Jan. 29th, 1795. Twelve at night.


[23] William Smith, Esq., to whom this Letter is addressed, was then a
member of the Irish Parliament: he is now (1812) one of the Barons of
the Court of Exchequer in Ireland.






MAY 26, 1795.

My Dear Sir,--If I am not as early as I ought to be in my
acknowledgments for your very kind letter, pray do me the justice to
attribute my failure to its natural and but too real cause, a want of
the most ordinary power of exertion, owing to the impressions made upon
an old and infirm constitution by private misfortune and by public
calamity. It is true, I make occasional efforts to rouse myself to
something better,--but I soon relapse into that state of languor which
must be the habit of my body and understanding to the end of my short
and cheerless existence in this world.

I am sincerely grateful for your kindness in connecting the interest you
take in the sentiments of an old friend with the able part you take in
the service of your country. It is an instance, among many, of that
happy temper which has always given a character of amenity to your
virtues and a good-natured direction to your talents.

Your speech on the Catholic question I read with much satisfaction. It
is solid; it is convincing; it is eloquent; and it ought, on the spot,
to have produced that effect which its reason, and that contained in the
other excellent speeches on the same side of the question, cannot
possibly fail (though with less pleasant consequences) to produce
hereafter. What a sad thing it is, that the grand instructor, Time, has
not yet been able to teach the grand lesson of his own value, and that,
in every question of moral and political prudence, it is the choice of
the moment which renders the measure serviceable or useless, noxious or

In the Catholic question I considered only one point: Was it, at the
time, and in the circumstances, a measure which tended to promote the
concord of the citizens? I have no difficulty in saying it was,--and as
little in saying that the present concord of the citizens was worth
buying, at a critical season, by granting a few _capacities_, which
probably no one man now living is likely to be served or hurt by. When
any man tells _you_ and _me_, that, if these places were left in the
discretion of a Protestant crown, and these memberships in the
discretion of Protestant electors or patrons, we should have a Popish
official system, and a Popish representation, capable of overturning the
Establishment, he only insults our understandings. When any man tells
this to _Catholics_, he insults their understandings, and he galls their
feelings. It is not the question of the places and seats, it is the real
hostile disposition and the _pretended_ fears, that leave stings in the
minds of the people. I really thought that in the total of the late
circumstances, with regard to persons, to things, to principles, and to
measures, was to be found a conjuncture favorable to the introduction
and to the perpetuation of a general harmony, producing a general
strength, which to that hour Ireland was never so happy as to enjoy. My
sanguine hopes are blasted, and I must consign my feelings on that
terrible disappointment to the same patience in which I have been
obliged to bury the vexation I suffered on the defeat of the other
great, just, and honorable causes in which I have had some share, and
which have given more of dignity than of peace and advantage to a long,
laborious life. Though, perhaps, a want of success might be urged as a
reason for making me doubt of the justice of the part I have taken, yet,
until I have other lights than one side of the debate has furnished me,
I must see things, and feel them too, as I see and feel them. I think I
can hardly overrate the malignity of the principles of Protestant
ascendency, as they affect Ireland,--or of Indianism, as they affect
these countries, and as they affect Asia,--or of Jacobinism, as they
affect all Europe and the state of human society itself. The last is the
greatest evil. But it readily combines with the others, and flows from
them. Whatever breeds discontent at this time will produce that great
master-mischief most infallibly. Whatever tends to persuade the people
that the _few_, called by whatever name you please, religious or
political, are of opinion that their interest is not compatible with
that of the _many_, is a great point gained to Jacobinism. Whatever
tends to irritate the talents of a country, which have at all times, and
at these particularly, a mighty influence on the public mind, is of
infinite service to that formidable cause. Unless where Heaven has
mingled uncommon ingredients of virtue in the composition,--_quos
meliore luto finxit praecordia Titan,_--talents naturally gravitate to
Jacobinism. Whatever ill-humors are afloat in the state, they will be
sure to discharge themselves in a mingled torrent in the _Cloaca Maxima_
of Jacobinism. Therefore people ought well to look about them. First,
the physicians are to take care that they do nothing to irritate this
epidemical distemper. It is a foolish thing to have the better of the
patient in a dispute. The complaint or its cause ought to be removed,
and wise and lenient arts ought to precede the measures of vigor. They
ought to be the _ultima_, not the _prima_, not the _tota_ ratio of a
wise government. God forbid, that, on a worthy occasion, authority
should want the means of force, or the disposition to use it! But where
a prudent and enlarged policy does not precede it, and attend it too,
where the hearts of the better sort of people do not go with the hands
of the soldiery, you may call your Constitution what you will, in effect
it will consist of three parts, (orders, if you please,) cavalry,
infantry, and artillery,--and of nothing else or better. I agree with
you in your dislike of the discourses in Francis Street: but I like as
little some of those in College Green. I am even less pleased with the
temper that predominated in the latter, as better things might have been
expected in the regular family mansion of public discretion than, in a
new and hasty assembly of unexperienced men, congregated under
circumstances of no small irritation. After people have taken your
tests, prescribed by yourselves as proofs of their allegiance, to be
marked as enemies, traitors, or at best as suspected and dangerous
persons, and that they are not to be believed on their oaths, we are not
to be surprised, if they fall into a passion, and talk as men in a
passion do, intemperately and idly.

The worst of the matter is this: you are partly leading, partly driving
into Jacobinism that description of your people whose religious
principles, church polity, and habitual discipline might make them an
invincible dike against that inundation. This you have a thousand
mattocks and pickaxes lifted up to demolish. You make a sad story of the
Pope. _O seri studiorum_! It will not be difficult to get many called
Catholics to laugh at this fundamental part of their religion. Never
doubt it. You have succeeded in part, and you may succeed completely.
But in the present state of men's minds and affairs, do not flatter
yourselves that they will piously look to the head of our Church in the
place of that Pope whom you make them forswear, and out of all reverence
to whom you bully and rail and buffoon them. Perhaps you may succeed in
the same manner with all the other tenets of doctrine and usages of
discipline amongst the Catholics; but what security have you, that, in
the temper and on the principles on which they have made this change,
they will stop at the exact sticking-places you have marked in _your_
articles? You have no security for anything, but that they will become
what are called _Franco-Jacobins_, and reject the whole together. No
converts now will be made in a considerable number from one of our sects
to the other upon a really religious principle. Controversy moves in
another direction.

Next to religion, _property_ is the great point of Jacobin attack. Here
many of the debaters in your majority, and their writers, have given the
Jacobins all the assistance their hearts can wish. When the Catholics
desire places and seats, you tell them that this is only a pretext,
(though Protestants might suppose it just _possible_ for men to like
good places and snug boroughs for their own merits,) but that their real
view is, to strip Protestants of their property To my certain knowledge,
till those Jacobin lectures were opened in the House of Commons, they
never dreamt of any such thing; but now the great professors may
stimulate them to inquire (on the new principles) into the foundation of
that property, and of all property. If you treat men as robbers, why,
robbers, sooner or later, they will become.

A third point of Jacobin attack is on _old traditionary constitutions_.
You are apprehensive for yours, which leans from its perpendicular, and
does not stand firm on its theory. I like Parliamentary reforms as
little as any man who has boroughs to sell for money, or for peerages in
Ireland. But it passes my comprehension, in what manner it is that men
can be reconciled to the _practical_ merits of a constitution, the
theory of which is in litigation, by being _practically_ excluded from
any of its advantages. Let us put ourselves in the place of these
people, and try an experiment of the effects of such a procedure on our
own minds. Unquestionably, we should be perfectly satisfied, when we
were told that Houses of Parliament, instead of being places of refuge
for popular liberty, were citadels for keeping us in order as a
conquered people. These things play the Jacobin game to a nicety.

Indeed, my dear Sir, there is not a single particular in the
Francis-Street declamations, which has not, to your and to my certain
knowledge, been taught by the jealous ascendants, sometimes by doctrine,
sometimes by example, always by provocation. Remember the whole of 1781
and 1782, in Parliament and out of Parliament; at this very day, and in
the worst acts and designs, observe the tenor of the objections with
which the College-Green orators of the ascendency reproach the
Catholics. You have observed, no doubt, how much they rely on the
affair of Jackson. Is it not pleasant to hear Catholics reproached for a
supposed connection--with whom?--with Protestant clergymen! with
Protestant gentlemen! with Mr. Jackson! with Mr. Rowan, &c, &c.! But
_egomet mi ignosco_. Conspiracies and treasons are privileged pleasures,
not to be profaned by the impure and unhallowed touch of Papists.
Indeed, all this will do, perhaps, well enough, with detachments of
dismounted cavalry and fencibles from England. But let us not say to
Catholics, by way of _argument_, that they are to be kept in a degraded
state, because some of them are no better than many of us Protestants.
The thing I most disliked in some of their speeches (those, I mean, of
the Catholics) was what is called the spirit of liberality, so much and
so diligently taught by the ascendants, by which they are made to
abandon their own particular interests, and to merge them in the general
discontents of the country. It gave me no pleasure to hear of the
dissolution of the committee. There were in it a majority, to my
knowledge, of very sober, well-intentioned men; and there were none in
it but such who, if not continually goaded and irritated, might be made
useful to the tranquillity of the country. It is right always to have a
few of every description, through whom you may quietly operate on the
many, both for the interests of the description, and for the general

Excuse me, my dear friend, if I have a little tried your patience. You
have brought this trouble on yourself, by your thinking of a man forgot,
and who has no objection to be forgot, by the world. These things we
discussed together four or five and thirty years ago. We were then, and
at bottom ever since, of the same opinion on the justice and policy of
the whole and of every part of the penal system. You and I, and
everybody, must now and then ply and bend to the occasion, and take what
can be got. But very sure I am, that, whilst there remains in the law
any principle whatever which can furnish to certain politicians an
excuse for raising an opinion of their own importance, as necessary to
keep their fellow-subjects in order, the obnoxious people will be
fretted, harassed, insulted, provoked to discontent and disorder, and
practically excluded from the partial advantages from which the letter
of the law does not exclude them.

Adieu! my dear Sir,

And believe me very truly yours,


BEACONSFIELD, May 26, 1795.








My dear son,--We are all again assembled in town, to finish the last,
but the most laborious, of the tasks which have been imposed upon me
during my Parliamentary service. We are as well as at our time of life
we can expect to be. We have, indeed, some moments of anxiety about you.
You are engaged in an undertaking similar in its principle to mine. You
are engaged in the relief of an oppressed people. In that service you
must necessarily excite the same sort of passions in those who have
exercised, and who wish to continue that oppression, that I have had to
struggle with in this long labor. As your father has done, you must make
enemies of many of the rich, of the proud, and of the powerful. I and
you began in the same way. I must confess, that, if our place was of our
choice, I could wish it had been your lot to begin the career of your
life with an endeavor to render some more moderate and less invidious
service to the public But being engaged in a great and critical work, I
have not the least hesitation about your having hitherto done your duty
as becomes you. If I had not an assurance not to be shaken from the
character of your mind, I should be satisfied on that point by the cry
that is raised against you. If you had behaved, as they call it,
discreetly, that is, faintly and treacherously, in the execution of your
trust, you would have had, for a while, the good word of all sorts of
men, even of many of those whose cause you had betrayed,--and whilst
your favor lasted, you might have coined that false reputation into a
true and solid interest to yourself. This you are well apprised of; and
you do not refuse to travel that beaten road from an ignorance, but from
a contempt, of the objects it leads to.

When you choose an arduous and slippery path, God forbid that any weak
feelings of my declining age, which calls for soothings and supports,
and which can have none but from you, should make me wish that you
should abandon what you are about, or should trifle with it! In this
house we submit, though with troubled minds, to that order which has
connected all great duties with toils and with perils, which has
conducted the road to glory through the regions of obloquy and reproach,
and which will never suffer the disparaging alliance of spurious, false,
and fugitive praise with genuine and permanent reputation. We know that
the Power which has settled that order, and subjected you to it by
placing you in the situation you are in, is able to bring you out of it
with credit and with safety. His will be done! All must come right. You
may open the way with pain and under reproach: others will pursue it
with ease and with applause.

I am sorry to find that pride and passion, and that sort of zeal for
religion which never shows any wonderful heat but when it afflicts and
mortifies our neighbor, will not let the ruling description perceive
that the privilege for which your clients contend is very nearly as much
for the benefit of those who refuse it as those who ask it. I am not to
examine into the charges that are daily made on the administration of
Ireland. I am not qualified to say how much in them is cold truth, and
how much rhetorical exaggeration. Allowing some foundation to the
complaint, it is to no purpose that these people allege that their
government is a job in its administration. I am sure it is a job in its
constitution; nor is it possible a scheme of polity, which, in total
exclusion of the body of the community, confines (with little or no
regard to their rank or condition in life) to a certain set of favored
citizens the rights which formerly belonged to the whole, should not, by
the operation of the same selfish and narrow principles, teach the
persons who administer in that government to prefer their own
particular, but well-understood, private interest to the false and
ill-calculated private interest of the monopolizing company they belong
to. Eminent characters, to be sure, overrule places and circumstances. I
have nothing to say to that virtue which shoots up in full force by the
native vigor of the seminal principle, in spite of the adverse soil and
climate that it grows in. But speaking of things in their ordinary
course, in a country of monopoly there _can_ be no patriotism. There may
be a party spirit, but public spirit there can be none. As to a spirit
of liberty, still less can it exist, or anything like it. A liberty made
up of penalties! a liberty made up of incapacities! a liberty made up of
exclusion and proscription, continued for ages, of four fifths, perhaps,
of the inhabitants of all ranks and fortunes In what does such liberty
differ from the description of the most shocking kind of servitude?

But it will be said, in that country some people are free. Why, this is
the very description of despotism. _Partial freedom is privilege and
prerogative, and not liberty._ Liberty, such as deserves the name, is
an honest, equitable, diffusive, and impartial principle. It is a great
and enlarged virtue, and not a sordid, selfish, and illiberal vice. It
is the portion of the mass of the citizens, and not the haughty license
of some potent individual or some predominant faction.

If anything ought to be despotic in a country, it is its government;
because there is no cause of constant operation to make its yoke
unequal. But the dominion of a party must continually, steadily, and by
its very essence, lean upon the prostrate description. A constitution
formed so as to enable a party to overrule its very government, and to
overpower the people too, answers the purposes neither of government nor
of freedom. It compels that power which ought, and often would be
disposed, _equally_ to protect the subjects, to fail in its trust, to
counteract its purposes, and to become no better than the instrument of
the wrongs of a faction. Some degree of influence must exist in all
governments. But a government which has no interest to please the body
of the people, and can neither support them nor with safety call for
their support, nor is of power to sway the domineering faction, can only
exist by corruption; and taught by that monopolizing party which usurps
the title and qualities of the public to consider the body of the people
as out of the constitution, they will consider those who are in it in
the light in which they choose to consider themselves. The whole
relation of government and of freedom will be a battle or a traffic.

This system, in its real nature, and under its proper appellations, is
odious and unnatural, especially when a constitution is admitted which
not only, as all constitutions do profess, has a regard to the good of
the multitude, but in its theory makes profession of their power also.
But of late this scheme of theirs has been new-christened,--_honestum
nomen imponitur vitio_. A word has been lately struck in the mint of the
Castle of Dublin; thence it was conveyed to the Tholsel, or City-Hall,
where, having passed the touch of the corporation, so respectably
stamped and vouched, it soon became current in Parliament, and was
carried back by the Speaker of the House of Commons in great pomp, as an
offering of homage from whence it came. The word is _ascendency_. It is
not absolutely new. But the sense in which I have hitherto seen it used
was to signify an influence obtained over the minds of some other person
by love and reverence, or by superior management and dexterity. It had,
therefore, to this its promotion no more than a moral, not a civil or
political use. But I admit it is capable of being so applied; and if the
Lord Mayor of Dublin, and the Speaker of the Irish Parliament, who
recommend the preservation of the Protestant ascendency, mean to employ
the word in that sense,--that is, if they understand by it the
preservation of the influence of that description of gentlemen over the
Catholics by means of an authority derived from their wisdom and virtue,
and from an opinion they raise in that people of a pious regard and
affection for their freedom and happiness,--it is impossible not to
commend their adoption of so apt a term into the family of politics. It
may be truly said to enrich the language. Even if the Lord Mayor and
Speaker mean to insinuate that this influence is to be obtained and held
by flattering their people, by managing them, by skilfully adapting
themselves to the humors and passions of those whom they would govern,
he must be a very untoward critic who would cavil even at this use of
the word, though such cajoleries would perhaps be more prudently
practised than professed. These are all meanings laudable, or at least
tolerable. But when we look a little more narrowly, and compare it with
the plan to which it owes its present technical application, I find it
has strayed far from its original sense. It goes much further than the
privilege allowed by Horace. It is more than _parce detortum_. This
Protestant ascendency means nothing less than an influence obtained by
virtue, by love, or even by artifice and seduction,--full as little an
influence derived from the means by which ministers have obtained an
influence which might be called, without straining, an _ascendency_, in
public assemblies in England, that is, by a liberal distribution of
places and pensions, and other graces of government. This last is wide
indeed of the signification of the word. New _ascendency_ is the old
_mastership_. It is neither more nor less than the resolution of one set
of people in Ireland to consider themselves as the sole citizens in the
commonwealth, and to keep a dominion over the rest by reducing them to
absolute slavery under a military power, and, thus fortified in their
power, to divide the public estate, which is the result of general
contribution, as a military booty, solely amongst themselves.

The poor word _ascendency_, so soft and melodious in its sound, so
lenitive and emollient in its first usage, is now employed to cover to
the world the most rigid, and perhaps not the most wise, of all plans of
policy. The word is large enough in its comprehension. I cannot
conceive what mode of oppression in civil life, or what mode of
religious persecution, may not come within the methods of preserving an
_ascendency_. In plain old English, as they apply it, it signifies
_pride and dominion_ on the one part of the relation, and on the other
_subserviency and contempt_,--and it signifies nothing else. The old
words are as fit to be set to music as the new: but use has long since
affixed to them their true signification, and they sound, as the other
will, harshly and odiously to the moral and intelligent ears of mankind.

This ascendency, by being a _Protestant_ ascendency, does not better it
from the combination of a note or two more in this anti-harmonic scale.
If Protestant ascendency means the proscription from citizenship of by
far the major part of the people of any country, then Protestant
ascendency is a bad thing, and it ought to have no existence. But there
is a deeper evil. By the use that is so frequently made of the term, and
the policy which is engrafted on it, the name Protestant becomes nothing
more or better than the name of a persecuting faction, with a relation
of some sort of theological hostility to others, but without any sort of
ascertained tenets of its own upon the ground of which it persecutes
other men: for the patrons of this Protestant ascendency neither do nor
can, by anything positive, define or describe what they mean by the word
Protestant. It is defined, as Cowley defines wit, not by what it is, but
by what it is not. It is not the Christian religion as professed in the
churches holding communion with Rome, the majority of Christians: that
is all which, in the latitude of the term, is known about its
signification. This makes such persecutors ten times worse than any of
that description that hitherto have been known in the world. The old
persecutors, whether Pagan or Christian, whether Arian or Orthodox,
whether Catholics, Anglicans, or Calvinists, actually were, or at least
had the decorum to pretend to be, strong dogmatists. They pretended that
their religious maxims were clear and ascertained, and so useful that
they were bound, for the eternal benefit of mankind, to defend or
diffuse them, though by any sacrifices of the temporal good of those who
were the objects of their system of experiment.

The bottom of this theory of persecution is false. It is not permitted
to us to sacrifice the temporal good of any body of men to our own ideas
of the truth and falsehood of any religious opinions. By making men
miserable in this life, they counteract one of the great ends of
charity, which is, in as much as in us lies, to make men happy in every
period of their existence, and most in what most depends upon us. But
give to these old persecutors their mistaken principle, in their
reasoning they are consistent, and in their tempers they may be even
kind and good-natured. But whenever a faction would render millions of
mankind miserable, some millions of the race coexistent with themselves,
and many millions in their succession, without knowing or so much as
pretending to ascertain the doctrines of their own school, (in which
there is much of the lash and nothing of the lesson,) the errors which
the persons in such a faction fall into are not those that are natural
to human imbecility, nor is the least mixture of mistaken kindness to
mankind an ingredient in the severities they inflict. The whole is
nothing but pure and perfect malice. It is, indeed, a perfection in that
kind belonging to beings of an higher order than man, and to them we
ought to leave it.

This kind of persecutors without zeal, without charity, know well enough
that religion, to pass by all questions of the truth or falsehood of any
of its particular systems, (a matter I abandon to the theologians on all
sides,) is a source of great comfort to us mortals, in this our short,
but tedious journey through the world. They know, that, to enjoy this
consolation, men must believe their religion upon some principle or
other, whether of education, habit, theory, or authority. When men are
driven from any of those principles on which they have received
religion, without embracing with the same assurance and cordiality some
other system, a dreadful void is left in their minds, and a terrible
shook is given to their morals. They lose their guide, their comfort,
their hope. None but the most cruel and hardhearted of men, who had
banished all natural tenderness from their minds, such as those beings
of iron, the atheists, could bring themselves to any persecution like
this. Strange it is, but so it is, that men, driven by force from their
habits in one mode of religion, have, by contrary habits, under the same
force, often quietly settled in another. They suborn their reason to
declare in favor of their necessity. Man and his conscience cannot
always be at war. If the first races have not been able to make a
pacification between the conscience and the convenience, their
descendants come generally to submit to the violence of the laws,
without violence to their minds. As things stood formerly, they
possessed a _positive_ scheme of direction and of consolation. In this
men may acquiesce. The harsh methods in use with the old class of
persecutors were to make converts, not apostates only. If they
perversely hated other sects and factions, they loved their own
inordinately. But in this Protestant persecution there is anything but
benevolence at work. What do the Irish statutes? They do not make a
conformity to the _established_ religion, and to its doctrines and
practices, the condition of getting out of servitude. No such thing. Let
three millions of people but abandon all that they and their ancestors
have been taught to believe sacred, and to forswear it publicly in terms
the most degrading, scurrilous, and indecent for men of integrity and
virtue, and to abuse the whole of their former lives, and to slander the
education they have received, and nothing more is required of them.
There is no system of folly, or impiety, or blasphemy, or atheism, into
which they may not throw themselves, and which they may not profess
openly, and as a system, consistently with the enjoyment of all the
privileges of a free citizen in the happiest constitution in the world.

Some of the unhappy assertors of this strange scheme say they are not
persecutors on account of religion. In the first place, they say what is
not true. For what else do they disfranchise the people? If the man gets
rid of a religion through which their malice operates, he gets rid of
all their penalties and incapacities at once. They never afterwards
inquire about him. I speak here of their pretexts, and not of the true
spirit of the transaction, in which religious bigotry, I apprehend, has
little share. Every man has his taste; but I think, if I were so
miserable and undone as to be guilty of premeditated and continued
violence towards any set of men, I had rather that my conduct was
supposed to arise from wild conceits concerning their religious
advantages than from low and ungenerous motives relative to my own
selfish interest. I had rather be thought insane in my charity than
rational in my malice. This much, my dear son, I have to say of this
Protestant persecution,--that is, a persecution of religion itself.

A very great part of the mischiefs that vex the world arises from words.
People soon forget the meaning, but the impression and the passion
remain. The word Protestant is the charm that looks up in the dungeon of
servitude three millions of your people. It is not amiss to consider
this spell of potency, this abracadabra, that is hung about the necks of
the unhappy, not to heal, but to communicate disease. We sometimes hear
of a Protestant _religion_, frequently of a Protestant _interest_. We
hear of the latter the most frequently, because it has a positive
meaning. The other has none. We hear of it the most frequently, because
it has a word in the phrase which, well or ill understood, has animated
to persecution and oppression at all times infinitely more than all the
dogmas in dispute between religious factions. These are, indeed, well
formed to perplex and torment the intellect, but not half so well
calculated to inflame the passions and animosities of men.

I do readily admit that a great deal of the wars, seditions, and
troubles of the world did formerly turn upon the contention between
_interests_ that went by the names of Protestant and Catholic. But I
imagined that at this time no one was weak enough to believe, or
impudent enough to pretend, that questions of Popish and Protestant
opinions or interest are the things by which men are at present menaced
with crusades by foreign invasion, or with seditions which shake the
foundations of the state at home. It is long since all this combination
of things has vanished from the view of intelligent observers. The
existence of quite another system of opinions and interests is now plain
to the grossest sense. Are these the questions that raise a flame in the
minds of men at this day? If ever the Church and the Constitution of
England should fall in these islands, (and they will fall together,) it
is not Presbyterian discipline nor Popish hierarchy that will rise upon
their ruins. It will not be the Church of Rome nor the Church of
Scotland, not the Church of Luther nor the Church of Calvin. On the
contrary, all these churches are menaced, and menaced alike. It is the
new fanatical religion, now in the heat of its first ferment, of the
Rights of Man, which rejects all establishments, all discipline, all
ecclesiastical, and in truth all civil order, which will triumph, and
which will lay prostrate your Church, which will destroy your
distinctions, and which will put all your properties to auction, and
disperse you over the earth. If the present establishment should fall,
it is this religion which will triumph in Ireland and in England, as it
has triumphed in France. This religion, which laughs at creeds and
dogmas and confessions of faith, may be fomented equally amongst all
descriptions and all sects,--amongst nominal Catholics, and amongst
nominal Churchmen, and amongst those Dissenters who know little and care
less about a presbytery, or any of its discipline, or any of its
doctrine. Against this new, this growing, this exterminatory system, all
these churches have a common concern to defend themselves. How the
enthusiasts of this rising sect rejoice to see you of the old churches
play their game, and stir and rake the cinders of animosities sunk in
their ashes, in order to keep up the execution of their plan for your
common ruin!

I suppress all that is in my mind about the blindness of those of our
clergy who will shut their eyes to a thing which glares in such manifest
day. If some wretches amongst an indigent and disorderly part of the
populace raise a riot about tithes, there are of these gentlemen ready
to cry out that this is an overt act of a treasonable conspiracy. Here
the bulls, and the pardons, and the crusade, and the Pope, and the
thunders of the Vatican are everywhere at work. There is a plot to bring
in a foreign power to destroy the Church. Alas! it is not about popes,
but about potatoes, that the minds of this unhappy people are agitated.
It is not from the spirit of zeal, but the spirit of whiskey, that these
wretches act. Is it, then, not conceived possible that a poor clown can
be unwilling, after paying three pounds rent to a gentleman in a brown
coat, to pay fourteen shillings to one in a black coat, for his acre of
potatoes, and tumultuously to desire some modification of the charge,
without being supposed to have no other motive than a frantic zeal for
being thus double-taxed to another set of landholders and another set of
priests? Have men no self-interest, no avarice, no repugnance to public
imposts? Have they no sturdy and restive minds, no undisciplined habits?
Is there nothing in the whole mob of irregular passions, which might
precipitate some of the common people, in some places, to quarrel with a
legal, because they feel it to be a burdensome imposition? According to
these gentlemen, no offence can be committed by Papists but from zeal to
their religion. To make room for the vices of Papists, they clear the
house of all the vices of men. Some of the common people (not one,
however, in ten thousand) commit disorders. Well! punish them as you do,
and as you ought to punish them, for their violence against the just
property of each individual clergyman, as each individual suffers.
Support the injured rector, or the injured impropriator, in the
enjoyment of the estate of which (whether on the best plan or not) the
laws have put him in possession. Let the crime and the punishment stand
upon their own bottom. But now we ought all of us, clergymen most
particularly, to avoid assigning another cause of quarrel, in order to
infuse a new source of bitterness into a dispute which personal feelings
on both sides will of themselves make bitter enough, and thereby involve
in it by religious descriptions men who have individually no share
whatsoever in those irregular acts. Let us not make the malignant
fictions of our own imaginations, heated with factious controversies,
reasons for keeping men that are neither guilty nor justly suspected of
crime in a servitude equally dishonorable and unsafe to religion and to
the state. When men are constantly accused, but know themselves not to
be guilty, they must naturally abhor their accusers. There is no
character, when malignantly taken up and deliberately pursued, which
more naturally excites indignation and abhorrence in mankind, especially
in that part of mankind which suffers from it.

I do not pretend to take pride in an extravagant attachment to any sect.
Some gentlemen in Ireland affect that sort of glory. It is to their
taste. Their piety, I take it for granted, justifies the fervor of their
zeal, and may palliate the excess of it. Being myself no more than a
common layman, commonly informed in controversies, leading only a very
common life, and having only a common citizen's interest in the Church
or in the State, yet to you I will say, in justice to my own sentiments,
that not one of those zealots for a Protestant interest wishes more
sincerely than I do, perhaps not half so sincerely, for the support of
the Established Church in both these kingdoms. It is a great link
towards holding fast the connection of religion with the State, and for
keeping these two islands, in their present critical independence of
constitution, in a close connection of _opinion and affection_. I wish
it well, as the religion of the greater number of the primary
land-proprietors of the kingdom, with whom all establishments of Church
and Stats, for strong political reasons, ought in my opinion to be
firmly connected. I wish it well, because it is more closely combined
than any other of the church systems with the _crown_, which is the stay
of the mixed Constitution,--because it is, as things now stand, the sole
connecting _political_ principle between the constitutions of the two
independent kingdoms. I have another and infinitely a stronger reason
for wishing it well: it is, that in the present time I consider it as
one of the main pillars of the Christian religion itself. The body and
substance of every religion I regard much more than any of the forms and
dogmas of the particular sects. Its fall would leave a great void, which
nothing else, of which I can form any distinct idea, might fill. I
respect the Catholic hierarchy and the Presbyterian republic; but I
know that the hope or the fear of establishing either of them is, in
these kingdoms, equally chimerical, even if I preferred one or the other
of them to the Establishment, which certainly I do not.

These are some of my reasons for wishing the support of the Church of
Ireland as by law established. These reasons are founded as well on the
absolute as on the relative situation of that kingdom. But is it because
I love the Church, and the King, and the privileges of Parliament, that
I am to be ready for any violence, or any injustice, or any absurdity,
in the means of supporting any of these powers, or all of them together?
Instead of prating about Protestant ascendencies, Protestant Parliaments
ought, in my opinion, to think at last of becoming patriot Parliaments.

The legislature of Ireland, like all legislatures, ought to frame its
laws to suit the people and the circumstances of the country, and not
any longer to make it their whole business to force the nature, the
temper, and the inveterate habits of a nation to a conformity to
speculative systems concerning any kind of laws. Ireland has an
established government, and a religion legally established, which are to
be preserved. It has a people who are to be preserved too, and to be led
by reason, principle, sentiment, and interest to acquiesce in that
government. Ireland is a country under peculiar circumstances. The
people of Ireland are a very mixed people; and the quantities of the
several ingredients in the mixture are very much disproportioned to each
other. Are we to govern this mixed body as if it were composed of the
most simple elements, comprehending the whole in one system of
benevolent legislation? or are we not rather to provide for the several
parts according to the various and diversified necessities of the
heterogeneous nature of the mass? Would not common reason and common
honesty dictate to us the policy of regulating the people, in the
several descriptions of which they are composed, according to the
natural ranks and classes of an orderly civil society, under a common
protecting sovereign, and under a form of constitution favorable at once
to authority and to freedom,--such as the British Constitution boasts to
be, and such as it is to those who enjoy it?

You have an ecclesiastical establishment, which, though the religion of
the prince, and of most of the first class of landed proprietors, is not
the religion of the major part of the inhabitants, and which
consequently does not answer to _them_ any one purpose of a religious
establishment. This is a state of things which no man in his senses can
call perfectly happy. But it is the state of Ireland. Two hundred years
of experiment show it to be unalterable. Many a fierce struggle has
passed between the parties. The result is, you cannot make the people
Protestants, and they cannot shake off a Protestant government. This is
what experience teaches, and what all men of sense of all descriptions
know. To-day the question is this: Are we to make the best of this
situation, which we cannot alter? The question is: Shall the condition
of the body of the people be alleviated in other things, on account of
their necessary suffering from their being subject to the burdens of two
religious establishments, from one of which they do not partake the
least, living or dying, either of instruction or of consolation,--or
shall it be aggravated, by stripping the people thus loaded of
everything which might support and indemnify them in this state, so as
to leave them naked of every sort of right and of every name of
franchise, to outlaw them from the Constitution, and to cut off
(perhaps) three millions of plebeian subjects, without reference to
property, or any other qualification, from all connection with the
popular representation, of the kingdom?

As to religion, it has nothing at all to do with the proceeding. Liberty
is not sacrificed to a zeal for religion, but a zeal for religion is
pretended and assumed to destroy liberty. The Catholic religion is
completely free. It has no establishment,--but it is recognized,
permitted, and, in a degree, protected by the laws. If a man is
satisfied to be a slave, he may be a Papist with perfect impunity. He
may say mass, or hear it, as he pleases; but he must consider himself as
an outlaw from the British Constitution. If the constitutional liberty
of the subject were not the thing aimed at, the direct reverse course
would be taken. The franchise would have been permitted, and the mass
exterminated. But the conscience of a man left, and a tenderness for it
hypocritically pretended, is to make it a trap to catch his liberty.

So much is this the design, that the violent partisans of this scheme
fairly take up all the maxims and arguments, as well as the practices,
by which tyranny has fortified itself at all times. Trusting wholly in
their strength and power, (and upon this they reckon, as always ready to
strike wherever they wish to direct the storm,) they abandon all pretext
of the general good of the community. They say, that, if the people,
under any given modification, obtain the smallest portion or particle of
constitutional freedom, it will be impossible for them to hold their
property. They tell us that they act only on the defensive. They inform
the public of Europe that their estates are made up of forfeitures and
confiscations from the natives; that, if the body of people obtain
votes, any number of votes, however small, it will be a step to the
choice of members of their own religion; that the House of Commons, in
spite of the influence of nineteen parts in twenty of the landed
interest now in their hands, will be composed in the whole, or in far
the major part, of Papists; that this Popish House of Commons will
instantly pass a law to confiscate all their estates, which it will not
be in their power to save even by entering into that Popish party
themselves, because there are prior claimants to be satisfied; that, as
to the House of Lords, though neither Papists nor Protestants have a
share in electing them, the body of the peerage will be so obliging and
disinterested as to fall in with this exterminatory scheme, which is to
forfeit all their estates, the largest part of the kingdom; and, to
crown all, that his Majesty will give his cheerful assent to this
causeless act of attainder of his innocent and faithful Protestant
subjects; that they will be or are to be left, without house or land, to
the dreadful resource of living by their wits, out of which they are
already frightened by the apprehension of this spoliation with which
they are threatened; that, therefore, they cannot so much as listen to
any arguments drawn from equity or from national or constitutional
policy: the sword is at their throats; beggary and famine at their door.
See what it is to have a good look-out, and to see danger at the end of
a sufficiently long perspective!

This is, indeed, to speak plain, though to speak nothing very new. The
same thing has been said in all times and in all languages. The language
of tyranny has been invariable: "The general good is inconsistent with
my personal safety." Justice and liberty seem so alarming to these
gentlemen, that they are not ashamed even to slander their own titles,
to calumniate and call in doubt their right to their own estates, and to
consider themselves as novel disseizors, usurpers, and intruders, rather
than lose a pretext for becoming oppressors of their fellow-citizens,
whom they (not I) choose to describe themselves as having robbed.

Instead of putting themselves in this odious point of light, one would
think they would wish to let Time draw his oblivious veil over the
unpleasant modes by which lordships and demesnes have been acquired in
theirs, and almost in all other countries upon earth. It might be
imagined, that, when the sufferer (if a sufferer exists) had forgot the
wrong, they would be pleased to forget it too,--that they would permit
the sacred name of possession to stand in the place of the melancholy
and unpleasant title of grantees of confiscation, which, though firm and
valid in law, surely merits the name that a great Roman jurist gave to a
title at least as valid in his nation as confiscation would be either in
his or in ours: _Tristis et luctuosa successio_.

Such is the situation of every man who comes in upon the ruin of
another; his succeeding, under this circumstance, is _tristis et
luctuosa successio_. If it had been the fate of any gentleman to profit
by the confiscation of his neighbor, one would think he would be more
disposed to give him a valuable interest under him in his land, or to
allow him a pension, as I understand one worthy person has done, without
fear or apprehension that his benevolence to a ruined family would be
construed into a recognition of the forfeited title. The public of
England, the other day, acted in this manner towards Lord Newburgh, a
Catholic. Though the estate had been vested by law in the greatest of
the public charities, they have given him a pension from his
confiscation. They have gone further in other cases. On the last
rebellion, in 1745, in Scotland, several forfeitures were incurred. They
had been disposed of by Parliament to certain laudable uses. Parliament
reversed the method which they had adopted in Lord Newburgh's case, and
in my opinion did better: they gave the forfeited estates to the
successors of the forfeiting proprietors, chargeable in part with the
uses. Is this, or anything like this, asked in favor of any human
creature in Ireland? It is bounty, it is charity,--wise bounty, and
politic charity; but no man can claim it as a right. Here no such thing
is claimed as right, or begged as charity. The demand has an object as
distant from all considerations of this sort as any two extremes can be.
The people desire the privileges inseparably annexed, since Magna
Charta, to the freehold which they have by descent or obtain as the
fruits of their industry. They call for no man's estate; they desire not
to be dispossessed of their own.

But this melancholy and invidious title is a favorite (and, like
favorites, always of the least merit) with those who possess every other
title upon earth along with it. For this purpose they revive the bitter
memory of every dissension which has torn to pieces their miserable
country for ages. After what has passed in 1782, one would not think
that decorum, to say nothing of policy, would permit them to call up, by
magic charms, the grounds, reasons, and principles of those terrible
confiscatory and exterminatory periods. They would not set men upon
calling from the quiet sleep of death any Samuel, to ask him by what act
of arbitrary monarchs, by what inquisitions of corrupted tribunals and
tortured jurors, by what fictitious tenures invented to dispossess whole
unoffending tribes and their chieftains. They would not conjure up the
ghosts from the ruins of castles and churches, to tell for what attempt
to struggle for the independence of an Irish legislature, and to raise
armies of volunteers without regular commissions from the crown in
support of that independence, the estates of the old Irish nobility and
gentry had been confiscated. They would not wantonly call on those
phantoms to tell by what English acts of Parliament, forced upon two
reluctant kings, the lands of their country were put up to a mean and
scandalous auction in every goldsmith's shop in London, or chopped to
pieces and out into rations, to pay the mercenary soldiery of a regicide
usurper. They would not be so fond of titles under Cromwell, who, if he
avenged an Irish rebellion against the sovereign authority of the
Parliament of England, had himself rebelled against the very Parliament
whose sovereignty he asserted, full as much as the Irish nation, which
he was sent to subdue and confiscate, could rebel against that
Parliament, or could rebel against the king, against whom both he and
the Parliament which he served, and which he betrayed, had both of them

The gentlemen who hold the language of the day know perfectly well that
the Irish in 1641 pretended, at least, that they did not rise against
the king: nor in fact did they, whatever constructions law might put
upon their act. But full surely they rebelled against the authority of
the Parliament of England, and they openly professed so to do. Admitting
(I have now no time to discuss the matter) the enormous and unpardonable
magnitude of this their crime, they rued it in their persons, and in
those of their children and their grandchildren, even to the fifth and
sixth generations. Admitting, then, the enormity of this unnatural
rebellion in favor of the independence of Ireland, will it follow that
it must be avenged forever? Will it follow that it must be avenged on
thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of those whom they can never
trace, by the labors of the most subtle metaphysician of the traduction
of crimes, or the most inquisitive genealogist of proscription, to the
descendant of any one concerned in that nefarious Irish rebellion
against the Parliament of England?

If, however, you could find out those pedigrees of guilt, I do not think
the difference would be essential. History records many things which
ought to make us hate evil actions; but neither history, nor morals, nor
policy can teach us to punish innocent men on that account. What lesson
does the iniquity of prevalent factions read to us? It ought to lesson
us into an abhorrence of the abuse of our own power in our own day, when
we hate its excesses so much in other persons and in other times. To
that school true statesmen ought to be satisfied to leave mankind. They
ought not to call from the dead all the discussions and litigations
which formerly inflamed the furious factions which had torn their
country to pieces; they ought not to rake into the hideous and
abominable things which were done in the turbulent fury of an injured,
robbed, and persecuted people, and which were afterwards cruelly
revenged in the execution, and as outrageously and shamefully
exaggerated in the representation, in order, an hundred and fifty years
after, to find some color for justifying them in the eternal
proscription and civil excommunication of a whole people.

Let us come to a later period of those confiscations with the memory of
which the gentlemen who triumph in the acts of 1782 are so much
delighted. The Irish again rebelled against the English Parliament in
1688, and the English Parliament again put up to sale the greatest part
of their estates. I do not presume to defend the Irish for this
rebellion, nor to blame the English Parliament for this confiscation.
The Irish, it is true, did not revolt from King James's power. He threw
himself upon their fidelity, and they supported him to the best of their
feeble power. Be the crime of that obstinate adherence to an abdicated
sovereign, against a prince whom the Parliaments of Ireland and Scotland
had recognized, what it may, I do not mean to justify this rebellion
more than the former. It might, however, admit some palliation in them.
In generous minds some small degree of compassion might be excited for
an error, where they were misled, as Cicero says to a conqueror, _quadam
specie et similitudine pacis_, not without a mistaken appearance of
duty, and for which the guilty have suffered, by exile abroad and
slavery at home, to the extent of their folly or their offence. The best
calculators compute that Ireland lost two hundred thousand of her
inhabitants in that struggle. If the principle of the English and
Scottish resistance at the Revolution is to be justified, (as sure I am
it is,) the submission of Ireland must be somewhat extenuated. For, if
the Irish resisted King William, they resisted him on the very same
principle that the English and Scotch resisted King James. The Irish
Catholics must have been the very worst and the most truly unnatural of
rebels, if they had not supported a prince whom they had seen attacked,
not for any designs against _their_ religion or _their_ liberties, but
for an extreme partiality for their sect, and who, far from trespassing
on _their_ liberties and properties, secured both them and the
independence of their country in much the same manner that we have seen
the same things done at the period of 1782,--I trust the last revolution
in Ireland.

That the Irish Parliament of King James did in some particulars, though
feebly, imitate the rigor which had been used towards the Irish, is true
enough. Blamable enough they were for what they had done, though under
the greatest possible provocation. I shall never praise confiscations or
counter-confiscations as long as I live. When they happen by necessity,
I shall think the necessity lamentable and odious: I shall think that
anything done under it ought not to pass into precedent, or to be
adopted by choice, or to produce any of those shocking retaliations
which never suffer dissensions to subside. Least of all would I fix the
transitory spirit of civil fury by perpetuating and methodizing it in
tyrannic government. If it were permitted to argue with power, might one
not ask these gentlemen whether it would not be more natural, instead of
wantonly mooting these questions concerning their property, as if it
were an exercise in law, to found it on the solid rock of
prescription,--the soundest, the most general, and the most recognized
title between man and man that is known in municipal or in public
jurisprudence?--a title in which not arbitrary institutions, but the
eternal order of things, gives judgment; a title which is not the
creature, but the master, of positive law; a title which, though not
fixed in its term, is rooted in its principle in the law of Nature
itself, and is indeed the original ground of all known property: for all
property in soil will always be traced back to that source, and will
rest there. The miserable natives of Ireland, who ninety-nine in an
hundred are tormented with quite other cares, and are bowed down to
labor for the bread of the hour, are not, as gentlemen pretend, plodding
with antiquaries for titles of centuries ago to the estates of the great
lords and squires for whom they labor. But if they were thinking of the
titles which gentlemen labor to beat into their heads, where can they
bottom their own claims, but in a presumption and a proof that these
lands had at some time been possessed by their ancestors? These
gentlemen (for they have lawyers amongst them) know as well as I that in
England we have had always a prescription or limitation, as all nations
have, against each other. The crown was excepted; but that exception is
destroyed, and we have lately established a sixty years' possession as
against the crown. All titles terminate in prescription,--in which
(differently from Time in the fabulous instances) the son devours the
father, and the last prescription eats up all the former.

       *       *       *       *       *






Dear Sir,--In the reduced state of body and in the dejected state of
mind in which I find myself at this very advanced period of my life, it
is a great consolation to me to know that a cause I ever have had so
very near my heart is taken up by a man of your activity and talents.

It is very true that your late friend, my ever dear and honored son, was
in the highest degree solicitous about the final event of a business
which he also had pursued for a long time with infinite zeal, and no
small degree of success. It was not above half an hour before he left me
forever that he spoke with considerable earnestness on this very
subject. If I had needed any incentives to do my best for freeing the
body of my country from the grievances under which they labor, this
alone would certainly call forth all my endeavors.

The person who succeeded to the government of Ireland about the time of
that afflicting event had been all along of my sentiments and yours upon
this subject; and far from needing to be stimulated by me, that
incomparable person, and those in whom he strictly confided, even went
before me in their resolution to pursue the great end of government, the
satisfaction and concord of the people with whose welfare they were
charged. I cannot bear to think on the causes by which this great plan
of policy, so manifestly beneficial to both kingdoms, has been

Your mistake with regard to me lies in supposing that I did not, when
his removal was in agitation, strongly and personally represent to
several of his Majesty's ministers, to whom I could have the most ready
access, the true state of Ireland, and the mischiefs which sooner or
later must arise from subjecting the mass of the people to the
capricious and interested domination of an exceeding small faction and
its dependencies.

That representation was made the last time, or very nearly the last
time, that I have ever had the honor of seeing those ministers. I am so
far from having any credit with them, on this, or any other public
matters, that I have reason to be certain, if it were known that any
person in office in Ireland, from the highest to the lowest, were
influenced by my opinions, and disposed to act upon them, such an one
would be instantly turned out of his employment. Yon have formed, to my
person a flattering, yet in truth a very erroneous opinion, of my power
with those who direct the public measures. I never have been directly or
indirectly consulted about anything that is done. The judgment of the
eminent and able persons who conduct public affairs is undoubtedly
superior to mine; but self-partiality induces almost every man to defer
something to his own. Nothing is more notorious than that I have the
misfortune of thinking that no one capital measure relative to political
arrangements, and still less that a new military plan for the defence of
either kingdom in this arduous war, has been taken upon any other
principle than such as must conduct us to inevitable ruin.

In the state of my mind, so discordant with the tone of ministers, and
still more discordant with the tone of opposition, you may judge what
degree of weight I am likely to have with either of the parties who
divide this kingdom,--even though I were endowed with strength of body,
or were possessed of any active situation in the government, which might
give success to my endeavors. But the fact is, since the day of my
unspeakable calamity, except in the attentions of a very few old and
compassionate friends, I am totally out of all social intercourse. My
health has gone down very rapidly; and I have been brought hither with
very faint hopes of life, and enfeebled to such a degree as those who
had known me some time ago could scarcely think credible. Since I came
hither, my sufferings have been greatly aggravated, and my little
strength still further reduced; so that, though I am told the symptoms
of my disorder begin to carry a more favorable aspect, I pass the far
larger part of the twenty-four hours, indeed almost the whole, either in
my bed or lying upon the couch from which I dictate this. Had you been
apprised of this circumstance, you could not have expected anything, as
you seem to do, from my active exertions. I could do nothing, if I was
still stronger, not even _si meus adforet Hector_.

There is no hope for the body of the people of Ireland, as long as those
who are in power with you shall make it the great object of their policy
to propagate an opinion on this side of the water that the mass of their
countrymen are not to be trusted by their government, and that the only
hold which England has upon Ireland consists in preserving a certain
very small number of gentlemen in full possession of a monopoly of that
kingdom. This system has disgusted many others besides Catholics and

As to those who on your side are in the opposition to government, they
are composed of persons several of whom I love and revere. They have
been irritated by a treatment too much for the ordinary patience of
mankind to bear into the adoption of schemes which, however
_argumentatively_ specious, would go _practically_ to the inevitable
ruin of the kingdom. The opposition always connects the emancipation of
the Catholics with these schemes of reformation: indeed, it makes the
former only a member of the latter project. The gentlemen who enforce
that opposition are, in my opinion, playing the game of their
adversaries with all their might; and there is no third party in Ireland
(nor in England neither) to separate things that are in themselves so
distinct,--I mean the admitting people to the benefits of the
Constitution, and a change in the form of the Constitution itself.

As every one knows that a great part of the constitution of the Irish
House of Commons was formed about the year 1614 expressly for bringing
that House into a state of dependence, and that the new representative
was at that time seated and installed by force and violence, nothing can
be more impolitic than for those who wish the House to stand on its
present basis (as, for one, I most sincerely do) to make it appear to
have kept too much the principle of its first institution, and to
continue to be as little a virtual as it is an actual representative of
the commons. It is the _degeneracy_ of such an institution, _so vicious
in its principle_, that is to be wished for. If men have the real
benefit of a _sympathetic_ representation, none but those who are heated
and intoxicated with theory will look for any other. This sort of
representation, my dear Sir, must wholly depend, not on the force with
which it is upheld, but upon the _prudence_ of those who have influence
upon it. Indeed, without some such prudence in the use of authority, I
do not know, at least in the present time, how any power can long

If it be true that both parties are carrying things to extremities in
different ways, the object which you and I have in common, that is to
say, the union and concord of our country _on the basis of the actual
representation_, without risking those evils which any change in the
form of our legislature must inevitably bring on, can never be obtained.
On the part of the Catholics (that is to say, of the body of the people
of the kingdom) it is a terrible alternative, either to submit to the
yoke of declared and insulting enemies, or to seek a remedy in plunging
themselves into the horrors and crimes of that Jacobinism which
unfortunately is not disagreeable to the principles and inclinations of,
I am afraid, the majority of what we call the Protestants of Ireland.
The Protestant part of that kingdom is represented by the government
itself to be, by whole counties, in nothing less than open rebellion. I
am sure that it is everywhere teeming with dangerous conspiracy.

I believe it will be found, that, though the principles of the
Catholics, and the incessant endeavors of their clergy, have kept them
from being generally infected with the systems of this time, yet,
whenever their situation brings them nearer into contact with the
Jacobin Protestants, they are more or less infected with their

It is a matter for melancholy reflection, but I am fully convinced, that
many persons in Ireland would be glad that the Catholics should become
more and more infected with the Jacobin madness, in order to furnish new
arguments for fortifying them in their monopoly. On any other ground it
is impossible to account for the late language of your men in power. If
statesmen, (let me suppose for argument,) upon the most solid political
principles, conceive themselves obliged to resist the wishes of the far
more numerous, and, as things stand, not the worse part of the
community, one would think they would naturally put their refusal as
much as possible upon temporary grounds, and that they would act towards
them in the most conciliatory manner, and would talk to them in the most
gentle and soothing language: for refusal, in itself, is not a very
gracious thing; and, unfortunately, men are very quickly irritated out
of their principles. Nothing is more discouraging to the loyalty of any
description of men than to represent to them that their humiliation and
subjection make a principal part in the fundamental and invariable
policy which regards the conjunction of these two kingdoms. This is not
the way to give them a warm interest in that conjunction.

My poor opinion is, that the closest connection between Great Britain
and Ireland is essential to the well-being, I had almost said, to the
very being, of the two kingdoms. For that purpose I humbly conceive that
the whole of the superior, and what I should call _imperial_ politics,
ought to have its residence here; and that Ireland, locally, civilly,
and commercially independent, ought politically to look up to Great
Britain in all matters of peace or of war,--in all those points to be
guided by her.--and, in a word, with her to live and to die. At bottom,
Ireland has no other choice,--I mean, no other rational choice.

I think, indeed, that Great Britain would be ruined by the separation of
Ireland; but as there are degrees even in ruin, it would fall the most
heavily on Ireland. By such a separation Ireland would be the most
completely undone country in the world,--the most wretched, the most
distracted, and, in the end, the most desolate part of the habitable
globe. Little do many people in Ireland consider how much of its
prosperity has been owing to, and still depends upon, its intimate
connection with this kingdom. But, more sensible of this great truth,
than perhaps any other man, I have never conceived, or can conceive,
that the connection is strengthened by making the major part of the
inhabitants of your country believe that their ease, and their
satisfaction, and their equalization with the rest of their
fellow-subjects of Ireland are things adverse to the principles of that
connection,--or that their subjection to a small monopolizing junto,
composed of one of the smallest of their own internal factions, is the
very condition upon which the harmony of the two kingdoms essentially
depends. I was sorry to hear that this principle, or something not
unlike it, was publicly and fully avowed by persons of great rank and
authority in the House of Lords in Ireland.

As to a participation on the part of the Catholics in the privileges and
capacities which are withheld, without meaning wholly to depreciate
their importance, if I had the honor of being an Irish Catholic, I
should be content to expect satisfaction upon that subject with
patience, until the minds of my adversaries, few, but powerful, were
come to a proper temper: because, if the Catholics did enjoy, without
fraud, chicane, or partiality, some fair portion of those advantages
which the law, even as now the law is, leaves open to them, and if the
rod were not shaken over them at every turn, their present condition
would be tolerable; as compared with their former condition, it would be
happy. But the most favorable laws can do very little towards the
happiness of a people, when the disposition of the ruling power is
adverse to them. Men do not live upon blotted paper. The favorable or
the hostile mind of the ruling power is of far more importance to
mankind, for good or evil, than the black-letter of any statute. Late
acts of Parliament, whilst they fixed at least a temporary bar to the
hopes and progress of the larger description of the nation, opened to
them certain subordinate objects of equality; but it is impossible that
the people should imagine that any fair measure of advantage is intended
to them, when they hear the laws by which they were admitted to this
limited qualification publicly reprobated as excessive and
inconsiderate. They must think that there is a hankering after the old
penal and persecuting code. Their alarm must be great, when that
declaration is made by a person in very high and important office in the
House of Commons, and as the very first specimen and auspice of a new

All this is very unfortunate. I have the honor of an old acquaintance,
and entertain, in common with you, a very high esteem for the few
English persons who are concerned in the government of Ireland; but I am
not ignorant of the relation these transitory ministers bear to the
more settled Irish part of your administration. It is a delicate topic,
upon which I wish to say but little, though my reflections upon it are
many and serious. There is a great cry against English influence. I am
quite sure that it is Irish influence that dreads the English habits.

Great disorders have long prevailed in Ireland. It is not long since
that the Catholics were the suffering party from those disorders. I am
sure they were not protected as the case required. Their sufferings
became a matter of discussion in Parliament. It produced the most
infuriated declamation against them that I have ever read. An inquiry
was moved into the facts. The declamation was at least tolerated, if not
approved. The inquiry was absolutely rejected. In that case, what is
left for those who are abandoned by government, but to join with the
persons who are capable of injuring them or protecting them as they
oppose or concur in their designs? This will produce a very fatal kind
of union amongst the people; but it is an union, which an unequal
administration of justice tends necessarily to produce.

If anything could astonish one at this time, it is the war that the
rulers in Ireland think it proper to carry on against the person whom
they call the Pope, and against all his adherents, whenever they think
they have the power of manifesting their hostility. Without in the least
derogating from the talents of your theological politicians, or from the
military abilities of your commanders (who act on the same principles)
in Ireland, and without derogating from the zeal of either, it appears
to me that the Protestant Directory of Paris, as statesmen, and the
Protestant hero, Buonaparte, as a general, have done more to destroy
the said Pope and all his adherents, in all their capacities, than the
junto in Ireland have ever been able to effect. You must submit your
_fasces_ to theirs, and at best be contented to follow with songs of
gratulation, or invectives, according to your humor, the triumphal car
of those great conquerors. Had that true Protestant, Hoche, with an army
not infected with the slightest tincture of Popery, made good his
landing in Ireland, he would have saved you from a great deal of the
trouble which is taken to keep under a description of your
fellow-citizens obnoxious to you from their religion. It would not have
a month's existence, supposing his success. This is the alliance which,
under the appearance of hostility, we act as if we wished to promote.
All is well, provided we are safe from Popery.

It was not necessary for you, my dear Sir, to explain yourself to _me_
(in justification of your good wishes to your fellow-citizens)
concerning your total alienation from the principles of the Catholics. I
am more concerned in what we agree than in what we differ. You know the
impossibility of our forming any judgment upon the opinions, religious,
moral, or political, of those who in the largest sense are called
Protestants,--at least, as these opinions and tenets form a
qualification for holding any civil, judicial, military, or even
ecclesiastical situation. I have no doubt of the orthodox opinion of
many, both of the clergy and laity, professing the established religion
in Ireland, and of many even amongst the Dissenters, relative to the
great points of the Christian faith: but that orthodoxy concerns them
only as _individuals_. As a _qualification_ for employment, we all know
that in Ireland it is not necessary that they should profess any
religion at all: so that the war that we make is upon certain
theological tenets, about which scholastic disputes are carried on _aequo
Marte_, by controvertists, on their side, as able and as learned, and
perhaps as well-intentioned, as those are who fight the battle on the
other part. To them I would leave those controversies. I would turn my
mind to what is more within its competence, and has been more my study,
(though, for a man of the world, I have thought of those things,)--I
mean, the moral, civil, and political good of the countries we belong
to, and in which God has appointed your station and mine. Let every man
be as pious as he pleases, and in the way that he pleases; but it is
agreeable neither to piety nor to policy to give exclusively all manner
of civil privileges and advantages to a _negative_ religion, (such is
the Protestant without a certain creed,) and at the same time to deny
those privileges to men whom we know to agree to an iota in every one
_positive_ doctrine which all of us who profess the religion
authoritatively taught in England hold ourselves, according to our
faculties, bound to believe. The Catholics of Ireland (as I have said)
have the whole of our _positive_ religion: our difference is only a
negation of certain tenets of theirs. If we strip ourselves of _that_
part of Catholicism, we abjure Christianity. If we drive them from that
holding, without engaging them in some other positive religion, (which
you know by our qualifying laws we do not,) what do we better than to
hold out to them terrors on the one side, and bounties on the other, in
favor of that which, for anything we know to the contrary, may be pure

You are well aware, that, when a man renounces the Roman religion,
there is no civil inconvenience or incapacity whatsoever which shall
hinder him from joining any new or old sect of Dissenters, or of forming
a sect of his own invention upon the most anti-christian principles. Let
Mr. Thomas Paine obtain a pardon, (as on change of ministry he may,)
there is nothing to hinder him from setting up a church of his own in
the very midst of you. He is a natural-born British subject. His French
citizenship does not disqualify him, at least upon a peace. This
Protestant apostle is as much above all suspicion of Popery as the
greatest and most zealous of your sanhedrim in Ireland can possibly be.
On purchasing a qualification, (which his friends of the Directory are
not so poor as to be unable to effect,) he may sit in Parliament; and
there is no doubt that there is not one of your tests against Popery
that he will not take as fairly, and as much _ex animo_, as the best of
your zealot statesmen. I push this point no further, and only adduce
this example (a pretty strong one, and fully in point) to show what I
take to be the madness and folly of driving men, under the existing
circumstances, from any _positive_ religion whatever into the irreligion
of the times, and its sure concomitant principles of anarchy.

When religion is brought into a question of civil and political
arrangement, it must be considered more politically than theologically,
at least by us, who are nothing more than mere laymen. In that light,
the case of the Catholics of Ireland is peculiarly hard, whether they be
laity or clergy. If any of them take part, like the gentleman you
mention, with some of the most accredited Protestants of the country, in
projects which cannot be more abhorrent to your nature and disposition
than they are to mine,--in that case, however few these Catholic
factions who are united with factious Protestants may be, (and very few
they are now, whatever shortly they may become,) on their account the
whole body is considered as of suspected fidelity to the crown, and as
wholly undeserving of its favor. But if, on the contrary, in those
districts of the kingdom where their numbers are the greatest, where
they make, in a manner, the whole body of the people, (as, out of
cities, in three fourths of the kingdom they do,) these Catholics show
every mark of loyalty and zeal in support of the government, which at
best looks on them with an evil eye, then their very loyalty is turned
against their claims. They are represented as a contented and happy
people, and that it is unnecessary to do anything more in their favor.
Thus the factious disposition of a few among the Catholics and the
loyalty of the whole mass are equally assigned as reasons for not
putting them on a par with those Protestants who are asserted by the
government itself, which frowns upon Papists, to be in a state of
nothing short of actual rebellion, and in a strong disposition to make
common cause with the worst foreign enemy that these countries have ever
had to deal with. What in the end can come of all this?

As to the Irish Catholic clergy, their condition is likewise most
critical. If they endeavor by their influence to keep a dissatisfied
laity in quiet, they are in danger of losing the little credit they
possess, by being considered as the instruments of a government adverse
to the civil interests of their flock. If they let things take their
course, they will be represented as colluding with sedition, or at least
tacitly encouraging it. If they remonstrate against persecution, they
propagate rebellion. Whilst government publicly avows hostility to that
people, as a part of a regular system, there is no road they can take
which does not lead to their ruin.

If nothing can be done on your side of the water, I promise you that
nothing will be done here. Whether in reality or only in appearance I
cannot positively determine, but you will be left to yourselves by the
ruling powers here. It is thus ostensibly and above-board; and in part,
I believe, the disposition is real. As to the people at large in this
country, I am sure they have no disposition to intermeddle in your
affairs. They mean you no ill whatever; and they are too ignorant of the
state of your affairs to be able to do you any good. Whatever opinion
they have on your subject is very faint and indistinct; and if there is
anything like a formed notion, even that amounts to no more than a sort
of humming that remains on their ears of the burden of the old song
about Popery. Poor souls, they are to be pitied, who think of nothing
but dangers long passed by, and but little of the perils that actually
surround them.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have been long, but it is almost a necessary consequence of dictating,
and that by snatches, as a relief from pain gives me the means of
expressing my sentiments. They can have little weight, as coming from
me; and I have not power enough of mind or body to bring them out with
their natural force. But I do not wish to have it concealed that I am of
the same opinion, to my last breath, which I entertained when my
faculties were at the best; and I have not held back from men in power
in this kingdom, to whom I have very good wishes, any part of my
sentiments on this melancholy subject, so long as I had means of access
to persons of their consideration.

I have the honor to be, &c.


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Edmund Burke, Vol. VI. (of 12), by Edmund Burke


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