Infomotions, Inc.Peter Plymley's Letters, and selected essays / Smith, Sydney, 1771-1845

Author: Smith, Sydney, 1771-1845
Title: Peter Plymley's Letters, and selected essays
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): ireland; catholic; catholics; irish; lord hawkesbury; protestant
Contributor(s): Bright, Mynors, 1818-1883 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 53,602 words (really short) Grade range: 16-19 (graduate school) Readability score: 41 (average)
Identifier: etext4063
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Title: Peter Plymley's Letters and Selected Essays

Author: Sydney Smith

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   Peter Plymley's Letters
   Historical Apology For The Irish Catholics
   Ireland and England
   Moore's Captain Rock


Sydney Smith, of the same age as Walter Scott, was born at Woodford,
in Essex, in the year 1771, and he died of heart disease, aged
seventy-four, on the 22nd of February, 1845.  His father was a
clever man of wandering habits who, when he settled in England,
reduced his means by buying, altering, spoiling, and then selling
about nineteen different places in England.  His mother was of a
French family from Languedoc, that had been driven to England by the
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.  Sydney Smith's grandfather, upon
the mother's side, could speak no English, and he himself ascribed
some of his gaiety to the French blood in his veins.

He was one of four sons.  His eldest brother Robert--known as Bobus-
-was sent to Eton, where he joined Canning, Frere, and John Smith,
in writing the Eton magazine, the Microcosm; and at Cambridge Bobus
afterwards was known as a fine Latin scholar.  Sydney Smith went
first to a school at Southampton, and then to Winchester, where he
became captain of the school.  Then he was sent for six months to
Normandy for a last polish to his French before he went on to New
College, Oxford.  When he had obtained his fellowship there, his
father left him to his own resources.  His eldest brother had been
trained for the bar, his two younger brothers were sent out to
India, and Sydney, against his own wish, yielded to the strong
desire of his father that he should take orders as a clergyman.
Accordingly, in 1794, he became curate of the small parish of
Netherhaven, in Wiltshire.  Meat came to Netherhaven only once a
week in a butcher's cart from Salisbury, and the curate often dined
upon potatoes flavoured with ketchup.

The only educated neighbour was Mr. Hicks Beach, the squire, who at
first formally invited the curate to dinner on Sundays, and soon
found his wit, sense, and high culture so delightful, that the
acquaintance ripened into friendship.  After two years in the
curacy, Sydney Smith gave it up and went abroad with the squire's
son.  "When first I went into the Church," he wrote afterwards, "I
had a curacy in the middle of Salisbury Plain; the parish was
Netherhaven, near Amesbury.  The squire of the parish, Mr. Beach,
took a fancy to me, and after I had served it two years, he engaged
me as tutor to his eldest son, and it was arranged that I and his
son should proceed to the University of Weimar in Saxony.  We set
out, but before reaching our destination Germany was disturbed by
war, and, in stress of politics, we put into Edinburgh, where I
remained five years."

Young Michael Beach, who had little taste for study, lived with
Sydney Smith as his tutor, and found him a wise guide and pleasant
friend.  When Michael went to the University, his brother William
was placed under the same good care.  Sydney Smith, about the same
time, went to London to be married.  His wife's rich brother
quarrelled with her for marrying a man who said that his only
fortune consisted in six small silver teaspoons.  One day after
their happy marriage he ran in to his wife and threw them in her
lap, saying, "There, Kate, you lucky girl, I give you all my
fortune!"  The lucky girl had a small fortune of her own which her
husband had strictly secured to herself and her children.  Mr. Beach
recognised the value of Sydney Smith's influence over his son by a
wedding gift of 750 pounds.  In 1802 a daughter was born, and in the
same year Sydney Smith joined Francis Jeffrey and other friends, who
then maintained credit for Edinburgh as the Modern Athens, in the
founding of The Edinburgh Review, to which the papers in this
volume, added to the Peter Plymley Letters, were contributed.  The
Rev. Sydney Smith preached sometimes in the Episcopal Church at
Edinburgh, and presently had, in addition to William Beach, a son of
Mr. Gordon, of Ellon Castle, placed under his care, receiving 400
pounds a year for each of the young men.

In 1803 Sydney Smith left Edinburgh for London, where he wrote
busily in The Edinburgh Review, but remained poor for many years.
His wit brought friends, and the marriage of his eldest brother with
Lord Holland's aunt quickened the growth of a strong friendship with
Lord Holland.  Through the good offices of Lord Holland, Sydney
Smith obtained, in 1806, aged thirty-five, the living of Foston-le-
Clay, in Yorkshire.  In the next year appeared the first letter of
Peter Plymley to his brother Abraham on the subject of the Irish

These letters fell, we are told, like sparks on a heap of gunpowder.
All London, and soon all England, was alive to the sound reason
recommended by a lively wit.  Sydney Smith lived to be recognised as
first among the social wits, and it was always the chief praise of
his wit that wisdom was the soul of it.  Peter Plymley's letters,
and Sydney Smith's articles on the same subject in The Edinburgh
Review were the most powerful aids furnished by the pen to the
solution of the burning question of their time.  Lord Murray called
the Plymley letters "after Pascal's letters the most instructive
piece of wisdom in the form of irony ever written."  Worldly wealth
came later; but in wit, wisdom, and kindly helpful cheerfulness,
from youth to age, Sydney Smith's life was rich.

H. M.



Dear Abraham,--A worthier and better man than yourself does not
exist; but I have always told you, from the time of our boyhood,
that you were a bit of a goose.  Your parochial affairs are governed
with exemplary order and regularity; you are as powerful in the
vestry as Mr. Perceval is in the House of Commons,--and, I must say,
with much more reason; nor do I know any church where the faces and
smock-frocks of the congregation are so clean, or their eyes so
uniformly directed to the preacher.  There is another point, upon
which I will do you ample justice; and that is, that the eyes so
directed towards you are wide open; for the rustic has, in general,
good principles, though he cannot control his animal habits; and,
however loud he may snore, his face is perpetually turned towards
the fountain of orthodoxy.

Having done you this act of justice, I shall proceed, according to
our ancient intimacy and familiarity, to explain to you my opinions
about the Catholics, and to reply to yours.

In the first place, my sweet Abraham, the Pope is not landed--nor
are there any curates sent out after him--nor has he been hid at St.
Albans by the Dowager Lady Spencer--nor dined privately at Holland
House--nor been seen near Dropmore.  If these fears exist (which I
do not believe), they exist only in the mind of the Chancellor of
the Exchequer; they emanate from his zeal for the Protestant
interest; and, though they reflect the highest honour upon the
delicate irritability of his faith, must certainly be considered as
more ambiguous proofs of the sanity and vigour of his understanding.
By this time, however, the best-informed clergy in the neighbourhood
of the metropolis are convinced that the rumour is without
foundation; and though the Pope is probably hovering about our coast
in a fishing-smack, it is most likely he will fall a prey to the
vigilance of our cruisers; and it is certain that he has not yet
polluted the Protestantism of our soil.

Exactly in the same manner, the story of the wooden gods seized at
Charing Cross, by an order from the Foreign Office, turns out to be
without the shadow of a foundation; instead of the angels and
archangels, mentioned by the informer, nothing was discovered but a
wooden image of Lord Mulgrave, going down to Chatham, as a head-
piece for the Spanker gun-vessel; it was an exact resemblance of his
Lordship in his military uniform; and THEREFORE as little like a god
as can well be imagined.

Having set your fears at rest, as to the extent of the conspiracy
formed against the Protestant religion, I will now come to the
argument itself.

You say these men interpret the scriptures in an unorthodox manner,
and that they eat their god.--Very likely.  All this may seem very
important to you, who live fourteen miles from a market-town, and,
from long residence upon your living, are become a kind of holy
vegetable; and in a theological sense it is highly important.  But I
want soldiers and sailors for the state; I want to make a greater
use than I now can do of a poor country full of men; I want to
render the military service popular among the Irish; to check the
power of France; to make every possible exertion for the safety of
Europe, which in twenty years' time will be nothing but a mass of
French slaves:  and then you, and ten other such boobies as you,
call out--"For God's sake, do not think of raising cavalry and
infantry in Ireland! . . . They interpret the Epistle to Timothy in
a different manner from what we do! . . . They eat a bit of wafer
every Sunday, which they call their God!" . . . I wish to my soul
they would eat you, and such reasoners as you are.  What! when Turk,
Jew, Heretic, Infidel, Catholic, Protestant, are all combined
against this country; when men of every religious persuasion, and no
religious persuasion; when the population of half the globe is up in
arms against us; are we to stand examining our generals and armies
as a bishop examines a candidate for holy orders; and to suffer no
one to bleed for England who does not agree with you about the
second of Timothy?  You talk about the Catholics!  If you and your
brotherhood have been able to persuade the country into a
continuation of this grossest of all absurdities, you have ten times
the power which the Catholic clergy ever had in their best days.
Louis XIV., when he revoked the Edict of Nantes, never thought of
preventing the Protestants from fighting his battles; and gained
accordingly some of his most splendid victories by the talents of
his Protestant generals.  No power in Europe, but yourselves, has
ever thought for these hundred years past, of asking whether a
bayonet is Catholic, or Presbyterian or Lutheran; but whether it is
sharp and well-tempered.  A bigot delights in public ridicule; for
he begins to think he is a martyr.  I can promise you the full
enjoyment of this pleasure, from one extremity of Europe to the

I am as disgusted with the nonsense of the Roman Catholic religion
as you can be:  and no man who talks such nonsense shall ever tithe
the product of the earth, nor meddle with the ecclesiastical
establishment in any shape; but what have I to do with the
speculative nonsense of his theology, when the object is to elect
the mayor of a county town, or to appoint a colonel of a marching
regiment?  Will a man discharge the solemn impertinences of the one
office with less zeal, or shrink from the bloody boldness of the
other with greater timidity, because the blockhead thinks he can eat
angels in muffins and chew a spiritual nature in the crumpets which
he buys from the baker's shop?  I am sorry there should be such
impious folly in the world, but I should be ten times a greater fool
than he is, if I refused, till he had made a solemn protestation
that the crumpet was spiritless and the muffin nothing but a human
muffin, to lead him out against the enemies of the state.  Your
whole argument is wrong:  the state has nothing whatever to do with
theological errors which do not violate the common rules of
morality, and militate against the fair power of the ruler:  it
leaves all these errors to you, and to such as you.  You have every
tenth porker in your parish for refuting them; and take care that
you are vigilant and logical in the task.

I love the Church as well as you do; but you totally mistake the
nature of an establishment, when you contend that it ought to be
connected with the military and civil career of every individual in
the state.  It is quite right that there should be one clergyman to
every parish interpreting the Scriptures after a particular manner,
ruled by a regular hierarchy, and paid with a rich proportion of
haycocks and wheatsheafs.  When I have laid this foundation for a
rational religion in the state--when I have placed ten thousand
well-educated men in different parts of the kingdom to preach it up,
and compelled everybody to pay them, whether they hear them or not--
I have taken such measures as I know must always procure an immense
majority in favour of the Established Church; but I can go no
further.  I cannot set up a civil inquisition, and say to one, you
shall not be a butcher, because you are not orthodox; and prohibit
another from brewing, and a third from administering the law, and a
fourth from defending the country.  If common justice did not
prohibit me from such a conduct, common sense would.  The advantage
to be gained by quitting the heresy would make it shameful to
abandon it; and men who had once left the Church would continue in
such a state of alienation from a point of honour, and transmit that
spirit to their latest posterity.  This is just the effect your
disqualifying laws have produced.  They have fed Dr. Rees, and Dr.
Kippis; crowded the congregations of the Old Jewry to suffocation:
and enabled every sublapsarian, and superlapsarian, and semi-
pelagian clergyman, to build himself a neat brick chapel, and live
with some distant resemblance to the state of a gentleman.

You say the King's coronation oath will not allow him to consent to
any relaxation of the Catholic laws.--Why not relax the Catholic
laws as well as the laws against Protestant dissenters?  If one is
contrary to his oath, the other must be so too; for the spirit of
the oath is, to defend the Church establishment, which the Quaker
and the Presbyterian differ from as much or more than the Catholic;
and yet his Majesty has repealed the Corporation and Test Act in
Ireland, and done more for the Catholics of both kingdoms than had
been done for them since the Reformation.  In 1778 the ministers
said nothing about the royal conscience; in 1793 no conscience; in
1804 no conscience; the common feeling of humanity and justice then
seem to have had their fullest influence upon the advisers of the
Crown; but in 1807--a year, I suppose, eminently fruitful in moral
and religious scruples (as some years are fruitful in apples, some
in hops),--it is contended by the well-paid John Bowles, and by Mr.
Perceval (who tried to be well paid), that this is now perjury which
we had hitherto called policy and benevolence.  Religious liberty
has never made such a stride as under the reign of his present
Majesty; nor is there any instance in the annals of our history,
where so many infamous and damnable laws have been repealed as those
against the Catholics which have been put an end to by him; and
then, at the close of this useful policy, his advisers discover that
the very measures of concession and indulgence, or (to use my own
language) the measures of justice, which he has been pursuing
through the whole of his reign, are contrary to the oath he takes at
its commencement!  That oath binds his Majesty not to consent to any
measure contrary to the interest of the Established Church; but who
is to judge of the tendency of each particular measure?  Not the
King alone:  it can never be the intention of this law that the
King, who listens to the advice of his Parliament upon a read bill,
should reject it upon the most important of all measures.  Whatever
be his own private judgment of the tendency of any ecclesiastical
bill, he complies most strictly with his oath, if he is guided in
that particular point by the advice of his Parliament, who may be
presumed to understand its tendency better than the King, or any
other individual.  You say, if Parliament had been unanimous in
their opinion of the absolute necessity for Lord Howick's bill, and
the King had thought it pernicious, he would have been perjured if
he had not rejected it.  I say, on the contrary, his Majesty would
have acted in the most conscientious manner, and have complied most
scrupulously with his oath, if he had sacrificed his own opinion to
the opinion of the great council of the nation; because the
probability was that such opinion was better than his own; and upon
the same principle, in common life, you give up your opinion to your
physician, your lawyer, and your builder.

You admit this bill did not compel the King to elect Catholic
officers, but only gave him the option of doing so if he pleased;
but you add, that the King was right in not trusting such dangerous
power to himself or his successors.  Now you are either to suppose
that the King for the time being has a zeal for the Catholic
establishment, or that he has not.  If he has not, where is the
danger of giving such an option?  If you suppose that he may be
influenced by such an admiration of the Catholic religion, why did
his present Majesty, in the year 1804, consent to that bill which
empowered the Crown to station ten thousand Catholic soldiers in any
part of the kingdom, and place them absolutely at the disposal of
the Crown?  If the King of England for the time being is a good
Protestant, there can be no danger in making the Catholic ELIGIBLE
to anything:  if he is not, no power can possibly be so dangerous as
that conveyed by the bill last quoted; to which, in point of peril,
Lord Howick's bill is a mere joke.  But the real fact is, one bill
opened a door to his Majesty's advisers for trick, jobbing, and
intrigue; the other did not.

Besides, what folly to talk to me of an oath, which, under all
possible circumstances, is to prevent the relaxation of the Catholic
laws! for such a solemn appeal to God sets all conditions and
contingencies at defiance.  Suppose Bonaparte was to retrieve the
only very great blunder he has made, and were to succeed, after
repeated trials, in making an impression upon Ireland, do you think
we should hear any thing of the impediment of a coronation oath? or
would the spirit of this country tolerate for an hour such
ministers, and such unheard-of nonsense, if the most distant
prospect existed of conciliating the Catholics by every species even
of the most abject concession?  And yet, if your argument is good
for anything, the coronation oath ought to reject, at such a moment,
every tendency to conciliation, and to bind Ireland for ever to the
crown of France.

I found in your letter the usual remarks about fire, fagot, and
bloody Mary.  Are you aware, my dear Priest, that there were as many
persons put to death for religious opinions under the mild Elizabeth
as under the bloody Mary?  The reign of the former was, to be sure,
ten times as long; but I only mention the fact, merely to show you
that something depends upon the age in which men live, as well as on
their religious opinions.  Three hundred years ago men burnt and
hanged each other for these opinions.  Time has softened Catholic as
well as Protestant:  they both required it; though each perceives
only his own improvement, and is blind to that of the other.  We are
all the creatures of circumstances.  I know not a kinder and better
man than yourself; but you, if you had lived in those times, would
certainly have roasted your Catholic:  and I promise you, if the
first exciter of this religious mob had been as powerful then as he
is now, you would soon have been elevated to the mitre.  I do not go
the length of saying that the world has suffered as much from
Protestant as from Catholic persecution; far from it:  but you
should remember the Catholics had all the power, when the idea first
started up in the world that there could be two modes of faith; and
that it was much more natural they should attempt to crush this
diversity of opinion by great and cruel efforts, than that the
Protestants should rage against those who differed from them, when
the very basis of their system was complete freedom in all spiritual

I cannot extend my letter any further at present, but you shall soon
hear from me again.  You tell me I am a party man.  I hope I shall
always be so, when I see my country in the hands of a pert London
joker and a second-rate lawyer.  Of the first, no other good is
known than that he makes pretty Latin verses; the second seems to me
to have the head of a country parson and the tongue of an Old Bailey

If I could see good measures pursued, I care not a farthing who is
in power; but I have a passionate love for common justice, and for
common sense, and I abhor and despise every man who builds up his
political fortune upon their ruin.

God bless you, reverend Abraham, and defend you from the Pope, and
all of us from that administration who seek power by opposing a
measure which Burke, Pitt, and Fox all considered as absolutely
necessary to the existence of the country.


Dear Abraham,--The Catholic not respect an oath! why not?  What upon
earth has kept him out of Parliament, or excluded him from all the
offices whence he is excluded, but his respect for oaths?  There is
no law which prohibits a Catholic to sit in Parliament.  There could
be no such law; because it is impossible to find out what passes in
the interior of any man's mind.  Suppose it were in contemplation to
exclude all men from certain offices who contended for the legality
of taking tithes:  the only mode of discovering that fervid love of
decimation which I know you to possess would be to tender you an
oath "against that damnable doctrine, that it is lawful for a
spiritual man to take, abstract, appropriate, subduct, or lead away
the tenth calf, sheep, lamb, ox, pigeon, duck," &c., &c., &c., and
every other animal that ever existed, which of course the lawyers
would take care to enumerate.  Now this oath I am sure you would
rather die than take; and so the Catholic is excluded from
Parliament because he will not swear that he disbelieves the leading
doctrines of his religion!  The Catholic asks you to abolish some
oaths which oppress him; your answer is that he does not respect
oaths.  Then why subject him to the test of oaths?  The oaths keep
him out of Parliament; why, then, he respects them.  Turn which way
you will, either your laws are nugatory, or the Catholic is bound by
religious obligations as you are; but no eel in the well-sanded fist
of a cook-maid, upon the eve of being skinned, ever twisted and
writhed as an orthodox parson does when he is compelled by the gripe
of reason to admit anything in favour of a dissenter.

I will not dispute with you whether the Pope be or be not the
Scarlet Lady of Babylon.  I hope it is not so; because I am afraid
it will induce His Majesty's Chancellor of the Exchequer to
introduce several severe bills against popery, if that is the case;
and though he will have the decency to appoint a previous committee
of inquiry as to the fact, the committee will be garbled, and the
report inflammatory.  Leaving this to be settled as he pleases to
settle it, I wish to inform you, that, previously to the bill last
passed in favour of the Catholics, at the suggestion of Mr. Pitt,
and for his satisfaction, the opinions of six of the most celebrated
of the foreign Catholic universities were taken as to the right of
the Pope to interfere in the temporal concerns of any country.  The
answer cannot possibly leave the shadow of a doubt, even in the mind
of Baron Maseres; and Dr. Rennel would be compelled to admit it, if
three Bishops lay dead at the very moment the question were put to
him.  To this answer might be added also the solemn declaration and
signature of all the Catholics in Great Britain.

I should perfectly agree with you, if the Catholics admitted such a
dangerous dispensing power in the hands of the Pope; but they all
deny it, and laugh at it, and are ready to abjure it in the most
decided manner you can devise.  They obey the Pope as the spiritual
head of their Church; but are you really so foolish as to be imposed
upon by mere names?  What matters it the seven-thousandth part of a
farthing who is the spiritual head of any Church?  Is not Mr.
Wilberforce at the head of the Church of Clapham?  Is not Dr. Letsom
at the head of the Quaker Church?  Is not the General Assembly at
the head of the Church of Scotland?  How is the government disturbed
by these many-headed Churches? or in what way is the power of the
Crown augmented by this almost nominal dignity?

The King appoints a fast-day once a year, and he makes the bishops:
and if the government would take half the pains to keep the
Catholics out of the arms of France that it does to widen Temple
Bar, or improve Snow Hill, the King would get into his hands the
appointments of the titular Bishops of Ireland.  Both Mr. C-'s
sisters enjoy pensions more than sufficient to place the two
greatest dignitaries of the Irish Catholic Church entirely at the
disposal of the Crown.

Everybody who knows Ireland knows perfectly well, that nothing would
be easier, with the expenditure of a little money, than to preserve
enough of the ostensible appointment in the hands of the Pope to
satisfy the scruples of the Catholics, while the real nomination
remained with the Crown.  But, as I have before said, the moment the
very name of Ireland is mentioned, the English seem to bid adieu to
common feeling, common prudence, and common sense, and to act with
the barbarity of tyrants and the fatuity of idiots.

Whatever your opinion may be of the follies of the Roman Catholic
religion, remember they are the follies of four millions of human
beings, increasing rapidly in numbers, wealth, and intelligence,
who, if firmly united with this country, would set at defiance the
power of France, and if once wrested from their alliance with
England, would in three years render its existence as an independent
nation absolutely impossible.  You speak of danger to the
Establishment:  I request to know when the Establishment was ever so
much in danger as when Hoche was in Bantry Bay, and whether all the
books of Bossuet, or the arts of the Jesuits, were half so terrible?
Mr. Perceval and his parsons forget all this, in their horror lest
twelve or fourteen old women may be converted to holy water and
Catholic nonsense.  They never see that, while they are saving these
venerable ladies from perdition, Ireland may be lost, England broken
down, and the Protestant Church, with all its deans, prebendaries,
Percevals, and Rennels, be swept into the vortex of oblivion.

Do not, I beseech you, ever mention to me again the name of Dr.
Duigenan.  I have been in every corner of Ireland, and have studied
its present strength and condition with no common labour.  Be
assured Ireland does not contain at this moment less than five
millions of people.  There were returned in the year 1791 to the
hearth tax 701,000 houses, and there is no kind of question that
there were about 50,000 houses omitted in that return.  Taking,
however, only the number returned for the tax, and allowing the
average of six to a house (a very small average for a potato-fed
people), this brings the population to 4,200,000 people in the year
1791:  and it can be shown from the clearest evidence (and Mr.
Newenham in his book shows it), that Ireland for the last fifty
years has increased in its population at the rate of 50 or 60,000
per annum; which leaves the present population of Ireland at about
five millions, after every possible deduction for EXISTING
REBELLIONS, and all other sources of human destruction.  Of this
population, two out of ten are Protestants; and the half of the
Protestant population are Dissenters, and as inimical to the Church
as the Catholics themselves.  In this state of things thumbscrews
and whipping--admirable engines of policy as they must be considered
to be--will not ultimately avail.  The Catholics will hang over you;
they will watch for the moment, and compel you hereafter to give
them ten times as much, against your will, as they would now be
contented with, if it were voluntarily surrendered.  Remember what
happened in the American war, when Ireland compelled you to give her
everything she asked, and to renounce, in the most explicit manner,
your claim of Sovereignty over her.  God Almighty grant the folly of
these present men may not bring on such another crisis of public

What are your dangers which threaten the Establishment?--Reduce this
declamation to a point, and let us understand what you mean.  The
most ample allowance does not calculate that there would be more
than twenty members who were Roman Catholics in one house, and ten
in the other, if the Catholic emancipation were carried into effect.
Do you mean that these thirty members would bring in a bill to take
away the tithes from the Protestant, and to pay them to the Catholic
clergy?  Do you mean that a Catholic general would march his army
into the House of Commons, and purge it of Mr. Perceval and Dr.
Duigenan? or, that the theological writers would become all of a
sudden more acute or more learned, if the present civil incapacities
were removed?  Do you fear for your tithes, or your doctrines, or
your person, or the English Constitution?  Every fear, taken
separately, is so glaringly absurd, that no man has the folly or the
boldness to state it.  Every one conceals his ignorance, or his
baseness, in a stupid general panic, which, when called on, he is
utterly incapable of explaining.  Whatever you think of the
Catholics, there they are--you cannot get rid of them; your
alternative is to give them a lawful place for stating their
grievances, or an unlawful one:  if you do not admit them to the
House of Commons, they will hold their parliament in Potatoe Place,
Dublin, and be ten times as violent and inflammatory as they would
be in Westminster.  Nothing would give me such an idea of security
as to see twenty or thirty Catholic gentlemen in Parliament, looked
upon by all the Catholics as the fair and proper organ of their
party.  I should have thought it the height of good fortune that
such a wish existed on their part, and the very essence of madness
and ignorance to reject it.  Can you murder the Catholics?  Can you
neglect them?  They are too numerous for both these expedients.
What remains to be done is obvious to every human being--but to that
man who, instead of being a Methodist preacher, is, for the curse of
us and our children, and for the ruin of Troy and the misery of good
old Priam and his sons, become a legislator and a politician.

A distinction, I perceive, is taken by one of the most feeble
noblemen in Great Britain, between persecution and the deprivation
of political power; whereas, there is no more distinction between
these two things than there is between him who makes the distinction
and a booby.  If I strip off the relic-covered jacket of a Catholic,
and give him twenty stripes . . . I persecute; if I say, Everybody
in the town where you live shall be a candidate for lucrative and
honourable offices, but you, who are a Catholic . . . I do not
persecute!  What barbarous nonsense is this! as if degradation was
not as great an evil as bodily pain or as severe poverty:  as if I
could not be as great a tyrant by saying, You shall not enjoy--as by
saying, You shall suffer.  The English, I believe, are as truly
religious as any nation in Europe; I know no greater blessing; but
it carries with it this evil in its train, that any villain who will
bawl out, "The Church is in danger!" may get a place and a good
pension; and that any administration who will do the same thing may
bring a set of men into power who, at a moment of stationary and
passive piety, would be hooted by the very boys in the streets.  But
it is not all religion; it is, in great part, the narrow and
exclusive spirit which delights to keep the common blessings of sun
and air and freedom from other human beings.  "Your religion has
always been degraded; you are in the dust, and I will take care you
never rise again.  I should enjoy less the possession of an earthly
good by every additional person to whom it was extended."  You may
not be aware of it yourself, most reverend Abraham, but you deny
their freedom to the Catholics upon the same principle that Sarah
your wife refuses to give the receipt for a ham or a gooseberry
dumpling:  she values her receipts, not because they secure to her a
certain flavour, but because they remind her that her neighbours
want it:- a feeling laughable in a priestess, shameful in a priest;
venial when it withholds the blessings of a ham, tyrannical and
execrable when it narrows the boon of religious freedom.

You spend a great deal of ink about the character of the present
prime minister.  Grant you all that you write--I say, I fear he will
ruin Ireland, and pursue a line of policy destructive to the true
interest of his country:  and then you tell me, he is faithful to
Mrs. Perceval, and kind to the Master Percevals!  These are,
undoubtedly, the first qualifications to be looked to in a time of
the most serious public danger; but somehow or another (if public
and private virtues must always be incompatible), I should prefer
that he destroyed the domestic happiness of Wood or Cockell, owed
for the veal of the preceding year, whipped his boys, and saved his

The late administration did not do right; they did not build their
measures upon the solid basis of facts.  They should have caused
several Catholics to have been dissected after death by surgeons of
either religion; and the report to have been published with
accompanying plates.  If the viscera, and other organs of life, had
been found to be the same as in Protestant bodies; if the provisions
of nerves, arteries, cerebrum, and cerebellum, had been the same as
we are provided with, or as the Dissenters are now known to possess;
then, indeed, they might have met Mr. Perceval upon a proud
eminence, and convinced the country at large of the strong
probability that the Catholics are really human creatures, endowed
with the feelings of men, and entitled to all their rights.  But
instead of this wise and prudent measure, Lord Howick, with his
usual precipitation, brings forward a bill in their favour, without
offering the slightest proof to the country that they were anything
more than horses and oxen.  The person who shows the lama at the
corner of Piccadilly has the precaution to write up--ALLOWED BY SIR
JOSEPH BANKS TO BE A REAL QUADRUPED, so his Lordship might have
. .  I could write you twenty letters upon this subject; but I am
tired, and so I suppose are you.  Our friendship is now of forty
years' standing; you know me to be a truly religious man; but I
shudder to see religion treated like a cockade, or a pint of beer,
and made the instrument of a party.  I love the king, but I love the
people as well as the king; and if I am sorry to see his old age
molested, I am much more sorry to see four millions of Catholics
baffled in their just expectations.  If I love Lord Grenville, and
Lord Howick, it is because they love their country; if I abhor . . .
it is because I know there is but one man among them who is not
laughing at the enormous folly and credulity of the country, and
that he is an ignorant and mischievous bigot.  As for the light and
frivolous jester, of whom it is your misfortune to think so highly,
learn, my dear Abraham, that this political Killigrew, just before
the breaking-up of the last administration, was in actual treaty
with them for a place; and if they had survived twenty-four hours
longer, he would have been now declaiming against the cry of No
Popery! instead of inflaming it.  With this practical comment on the
baseness of human nature, I bid you adieu!


All that I have so often told you, Mr. Abraham Plymley, is now come
to pass.  The Scythians, in whom you and the neighbouring country
gentleman placed such confidence, are smitten hip and thigh; their
Beningsen put to open shame; their magazines of train oil
intercepted, and we are waking from our disgraceful drunkenness to
all the horrors of Mr. Perceval and Mr Canning . . . We shall now
see if a nation is to be saved by school-boy jokes and doggrel
rhymes, by affronting petulance, and by the tones and gesticulations
of Mr. Pitt.  But these are not all the auxiliaries on which we have
to depend; to these his colleague will add the strictest attention
to the smaller parts of ecclesiastical government, to hassocks, to
psalters, and to surplices; in the last agonies of England, he will
bring in a bill to regulate Easter-offerings:  and he will adjust
the stipends of curates, when the flag of France is unfurled on the
hills of Kent.  Whatever can be done by very mistaken notions of the
piety of a Christian, and by a very wretched imitation of the
eloquence of Mr. Pitt, will be done by these two gentlemen.  After
all, if they both really were what they both either wish to be, or
wish to be thought; if the one were an enlightened Christian who
drew from the Gospel the toleration, the charity, and the sweetness
which it contains; and if the other really possessed any portion of
the great understanding of his Nisus who guarded him from the
weapons of the Whigs, I should still doubt if they could save us.
But I am sure we are not to be saved by religious hatred, and by
religious trifling; by any psalmody, however sweet; or by any
persecution, however sharp; I am certain the sounds of Mr. Pitt's
voice, and the measure of his tones, and the movement of his arms,
will do nothing for us; when these tones and movements, and voice
brings us always declamation without sense or knowledge, and
ridicule without good humour or conciliation.  Oh, Mr. Plymley, this
never will do.  Mrs. Abraham Plymley, my sister, will be led away
captive by an amorous Gaul; and Joel Plymley your firstborn, will be
a French drummer.

Out of sight, out of mind, seems to be a proverb which applies to
enemies as well as friends.  Because the French army was no longer
seen from the cliffs of Dover; because the sound of cannon was no
longer heard by the debauched London bathers on the Sussex coast;
because the Morning Post no longer fixed the invasion sometimes for
Monday, sometimes for Tuesday, sometimes (positively for the last
time of invading) on Saturday; because all these causes of terror
were suspended, you conceived the power of Bonaparte to be at an
end, and were setting off for Paris with Lord Hawkesbury the
conqueror.  This is precisely the method in which the English have
acted during the whole of the revolutionary war.  If Austria or
Prussia armed, doctors of divinity immediately printed those
passages out of Habakkuk, in which the destruction of the Usurper by
General Mack, and the Duke of Brunswick, are so clearly predicted.
If Bonaparte halted, there was a mutiny or a dysentery.  If any one
of his generals were eaten up by the light troops of Russia, and
picked (as their manner is) to the bone, the sanguine spirit of this
country displayed itself in all its glory.  What scenes of infamy
did the Society for the Suppression of Vice lay open to our
astonished eyes! tradesmen's daughters dancing, pots of beer carried
out between the first and second lesson, and dark and distant
rumours of indecent prints.  Clouds of Mr. Canning's cousins arrived
by the waggon; all the contractors left their cards with Mr. Rose;
and every plunderer of the public crawled out of his hole, like
slugs, and grubs, and worms after a shower of rain.

If my voice could have been heard at the late changes, I should have
said, "Gently, patience, stop a little; the time is not yet come;
the mud of Poland will harden, and the bowels of the French
grenadiers will recover their tone.  When honesty, good sense, and
liberality have extricated you out of your present embarrassment,
then dismiss them as a matter of course; but you cannot spare them
just now; don't be in too great a hurry, or there will be no monarch
to flatter, and no country to pillage; only submit for a little time
to be respected abroad, overlook the painful absence of the tax-
gatherer for a few years, bear up nobly under the increase of
freedom and of liberal policy for a little time, and I promise you,
at the expiration of that period, you shall be plundered, insulted,
disgraced, and restrained to your heart's content.  Do not imagine I
have any intention of putting servility and canting hypocrisy
permanently out of place, or of filling up with courage and sense
those offices which naturally devolve upon decorous imbecility and
flexible cunning:  give us only a little time to keep off the
hussars of France, and then the jobbers and jesters shall return to
their birthright, and public virtue be called by its own name of
fanaticism."  Such is the advice I would have offered to my
infatuated countrymen:  but it rained very hard in November, Brother
Abraham, and the bowels of our enemies were loosened, and we put our
trust in white fluxes and wet mud; and there is nothing now to
oppose to the conqueror of the world but a small table wit, and the
sallow Surveyor of the Meltings.

You ask me, if I think it possible for this country to survive the
recent misfortunes of Europe?--I answer you, without the slightest
degree of hesitation:  that if Bonaparte lives, and a great deal is
not immediately done for the conciliation of the Catholics, it does
seem to me absolutely impossible but that we must perish; and take
this with you, that we shall perish without exciting the slightest
feeling of present or future compassion, but fall amidst the
hootings and revilings of Europe, as a nation of blockheads,
Methodists, and old women.  If there were any great scenery, any
heroic feelings, any blaze of ancient virtue, any exalted death, any
termination of England that would be ever remembered, ever honoured
in that western world, where liberty is now retiring, conquest would
be more tolerable, and ruin more sweet; but it is doubly miserable
to become slaves abroad, because we would be tyrants at home; to
persecute, when we are contending against persecution; and to
perish, because we have raised up worse enemies within, from our own
bigotry, than we are exposed to without, from the unprincipled
ambition of France.  It is indeed a most silly and affecting
spectacle to rage at such a moment against our own kindred and our
own blood; to tell them they cannot be honourable in war, because
they are conscientious in religion; to stipulate (at the very moment
when we should buy their hearts and swords at any price) that they
must hold up the right hand in prayer, and not the left; and adore
one common God, by turning to the east rather than to the west.

What is it the Catholics ask of you?  Do not exclude us from the
honours and emoluments of the state because we worship God in one
way, and you worship Him in another.  In a period of the deepest
peace, and the fattest prosperity, this would be a fair request; it
should be granted, if Lord Hawkesbury had reached Paris, if Mr.
Canning's interpreter had threatened the Senate in an opening
speech, or Mr. Perceval explained to them the improvements he meant
to introduce into the Catholic religion; but to deny the Irish this
justice now, in the present state of Europe, and in the summer
months, just as the season for destroying kingdoms is coming on, is
(beloved Abraham), whatever you may think of it, little short of
positive insanity.

Here is a frigate attacked by a corsair of immense strength and
size, rigging cut, masts in danger of coming by the board, four foot
water in the hold, men dropping off very fast; in this dreadful
situation how do you think the Captain acts (whose name shall be
Perceval)?  He calls all hands upon deck; talks to them of King,
country, glory, sweethearts, gin, French prison, wooden shoes, Old
England, and hearts of oak; they give three cheers, rush to their
guns, and, after a tremendous conflict, succeed in beating off the
enemy.  Not a syllable of all this; this is not the manner in which
the honourable Commander goes to work:  the first thing he does is
to secure twenty or thirty of his prime sailors who happen to be
Catholics, to clap them in irons, and set over them a guard of as
many Protestants; having taken this admirable method of defending
himself against his infidel opponents, he goes upon deck, reminds
the sailors in a very bitter harangue, that they are of different
religions; exhorts the Episcopal gunner not to trust to the
Presbyterian quartermaster; issues positive orders that the
Catholics should be fired at upon the first appearance of
discontent; rushes through blood and brains, examining his men in
the Catechism and thirty-nine Articles, and positively forbids every
one to sponge or ram who has not taken the Sacrament according to
the Church of England.  Was it right to take out a captain made of
excellent British stuff, and to put in such a man as this?  Is not
he more like a parson, or a talking lawyer, than a thorough-bred
seaman?  And built as she is of heart of oak, and admirably manned,
is it possible, with such a captain, to save this ship from going to
the bottom?

You have an argument, I perceive, in common with many others,
against the Catholics, that their demands complied with would only
lead to further exactions, and that it is better to resist them now,
before anything is conceded, than hereafter, when it is found that
all concessions are in vain.  I wish the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, who uses this reasoning to exclude others from their just
rights, had tried its efficacy, not by his understanding, but by
(what are full of much better things) his pockets.  Suppose the
person to whom he applied for the meltings had withstood every plea
of wife and fourteen children, no business, and good character, and
refused him this paltry little office because he might hereafter
attempt to get hold of the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster for
life? would not Mr. Perceval have contended eagerly against the
injustice of refusing moderate requests, because immoderate ones may
hereafter be made?  Would he not have said, and said truly, Leave
such exorbitant attempts as these to the general indignation of the
Commons, who will take care to defeat them when they do occur; but
do not refuse me the Irons and the Meltings now, because I may
totally lose sight of all moderation hereafter?  Leave hereafter to
the spirit and the wisdom of hereafter; and do not be niggardly now
from the apprehension that men as wise as you should be profuse in
times to come.

You forget, Brother Abraham, that is a vast art, where quarrels
cannot be avoided, to turn public opinion in your favour and to the
prejudice of your enemy; a vast privilege to feel that you are in
the right, and to make him feel that he is in the wrong:  a
privilege which makes you more than a man, and your antagonist less;
and often secures victory by convincing him who contends that he
must submit to injustice if he submits to defeat.  Open every rank
in the army and the navy to the Catholic; let him purchase at the
same price as the Protestant (if either Catholic or Protestant can
purchase such refined pleasures) the privilege of hearing Lord
Castlereagh speak for three hours; keep his clergy from starving,
soften some of the most odious powers of the tithing-man, and you
will for ever lay this formidable question to rest.  But if I am
wrong, and you must quarrel at last, quarrel upon just rather than
unjust grounds; divide the Catholic and unite the Protestant; be
just, and your own exertions will be more formidable and their
exertions less formidable; be just, and you will take away from
their party all the best and wisest understandings of both
persuasions, and knit them firmly to your own cause.  "Thrice is he
armed who has his quarrel just;" and ten times as much may he be
taxed.  In the beginning of any war, however destitute of common
sense, every mob will roar, and every Lord of the Bedchamber
address; but if you are engaged in a war that is to last for years,
and to require important sacrifices, take care to make the justice
of your case so clear and so obvious that it cannot be mistaken by
the most illiterate country gentleman who rides the earth.  Nothing,
in fact, can be so grossly absurd as the argument which says I will
deny justice to you now, because I suspect future injustice from
you.  At this rate, you may lock a man up in your stable, and refuse
to let him out, because you suspect that he has an intention, at
some future period, of robbing your hen-roost.  You may horsewhip
him at Lady Day, because you believe he will affront you at
Midsummer.  You may commit a greater evil, to guard against a less
which is merely contingent, and may never happen.  You may do what
you have done a century ago in Ireland, make the Catholics worse
than Helots, because you suspected that they might hereafter aspire
to be more than fellow citizens; rendering their sufferings certain
from your jealousy, while yours were only doubtful from their
ambition; an ambition sure to be excited by the very measures which
were taken to prevent it.

The physical strength of the Catholics will not be greater because
you give them a share of political power.  You may by these means
turn rebels into friends; but I do not see how you make rebels more
formidable.  If they taste of the honey of lawful power, they will
love the hive from whence they procure it; if they will struggle
with us like men in the same state for civil influence, we are safe.
All that I dread is the physical strength of four millions of men
combined with an invading French army.  If you are to quarrel at
last with this enormous population, still put it off as long as you
can; you must gain, and cannot lose, by the delay.  The state of
Europe cannot be worse; the conviction which the Catholics entertain
of your tyranny and injustice cannot be more alarming, nor the
opinions of your own people more divided.  Time, which produces such
effect upon brass and marble, may inspire one Minister with modesty
and another with compassion; every circumstance may be better; some
certainly will be so, none can be worse; and after all the evil may
never happen.

You have got hold, I perceive, of all the vulgar English stories
respecting the hereditary transmission of forfeited property, and
seriously believe that every Catholic beggar wears the terriers of
his father's land next his skin, and is only waiting for better
times to cut the throat of the Protestant possessor, and get drunk
in the hall of his ancestors.  There is one irresistible answer to
this mistake, and that is, that the forfeited lands are purchased
indiscriminately by Catholic and Protestant, and that the Catholic
purchaser never objects to such a title.  Now the land so purchased
by a Catholic is either his own family estate, or it is not.  If it
is, you suppose him so desirous of coming into possession that he
resorts to the double method of rebellion and purchase; if it is not
his own family estate of which he becomes the purchaser, you suppose
him first to purchase, then to rebel, in order to defeat the
purchase.  These things may happen in Ireland, but it is totally
impossible they can happen anywhere else.  In fact, what land can
any man of any sect purchase in Ireland, but forfeited property?  In
all other oppressed countries which I have ever heard of, the
rapacity of the conqueror was bounded by the territorial limits in
which the objects of his avarice were contained; but Ireland has
been actually confiscated twice over, as a cat is twice killed by a
wicked parish boy.

I admit there is a vast luxury in selecting a particular set of
Christians, and in worrying them as a boy worries a puppy dog; it is
an amusement in which all the young English are brought up from
their earliest days.  I like the idea of saying to men who use a
different hassock from me, that till they change their hassock they
shall never be Colonels, Aldermen, or Parliament-men.  While I am
gratifying my personal insolence respecting religious forms, I
fondle myself into an idea that I am religious, and that I am doing
my duty in the most exemplary, as I certainly am in the most easy,
way.  But then, my good Abraham, this sport, admirable as it is, is
become, with respect to the Catholics, a little dangerous; and if we
are not extremely careful in taking the amusement, we shall tumble
into the holy water and be drowned.  As it seems necessary to your
idea of an established church to have somebody to worry and torment,
suppose we were to select for this purpose William Wilberforce,
Esq., and the patent Christians of Clapham.  We shall by this
expedient enjoy the same opportunity for cruelty and injustice,
without being exposed to the same risks:  we will compel them to
abjure vital clergymen by a public test, to deny that the said
William Wilberforce has any power of working miracles, touching for
barrenness or any other infirmity, or that he is endowed with any
preternatural gift whatever.  We will swear them to the doctrine of
good works, compel them to preach common sense, and to hear it; to
frequent Bishops, Deans, and other High Churchmen; and to appear,
once in the quarter at the least, at some melodrame, opera,
pantomime, or other light scenical representation; in short, we will
gratify the love of insolence and power; we will enjoy the old
orthodox sport of witnessing the impotent anger of men compelled to
submit to civil degradation, or to sacrifice their notions of truth
to ours.  And all this we may do without the slightest risk, because
their numbers are, as yet, not very considerable.  Cruelty and
injustice must, of course, exist; but why connect them with danger?
Why torture a bulldog when you can get a frog or a rabbit?  I am
sure my proposal will meet with the most universal approbation.  Do
not be apprehensive of any opposition from ministers.  If it is a
case of hatred, we are sure that one man will defend it by the
Gospel:  if it abridges human freedom, we know that another will
find precedents for it in the Revolution.

In the name of Heaven, what are we to gain by suffering Ireland to
be rode by that faction which now predominates over it?  Why are we
to endanger our own Church and State, not for 500,000 Episcopalians,
but for ten or twelve great Orange families, who have been sucking
the blood of that country for these hundred years last past? and the
folly of the Orangemen in playing this game themselves, is almost as
absurd as ours in playing it for them.  They ought to have the sense
to see that their business now is to keep quietly the lands and
beeves of which the fathers of the Catholics were robbed in days of
yore; they must give to their descendants the sop of political
power:  by contending with them for names, they will lose realities,
and be compelled to beg their potatoes in a foreign land, abhorred
equally by the English, who have witnessed their oppression, and by
the Catholic Irish, who have smarted under them.


Then comes Mr. Isaac Hawkins Brown (the gentleman who danced so
badly at the Court of Naples), and asks if it is not an anomaly to
educate men in another religion than your own.  It certainly is our
duty to get rid of error, and, above all, of religious error; but
this is not to be done per saltum, or the measure will miscarry,
like the Queen.  It may be very easy to dance away the royal embryo
of a great kingdom; but Mr. Hawkins Brown must look before he leaps,
when his object is to crush an opposite sect in religion; false
steps aid the one effect as much as they are fatal to the other:  it
will require not only the lapse of Mr. Hawkins Brown, but the lapse
of centuries, before the absurdities of the Catholic religion are
laughed at as much as they deserve to be; but surely, in the
meantime, the Catholic religion is better than none; four millions
of Catholics are better than four millions of wild beasts; two
hundred priests educated by our own government are better than the
same number educated by the man who means to destroy us.

The whole sum now appropriated by Government to the religious
education of four millions of Christians is 13,000 pounds; a sum
about one hundred times as large being appropriated in the same
country to about one-eighth part of this number of Protestants.
When it was proposed to raise this grant from 8,000 pounds to 13,000
pounds, its present amount, this sum was objected to by that most
indulgent of Christians, Mr. Spencer Perceval, as enormous; he
himself having secured for his own eating and drinking, and the
eating and drinking of the Master and Miss Percevals, the
reversionary sum of 21,000 pounds a year of the public money, and
having just failed in a desperate and rapacious attempt to secure to
himself for life the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster:  and the
best of it is, that this minister, after abusing his predecessors
for their impious bounty to the Catholics, has found himself
compelled, from the apprehension of immediate danger, to grant the
sum in question, thus dissolving his pearl in vinegar, and
destroying all the value of the gift by the virulence and reluctance
with which it was granted.

I hear from some persons in Parliament, and from others in the
sixpenny societies for debate, a great deal about unalterable laws
passed at the Revolution.  When I hear any man talk of an
unalterable law, the only effect it produces upon me is to convince
me that he is an unalterable fool.  A law passed when there was
Germany, Spain, Russia, Sweden, Holland, Portugal, and Turkey; when
there was a disputed succession; when four or five hundred acres
were won and lost after ten years' hard fighting; when armies were
commanded by the sons of kings, and campaigns passed in an
interchange of civil letters and ripe fruit; and for these laws,
when the whole state of the world is completely changed, we are now,
according to my Lord Hawkesbury, to hold ourselves ready to perish.
It is no mean misfortune, in times like these, to be forced to say
anything about such men as Lord Hawkesbury, and to be reminded that
we are governed by them, but as I am driven to it, I must take the
liberty of observing that the wisdom and liberality of my Lord
Hawkesbury are of that complexion which always shrinks from the
present exercise of these virtues by praising the splendid examples
of them in ages past.  If he had lived at such periods, he would
have opposed the Revolution by praising the Reformation, and the
Reformation by speaking handsomely of the Crusades.  He gratifies
his natural antipathy to great and courageous measures by playing
off the wisdom and courage which have ceased to influence human
affairs against that wisdom and courage which living men would
employ for present happiness.  Besides, it happens unfortunately for
the Warden of the Cinque Ports, that to the principal incapacities
under which the Irish suffer, they were subjected after that great
and glorious revolution, to which we are indebted for so many
blessings, and his Lordship for the termination of so many periods.
The Catholics were not excluded from the Irish House of Commons, or
military commands, before the 3rd and 4th of William and Mary, and
the 1st and 2nd of Queen Anne.

If the great mass of the people, environed as they are on every side
with Jenkinsons, Percevals, Melvilles, and other perils, were to
pray for divine illumination and aid, what more could Providence in
its mercy do than send them the example of Scotland?  For what a
length of years was it attempted to compel the Scotch to change
their religion:  horse, foot, artillery, and armed Prebendaries,
were sent out after the Presbyterian parsons and their
congregations.  The Percevals of those days called for blood:  this
call is never made in vain, and blood was shed; but, to the
astonishment and horror of the Percevals of those days, they could
not introduce the book of Common Prayer, nor prevent that
metaphysical people from going to heaven their true way, instead of
our true way.  With a little oatmeal for food, and a little sulphur
for friction, allaying cutaneous irritation with the one hand, and
holding his Calvinistical creed in the other, Sawney ran away to his
flinty hills, sung his psalm out of tune his own way, and listened
to his sermon of two hours long, amid the rough and imposing
melancholy of the tallest thistles.  But Sawney brought up his
unbreeched offspring in a cordial hatred of his oppressors; and
Scotland was as much a part of the weakness of England then as
Ireland is at this moment.  The true and the only remedy was
applied; the Scotch were suffered to worship God after their own
tiresome manner, without pain, penalty, or privation.  No lightning
descended from heaven:  the country was not ruined; the world is not
yet come to an end; the dignitaries who foretold all these
consequences are utterly forgotten, and Scotland has ever since been
an increasing source of strength to Great Britain.  In the six
hundredth year of our empire over Ireland we are making laws to
transport a man if he is found out of his house after eight o'clock
at night.  That this is necessary I know too well; but tell me why
it is necessary.  It is not necessary in Greece, where the Turks are

Are you aware that there is at this moment a universal clamour
throughout the whole of Ireland against the Union?  It is now one
month since I returned from that country; I have never seen so
extraordinary, so alarming, and so rapid a change in the sentiments
of any people.  Those who disliked the Union before are quite
furious against it now; those who doubted doubt no more; those who
were friendly to it have exchanged that friendship for the most
rooted aversion; in the midst of all this (which is by far the most
alarming symptom), there is the strongest disposition on the part of
the northern Dissenters to unite with the Catholics, irritated by
the faithless injustice with which they have been treated.  If this
combination does take place (mark what I say to you), you will have
meetings all over Ireland for the cry of No Union; that cry will
spread like wild-fire, and blaze over every opposition; and if this
be the case, there is no use in mincing the matter; Ireland is gone,
and the death-blow of England is struck; and this event may happen
INSTANTLY--before Mr. Canning and Mr. Hookham Frere have turned Lord
Howick's last speech into doggerel rhymne; before "the near and dear
relations" have received another quarter of their pension, or Mr.
Perceval conducted the Curates' Salary Bill safely to a third
reading.  If the mind of the English people, cursed as they now are
with that madness of religious dissension which has been breathed
into them for the purposes of private ambition, can be alarmed by
any remembrances, and warned by any events, they should never forget
how nearly Ireland was lost to this country during the American war;
that it was saved merely by the jealousy of the Protestant Irish
towards the Catholics, then a much more insignificant and powerless
body than they now are.  The Catholic and the Dissenter have since
combined together against you.  Last war, the winds, those ancient
and unsubsidised allies of England; the winds, upon which English
ministers depend as much for saving kingdoms as washerwomen do for
drying clothes; the winds stood your friends:  the French could only
get into Ireland in small numbers, and the rebels were defeated.
Since then, all the remaining kingdoms of Europe have been
destroyed; and the Irish see that their national independence is
gone, without having received any single one of those advantages
which they were taught to expect from the sacrifice.  All good
things were to flow from the Union; they have none of them gained
anything.  Every man's pride is wounded by it; no man's interest is
promoted.  In the seventh year of that union four million Catholics,
lured by all kinds of promises to yield up the separate dignity and
sovereignty of their country, are forced to squabble with such a man
as Mr. Spencer Perceval for five thousand pounds with which to
educate their children in their own mode of worship, he, the same
Mr. Spencer, having secured to his own Protestant self a
reversionary portion of the public money amounting to four times
that sum.  A senior Proctor of the University of Oxford, the head of
a house, or the examining chaplain to a bishop, may believe these
things can last; but every man of the world, whose understanding has
been exercised in the business of life, must see (and see with a
breaking heart) that they will soon come to a fearful termination.

Our conduct to Ireland during the whole of this war has been that of
a man who subscribes to hospitals, weeps at charity sermons, carries
out broth and blankets to beggars, and then comes home and beats his
wife and children.  We had compassion for the victims of all other
oppression and injustice except our own.  If Switzerland was
threatened, away went a Treasury Clerk with a hundred thousand
pounds for Switzerland; large bags of money were kept constantly
under sailing orders; upon the slightest demonstration towards
Naples, down went Sir William Hamilton upon his knees, and begged
for the love of St. Januarius they would help us off with a little
money; all the arts of Machiavel were resorted to to persuade Europe
to borrow; troops were sent off in all directions to save the
Catholic and Protestant world; the Pope himself was guarded by a
regiment of English dragoons; if the Grand Lama had been at hand, he
would have had another; every Catholic clergyman who had the good
fortune to be neither English nor Irish was immediately provided
with lodging, soap, crucifix, missal, chapel-beads, relics, and holy
water; if Turks had landed, Turks would have received an order from
the Treasury for coffee, opium, korans, and seraglios.  In the midst
of all this fury of saving and defending this crusade for conscience
and Christianity, there was a universal agreement among all
descriptions of people to continue every species of internal
persecution, to deny at home every just right that had been denied
before, to pummel poor Dr. Abraham Rees and his Dissenters, and to
treat the unhappy Catholics of Ireland as if their tongues were
mute, their heels cloven, their nature brutal, and designedly
subjected by Providence to their Orange masters.

How would my admirable brother, the Rev. Abraham Plymley, like to be
marched to a Catholic chapel, to be sprinkled with the sanctified
contents of a pump, to hear a number of false quantities in the
Latin tongue, and to see a number of persons occupied in making
right angles upon the breast and forehead?  And if all this would
give you so much pain, what right have you to march Catholic
soldiers to a place of worship, where there is no aspersion, no
rectangular gestures, and where they understand every word they
hear, having first, in order to get him to enlist, made a solemn
promise to the contrary?  Can you wonder, after this, that the
Catholic priest stops the recruiting in Ireland, as he is now doing
to a most alarming degree?

The late question concerning military rank did not individually
affect the lowest persons of the Catholic persuasion; but do you
imagine they do not sympathise with the honour and disgrace of their
superiors?  Do you think that satisfaction and dissatisfaction do
not travel down from Lord Fingal to the most potato-less Catholic in
Ireland, and that the glory or shame of the sect is not felt by many
more than these conditions personally and corporeally affect?  Do
you suppose that the detection of Sir Henry Mildmay, and the
disappointment of Mr. Perceval IN THE MATTER of the Duchy of
Lancaster, did not affect every dabbler in public property?  Depend
upon it these things were felt through all the gradations of small
plunderers, down to him who filches a pound of tobacco from the
King's warehouses; while, on the contrary, the acquittal of any
noble and official thief would not fail to diffuse the most heart-
felt satisfaction over the larcenous and burglarious world.
Observe, I do not say because the lower Catholics are affected by
what concerns their superiors, that they are not affected by what
concerns themselves.  There is no disguising the horrid truth, THERE
and heart-rending price which must be paid for national
preservation.  I feel how little existence will be worth having, if
any alteration, however slight, is made in the property of Irish
rectors; I am conscious how much such changes must affect the daily
and hourly comforts of every Englishman; I shall feel too happy if
they leave Europe untouched, and are not ultimately fatal to the
destinies of America; but I am madly bent upon keeping foreign
enemies out of the British empire, and my limited understanding
presents me with no other means of effecting my object.

You talk of waiting till another reign before any alteration is
made; a proposal full of good sense and good nature, if the measure
in question were to pull down St. James's Palace, or to alter Kew
Gardens.  Will Bonaparte agree to put off his intrigues, and his
invasion of Ireland?  If so, I will overlook the question of
justice, and finding the danger suspended, agree to the delay.  I
sincerely hope this reign may last many years, yet the delay of a
single session of Parliament may be fatal; but if another year
elapse without some serious concession made to the Catholics, I
believe, before God, that all future pledges and concessions will be
made in vain.  I do not think that peace will do you any good under
such circumstances.  If Bonaparte give you a respite, it will only
be to get ready the gallows on which he means to hang you.  The
Catholic and the Dissenter can unite in peace as well as war.  If
they do, the gallows is ready, and your executioner, in spite of the
most solemn promises, will turn you off the next hour.

With every disposition to please (where to please within fair and
rational limits is a high duty), it is impossible for public men to
be long silent about the Catholics; pressing evils are not got rid
of, because they are not talked of.  A man may command his family to
say nothing more about the stone and surgical operations; but the
ponderous malice still lies upon the nerve, and gets so big, that
the patient breaks his own law of silence, clamours for the knife,
and expires under its late operation.  Believe me, you talk folly
when you talk of suppressing the Catholic question.  I wish to God
the case admitted of such a remedy; bad as it is, it does not admit
of it.  If the wants of the Catholics are not heard in the manly
tones of Lord Grenville, or the servile drawl of Lord Castlereagh,
they will be heard ere long in the madness of mobs, and the
conflicts of armed men.

I observe it is now universally the fashion to speak of the first
personage in the state as the great obstacle to the measure.  In the
first place, I am not bound to believe such rumours because I hear
them; and in the next place, I object to such language, as
unconstitutional.  Whoever retains his situation in the ministry
while the incapacities of the Catholics remain, is the advocate for
those incapacities; and to him, and to him only, am I to look for
responsibility.  But waive this question of the Catholics, and put a
general case: --How is a minister of this country to act when the
conscientious scruples of his Sovereign prevent the execution of a
measure deemed by him absolutely necessary to the safety of the
country?  His conduct is quite clear--he should resign.  But what is
his successor to do?--Resign.  But is the King to be left without
ministers, and is he in this manner to be compelled to act against
his own conscience?  Before I answer this, pray tell me in my turn
what better defence is there against the machinations of a wicked,
or the errors of a weak Monarch, than the impossibility of finding a
minister who will lend himself to vice and folly?  Every English
Monarch, in such a predicament, would sacrifice his opinions and
views to such a clear expression of the public will; and it is one
method in which the Constitution aims at bringing about such a
sacrifice.  You may say, if you please, the ruler of a state is
forced to give up his object when the natural love of place and
power will tempt no one to assist him in its attainment; this may be
force; but it is force without injury, and therefore without blame.
I am not to be beat out of these obvious reasonings, and ancient
constitutional provisions, by the term conscience.  There is no
fantasy, however wild, that a man may not persuade himself that he
cherishes from motives of conscience; eternal war against impious
France, or rebellious America, or Catholic Spain, may in times to
come be scruples of conscience.  One English Monarch may, from
scruples of conscience, wish to abolish every trait of religious
persecution; another Monarch may deem it his absolute and
indispensable duty to make a slight provision for Dissenters out of
the revenues of the Church of England.  So that you see, Brother
Abraham, there are cases where it would be the duty of the best and
most loyal subjects to oppose the conscientious scruples of their
Sovereign, still taking care that their actions were constitutional
and their modes respectful.  Then you come upon me with personal
questions, and say that no such dangers are to be apprehended now
under our present gracious Sovereign, of whose good qualities we
must be all so well convinced.  All these sorts of discussions I beg
leave to decline.  What I have said upon constitutional topics, I
mean of course for general, not for particular application.  I agree
with you in all the good you have said of the powers that be, and I
avail myself of the opportunity of pointing out general dangers to
the Constitution, at a moment when we are so completely exempted
from their present influence.  I cannot finish this letter without
expressing my surprise and pleasure at your abuse of the servile
addresses poured in upon the throne, nor can I conceive a greater
disgust to a Monarch, with a true English heart, than to see such a
question as that of Catholic Emancipation argued, not with a
reference to its justice or importance, but universally considered
to be of no further consequence than as it affects his own private
feelings.  That these sentiments should be mine is not wonderful;
but how they came to be yours does, I confess, fill me with
surprise.  Are you moved by the arrival of the Irish Brigade at
Antwerp, and the amorous violence which awaits Mrs. Plymley?


Dear Abraham,--I never met a parson in my life who did not consider
the Corporation and Test Acts as the great bulwarks of the Church;
and yet it is now just sixty-four years since bills of indemnity to
destroy their penal effects, or, in other words, to repeal them,
have been passed annually as a matter of course.

Heu vatum ignar mentes.

These bulwarks, without which no clergyman thinks he could sleep
with his accustomed soundness, have actually not been in existence
since any man now living has taken holy orders.  Every year the
Indemnity Act pardons past breaches of these two laws, and prevents
any fresh actions of informers from coming to a conclusion before
the period for the next indemnity bill arrives; so that these
penalties, by which alone the Church remains in existence, have not
had one moment's operation for sixty-four years.  You will say the
legislature, during the whole of this period, has reserved to itself
the discretion of suspending or not suspending.  But had not the
legislature the right of re-enacting, if it was necessary?  And now
when you have kept the rod over these people (with the most
scandalous abuse of all principle) for sixty-four years, and not
found it necessary to strike once, is not that the best of all
reasons why the rod should be laid aside?  You talk to me of a very
valuable hedge running across your fields which you would not part
with on any account.  I go down, expecting to find a limit
impervious to cattle, and highly useful for the preservation of
property; but, to my utter astonishment, I find that the hedge was
cut down half a century ago, and that every year the shoots are
clipped the moment they appear above ground:  it appears, upon
further inquiry, that the hedge never ought to have existed at all;
that it originated in the malice of antiquated quarrels, and was cut
down because it subjected you to vast inconvenience, and broke up
your intercourse with a country absolutely necessary to your
existence.  If the remains of this hedge serve only to keep up an
irritation in your neighbours, and to remind them of the feuds of
former times, good nature and good sense teach you that you ought to
grub it up, and cast it into the oven.  This is the exact state of
these two laws; and yet it is made a great argument against
concession to the Catholics, that it involves their repeal; which is
to say, Do not make me relinquish a folly that will lead to my ruin;
because, if you do, I must give up other follies ten times greater
than this.

I confess, with all our bulwarks and hedges, it mortifies me to the
quick to contrast with our matchless stupidity and inimitable folly
the conduct of Bonaparte upon the subject of religious persecution.
At the moment when we are tearing the crucifixes from the necks of
the Catholics, and washing pious mud from the foreheads of the
Hindoos; at that moment this man is assembling the very Jews at
Paris, and endeavouring to give them stability and importance.  I
shall never be reconciled to mending shoes in America; but I see it
must be my lot, and I will then take a dreadful revenge upon Mr.
Perceval, if I catch him preaching within ten miles of me.  I cannot
for the soul of me conceive whence this man has gained his notions
of Christianity:  he has the most evangelical charity for errors in
arithmetic, and the most inveterate malice against errors in
conscience.  While he rages against those whom in the true spirit of
the Gospel he ought to indulge, he forgets the only instance of
severity which that Gospel contains, and leaves the jobbers,
contractors, and money-changers at their seats, without a single

You cannot imagine, you say, that England will ever be ruined and
conquered; and for no other reason that I can find, but because it
seems so very odd it should be ruined and conquered.  Alas! so
reasoned, in their time, the Austrian, Russian, and Prussian
Plymleys.  But the English are brave:  so were all these nations.
You might get together a hundred thousand men individually brave;
but without generals capable of commanding such a machine, it would
be as useless as a first-rate man-of-war manned by Oxford clergymen
or Parisian shopkeepers.  I do not say this to the disparagement of
English officers:  they have had no means of acquiring experience;
but I do say it to create alarm; for we do not appear to me to be
half alarmed enough, or to entertain that sense of our danger which
leads to the most obvious means of self-defence.  As for the spirit
of the peasantry in making a gallant defence behind hedge-rows, and
through plate-racks and hen-coops, highly as I think of their
bravery, I do not know any nation in Europe so likely to be struck
with the panic as the English; and this from their total
unacquaintance with the science of war.  Old wheat and beans blazing
for twenty miles round; cart mares shot; sows of Lord Somerville's
breed running wild over the country; the minister of the parish
wounded sorely in his hinder parts; Mrs. Plymley in fits.  All these
scenes of war an Austrian or a Russian has seen three or four times
over:  but it is now three centuries since an English pig has fallen
in a fair battle upon English ground, or a farm-house been rifled,
or a clergyman's wife been subjected to any other proposals of love
than the connubial endearments of her sleek and orthodox mate.  The
old edition of Plutarch's Lives, which lies in the corner of your
parlour window, has contributed to work you up to the most romantic
expectations of our Roman behaviour.  You are persuaded that Lord
Amherst will defend Kew Bridge like Cocles; that some maid of honour
will break away from her captivity, and swim over the Thames; that
the Duke of York will burn his capitulating hand; and little Mr.
Sturges Bourne give forty years' purchase for Moulsham Hall, while
the French are encamped upon it.  I hope we shall witness all this,
if the French do come; but in the meantime I am so enchanted with
the ordinary English behaviour of these invaluable persons, that I
earnestly pray no opportunity may be given them for Roman valour,
and for those very un-Roman pensions which they would all, of
course, take especial care to claim in consequence.  But whatever
was our conduct, if every ploughman was as great a hero as he who
was called from his oxen to save Rome from her enemies, I should
still say, that at such a crisis you want the affections of all your
subjects in both islands:  there is no spirit which you must
alienate, no art you must avert, every man must feel he has a
country, and that there is an urgent and pressing cause why he
should expose himself to death.

The effects of penal laws in matters of religion are never confined
to those limits in which the legislature intended they should be
placed:  it is not only that I am excluded from certain offices and
dignities because I am a Catholic, but the exclusion carries with it
a certain stigma, which degrades me in the eyes of the monopolising
sect, and the very name of my religion becomes odious.  These
effects are so very striking in England, that I solemnly believe
blue and red baboons to be more popular here than Catholics and
Presbyterians; they are more understood, and there is a greater
disposition to do something for them.  When a country squire hears
of an ape, his first feeling is to give it nuts and apples; when he
hears of a Dissenter, his immediate impulse is to commit it to the
county gaol, to shave its head, to alter its customary food, and to
have it privately whipped.  This is no caricature, but an accurate
picture of national feelings, as they degrade and endanger us at
this very moment.  The Irish Catholic gentleman would bear his legal
disabilities with greater temper, if these were all he had to bear--
if they did not enable every Protestant cheese-monger and tide-
waiter to treat him with contempt.  He is branded on the forehead
with a red-hot iron, and treated like a spiritual felon, because in
the highest of all considerations he is led by the noblest of all
guides, his own disinterested conscience.

Why are nonsense and cruelty a bit the better because they are
enacted?  If Providence, which gives wine and oil, had blessed us
with that tolerant spirit which makes the countenance more pleasant
and the heart more glad than these can do; if our Statute Book had
never been defiled with such infamous laws, the sepulchral Spencer
Perceval would have been hauled through the dirtiest horse-pond in
Hampstead, had he ventured to propose them.  But now persecution is
good, because it exists; every law which originated in ignorance and
malice, and gratifies the passions from whence it sprang, we call
the wisdom of our ancestors:  when such laws are repealed, they will
be cruelty and madness; till they are repealed, they are policy and

I was somewhat amused with the imputation brought against the
Catholics by the University of Oxford, that they are enemies to
liberty.  I immediately turned to my "History of England," and
marked as an historical error that passage in which it is recorded
that, in the reign of Queen Anne, the famous degree of the
University of Oxford respecting passive obedience, was ordered by
the House of Lords to be burnt by the hands of the common hangman,
as contrary to the liberty of the subject and the law of the land.
Nevertheless, I wish, whatever be the modesty of those who impute,
that the imputation was a little more true, the Catholic cause would
not be quite so desperate with the present.  Administration.  I
fear, however, that the hatred to liberty in these poor devoted
wretches may ere long appear more doubtful than it is at present to
the Vice-Chancellor and his Clergy, inflamed as they doubtless are
with classical examples of republican virtue, and panting, as they
always have been, to reduce the power of the Crown within narrower
and safer limits.  What mistaken zeal to attempt to connect one
religion with freedom and another with slavery!  Who laid the
foundations of English liberty?  What was the mixed religion of
Switzerland?  What has the Protestant religion done for liberty in
Denmark, in Sweden, throughout the north of Germany, and in Prussia?
The purest religion in the world, in my humble opinion, is the
religion of the Church of England:  for its preservation (so far as
it is exercised without intruding upon the liberties of others) I am
ready at this moment to venture my present life, and but through
that religion I have no hopes of any other; yet I am not forced to
be silly because I am pious; nor will I ever join in eulogiums on my
faith which every man of common reading and common sense can so
easily refute.

You have either done too much for the Catholics, worthy Abraham, or
too little; if you had intended to refuse them political power, you
should have refused them civil rights.  After you had enabled them
to acquire property, after you had conceded to them all that you did
concede in '78 and '93, the rest is wholly out of your power:  you
may choose whether you will give the rest in an honourable or a
disgraceful mode, but it is utterly out of your power to withhold

In the last year, land to the amount of EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND
POUNDS was purchased by the Catholics in Ireland.  Do you think it
possible to be-Perceval, and be-Canning, and be-Castlereagh, such a
body of men as this out of their common rights, and their common
sense?  Mr. George Canning may laugh and joke at the idea of
Protestant bailiffs ravishing Catholic ladies, under the 9th clause
of the Sunset Bill; but if some better remedy be not applied to the
distractions of Ireland than the jocularity of Mr. Canning, they
will soon put an end to his pension, and to the pension of those
"near and dear relatives," for whose eating, drinking, washing, and
clothing, every man in the United Kingdoms now pays his two-pence or
three-pence a year.  You may call these observations coarse, if you
please; but I have no idea that the Sophias and Carolines of any man
breathing are to eat national veal, to drink public tea, to wear
Treasury ribands, and then that we are to be told that it is coarse
to animadvert upon this pitiful and eleemosynary splendour.  If this
is right, why not mention it?  If it is wrong, why should not he who
enjoys the ease of supporting his sisters in this manner bear the
shame of it?  Everybody seems hitherto to have spared a man who
never spares anybody.

As for the enormous wax candles, and superstitious mummeries, and
painted jackets of the Catholic priests, I fear them not.  Tell me
that the world will return again under the influence of the
smallpox; that Lord Castlereagh will hereafter oppose the power of
the Court; that Lord Howick and Mr. Grattan will do each of them a
mean and dishonourable action; that anybody who has heard Lord
Redesdale speak once will knowingly and willingly hear him again;
that Lord Eldon has assented to the fact of two and two making four,
without shedding tears, or expressing the smallest doubt or scruple;
tell me any other thing absurd or incredible, but, for the love of
common sense, let me hear no more of the danger to be apprehended
from the general diffusion of Popery.  It is too absurd to be
reasoned upon; every man feels it is nonsense when he hears it
stated, and so does every man while he is stating it.

I cannot imagine why the friends to the Church Establishment should
enter in such a horror of seeing the doors of Parliament flung open
to the Catholics, and view so passively the enjoyment of that right
by the Presbyterians and by every other species of Dissenter.  In
their tenets, in their Church Government, in the nature of their
endowments, the Dissenters are infinitely more distant from the
Church of England than the Catholics are; yet the Dissenters have
never been excluded from Parliament.  There are 45 members in one
House, and 16 in the other, who always are Dissenters.  There is no
law which would prevent every member of the Lords and Commons from
being Dissenters.  The Catholics could not bring into Parliament
half the number of the Scotch members; and yet one exclusion is of
such immense importance, because it has taken place; and the other
no human being thinks of, because no one is accustomed to it.  I
have often thought, if the WISDOM OF OUR ANCESTORS had excluded all
persons with red hair from the House of Commons, of the throes and
convulsions it would occasion to restore them to their natural
rights.  What mobs and riots would it produce!  To what infinite
abuse and obloquy would the capillary patriot be exposed; what
wormwood would distil from Mr. Perceval, what froth would drop from
Mr. Canning; how (I will not say MY, but OUR Lord Hawkesbury, for he
belongs to us all)--how our Lord Hawkesbury would work away about
the hair of King William and Lord Somers, and the authors of the
great and glorious Revolution; how Lord Eldon would appeal to the
Deity and his own virtues, and to the hair of his children:  some
would say that red-haired men were superstitious; some would prove
they were atheists; they would be petitioned against as the friends
of slavery, and the advocates for revolt; in short, such a corruptor
of the heart and understanding is the spirit of persecution, that
these unfortunate people (conspired against by their fellow-subjects
of every complexion), if they did not emigrate to countries where
hair of another colour was persecuted, would be driven to the
falsehood of perukes, or the hypocrisy of the Tricosian fluid.

As for the dangers of the Church (in spite of the staggering events
which have lately taken place), I have not yet entirely lost my
confidence in the power of common sense, and I believe the Church to
be in no danger at all; but if it is, that danger is not from the
Catholics, but from the Methodists, and from that patent
Christianity which has been for some time manufacturing at Clapham,
to the prejudice of the old and admirable article prepared by the
Church.  I would counsel my lords the Bishops to keep their eyes
upon that holy village, and its vicinity; they will find there a
zeal in making converts far superior to anything which exists among
the Catholics; a contempt for the great mass of English clergy, much
more rooted and profound; and a regular fund to purchase livings for
those groaning and garrulous gentlemen whom they denominate (by a
standing sarcasm against the regular Church) Gospel preachers and
vital clergymen.  I am too firm a believer in the general propriety
and respectability of the English clergy, to believe they have much
to fear either from old nonsense or from new; but if the Church must
be supposed to be in danger, I prefer that nonsense which is grown
half venerable from time, the force of which I have already tried
and baffled, which at least has some excuse in the dark and ignorant
ages in which it originated.  The religious enthusiasm manufactured
by living men before my own eyes disgusts my understanding as much,
influences my imagination not at all, and excites my apprehensions
much more.

I may have seemed to you to treat the situation of public affairs
with some degree of levity; but I feel it deeply, and with nightly
and daily anguish; because I know Ireland; I have known it all my
life; I love it, and I foresee the crisis to which it will soon be
exposed.  Who can doubt but that Ireland will experience ultimately
from France a treatment to which the conduct they have experienced
from England is the love of a parent, or a brother?  Who can doubt
but that five years after he has got hold of the country, Ireland
will be tossed away by Bonaparte as a present to some one of his
ruffian generals, who will knock the head of Mr. Keogh against the
head of Cardinal Troy, shoot twenty of the most noisy blockheads of
the Roman persuasion, wash his pug-dogs in holy water, and
confiscate the salt butter of the Milesian republic to the last tub?
But what matters this? or who is wise enough in Ireland to heed it?
or when had common sense much influence with my poor dear Irish?
Mr. Perceval does not know the Irish; but I know them, and I know
that at every rash and mad hazard they will break the Union, revenge
their wounded pride and their insulted religion, and fling
themselves into the open arms of France, sure of dying in the
embrace.  And now, what means have you of guarding against this
coming evil, upon which the future happiness or misery of every
Englishman depends?  Have you a single ally in the whole world?  Is
there a vulnerable point in the French empire where the astonishing
resources of that people can be attracted and employed?  Have you a
ministry wise enough to comprehend the danger, manly enough to
believe unpleasant intelligence, honest enough to state their
apprehensions at the peril of their places?  Is there anywhere the
slightest disposition to join any measure of love, or conciliation,
or hope, with that dreadful bill which the distractions of Ireland
have rendered necessary?  At the very moment that the last Monarchy
in Europe has fallen, are we not governed by a man of pleasantry,
and a man of theology?  In the six hundredth year of our empire over
Ireland, have we any memorial of ancient kindness to refer to? any
people, any zeal, any country on which we can depend?  Have we any
hope, but in the winds of heaven and the tides of the sea? any
prayer to prefer to the Irish, but that they should forget and
forgive their oppressors, who, in the very moment that they are
calling upon them for their exertions, solemnly assure them that the
oppression shall still remain?

Abraham, farewell!  If I have tired you, remember how often you have
tired me and others.  I do not think we really differ in politics so
much as you suppose; or at least, if we do, that difference is in
the means, and not in the end.  We both love the Constitution,
respect the King, and abhor the French.  But though you love the
Constitution, you would perpetuate the abuses which have been
engrafted upon it; though you respect the King, you would confirm
his scruples against the Catholics; though you abhor the French, you
would open to them the conquest of Ireland.  My method of respecting
my sovereign is by protecting his honour, his empire, and his
lasting happiness; I evince my love of the Constitution by making it
the guardian of all men's rights and the source of their freedom;
and I prove my abhorrence of the French, by uniting against them the
disciples of every church in the only remaining nation in Europe.
As for the men of whom I have been compelled in this age of
mediocrity to say so much, they cannot of themselves be worth a
moment's consideration, to you, to me, or to anybody.  In a year
after their death they will be forgotten as completely as if they
had never been; and are now of no further importance than as they
are the mere vehicles of carrying into effect the common-place and
mischievous prejudices of the times in which they live.


Dear Abraham,--What amuses me the most is to hear of the INDULGENCES
which the Catholics have received, and their exorbitance in not
being satisfied with those indulgences:  now if you complain to me
that a man is obtrusive and shameless in his requests, and that it
is impossible to bring him to reason, I must first of all hear the
whole of your conduct towards him; for you may have taken from him
so much in the first instance that, in spite of a long series of
restitution, a vast latitude for petition may still remain behind.

There is a village, no matter where, in which the inhabitants, on
one day in the year, sit down to a dinner prepared at the common
expense:  by an extra-ordinary piece of tyranny, which Lord
Hawkesbury would call the wisdom of the village ancestors, the
inhabitants of three of the streets, about a hundred years ago,
seized upon the inhabitants of the fourth street, bound them hand
and foot, laid them upon their backs, and compelled them to look on
while the rest were stuffing themselves with beef and beer; the next
year the inhabitants of the persecuted street, though they
contributed an equal quota of the expense, were treated precisely in
the same manner.  The tyranny grew into a custom; and, as the manner
of our nature is, it was considered as the most sacred of all duties
to keep these poor fellows without their annual dinner.  The village
was so tenacious of this practice, that nothing could induce them to
resign it; every enemy to it was looked upon as a disbeliever in
Divine Providence, and any nefarious churchwarden who wished to
succeed in his election had nothing to do but to represent his
antagonist as an abolitionist, in order to frustrate his ambition,
endanger his life, and throw the village into a state of the most
dreadful commotion.  By degrees, however, the obnoxious street grew
to be so well peopled, and its inhabitants so firmly united, that
their oppressors, more afraid of injustice, were more disposed to be
just.  At the next dinner they are unbound, the year after allowed
to sit upright, then a bit of bread and a glass of water; till at
last, after a long series of concessions, they are emboldened to
ask, in pretty plain terms, that they may be allowed to sit down at
the bottom of the table, and to fill their bellies as well as the
rest.  Forthwith a general cry of shame and scandal:  "Ten years
ago, were you not laid upon your backs?  Don't you remember what a
great thing you thought it to get a piece of bread?  How thankful
you were for cheese parings?  Have you forgotten that memorable era,
when the lord of the manor interfered to obtain for you a slice of
the public pudding?  And now, with an audacity only equalled by your
ingratitude, you have the impudence to ask for knives and forks, and
to request, in terms too plain to be mistaken, that you may sit down
to table with the rest, and be indulged even with beef and beer:
there are not more than half a dozen dishes which we have reserved
for ourselves; the rest has been thrown open to you in the utmost
profusion; you have potatoes, and carrots, suet dumplings, sops in
the pan, and delicious toast and water in incredible quantities.
Beef, mutton, lamb, pork, and veal are ours; and if you were not the
most restless and dissatisfied of human beings, you would never
think of aspiring to enjoy them."

Is not this, my dainty Abraham, the very nonsense and the very
insult which is talked to and practised upon the Catholics?  You are
surprised that men who have tasted of partial justice should ask for
perfect justice; that he who has been robbed of coat and cloak will
not be contented with the restitution of one of his garments.  He
would be a very lazy blockhead if he were content, and I (who,
though an inhabitant of the village, have preserved, thank God, some
sense of justice) most earnestly counsel these half-fed claimants to
persevere in their just demands, till they are admitted to a more
complete share of a dinner for which they pay as much as the others;
and if they see a little attenuated lawyer squabbling at the head of
their opponents, let them desire him to empty his pockets, and to
pull out all the pieces of duck, fowl, and pudding which he has
filched from the public feast, to carry home to his wife and

You parade a great deal upon the vast concessions made by this
country to the Irish before the Union.  I deny that any voluntary
concession was ever made by England to Ireland.  What did Ireland
ever ask that was granted?  What did she ever demand that was not
refused?  How did she get her Mutiny Bill--a limited Parliament--a
repeal of Poyning's Law--a constitution?  Not by the concessions of
England, but by her fears.  When Ireland asked for all these things
upon her knees, her petitions were rejected with Percevalism and
contempt; when she demanded them with the voice of 60,000 armed men,
they were granted with every mark of consternation and dismay.  Ask
of Lord Auckland the fatal consequences of trifling with such a
people as the Irish.  He himself was the organ of these refusals.
As secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, the insolence and the tyranny
of this country passed through his hands.  Ask him if he remembers
the consequences.  Ask him if he has forgotten that memorable
evening when he came down booted and mantled to the House of
Commons, when he told the House he was about to set off for Ireland
that night, and declared before God, if he did not carry with him a
compliance with all their demands, Ireland was for ever lost to this
country.  The present generation have forgotten this; but I have not
forgotten it; and I know, hasty and undignified as the submission of
England then was, that Lord Auckland was right, that the delay of a
single day might very probably have separated the two peoples for
ever.  The terms submission and fear are galling terms when applied
from the lesser nation to the greater; but it is the plain
historical truth, it is the natural consequence of injustice, it is
the predicament in which every country places itself which leaves
such a mass of hatred and discontent by its side.  No empire is
powerful enough to endure it; it would exhaust the strength of
China, and sink it with all its mandarins and tea-kettles to the
bottom of the deep.  By refusing them justice now when you are
strong enough to refuse them anything more than justice, you will
act over again, with the Catholics, the same scene of mean and
precipitate submission which disgraced you before America, and
before the volunteers of Ireland.  We shall live to hear the
Hampstead Protestant pronouncing such extravagant panegyrics upon
holy water, and paying such fulsome compliments to the thumbs and
offals of departed saints, that parties will change sentiments, and
Lord Henry Petty and Sam Whitbread take a spell at No Popery.  The
wisdom of Mr. Fox was alike employed in teaching his country justice
when Ireland was weak, and dignity when Ireland was strong.  We are
fast pacing round the same miserable circle of ruin and imbecility.
Alas! where is our guide?

You say that Ireland is a millstone about our necks; that it would
be better for us if Ireland were sunk at the bottom of the sea; that
the Irish are a nation of irreclaimable savages and barbarians.  How
often have I heard these sentiments fall from the plump and
thoughtless squire, and from the thriving English shopkeeper, who
has never felt the rod of an Orange master upon his back.  Ireland a
millstone about your neck!  Why is it not a stone of Ajax in your
hand?  I agree with you most cordially that, governed as Ireland now
is, it would be a vast accession of strength if the waves of the sea
were to rise and engulf her to-morrow.  At this moment, opposed as
we are to all the world, the annihilation of one of the most fertile
islands on the face of the globe, containing five millions of human
creatures, would be one of the most solid advantages which could
happen to this country.  I doubt very much, in spite of all the just
abuse which has been lavished upon Bonaparte, whether there is any
one of his conquered countries the blotting out of which would be as
beneficial to him as the destruction of Ireland would be to us:  of
countries I speak differing in language from the French, little
habituated to their intercourse, and inflamed with all the
resentments of a recently-conquered people.  Why will you attribute
the turbulence of our people to any cause but the right--to any
cause but your own scandalous oppression?  If you tie your horse up
to a gate, and beat him cruelly, is he vicious because he kicks you?
If you have plagued and worried a mastiff dog for years, is he mad
because he flies at you whenever he sees you?  Hatred is an active,
troublesome passion.  Depend upon it, whole nations have always some
reason for their hatred.  Before you refer the turbulence of the
Irish to incurable defects in their character, tell me if you have
treated them as friends and equals?  Have you protected their
commerce?  Have you respected their religion?  Have you been as
anxious for their freedom as your own?  Nothing of all this.  What
then?  Why you have confiscated the territorial surface of the
country twice over:  you have massacred and exported her
inhabitants:  you have deprived four-fifths of them of every civil
privilege:  you have at every period made her commerce and
manufactures slavishly subordinate to your own:  and yet the hatred
which the Irish bear to you is the result of an original turbulence
of character, and of a primitive, obdurate wildness, utterly
incapable of civilisation.  The embroidered inanities and the sixth-
form effusions of Mr. Canning are really not powerful enough to make
me believe this; nor is there any authority on earth (always
excepting the Dean of Christ Church) which could make it credible to
me.  I am sick of Mr. Canning.  There is not a "ha'porth of bread to
all this sugar and sack."  I love not the cretaceous and incredible
countenance of his colleague.  The only opinion in which I agree
with these two gentlemen is that which they entertain of each other.
I am sure that the insolence of Mr. Pitt, and the unbalanced
accounts of Melville, were far better than the perils of this new

Nonne fuit satius, ristes Amaryllidis iras
Atque superba pati fastidia? nonne Menalcan?
Quamvis ille niger?

In the midst of the most profound peace, the secret articles of the
Treaty of Tilsit, in which the destruction of Ireland is resolved
upon, induce you to rob the Danes of their fleet.  After the
expedition sailed comes the Treaty of Tilsit, containing no article,
public or private, alluding to Ireland.  The state of the world, you
tell me, justified us in doing this.  Just God! do we think only of
the state of the world when there is an opportunity for robbery, for
murder, and for plunder; and do we forget the state of the world
when we are called upon to be wise, and good, and just?  Does the
state of the world never remind us that we have four millions of
subjects whose injuries we ought to atone for, and whose affections
we ought to conciliate?  Does the state of the world never warn us
to lay aside our infernal bigotry, and to arm every man who
acknowledges a God, and can grasp a sword?  Did it never occur to
this administration that they might virtuously get hold of a force
ten times greater than the force of the Danish fleet?  Was there no
other way of protecting Ireland but by bringing eternal shame upon
Great Britain, and by making the earth a den of robbers?  See what
the men whom you have supplanted would have done.  They would have
rendered the invasion of Ireland impossible, by restoring to the
Catholics their long-lost rights:  they would have acted in such a
manner that the French would neither have wished for invasion nor
dared to attempt it:  they would have increased the permanent
strength of the country while they preserved its reputation
unsullied.  Nothing of this kind your friends have done, because
they are solemnly pledged to do nothing of this kind; because, to
tolerate all religions, and to equalise civil rights to all sects,
is to oppose some of the worst passions of our nature--to plunder
and to oppress is to gratify them all.  They wanted the huzzas of
mobs, and they have for ever blasted the fame of England to obtain
them.  Were the fleets of Holland, France, and Spain destroyed by
larceny?  You resisted the power of 150 sail of the line by sheer
courage, and violated every principle of morals from the dread of
fifteen hulks, while the expedition itself cost you three times more
than the value of the larcenous matter brought away.  The French
trample on the laws of God and man, not for old cordage, but for
kingdoms, and always take care to be well paid for their crimes.  We
contrive, under the present administration, to unite moral with
intellectual deficiency, and to grow weaker and worse by the same
action.  If they had any evidence of the intended hostility of the
Danes, why was it not produced?  Why have the nations of Europe been
allowed to feel an indignation against this country beyond the reach
of all subsequent information?  Are these times, do you imagine,
when we can trifle with a year of universal hatred, dally with the
curses of Europe, and then regain a lost character at pleasure, by
the parliamentary perspirations of the Foreign Secretary, or the
solemn asseverations of the pecuniary Rose?  Believe me, Abraham, it
is not under such ministers as these that the dexterity of honest
Englishmen will ever equal the dexterity of French knaves; it is not
in their presence that the serpent of Moses will ever swallow up the
serpents of the magician.

Lord Hawkesbury says that nothing is to be granted to the Catholics
from fear.  What! not even justice?  Why not?  There are four
millions of disaffected people within twenty miles of your own
coast.  I fairly confess that the dread which I have of their
physical power is with me a very strong motive for listening to
their claims.  To talk of not acting from fear, is mere
parliamentary cant.  From what motive but fear, I should be glad to
know, have all the improvements in our constitution proceeded?  I
question if any justice has ever been done to large masses of
mankind from any other motive.  By what other motives can the
plunderers of the Baltic suppose nations to be governed in their
intercourse WITH EACH OTHER?  If I say, Give this people what they
ask because it is just, do you think I should get ten people to
listen to me?  Would not the lesser of the two Jenkinsons be the
first to treat me with contempt?  The only true way to make the mass
of mankind see the beauty of justice is by showing to them, in
pretty plain terms, the consequences of injustice.  If any body of
French troops land in Ireland, the whole population of that country
will rise against you to a man, and you could not possibly survive
such an event three years.  Such, from the bottom of my soul, do I
believe to be the present state of that country; and so far does it
appear to me to be impolitic and unstatesman-like to concede
anything to such a danger, that if the Catholics, in addition to
their present just demands, were to petition for the perpetual
removal of the said Lord Hawkesbury from his Majesty's councils, I
think, whatever might be the effect upon the destinies of Europe,
and however it might retard our own individual destruction, that the
prayer of the petition should be instantly complied with.  Canning's
crocodile tears should not move me; the hoops of the maids of honour
should not hide him.  I would tear him from the banisters of the
back stairs, and plunge him in the fishy fumes of the dirtiest of
all his Cinque Ports.


Dear Abraham,--In the correspondence which is passing between us,
you are perpetually alluding to the Foreign Secretary; and in answer
to the dangers of Ireland, which I am pressing upon your notice, you
have nothing to urge but the confidence which you repose in the
discretion and sound sense of this gentleman.  I can only say, that
I have listened to him long and often with the greatest attention; I
have used every exertion in my power to take a fair measure of him,
and it appears to me impossible to hear him upon any arduous topic
without perceiving that he is eminently deficient in those solid and
serious qualities upon which, and upon which alone, the confidence
of a great country can properly repose.  He sweats and labours, and
works for sense, and Mr. Ellis seems always to think it is coming,
but it does not come; the machine can't draw up what is not to be
found in the spring; Providence has made him a light, jesting,
paragraph-writing man, and that he will remain to his dying day.
When he is jocular he is strong, when he is serious he is like
Samson in a wig; any ordinary person is a match for him:  a song, an
ironical letter, a burlesque ode, an attack in the newspaper upon
Nicoll's eye, a smart speech of twenty minutes, full of gross
misrepresentations and clever turns, excellent language, a spirited
manner, lucky quotation, success in provoking dull men, some half
information picked up in Pall Mall in the morning; these are your
friend's natural weapons; all these things he can do:  here I allow
him to be truly great; nay, I will be just, and go still further, if
he would confine himself to these things, and consider the facete
and the playful to be the basis of his character, he would, for that
species of man, be universally regarded as a person of a very good
understanding; call him a legislator, a reasoner, and the conductor
of the affairs of a great nation, and it seems to me as absurd as if
a butterfly were to teach bees to make honey.  That he is an
extraordinary writer of small poetry, and a diner out of the highest
lustre, I do most readily admit.  After George Selwyn, and perhaps
Tickell, there has been no such man for this half-century.  The
Foreign Secretary is a gentleman, a respectable as well as a highly
agreeable man in private life; but you may as well feed me with
decayed potatoes as console me for the miseries of Ireland by the
resources of his SENSE and his DISCRETION.  It is only the public
situation which this gentleman holds which entitles me or induces me
to say so much about him.  He is a fly in amber, nobody cares about
the fly; the only question is, How the devil did it get there ? Nor
do I attack him for the love of glory, but from the love of utility,
as a burgomaster hunts a rat in a Dutch dyke, for fear it should
flood a province.

The friends of the Catholic question are, I observe, extremely
embarrassed in arguing when they come to the loyalty of the Irish
Catholics.  As for me, I shall go straight forward to my object, and
state what I have no manner of doubt, from an intimate knowledge of
Ireland, to be the plain truth.  Of the great Roman Catholic
proprietors, and of the Catholic prelates, there may be a few, and
but a few, who would follow the fortunes of England at all events:
there is another set of men who, thoroughly detesting this country,
have too much property and too much character to lose, not to wait
for some very favourable event before they show themselves; but the
great mass of Catholic population, upon the slightest appearance of
a French force in that country, would rise upon you to a man.  It is
the most mistaken policy to conceal the plain truth.  There is no
loyalty among the Catholics:  they detest you as their worst
oppressors, and they will continue to detest you till you remove the
cause of their hatred.  It is in your power in six months' time to
produce a total revolution of opinions among this people; and in
some future letter I will show you that this is clearly the case.
At present, see what a dreadful in state Ireland is in.  The common
toast among the low Irish is, the feast of the PASSOVER.  Some
allusion to Bonaparte, in a play lately acted at Dublin, produced
thunders of applause from the pit and the galleries; and a
politician should not be inattentive to the public feelings
expressed in theatres.  Mr. Perceval thinks he has disarmed the
Irish:  he has no more disarmed the Irish than he has resigned a
shilling of his own public emoluments.  An Irish peasant fills the
barrel of his gun full of tow dipped in oil, butters up the lock,
buries it in a bog, and allows the Orange bloodhound to ransack his
cottage at pleasure.  Be just and kind to the Irish, and you will
indeed disarm them; rescue them from the degraded servitude in which
they are held by a handful of their own countrymen, and you will add
four millions of brave and affectionate men to your strength.
Nightly visits, Protestant inspectors, licenses to possess a pistol,
or a knife and fork, the odious vigour of the EVANGELICAL Perceval--
acts of Parliament, drawn up by some English attorney, to save you
from the hatred of four millions of people--the guarding yourselves
from universal disaffection by a police; a confidence in the little
cunning of Bow Street, when you might rest your security upon the
eternal basis of the best feelings:  this is the meanness and
madness to which nations are reduced when they lose sight of the
first elements of justice, without which a country can be no more
secure than it can be healthy without air.  I sicken at such policy
and such men.  The fact is, the Ministers know nothing about the
present state of Ireland; Mr. Perceval sees a few clergymen, Lord
Castlereagh a few general officers, who take care, of course, to
report what is pleasant rather than what is true.  As for the joyous
and lepid consul, he jokes upon neutral flags and frauds, jokes upon
Irish rebels, jokes upon northern and western and southern foes, and
gives himself no trouble upon any subject; nor is the mediocrity of
the idolatrous deputy of the slightest use.  Dissolved in grins, he
reads no memorials upon the state of Ireland, listens to no reports,
asks no questions, and is the

"BOURN from whom no traveller returns."

The danger of an immediate insurrection is now, I BELIEVE, blown
over.  You have so strong an army in Ireland, and the Irish are
become so much more cunning from the last insurrection, that you may
perhaps be tolerably secure just at present from that evil:  but are
you secure from the efforts which the French may make to throw a
body of troops into Ireland? and do you consider that event to be
difficult and improbable?  From Brest Harbour to Cape St. Vincent,
you have above three thousand miles of hostile sea coast, and twelve
or fourteen harbours quite capable of containing a sufficient force
for the powerful invasion of Ireland.  The nearest of these harbours
is not two days' sail from the southern coast of Ireland, with a
fair leading wind; and the furthest not ten.  Five ships of the
line, for so very short a passage, might carry five or six thousand
troops with cannon and ammunition; and Ireland presents to their
attack a southern coast of more than 500 miles, abounding in deep
bays, admirable harbours, and disaffected inhabitants.  Your
blockading ships may be forced to come home for provisions and
repairs, or they may be blown off in a gale of wind and compelled to
bear away for their own coast; and you will observe that the very
same wind which locks you up in the British Channel, when you are
got there, is evidently favourable for the invasion of Ireland.  And
yet this is called Government, and the people huzza Mr. Perceval for
continuing to expose his country day after day to such tremendous
perils as these; cursing the men who would have given up a question
in theology to have saved us from such a risk.  The British empire
at this moment is in the state of a peach-blossom--if the wind blows
gently from one quarter, it survives; if furiously from the other,
it perishes.  A stiff breeze may set in from the north, the
Rochefort squadron will be taken, and the Minister will be the most
holy of men:  if it comes from some other point, Ireland is gone; we
curse ourselves as a set of monastic madmen, and call out for the
unavailing satisfaction of Mr. Perceval's head.  Such a state of
political existence is scarcely credible:  it is the action of a mad
young fool standing upon one foot, and peeping down the crater of
Mount AEtna, not the conduct of a wise and sober people deciding
upon their best and dearest interests:  and in the name, the much-
injured name, of heaven, what is it all for that we expose ourselves
to these dangers?  Is it that we may sell more muslin?  Is it that
we may acquire more territory?  Is it that we may strengthen what we
have already acquired?  No; nothing of all this; but that one set of
Irishmen may torture another set of Irishmen--that Sir Phelim
O'Callaghan may continue to whip Sir Toby M'Tackle, his next door
neighbour, and continue to ravish his Catholic daughters; and these
are the measures which the honest and consistent Secretary supports;
and this is the Secretary whose genius in the estimation of Brother
Abraham is to extinguish the genius of Bonaparte.  Pompey was killed
by a slave, Goliath smitten by a stripling, Pyrrhus died by the hand
of a woman; tremble, thou great Gaul, from whose head an armed
Minerva leaps forth in the hour of danger; tremble, thou scourge of
God, a pleasant man is come out against thee, and thou shalt be laid
low by a joker of jokes, and he shall talk his pleasant talk against
thee, and thou shalt be no more!

You tell me, in spite of all this parade of sea-coast, Bonaparte has
neither ships nor sailors:  but this is a mistake.  He has not ships
and sailors to contest the empire of the seas with Great Britain,
but there remains quite sufficient of the navies of France, Spain,
Holland, and Denmark, for these short excursions and invasions.  Do
you think, too, that Bonaparte does not add to his navy every year?
Do you suppose, with all Europe at his feet, that he can find any
difficulty in obtaining timber, and that money will not procure for
him any quantity of naval stores he may want?  The mere machine, the
empty ship, he can build as well, and as quickly, as you can; and
though he may not find enough of practised sailors to man large
fighting-fleets--it is not possible to conceive that he can want
sailors for such sort of purposes as I have stated.  He is at
present the despotic monarch of above twenty thousand miles of sea-
coast, and yet you suppose he cannot procure sailors for the
invasion of Ireland.  Believe, if you please, that such a fleet met
at sea by any number of our ships at all comparable to them in point
of force, would be immediately taken, let it be so; I count nothing
upon their power of resistance, only upon their power of escaping
unobserved.  If experience has taught us anything, it is the
impossibility of perpetual blockades.  The instances are
innumerable, during the course of this war, where whole fleets have
sailed in and out of harbour, in spite of every vigilance used to
prevent it.  I shall only mention those cases where Ireland is
concerned.  In December, 1796, seven ships of the line, and ten
transports, reached Bantry Bay from Brest, without having seen an
English ship in their passage.  It blew a storm when they were off
shore, and therefore England still continues to be an independent
kingdom.  You will observe that at the very time the French fleet
sailed out of Brest Harbour, Admiral Colpoys was cruising off there
with a powerful squadron, and still, from the particular
circumstances of the weather, found it impossible to prevent the
French from coming out.  During the time that Admiral Colpoys was
cruising off Brest, Admiral Richery, with six ships of the line,
passed him, and got safe into the harbour.  At the very moment when
the French squadron was lying in Bantry Bay, Lord Bridport with his
fleet was locked up by a foul wind in the Channel, and for several
days could not stir to the assistance of Ireland.  Admiral Colpoys,
totally unable to find the French fleet, came home.  Lord Bridport,
at the change of the wind, cruised for them in vain, and they got
safe back to Brest, without having seen a single one of those
floating bulwarks, the possession of which we believe will enable us
with impunity to set justice and common sense at defiance.

Such is the miserable and precarious state of an anemocracy, of a
people who put their trust in hurricanes, and are governed by wind.
In August, 1798, three forty-gun frigates landed 1,100 men under
Humbert, making the passage from Rochelle to Killala without seeing
any English ship.  In October of the same year, four French frigates
anchored in Killala Bay with 2,000 troops; and though they did not
land their troops, they returned to France in safety.  In the same
month, a line-of-battle ship, eight stout frigates, and a brig, all
full of troops and stores, reached the coast of Ireland, and were
fortunately, in sight of land, destroyed, after an obstinate
engagement, by Sir John Warren.

If you despise the little troop which, in these numerous
experiments, did make good its landing, take with you, if you
please, this precis of its exploits:  eleven hundred men, commanded
by a soldier raised from the ranks, put to rout a select army of
6,000 men, commanded by General Lake, seized their ordnance,
ammunition, and stores, advanced 150 miles into a country containing
an armed force of 150,000 men, and at last surrendered to the
Viceroy, an experienced general, gravely and cautiously advancing at
the head of all his chivalry and of an immense army to oppose him.
You must excuse these details about Ireland, but it appears to me to
be of all other subjects the most important.  If we conciliate
Ireland, we can do nothing amiss; if we do not, we can do nothing
well.  If Ireland was friendly, we might equally set at defiance the
talents of Bonaparte and the blunders of his rival, Mr. Canning; we
could then support the ruinous and silly bustle of our useless
expeditions, and the almost incredible ignorance of our commercial
orders in council.  Let the present administration give up but this
one point, and there is nothing which I would not consent to grant
them.  Mr. Perceval shall have full liberty to insult the tomb of
Mr. Fox, and to torment every eminent Dissenter in Great Britain;
Lord Camden shall have large boxes of plums; Mr. Rose receive
permission to prefix to his name the appellative of virtuous; and to
the Viscount Castlereagh a round sum of ready money shall be well
and truly paid into his hand.  Lastly, what remains to Mr. George
Canning, but that he ride up and down Pall Mall glorious upon a
white horse, and that they cry out before him, Thus shall it be done
to the statesman who hath written "The Needy Knife-Grinder," and the
German play?  Adieu only for the present; you shall soon hear from
me again; it is a subject upon which I cannot long be silent.


Nothing can be more erroneous than to suppose that Ireland is not
bigger than the Isle of Wight, or of more consequence than Guernsey
or Jersey; and yet I am almost inclined to believe, from the general
supineness which prevails here respecting the dangerous state of
that country, that such is the rank which it holds in our
statistical tables.  I have been writing to you a great deal about
Ireland, and perhaps it may be of some use to state to you concisely
the nature and resources of the country which has been the subject
of our long and strange correspondence.  There were returned, as I
have before observed, to the hearth tax in 1791, 701,102 houses,
which Mr. Newenham shows from unquestionable documents to be nearly
80,000 below the real number of houses in that country.  There are
27,457 square English miles in Ireland, and more than five millions
of people.

By the last survey it appears that the inhabited houses in England
and Wales amount to 1,574,902, and the population to 9,343,578,
which gives an average of 5.875 to each house, in a country where
the density of population is certainly less considerable than in
Ireland.  It is commonly supposed that two-fifths of the army and
navy are Irishmen, at periods when political disaffection does not
avert the Catholics from the service.  The current value of Irish
exports in 1807 was 9,314,854 pounds 17s. 7d.; a state of commerce
about equal to the commerce of England in the middle of the reign of
George II.  The tonnage of ships entered inward and cleared outward
in the trade of Ireland, in 1807, amounted to 1,567,430 tons.  The
quantity of home spirits exported amounted to 10,284 gallons in
1796, and to 930,800 gallons in 1804.  Of the exports which I have
stated, provisions amounted to four millions, and linen to about
four millions and a half.  There was exported from Ireland, upon an
average of two years ending in January, 1804, 591,274 barrels of
barley, oats, and wheat; and by weight 910,848 cwts. of flour,
oatmeal, barley, oats, and wheat.  The amount of butter exported in
1804, from Ireland, was worth, in money, 1,704,680 pounds sterling.
The importation of ale and beer, from the immense manufactures now
carrying on of these articles, was diminished to 3,209 barrels, in
the year 1804, from 111,920 barrels, which was the average
importation per annum, taking from three years ending in 1792; and
at present there is an export trade of porter.  On an average of
three years, ending March, 1783, there were imported into Ireland,
of cotton wool, 3,326 cwts., of cotton yarn, 5,405 lbs.; but on an
average of three years, ending January, 1803, there were imported,
of the first article, 13,159 cwts., and of the latter, 628,406 lbs.
It is impossible to conceive any manufacture more flourishing.  The
export of linen has increased in Ireland from 17,776,862 yards, the
average in 1770, to 43,534,971 yards, the amount in 1805.  The
tillage of Ireland has more than trebled within the last twenty-one
years.  The importation of coals has increased from 230,000 tons in
1783, to 417,030 in 1804; of tobacco, from 3,459,861 lbs. in 1783,
to 6,611,543 in 1804; of tea, from 1,703,855 lbs. in 1783, to
3,358,256 in 1804; of sugar, from 143,117 cwts. in 1782, to 309,076
in 1804.  Ireland now supports a funded debt of above 64 millions,
and it is computed that more than three millions' of money are
annually remitted to Irish absentees resident in this country.  In
Mr. Foster's report, of 100 folio pages, presented to the House of
Commons in the year 1806, the total expenditure of Ireland is stated
at 9,760,013 pounds.  Ireland has increased about two-thirds in its
population within twenty-five years, and yet, and in about the same
space of time, its exports of beef, bullocks, cows, pork, swine,
butter, wheat, barley, and oats, collectively taken, have doubled;
and this, in spite of two years' famine, and the presence of an
immense army, that is always at hand to guard the most valuable
appanage of our empire from joining our most inveterate enemies.
Ireland has the greatest possible facilities for carrying on
commerce with the whole of Europe.  It contains, within a circuit of
750 miles, 66 secure harbours, and presents a western frontier
against Great Britain, reaching from the Firth of Clyde north to the
Bristol Channel south, and varying in distance from 20 to 100 miles;
so that the subjugation of Ireland would compel us to guard with
ships and soldiers a new line of coast, certainly amounting, with
all its sinuosities, to more than 700 miles--an addition of
polemics, in our present state of hostility with all the world,
which must highly gratify the vigorists, and give them an ample
opportunity of displaying that foolish energy upon which their
claims to distinction are founded.  Such is the country which the
Right Reverend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would drive into the
arms of France, and for the conciliation of which we are requested
to wait, as if it were one of those sinecure places which were given
to Mr. Perceval snarling at the breast, and which cannot be
abolished till his decease.

How sincerely and fervently have I often wished that the Emperor of
the French had thought as Mr. Spencer Perceval does upon the subject
of government; that he had entertained doubts and scruples upon the
propriety of admitting the Protestants to an equality of rights with
the Catholics, and that he had left in the middle of his empire
these vigorous seeds of hatred and disaffection!  But the world was
never yet conquered by a blockhead.  One of the very first measures
we saw him recurring to was the complete establishment of religious
liberty:  if his subjects fought and paid as he pleased, he allowed
them to believe as they pleased:  the moment I saw this, my best
hopes were lost.  I perceived in a moment the kind of man we had to
do with.  I was well aware of the miserable ignorance and folly of
this country upon the subject of toleration; and every year has been
adding to the success of that game, which it was clear he had the
will and the ability to play against us.

You say Bonaparte is not in earnest upon the subject of religion,
and that this is the cause of his tolerant spirit; but is it
possible you can intend to give us such dreadful and unamiable
notions of religion.  Are we to understand that the moment a man is
sincere he is narrow-minded; that persecution is the child of
belief; and that a desire to leave all men in the quiet and
unpunished exercise of their own creed can only exist in the mind of
an infidel?  Thank God! I know many men whose principles are as firm
as they are expanded, who cling tenaciously to their own
modification of the Christian faith, without the slightest
disposition to force that modification upon other people.  If
Bonaparte is liberal in subjects of religion because he has no
religion, is this a reason why we should be illiberal because we are
Christians?  If he owes this excellent quality to a vice, is that
any reason why we may not owe it to a virtue?  Toleration is a great
good, and a good to be imitated, let it come from whom it will.  If
a sceptic is tolerant, it only shows that he is not foolish in
practice as well as erroneous in theory.  If a religious man is
tolerant, it evinces that he is religious from thought and inquiry,
because he exhibits in his conduct one of the most beautiful and
important consequences of a religious mind--an inviolable charity to
all the honest varieties of human opinion.

Lord Sidmouth, and all the anti-Catholic people, little foresee that
they will hereafter be the sport of the antiquary; that their
prophecies of ruin and destruction from Catholic emancipation will
be clapped into the notes of some quaint history, and be matter of
pleasantry even to the sedulous housewife and the rural dean.  There
is always a copious supply of Lord Sidmouths in the world; nor is
there one single source of human happiness against which they have
not uttered the most lugubrious predictions.  Turnpike roads,
navigable canals, inoculation, hops, tobacco, the Reformation, the
Revolution--there are always a set of worthy and moderately-gifted
men, who bawl out death and ruin upon every valuable change which
the varying aspect of human affairs absolutely and imperiously
requires.  I have often thought that it would be extremely useful to
make a collection of the hatred and abuse that all those changes
have experienced, which are now admitted to be marked improvements
in our condition.  Such a history might make folly a little more
modest, and suspicious of its own decisions.

Ireland, you say, since the Union is to be considered as a part of
the whole kingdom; and therefore, however Catholics may predominate
in that particular spot, yet, taking the whole empire together, they
are to be considered as a much more insignificant quota of the
population.  Consider them in what light you please, as part of the
whole, or by themselves, or in what manner may be most consentaneous
to the devices of your holy mind--I say in a very few words, if you
do not relieve these people from the civil incapacities to which
they are exposed, you will lose them; or you must employ great
strength and much treasure in watching over them.  In the present
state of the world you can afford to do neither the one nor the
other.  Having stated this, I shall leave you to be ruined,
Puffendorf in hand (as Mr. Secretary Canning says), and to lose
Ireland, just as you have found out what proportion the aggrieved
people should bear to the whole population before their calamities
meet with redress.  As for your parallel cases, I am no more afraid
of deciding upon them than I am upon their prototype.  If ever any
one heresy should so far spread itself over the principality of
Wales that the Established Church were left in a minority of one to
four; if you had subjected these heretics to very severe civil
privations; if the consequence of such privations were a universal
state of disaffection among that caseous and wrathful people; and if
at the same time you were at war with all the world, how can you
doubt for a moment that I would instantly restore them to a state of
the most complete civil liberty?  What matters it under what name
you put the same case?  Common sense is not changed by appellations.
I have said how I would act to Ireland, and I would act so to all
the world.

I admit that, to a certain degree, the Government will lose the
affections of the Orangemen by emancipating the Catholics; much
less, however, at present, than three years past.  The few men, who
have ill-treated the whole crew, live in constant terror that the
oppressed people will rise upon them and carry the ship into Brest:
--they begin to find that it is a very tiresome thing to sleep every
night with cocked pistols under their pillows, and to breakfast,
dine, and sup with drawn hangers.  They suspect that the privilege
of beating and kicking the rest of the sailors is hardly worth all
this anxiety, and that if the ship does ever fall into the hands of
the disaffected, all the cruelties which they have experienced will
be thoroughly remembered and amply repaid.  To a short period of
disaffection among the Orangemen I confess I should not much object:
my love of poetical justice does carry me as far as that; one
summer's whipping, only one:  the thumb-screw for a short season; a
little light easy torturing between Ladyday and Michaelmas; a short
specimen of Mr. Perceval's rigour.  I have malice enough to ask this
slight atonement for the groans and shrieks of the poor Catholics,
unheard by any human tribunal, but registered by the Angel of God
against their Protestant and enlightened oppressors.

Besides, if you who count ten so often can count five, you must
perceive that it is better to have four friends and one enemy than
four enemies and one friend; and the more violent the hatred of the
Orangemen, the more certain the reconciliation of the Catholics.
The disaffection of the Orangemen will be the Irish rainbow:  when I
see it I shall be sure that the storm is over.

If these incapacities, from which the Catholics ask to be relieved,
were to the mass of them only a mere feeling of pride, and if the
question were respecting the attainment of privileges which could be
of importance only to the highest of the sect, I should still say
that the pride of the mass was very naturally wounded by the
degradation of their superiors.  Indignity to George Rose would be
felt by the smallest nummary gentleman in the king's employ; and Mr.
John Bannister could not be indifferent to anything which happened
to Mr. Canning.  But the truth is, it is a most egregious mistake to
suppose that the Catholics are contending merely for the fringes and
feathers of their chiefs.  I will give you a list in my next Letter
of those privations which are represented to be of no consequence to
anybody but Lord Fingal, and some twenty or thirty of the principal
persons of their sect.  In the meantime, adieu, and be wise.


Dear Abraham,--No Catholic can be chief Governor or Governor of this
kingdom, Chancellor or Keeper of the Great Seal, Lord High
Treasurer, Chief of any of the Courts of Justice, Chancellor of the
Exchequer, Puisne Judge, Judge in the Admiralty, Master of the
Rolls, Secretary of State, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Vice-Treasurer
or his Deputy, Teller or Cashier of Exchequer, Auditor or General,
Governor or Custos Rotulorum of Counties, Chief Governor's
Secretary, Privy Councillor, King's Counsel, Serjeant, Attorney,
Solicitor-General, Master in Chancery, Provost or Fellow of Trinity
College, Dublin, Postmaster-General, Master and Lieutenant-General
of Ordnance, Commander-in-Chief, General on the Staff, Sheriff, Sub-
Sheriff, Mayor, Bailiff, Recorder, Burgess, or any other officer in
a City, or a Corporation.  No Catholic can be guardian to a
Protestant, and no priest guardian at all; no Catholic can be a
gamekeeper, or have for sale, or otherwise, any arms or warlike
stores; no Catholic can present to a living, unless he choose to
turn Jew in order to obtain that privilege; the pecuniary
qualification of Catholic jurors is made higher than that of
Protestants, and no relaxation of the ancient rigorous code is
permitted, unless to those who shall take an oath prescribed by 13
and 14 George III.  Now if this is not picking the plums out of the
pudding and leaving the mere batter to the Catholics, I know not
what is.  If it were merely the Privy Council, it would be (I allow)
nothing but a point of honour for which the mass of Catholics were
contending, the honour of being chief-mourners or pall-bearers to
the country; but surely no man will contend that every barrister may
not speculate upon the possibility of being a Puisne Judge; and that
every shopkeeper must not feel himself injured by his exclusion from
borough offices.

One of the greatest practical evils which the Catholics suffer in
Ireland is their exclusion from the offices of Sheriff and Deputy
Sheriff.  Nobody who is unacquainted with Ireland can conceive the
obstacles which this opposes to the fair administration of justice.
The formation of juries is now entirely in the hands of the
Protestants; the lives, liberties, and properties of the Catholics
in the hands of the juries; and this is the arrangement for the
administration of justice in a country where religious prejudices
are inflamed to the greatest degree of animosity!  In this country,
if a man be a foreigner, if he sell slippers, and sealing wax, and
artificial flowers, we are so tender of human life that we take care
half the number of persons who are to decide upon his fate should be
men of similar prejudices and feelings with himself:  but a poor
Catholic in Ireland may be tried by twelve Percevals, and destroyed
according to the manner of that gentleman in the name of the Lord,
and with all the insulting forms of justice.  I do not go the length
of saying that deliberate and wilful injustice is done.  I have no
doubt that the Orange Deputy Sheriff thinks it would be a most
unpardonable breach of his duty if he did not summon a Protestant
panel.  I can easily believe that the Protestant panel may conduct
themselves very conscientiously in hanging the gentlemen of the
crucifix; but I blame the law which does not guard the Catholic
against the probable tenor of those feelings which must
unconsciously influence the judgments of mankind.  I detest that
state of society which extends unequal degrees of protection to
different creeds and persuasions; and I cannot describe to you the
contempt I feel for a man who, calling himself a statesman, defends
a system which fills the heart of every Irishman with treason, and
makes his allegiance prudence, not choice.

I request to know if the vestry taxes in Ireland are a mere matter
of romantic feeling which can affect only the Earl of Fingal?  In a
parish where there are four thousand Catholics and fifty
Protestants, the Protestants may meet together in a vestry meeting
at which no Catholic has the right to vote, and tax all the lands in
the parish 1s. 6d. per acre, or in the pound, I forget which, for
the repairs of the church--and how has the necessity of these
repairs been ascertained?  A Protestant plumber has discovered that
it wants new leading; a Protestant carpenter is convinced the
timbers are not sound; and the glazier who hates holy water (as an
accoucheur hates celibacy, because he gets nothing by it) is
employed to put in new sashes.

The grand juries in Ireland are the great scene of jobbing.  They
have a power of making a county rate to a considerable extent for
roads, bridges, and other objects of general accommodation.  "You
suffer the road to be brought through my park, and I will have the
bridge constructed in a situation where it will make a beautiful
object to your house.  You do my job, and I will do yours."  These
are the sweet and interesting subjects which occasionally occupy
Milesian gentlemen while they are attendant upon this grand inquest
of justice.  But there is a religion, it seems, even in jobs; and it
will be highly gratifying to Mr. Perceval to learn that no man in
Ireland who believes in seven sacraments can carry a public road, or
bridge, one yard out of the direction most beneficial to the public,
and that nobody can cheat the public who does not expound the
Scriptures in the purest and most orthodox manner.  This will give
pleasure to Mr. Perceval:  but, from his unfairness upon these
topics I appeal to the justice and the proper feelings of Mr.
Huskisson.  I ask him if the human mind can experience a more
dreadful sensation than to see its own jobs refused, and the jobs of
another religion perpetually succeeding?  I ask him his opinion of a
jobless faith, of a creed which dooms a man through life to a lean
and plunderless integrity.  He knows that human nature cannot and
will not bear it; and if we were to paint a political Tartarus, it
would be an endless series of snug expectations and cruel
disappointments.  These are a few of many dreadful inconveniences
which the Catholics of all ranks suffer from the laws by which they
are at present oppressed.  Besides, look at human nature:  what is
the history of all professions?  Joel is to be brought up to the
bar:  has Mrs. Plymley the slightest doubt of his being Chancellor?
Do not his two shrivelled aunts live in the certainty of seeing him
in that situation, and of cutting out with their own hands his
equity habiliments?  And I could name a certain minister of the
Gospel who does not, in the bottom of his heart, much differ from
these opinions.  Do you think that the fathers and mothers of the
holy Catholic Church are not as absurd as Protestant papas and
mammas?  The probability I admit to be, in each particular case,
that the sweet little blockhead will in fact never get a brief;--but
I will venture to say, there is not a parent from the Giant's
Causeway to Bantry Bay who does not conceive that his child is the
unfortunate victim of the exclusion, and that nothing short of
positive law could prevent his own dear, pre-eminent Paddy from
rising to the highest honours of the State.  So with the army and
parliament; in fact, few are excluded; but, in imagination, all:
you keep twenty or thirty Catholics out, and you lose the affections
of four millions; and, let me tell you, that recent circumstances
have by no means tended to diminish in the minds of men that hope of
elevation beyond their own rank which is so congenial to our nature:
from pleading for John Roe to taxing John Bull, from jesting for Mr.
Pitt and writing in the Anti-Jacobin, to managing the affairs of
Europe--these are leaps which seem to justify the fondest dreams of
mothers and of aunts.

I do not say that the disabilities to which the Catholics are
exposed amount to such intolerable grievances, that the strength and
industry of a nation are overwhelmed by them:  the increasing
prosperity of Ireland fully demonstrates to the contrary.  But I
repeat again, what I have often stated in the course of our
correspondence, that your laws against the Catholics are exactly in
that state in which you have neither the benefits of rigour nor of
liberality:  every law which prevented the Catholic from gaining
strength and wealth is repealed; every law which can irritate
remains; if you were determined to insult the Catholics, you should
have kept them weak; if you resolved to give them strength, you
should have ceased to insult them--at present your conduct is pure,
unadulterated folly.

Lord Hawkesbury says, "We heard nothing about the Catholics till we
began to mitigate the laws against them; when we relieved them in
part from this oppression they began to be disaffected.  This is
very true; but it proves just what I have said, that you have either
done too much or too little; and as there lives not, I hope, upon
earth, so depraved a courtier that he would load the Catholics with
their ancient chains, what absurdity it is, then, not to render
their dispositions friendly, when you leave their arms and legs

You know, and many Englishmen know, what passes in China; but nobody
knows or cares what passes in Ireland.  At the beginning of the
present reign no Catholic could realise property, or carry on any
business; they were absolutely annihilated, had had no more agency
in the country than so many trees.  They were like Lord Mulgrave's
eloquence and Lord Camden's wit; the legislative bodies did not know
of their existence.  For these twenty-five years last past the
Catholics have been engaged in commerce; within that period the
commerce of Ireland has doubled--there are four Catholics at work
for one Protestant, and eight Catholics at work for one
Episcopalian.  Of course, the proportion which Catholic wealth bears
to Protestant wealth is every year altering rapidly in favour of the
Catholics.  I have already told you what their purchases of land
were the last year:  since that period I have been at some pains to
find out the actual state of the Catholic wealth:  it is impossible
upon such a subject to arrive at complete accuracy; but I have good
reason to believe that there are at present 2,000 Catholics in
Ireland, possessing an income of 500 pounds and upwards, many of
these with incomes of one, two, three, and four thousand, and some
amounting to fifteen and twenty thousand per annum:- and this is the
kingdom, and these the people, for whose conciliation we are to wait
Heaven knows when, and Lord Hawkesbury why!  As for me, I never
think of the situation of Ireland without feeling the same necessity
for immediate interference as I should do if I saw blood flowing
from a great artery.  I rush towards it with the instinctive
rapidity of a man desirous of preventing death, and have no other
feeling but that in a few seconds the patient may be no more.

I could not help smiling, in the times of No Popery, to witness the
loyal indignation of many persons at the attempt made by the last
ministry to do something for the relief of Ireland.  The general cry
in the country was, that they would not see their beloved Monarch
used ill in his old age, and that they would stand by him to the
last drop of their blood.  I respect good feelings, however
erroneous be the occasions on which they display themselves; and
therefore I saw in all this as much to admire as to blame.  It was a
species of affection, however, which reminded me very forcibly of
the attachment displayed by the servants of the Russian ambassador
at the beginning of the last century.  His Excellency happened to
fall down in a kind of apoplectic fit, when he was paying a morning
visit in the house of an acquaintance.  The confusion was of course
very great, and messengers were despatched in every direction to
find a surgeon:  who, upon his arrival, declared that his Excellency
must be immediately blooded, and prepared himself forthwith to
perform the operation:  the barbarous servants of the embassy, who
were there in great numbers, no sooner saw the surgeon prepared to
wound the arm of their master with a sharp, shining instrument, than
they drew their swords, put themselves in an attitude of defence,
and swore in pure Sclavonic, "that they would murder any man who
attempted to do him the slightest injury:  he had been a very good
master to them, and they would not desert him in his misfortunes, or
suffer his blood to be shed while he was off his guard, and
incapable of defending himself."  By good fortune, the secretary
arrived about this period of the dispute, and his Excellency,
relieved from superfluous blood and perilous affection, was, after
much difficulty, restored to life.

There is an argument brought forward with some appearance of
plausibility in the House of Commons, which certainly merits an
answer:  You know that the Catholics now vote for members of
parliament in Ireland, and that they outnumber the Protestants in a
very great proportion; if you allow Catholics to sit in parliament,
religion will be found to influence votes more than property, and
the greater part of the 100 Irish members who are returned to
parliament will be Catholics.  Add to these the Catholic members who
are returned in England, and you will have a phalanx of heretical
strength which every minister will be compelled to respect, and
occasionally to conciliate by concessions incompatible with the
interests of the Protestant Church.  The fact is, however, that you
are at this moment subjected to every danger of this kind which you
can possibly apprehend hereafter.  If the spiritual interests of the
voters are more powerful than their temporal interests, they can
bind down their representatives to support any measures favourable
to the Catholic religion, and they can change the objects of their
choice till they have found Protestant members (as they easily may
do) perfectly obedient to their wishes.  If the superior possessions
of the Protestants prevent the Catholics from uniting for a common
political object, then the danger you fear cannot exist:  if zeal,
on the contrary, gets the better of acres, then the danger at
present exists, from the right of voting already given to the
Catholics, and it will not be increased by allowing them to sit in
parliament.  There are, as nearly as I can recollect, thirty seats
in Ireland for cities and counties, where the Protestants are the
most numerous, and where the members returned must of course be
Protestants.  In the other seventy representations the wealth of the
Protestants is opposed to the number of the Catholics; and if all
the seventy members returned were of the Catholic persuasion, they
must still plot the destruction of our religion in the midst of 588
Protestants.  Such terrors would disgrace a cook-maid, or a
toothless aunt--when they fall from the lips of bearded and
senatorial men, they are nauseous, antiperistaltic, and emetical.

How can you for a moment doubt of the rapid effects which would be
produced by the emancipation?  In the first place, to my certain
knowledge the Catholics have long since expressed to his Majesty's
Ministers their perfect readiness TO VEST IN HIS MAJESTY, EITHER
prelacy in Ireland consists of twenty-six bishops and the warden of
Galway, a dignitary enjoying Catholic jurisdiction.  The number of
Roman Catholic priests in Ireland exceeds one thousand.  The
expenses of his peculiar worship are, to a substantial farmer or
mechanic, five shillings per annum; to a labourer (where he is not
entirely excused) one shilling per annum; this includes the
contribution of the whole family, and for this the priest is bound
to attend them when sick, and to confess them when they apply to
him; he is also to keep his chapel in order, to celebrate divine
service, and to preach on Sundays and holydays.

In the northern district a priest gains from 30 to 50 pounds; in the
other parts of Ireland from 60 to 90 pounds per annum.  The best
paid Catholic bishops receive about 400 pounds per annum; the others
from 300 to 350 pounds.  My plan is very simple:  I would have 300
Catholic parishes at 100 pounds per annum, 300 at 200 pounds per
annum, and 400 at 300 pounds per annum; this, for the whole thousand
parishes, would amount to 190,000 pounds.  To the prelacy I would
allot 20,000 pounds in unequal proportions, from 1,000 to 500
pounds; and I would appropriate 40,000 pounds more for the support
of Catholic schools, and the repairs of Catholic churches; the whole
amount of which sum is 250,000 pounds, about the expense of three
days of one of our genuine, good English JUST AND NECESSARY WARS.
The clergy should all receive their salaries at the Bank of Ireland,
and I would place the whole patronage in the hands of the Crown.
Now, I appeal to any human being, except Spencer Perceval, Esq., of
the parish of Hampstead, what the disaffection of a clergy would
amount to, gaping after this graduated bounty of the Crown, and
whether Ignatius Loyala himself, if he were a living blockhead
instead of a dead saint, could withstand the temptation of bouncing
from 100 pounds a year at Sligo, to 300 pounds in Tipperary?  This
is the miserable sum of money for which the merchants and landowners
and nobility of England are exposing themselves to the tremendous
peril of losing Ireland.  The sinecure places of the Roses and the
Percevals, and the "dear and near relations," put up to auction at
thirty years' purchase, would almost amount to the money.

I admit that nothing can be more reasonable than to expect that a
Catholic priest should starve to death, genteelly and pleasantly,
for the good of the Protestant religion; but is it equally
reasonable to expect that he should do so for the Protestant pews,
and Protestant brick and mortar?  On an Irish Sabbath, the bell of a
neat parish church often summons to church only the parson and an
occasionally conforming clerk; while, two hundred yards off, a
thousand Catholics are huddled together in a miserable hovel, and
pelted by all the storms of heaven.  Can anything be more
distressing than to see a venerable man pouring forth sublime truths
in tattered breeches, and depending for his food upon the little
offal he gets from his parishioners?  I venerate a human being who
starves for his principles, let them be what they may; but starving
for anything is not at all to the taste of the honourable
flagellants:  strict principles, and good pay, is the motto of Mr.
Perceval:  the one he keeps in great measure for the faults of his
enemies, the other for himself.

There are parishes in Connaught in which a Protestant was never
settled nor even seen.  In that province in Munster, and in parts of
Leinster, the entire peasantry for sixty miles are Catholics; in
these tracts the churches are frequently shut for want of a
congregation, or opened to an assemblage of from six to twenty
persons.  Of what Protestants there are in Ireland, the greatest
part are gathered together in Ulster, or they live in towns.  In the
country of the other three provinces the Catholics see no other
religion but their own, and are at the least as fifteen to one
Protestant.  In the diocese of Tuam they are sixty to one; in the
parish of St. Mulins, diocese of Leghlin, there are four thousand
Catholics and one Protestant; in the town of Grasgenamana, in the
county of Kilkenny, there are between four and five hundred Catholic
houses, and three Protestant houses.  In the parish of Allen, county
Kildare, there is no Protestant, though it is very populous.  In the
parish of Arlesin, Queen's County, the proportion is one hundred to
one.  In the whole county of Kilkenny, by actual enumeration, it is
seventeen to one; in the diocese of Kilmacduagh, province of
Connaught, fifty-two to one, by ditto.  These I give you as a few
specimens of the present state of Ireland; and yet there are men
impudent and ignorant enough to contend that such evils require no
remedy, and that mild family man who dwelleth in Hampstead can find
none but the cautery and the knife.

- "Omne per ignem
Excoquitur vitium."

I cannot describe the horror and disgust which I felt at hearing Mr.
Perceval call upon the then Ministry for measures of vigour in
Ireland.  If I lived at Hampstead upon stewed meats and claret; if I
walked to church every Sunday before eleven young gentlemen of my
own begetting, with their faces washed, and their hair pleasingly
combed; if the Almighty had blessed me with every earthly comfort--
how awfully would I pause before I sent forth the flame and the
sword over the cabins of the poor, brave, generous, open-hearted
peasants of Ireland!  How easy it is to shed human blood; how easy
it is to persuade ourselves that it is our duty to do so, and that
the decision has cost us a severe struggle; how much in all ages
have wounds and shrieks and tears been the cheap and vulgar
resources of the rulers of mankind; how difficult and how noble it
is to govern in kindness and to found an empire upon the everlasting
basis of justice and affection!  But what do men call vigour?  To
let loose hussars and to bring up artillery, to govern with lighted
matches, and to cut, and push, and prime; I call this not vigour,
but the SLOTH OF CRUELTY AND IGNORANCE.  The vigour I love consists
in finding out wherein subjects are aggrieved, in relieving them, in
studying the temper and genius of a people, in consulting their
prejudices, in selecting proper persons to lead and manage them, in
the laborious, watchful, and difficult task of increasing public
happiness by allaying each particular discontent.  In this way Hoche
pacified La Vendee--and in this way only will Ireland ever be
subdued.  But this, in the eyes of Mr. Perceval, is imbecility and
meanness.  Houses are not broken open, women are not insulted, the
people seem all to be happy; they are not rode over by horses, and
cut by whips.  Do you call this vigour?  Is this government?


You must observe that all I have said of the effects which will be
produced by giving salaries to the Catholic clergy, only proceeds
upon the supposition that the emanciptaion of the laity is effected:
--without that, I am sure there is not a clergyman in Ireland who
would receive a shilling from government; he could not do so,
without an entire loss of credit among the members of his own

What you say of the moderation of the Irish Protestant clergy in
collecting tithes, is, I believe, strictly true.  Instead of
collecting what the law enables them to collect, I believe they
seldom or ever collect more than two-thirds; and I entirely agree
with you, that the abolition of agistment tithe in Ireland by a vote
of the Irish House of Commons, and without any remuneration to the
Church, was a most scandalous and Jacobinical measure.  I do not
blame the Irish clergy; but I submit to your common sense, if it be
possible to explain to an Irish peasant upon what principle of
justice, or common sense, he is to pay every tenth potato in his
little garden to a clergyman in whose religion nobody believes for
twenty miles around him, and who has nothing to preach to but bare
walls?  It is true, if the tithes are bought up, the cottager must
pay more rent to his landlord; but the same thing done in the shape
of rent is less odious than when it is done in the shape of tithe.
I do not want to take a shilling out of the pockets of the clergy,
but to leave the substance of things, and to change their names.  I
cannot see the slightest reason why the Irish labourer is to be
relieved from the real onus, or from anything else but the name of
tithe.  At present he rents only nine-tenths of the produce of the
land, which is all that belongs to the owner; this he has at the
market price; if the landowner purchase the other tenth of the
Church, of course he has a right to make a correspondent advance
upon his tenant.

I very much doubt, if you were to lay open all civil offices to the
Catholics, and to grant salaries to their clergy, in the manner I
have stated, if the Catholic laity would give themselves much
trouble about the advance of their Church; for they would pay the
same tithes under one system that they do under another.  If you
were to bring the Catholics into the daylight of the world, to the
high situations of the army, the navy, and the bar, numbers of them
would come over to the Established Church, and do as other people
do; instead of that, you set a mark of infamy upon them, rouse every
passion of our nature in favour of their creed, and then wonder that
men are blind to the follies of the Catholic religion.  There are
hardly any instances of old and rich families among the Protestant
Dissenters:  when a man keeps a coach, and lives in good company, he
comes to church, and gets ashamed of the meeting-house; if this is
not the case with the father, it is almost always the case with the
son.  These things would never be so if the Dissenters were in
PRACTICE as much excluded from all the concerns of civil life as the
Catholics are.  If a rich young Catholic were in Parliament, he
would belong to White's and to Brookes's, would keep race-horses,
would walk up and down Pall Mall, be exonerated of his ready money
and his constitution, become as totally devoid of morality, honesty,
knowledge, and civility as Protestant loungers in Pall Mall, and
return home with a supreme contempt for Father O'Leary and Father
O'Callaghan.  I am astonished at the madness of the Catholic clergy
in not perceiving that Catholic emancipation is Catholic infidelity;
that to entangle their people in the intrigues of a Protestant
parliament, and a Protestant court, is to ensure the loss of every
man of fashion and consequence in their community.  The true receipt
for preserving their religion, is Mr. Perceval's receipt for
destroying it:  it is to deprive every rich Catholic of all the
objects of secular ambition, to separate him from the Protestant,
and to shut him up in his castle with priests and relics.

We are told, in answer to all our arguments, that this is not a fit
period--that a period of universal war is not the proper time for
dangerous innovations in the constitution:  this is as much as to
say, that the worst time for making friends is the period when you
have made many enemies; that it is the greatest of all errors to
stop when you are breathless, and to lie down when you are fatigued.
Of one thing I am quite certain:  if the safety of Europe is once
completely restored, the Catholics may for ever bid adieu to the
slightest probability of effecting their object.  Such men as hang
about a court not only are deaf to the suggestions of mere justice,
but they despise justice; they detest the word RIGHT; the only word
which rouses them is PERIL; where they can oppress with impunity,
they oppress for ever, and call it loyalty and wisdom.

I am so far from conceiving the legitimate strength of the Crown
would be diminished by these abolitions of civil incapacities in
consequence of religious opinions, that my only objection to the
increase of religious freedom is, that it would operate as a
diminution of political freedom; the power of the Crown is so
overbearing at this period, that almost the only steady opposers of
its fatal influence are men disgusted by religious intolerance.  Our
establishments are so enormous, and so utterly disproportioned to
our population, that every second or third man you meet in society
gains something from the public; my brother the commissioner,--my
nephew the police justice,--purveyor of small beer to the army in
Ireland,--clerk of the mouth,--yeoman to the left hand,--these are
the obstacles which common sense and justice have now to overcome.
Add to this that the King, old and infirm, excites a principle of
very amiable generosity in his favour; that he has led a good,
moral, and religious life, equally removed from profligacy and
methodistical hypocrisy; that he has been a good husband, a good
father, and a good master; that he dresses plain, loves hunting and
farming, fates the French, and is in all his opinions and habits,
quite English: --these feelings are heightened by the present
situation of the world, and the yet unexploded clamour of
Jacobinism.  In short, from the various sources of interest,
personal regard, and national taste, such a tempest of loyalty has
set in upon the people that the 47th proposition in Euclid might now
be voted down with as much ease as any proposition in politics; and
therefore if Lord Hawkesbury hates the abstract truths of science as
much as he hates concrete truth in human affairs, now is his time
for getting rid of the multiplication table, and passing a vote of
censure upon the pretensions of the hypotenuse.  Such is the history
of English parties at this moment:  you cannot seriously suppose
that the people care for such men as Lord Hawkesbury, Mr. Canning,
and Mr. Perceval on their own account; you cannot really believe
them to be so degraded as to look to their safety from a man who
proposes to subdue Europe by keeping it without Jesuit's Bark.  The
people at present have one passion, and but one -

"A Jove principium, Jovis omnia plena."

They care no more for the ministers I have mentioned, than they do
for those sturdy royalists who for 60 pounds per annum stand behind
his Majesty's carriage, arrayed in scarlet and in gold.  If the
present ministers opposed the Court instead of flattering it, they
would not command twenty votes.

Do not imagine by these observations that I am not loyal; without
joining in the common cant of the best of kings, I respect the King
most sincerely as a good man.  His religion is better than the
religion of Mr. Perceval, his old morality very superior to the old
morality of Mr. Canning, and I am quite certain he has a safer
understanding than both of them put together.  Loyalty within the
bounds of reason and moderation is one of the great instruments of
human happiness; but the love of the king may easily become more
strong than the love of the kingdom, and we may lose sight of the
public welfare in our exaggerated admiration of him who is appointed
to reign only for its promotion and support.  I detest Jacobinism;
and if I am doomed to be a slave at all, I would rather be the slave
of a king than a cobbler.  God save the King, you say, warms your
heart like the sound of a trumpet.  I cannot make use of so violent
a metaphor; but I am delighted to hear it, when it is the cry of
genuine affection; I am delighted to hear it when they hail not only
the individual man, but the outward and living sign of all English
blessings.  These are noble feelings, and the heart of every good
man must go with them; but God save the King, in these times, too
often means God save my pension and my place, God give my sisters an
allowance out of the privy purse--make me clerk of the irons, let me
survey the meltings, let me live upon the fruits of other men's
industry, and fatten upon the plunder of the public.

What is it possible to say to such a man as the Gentleman of
Hampstead, who really believes it feasible to convert the four
million Irish Catholics to the Protestant religion, and considers
this as the best remedy for the disturbed state of Ireland?  It is
not possible to answer such a man with arguments; we must come out
against him with beads and a cowl, and push him into an hermitage.
It is really such trash, that it is an abuse of the privilege of
reasoning to reply to it.  Such a project is well worthy the
statesman who would bring the French to reason by keeping them
without rhubarb, and exhibit to mankind the awful spectacle of a
nation deprived of neutral salts.  This is not the dream of a wild
apothecary indulging in his own opium; this is not the distempered
fancy of a pounder of drugs, delirious from smallness of profits;
but it is the sober, deliberate, and systematic scheme of a man to
whom the public safety is intrusted, and whose appointment is
considered by many as a masterpiece of political sagacity.  What a
sublime thought, that no purge can now be taken between the Weser
and the Garonne; that the bustling pestle is still, the canorous
mortar mute, and the bowels of mankind locked up for fourteen
degrees of latitude!  When, I should be curious to know, were all
the powers of crudity and flatulence fully explained to his
Majesty's ministers?  At what period was this great plan of conquest
and constipation fully developed?  In whose mind was the idea of
destroying the pride and the plasters of France first engendered?
Without castor oil they might for some months, to be sure, have
carried on a lingering war! but can they do without bark?  Will the
people live under a government where antimonial powders cannot be
procured?  Will they bear the loss of mercury?  "There's the rub."
Depend upon it, the absence of the materia medica will soon bring
them to their senses, and the cry of Bourbon and bolus burst forth
from the Baltic to the Mediterranean.

You ask me for any precedent in our history where the oath of
supremacy has been dispensed with.  It was dispensed with to the
Catholics of Canada in 1774.  They are only required to take a
simple oath of allegiance.  The same, I believe, was the case in
Corsica.  The reason of such exemption was obvious; you could not
possibly have retained either of these countries without it.  And
what did it signify, whether you retained them or not?  In cases
where you might have been foolish without peril you were wise; when
nonsense and bigotry threaten you with destruction, it is impossible
to bring you back to the alphabet of justice and common sense.  If
men are to be fools, I would rather they were fools in little
matters than in great; dulness turned up with temerity is a livery
all the worse for the facings; and the most tremendous of all things
is the magnanimity of the dunce.

It is not by any means necessary, as you contend, to repeal the Test
Act if you give relief to the Catholic:  what the Catholics ask for
is to be put on a footing with the Protestant Dissenters, which
would be done by repealing that part of the law which compels them
to take the oath of supremacy and to make the declaration against
transubstantiation:  they would then come into Parliament as all
other Dissenters are allowed to do, and the penal laws to which they
were exposed for taking office would be suspended every year, as
they have been for this half century past towards Protestant
Dissenters.  Perhaps, after all, this is the best method--to
continue the persecuting law, and to suspend it every year--a method
which, while it effectually destroys the persecution itself, leaves
to the great mass of mankind the exquisite gratification of
supposing that they are enjoying some advantage from which a
particular class of their fellow creatures are excluded.  We manage
the Corporation and Test Acts at present much in the same manner as
if we were to persuade parish boys who had been in the habit of
beating an ass to spare the animal, and beat the skin of an ass
stuffed with straw; this would preserve the semblance of tormenting
without the reality, and keep boy and beast in good humour.

How can you imagine that a provision for the Catholic clergy affects
the 5th article of the Union?  Surely I am preserving the Protestant
Church in Ireland if I put it in a better condition than that in
which it now is.  A tithe proctor in Ireland collects his tithes
with a blunderbuss, and carries his tenth hay-cock by storm, sword
in hand:  to give him equal value in a more pacific shape cannot, I
should imagine, be considered as injurious to the Church of Ireland;
and what right has that Church to complain if Parliament chooses to
fix upon the empire the burden of supporting a double ecclesiastical
establishment?  Are the revenues of the Irish Protestant clergy in
the slightest degree injured by such provision?  On the contrary, is
it possible to confer a more serious benefit upon that Church than
by quieting and contenting those who are at work for its

It is impossible to think of the affairs of Ireland without being
forcibly struck with the parallel of Hungary.  Of her seven millions
of inhabitants, one half were Protestants, Calvinists, and
Lutherans, many of the Greek Church, and many Jews:  such was the
state of their religious dissensions that Mahomet had often been
called in to the aid of Calvin, and the crescent often glittered on
the walls of Buda and Presburg.  At last, in 1791, during the most
violent crisis of disturbance, a Diet was called, and by a great
majority of voices a decree was passed, which secured to all the
contending sects the fullest and freest exercise of religious
worship and education; ordained--let it be heard in Hampstead--that
churches and chapels should be erected for all on the most perfectly
equal terms; that the Protestants of both confessions should depend
upon their spiritual superiors alone; liberated them from swearing
by the usual oath, "the Holy Virgin Mary, the saints, and chosen of
God;" and then the decree adds, "that PUBLIC OFFICES AND HONOURS,
line of policy pursued in a Diet consisting of four hundred members,
in a state whose form of government approaches nearer to our own
than any other, having a Roman Catholic establishment of great
wealth and power, and under the influence of one of the most bigoted
Catholic Courts in Europe.  This measure has now the experience of
eighteen years in its favour; it has undergone a trial of fourteen
years of revolution such as the world never witnessed, and more than
equal to a century less convulsed:  What have been its effects?
When the French advanced like a torrent within a few days' march of
Vienna, the Hungarians rose in a mass; they formed what they called
the sacred insurrection, to defend their sovereign, their rights and
liberties, now common to all; and the apprehension of their approach
dictated to the reluctant Bonaparte the immediate signature of the
treaty of Leoben.  The Romish hierarchy of Hungary exists in all its
former splendour and opulence; never has the slightest attempt been
made to diminish it; and those revolutionary principles, to which so
large a portion of civilised Europe has been sacrificed, have here
failed in making the smallest successful inroad.

The whole history of this proceeding of the Hungarian Diet is so
extraordinary, and such an admirable comment upon the Protestantism
of Mr. Spencer Perceval, that I must compel you to read a few short
extracts from the law itself: --"The Protestants of both confessions
shall, in religious matters, depend upon their own spiritual
superiors alone.  The Protestants may likewise retain their trivial
and grammar schools.  The Church dues which the Protestants have
hitherto paid to the Catholic parish priests, schoolmasters, or
other such officers, either in money, productions, or labour, shall
in future entirely cease, and after three months from the publishing
of this law, be no more anywhere demanded.  In the building or
repairing of churches, parsonage-houses, and schools, the
Protestants are not obliged to assist the Catholics with labour, nor
the Catholics the Protestants.  The pious foundations and donations
of the Protestants which already exist, or which in future may be
made for their churches, ministers, schools and students, hospitals,
orphan houses, and poor, cannot be taken from them under any
pretext, nor yet the care of them; but rather the unimpeded
administration shall be intrusted to those from among them to whom
it legally belongs, and those foundations which may have been taken
from them under the last government shall be returned to them
without delay.  All affairs of marriage of the Protestants are left
to their own consistories; all landlords and masters of families,
under the penalty of public prosecution, are ordered not to prevent
their subjects and servants, whether they be Catholic or Protestant,
from the observance of the festivals and ceremonies of their
religion," etc. etc. etc.--By what strange chances are mankind
influenced!  A little Catholic barrister of Vienna might have raised
the cry of NO PROTESTANTISM, and Hungary would have panted for the
arrival of a French army as much as Ireland does at this moment;
arms would have been searched for; Lutheran and Calvinist houses
entered in the dead of the night; and the strength of Austria
exhausted in guarding a country from which, under the present
liberal system, she may expect in the moment of danger the most
powerful aid:  and let it be remembered that this memorable example
of political wisdom took place at a period when many great
monarchies were yet unconquered in Europe; in a country where the
two religious parties were equal in number; and where it is
impossible to suppose indifference in the party which relinquished
its exclusive privileges.  Under all these circumstances the measure
was carried in the Hungarian Diet by a majority of 280 to 120.  In a
few weeks we shall see every concession denied to the Catholics by a
much larger majority of Protestants, at a moment when every other
power is subjugated but ourselves, and in a country where the
oppressed are four times as numerous as their oppressors.  So much
for the wisdom of our ancestors--so much for the nineteenth century-
-so much for the superiority of the English over all the nations of
the Continent.

Are you not sensible, let me ask you, of the absurdity of trusting
the lowest Catholics with offices correspondent to their situation
in life, and of denying such privileges to the higher.  A Catholic
may serve in the militia, but a Catholic cannot come into
Parliament; in the latter case you suspect combination, and in the
former case you suspect no combination; you deliberately arm ten or
twenty thousand of the lowest of the Catholic people; and the moment
you come to a class of men whose education, honour, and talents seem
to render all mischief less probable, then you see the danger of
employing a Catholic, and cling to your investigating tests and
disabling laws.  If you tell me you have enough of members of
Parliament and not enough of militia without the Catholics, I beg
leave to remind you that, by employing the physical force of any
sect at the same time when you leave them in a state of utter
disaffection, you are not adding strength to your armies, but
weakness and ruin.  If you want the vigour of their common people,
you must not disgrace their nobility and insult their priesthood.

I thought that the terror of the Pope had been confined to the
limits of the nursery, and merely employed as a means to induce
young master to enter into his small-clothes with greater speed and
to eat his breakfast with greater attention to decorum.  For these
purposes the name of the Pope is admirable; but why push it beyond?
Why not leave to Lord Hawkesbury all further enumeration of the
Pope's powers?  For a whole century you have been exposed to the
enmity of France, and your succession was disputed in two
rebellions:  what could the Pope do at the period when there was a
serious struggle whether England should be Protestant or Catholic,
and when the issue was completely doubtful?  Could the Pope induce
the Irish to rise in 1715?  Could he induce them to rise in 1745?
You had no Catholic enemy when half this island was in arms; and
what did the Pope attempt in the last rebellion in Ireland?  But if
he had as much power over the minds of the Irish as Mr. Wilberforce
has over the mind of a young Methodist converted the preceding
quarter, is this a reason why we are to disgust men who may be acted
upon in such a manner by a foreign power? or is it not an additional
reason why we should raise up every barrier of affection and
kindness against the mischief of foreign influence?  But the true
answer is, the mischief does not exist.  Gog and Magog have produced
as much influence upon human affairs as the Pope has done for this
half century past; and by spoiling him of his possessions, and
degrading him in the eyes of all Europe, Bonaparte has not taken
quite the proper method of increasing his influence.

But why not a Catholic king as well as a Catholic member of
Parliament, or of the Cabinet?--Because it is probable that the one
would be mischievous and the other not.  A Catholic king might
struggle against the Protestantism of the country, and if the
struggle were not successful it would at least be dangerous; but the
efforts of any other Catholic would be quite insignificant, and his
hope of success so small, that it is quite improbable the effort
would ever be made:  my argument is, that in so Protestant a country
as Great Britain, the character of her parliaments and her cabinet
could not be changed by the few Catholics who would ever find their
way to the one or the other.  But the power of the Crown is
immeasurably greater than the power which the Catholics could obtain
from any other species of authority in the state; and it does not
follow because the lesser degree of power is innocent that the
greater should be so too.  As for the stress you lay upon the danger
of a Catholic chancellor, I have not the least hesitation in saying
that his appointment would not do a ten thousandth part of the
mischief to the English Church that might be done by a Methodistical
chancellor of the true Clapham breed; and I request to know if it is
really so very necessary that a chancellor should be of the religion
of the Church of England, how many chancellors you have had within
the last century who have been bred up in the Presbyterian religion?
And again, how many you have had who notoriously have been without
any religion at all?

Why are you to suppose that eligibility and election are the same
thing, and that all the cabinet WILL be Catholics whenever all the
cabinet MAY be Catholics?  You have a right, you say, to suppose an
extreme case, and to argue upon it--so have I:  and I will suppose
that the hundred Irish members will one day come down in a body and
pass a law compelling the King to reside in Dublin.  I will suppose
that the Scotch members, by a similar stratagem, will lay England
under a large contribution of meal and sulphur:  no measure is
without objection if you sweep the whole horizon for danger; it is
not sufficient to tell me of what may happen, but you must show me a
rational probability that it will happen:  after all, I might,
contrary to my real opinion, admit all your dangers to exist; it is
enough for me to contend that all other dangers taken together are
not equal to the danger of losing Ireland from disaffection and

I am astonished to see you, and many good and well-meaning clergymen
beside you, painting the Catholics in such detestable colours; two-
thirds, at least, of Europe are Catholics--they are Christians,
though mistaken Christians; how can I possibly admit that any sect
of Christians, and, above all, that the oldest and the most numerous
sect of Christians are incapable of fulfilling the common duties and
relations of life:  though I do differ from them in many
particulars, God forbid I should give such a handle to infidelity,
and subscribe to such blasphemy against our common religion?

Do you think mankind never change their opinions without formally
expressing and confessing that change?  When you quote the decisions
of ancient Catholic councils, are you prepared to defend all the
decrees of English convocations and universities since the reign of
Queen Elizabeth?  I could soon make you sick of your uncandid
industry against the Catholics, and bring you to allow that it is
better to forget times past, and to judge and be judged by present
opinions and present practice.

I must beg to be excused from explaining and refuting all the
mistakes about the Catholics made by my Lord Redesdale; and I must
do that nobleman the justice to say, that he has been treated with
great disrespect.  Could anything be more indecent than to make it a
morning lounge in Dublin to call upon his Lordship, and to cram him
with Arabian-night stories about the Catholics?  Is this proper
behaviour to the representative of Majesty, the child of Themis, and
the keeper of the conscience in West Britain?  Whoever reads the
Letters of the Catholic Bishops, in the appendix to Sir John
Hippesly's very sensible book, will see to what an excess this
practice must have been carried with the pleasing and Protestant
nobleman whose name I have mentioned, and from thence I wish you to
receive your answer about excommunication, and all the trash which
is talked against the Catholics.

A sort of notion has, by some means or another, crept into the world
that difference of religion would render men unfit to perform
together the offices of common and civil life:  that Brother Wood
and Brother Grose could not travel together the same circuit if they
differed in creed, nor Cockell and Mingay be engaged in the same
cause, if Cockell was a Catholic and Mingay a Muggletonian.  It is
supposed that Huskisson and Sir Harry Englefield would squabble
behind the Speaker's chair about the council of Lateran, and many a
turnpike bill miscarry by the sarcastical controversies of Mr.
Hawkins Brown and Sir John Throckmorton upon the real presence.  I
wish I could see some of these symptoms of earnestness upon the
subject of religion; but it really seems to me that, in the present
state of society, men no more think about inquiring concerning each
other's faith than they do concerning the colour of each other's
skins.  There may have been times in England when the quarter
sessions would have been disturbed by theological polemics; but now,
after a Catholic justice had once been seen on the bench, and it had
been clearly ascertained that he spoke English, had no tail, only a
single row of teeth, and that he loved port wine--after all the
scandalous and infamous reports of his physical conformation had
been clearly proved to be false--he would be reckoned a jolly
fellow, and very superior in flavour to a sly Presbyterian.
Nothing, in fact, can be more uncandid and unphilosophical than to
say that a man has a tail, because you cannot agree within him upon
religious subjects; it appears to be ludicrous:  but I am convinced
it has done infinite mischief to the Catholics, and made a very
serious impression upon the minds of many gentlemen of large landed

In talking of the impossibility of Catholic and Protestant living
together with equal privilege under the same government, do you
forget the Cantons of Switzerland?  You might have seen there a
Protestant congregation going into a church which had just been
quitted by a Catholic congregation; and I will venture to say that
the Swiss Catholics were more bigoted to their religion than any
people in the whole world.  Did the kings of Prussia ever refuse to
employ a Catholic?  Would Frederick the Great have rejected an able
man on this account?  We have seen Prince Czartorinski, a Catholic
Secretary of State in Russia; in former times a Greek patriarch and
an apostolic vicar acted together in the most perfect harmony in
Venice; and we have seen the Emperor of Germany in modern times
intrusting the care of his person and the command of his guard to a
Protestant Prince, Frederick of Wittenberg.  But what are all these
things to Mr. Perceval?  He has looked at human nature from the top
of Hampstead Hill, and has not a thought beyond the little sphere of
his own vision.  "The snail," say the Hindoos, "sees nothing but his
own shell, and thinks it the grandest palace in the universe."

I now take a final leave of this subject of Ireland; the only
difficulty in discussing it is a want of resistance, a want of
something difficult to unravel, and something dark to illumine.  To
agitate such a question is to beat the air with a club, and cut down
gnats with a scimitar; it is a prostitution of industry, and a waste
of strength.  If a man say, I have a good place, and I do not choose
to lose it, this mode of arguing upon the Catholic question I can
well understand; but that any human being with an understanding two
degrees elevated above that of an Anabaptist preacher, should
conscientiously contend for the expediency and propriety of leaving
the Irish Catholics in their present state, and of subjecting us to
such tremendous peril in the present condition of the world, it is
utterly out of my power to conceive.  Such a measure as the Catholic
question is entirely beyond the common game of politics; it is a
measure in which all parties ought to acquiesce, in order to
preserve the place where and the stake for which they play.  If
Ireland is gone, where are jobs? where are reversions? where is my
brother Lord Arden? where are my dear and near relations?  The game
is up, and the Speaker of the house of Commons will be sent as a
present to the menagerie at Paris.  We talk of waiting from
particular considerations, as if centuries of joy and prosperity
were before us:  in the next ten years our fate must be decided; we
shall know, long before that period, whether we can bear up against
the miseries by which we are threatened or not; and yet, in the very
midst of our crisis, we are enjoined to abstain from the most
certain means of increasing our strength, and advised to wait for
the remedy till the disease is removed by death or health.  And now,
instead of the plain and manly policy of increasing unanimity at
home, by equalising rights and privileges, what is the ignorant,
arrogant, and wicked system which has been pursued?  Such a career
of madness and of folly was, I believe, never run in so short a
period.  The vigour of the ministry is like the vigour of a grave-
digger--the tomb becomes more ready and more wide for every effort
which they make.  There is nothing which it is worth while either to
take or to retain, and a constant train of ruinous expeditions have
been kept up.  Every Englishman felt proud of the integrity of his
country; the character of the country is lost for ever.  It is of
the utmost consequence to a commercial people at war with the
greatest part of Europe, that there should be a free entry of
neutrals into the enemy's ports; the neutrals who earned our
manufactures we have not only excluded, but we have compelled them
to declare war against us.  It was our interest to make a good
peace, or convince our own people that it could not be obtained; we
have not made a peace, and we have convinced the people of nothing
but of the arrogance of the Foreign Secretary:  and all this has
taken place in the short space of a year, because a King's Bench
barrister and a writer of epigrams, turned into Ministers of State,
were determined to show country gentlemen that the late
administration had no vigour.  In the meantime commerce stands
still, manufactures perish, Ireland is more and more irritated,
India is threatened, fresh taxes are accumulated upon the wretched
people, the war is carried on without it being possible to conceive
any one single object which a rational being can propose to himself
by its continuation; and in the midst of this unparalleled insanity
we are told that the Continent is to be reconquered by the want of
rhubarb and plums.  A better spirit than exists in the English
people never existed in any people in the world:  it has been
misdirected, and squandered upon party purposes in the most
degrading and scandalous manner; they have been led to believe that
they were benefiting the commerce of England by destroying the
commerce of America, that they were defending their Sovereign by
perpetuating the bigoted oppression of their fellow-subjects; their
rulers and their guides have told them that they would equal the
vigour of France by equalling her atrocity; and they have gone on
wasting that opulence, patience, and courage, which, if husbanded by
prudent and moderate counsels, might have proved the salvation of
mankind.  The same policy of turning the good qualities of
Englishmen to their own destruction, which made Mr. Pitt omnipotent,
continues his power to those who resemble him only in his vices;
advantage is taken of the loyalty of Englishmen to make them meanly
submissive; their piety is turned into persecution, their courage
into useless and obstinate contention; they are plundered because
they are ready to pay, and soothed into asinine stupidity because
they are full of virtuous patience.  If England must perish at last,
so let it be:  that event is in the hands of God; we must dry up our
tears and submit.  But that England should perish swindling and
stealing; that it should perish waging war against lazar houses and
hospitals; that it should perish persecuting with monastic bigotry;
that it should calmly give itself up to be ruined by the flashy
arrogance of one man, and the narrow fanaticism of another; these
events are within the power of human beings, and I did not think
that the magnanimity of Englishmen would ever stoop to such

Longum Vale!



Historical Apology for The Irish Catholics.  By WILLIAM PARNELL,
Esquire.  Fitzpatrick, Dublin.  1807.

If ever a nation exhibited symptoms of downright madness, or utter
stupidity, we conceive these symptoms may be easily recognised in
the conduct of this country upon the Catholic question.  A man has a
wound in his great toe, and a violent and perilous fever at the same
time; and he refuses to take the medicines for the fever because it
will disconcert the toe!  The mournful and folly-stricken blockhead
forgets that his toe cannot survive him; that if he dies, there can
be no digital life apart from him:  yet he lingers and fondles over
this last part of his body, soothing it madly with little plasters,
and anile fomentations, while the neglected fever rages in his
entrails, and burns away his whole life.  If the comparatively
little questions of Establishment are all that this country is
capable of discussing or regarding, for God's sake let us remember
that the foreign conquest, which destroys all, destroys this beloved
TOE also.  Pass over freedom, industry, and science--and look upon
this great empire, by which we are about to be swallowed up, only as
it affects the manner of collecting tithes, and of reading the
liturgy--still, if all goes, these must go too; and even, for their
interests, it is worth while to conciliate Ireland, to avert the
hostility, and to employ the strength of the Catholic population.
We plead the question as the sincerest friends to the
Establishment;--as wishing to it all the prosperity and duration its
warmest advocates can desire,--but remembering always what these
advocates seem to forget, that the Establishment cannot be
threatened by any danger so great as the perdition of the kingdom in
which it is established.

We are truly glad to agree so entirely with Mr. Parnell upon this
great question; we admire his way of thinking, and most cordially
recommend his work to the attention of the public.  The general
conclusion which he attempts to prove is this:  that religious
sentiment, however perverted by bigotry or fanaticism, has always a
TENDENCY to moderation.; that it seldom assumes any great portion of
activity or enthusiasm, except from novelty of opinion, or from
opposition, contumely, and persecution, when novelty ceases; that a
Government has little to fear from any religious sect, except while
that sect is new.  Give a Government only time, and, provided it has
the good sense to treat folly with forbearance, it must ultimately
prevail.  When, therefore, a sect is found, after a lapse of years,
to be ill-disposed to the Government, we may be certain that
Government has widened its separation by marked distinctions, roused
its resentment by contumely, or supported its enthusiasm by

The PARTICULAR conclusion Mr. Parnell attempts to prove is, that the
Catholic religion in Ireland had sunk into torpor and inactivity,
till Government roused it with the lash:  that even then, from the
respect and attachment which men are always inclined to show towards
government, there still remained a large body of loyal Catholics;
that these only decreased in number from the rapid increase of
persecution; and that, after all, the effects which the resentment
of the Roman Catholics had in creating rebellions had been very much

In support of these two conclusions, Mr. Parnell takes a survey of
the history of Ireland, from the conquest under Henry to the
rebellion under Charles I., passing very rapidly over the period
which preceded the Reformation, and dwelling principally upon the
various rebellions which broke out in Ireland between the
Reformation and the grand rebellion in the reign of Charles I.  The
celebrated conquest of Ireland by Henry II. extended only to a very
few counties in Leinster; nine-tenths of the whole kingdom were
left, as he found them, under the dominion of their native princes.
The influence of example was as strong in this as in most other
instances; and great numbers of the English settlers who came over
under various adventures resigned their pretensions to superior
civilisation, cast off their lower garments, and lapsed into the
nudity and barbarism of the Irish.  The limit which divided the
possessions of the English settler from those of the native Irish
was called THE PALE; and the expressions of inhabitants WITHIN THE
PALE, and WITHOUT THE PALE, were the terms by which the two nations
were distinguished.  It is almost superfluous to state, that the
most bloody and pernicious warfare was carried on upon the borders--
sometimes for something, sometimes for nothing--most commonly for
cows.  The Irish, over whom the sovereigns of England affected a
sort of nominal dominion, were entirely governed by their own laws,
and so very little connection had they with the justice of the
invading country, that it was as lawful to kill an Irishman as it
was to kill a badger or a fox.  The instances are innumerable, where
the defendant has pleaded that the deceased was an Irishman, and
that therefore defendant had a right to kill him--and upon the proof
of Hibernicism, acquittal followed of course.

When the English army mustered in any great strength, the Irish
chieftains would do exterior homage to the English Crown; and they
very frequently, by this artifice, averted from their country the
miseries of invasion:  but they remained completely unsubdued, till
the rebellion which took place in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, of
which that politic woman availed herself to the complete subjugation
of Ireland.  In speaking of the Irish about the reign of Elizabeth
or James I., we must not draw our comparisons from England, but from
New Zealand; they were not civilised men, but savages; and if we
reason about their conduct, we must reason of them as savages.

"After reading every account of Irish history," says Mr. Parnell,
"one great perplexity appears to remain:  How does it happen, that,
from the first invasion of the English till the reign of James I.,
Ireland seems not to have made the smallest progress in civilisation
or wealth?

"That it was divided into a number of small principalities, which
waged constant war on each other--or that the appointment of the
chieftains was elective--do not appear sufficient reasons, although
these are the only ones assigned by those who have been at the
trouble of considering the subject:  neither are the confiscations
of property quite sufficient to account for the effect.  There have
been great confiscations in other countries, and still they have
flourished; the petty states of Greece were quite analogous to the
chiefries, as they were called, in Ireland; and yet they seemed to
flourish almost in proportion to their dissensions.  Poland felt the
bad effects of an elective monarchy more than any other country; and
yet, in point of civilisation, it maintained a very respectable rank
among the nations of Europe; but Ireland never, for an instant, made
any progress in improvement, till the reign of James I.

"It is scarcely credible, that in a climate like that of Ireland,
and at a period so far advanced in civilisation as the end of
Elizabeth's reign, the greater part of the natives should go naked.
Yet this is rendered certain by the testimony of an eye-witness,
Fynes Moryson.  'In the remote parts,' he says, 'where the English
laws and manners are unknown, the very chief of the Irish, as well
men as women, go naked in the winter time, only having their privy
parts covered with a rag of linen, and their bodies with a loose
mantle.  This I speak of my own experience; yet remember that a
Bohemian baron coming out of Scotland to us by the north parts of
the wild Irish, told me in great earnestness, that he, coming to the
house of O'Kane, a great lord amongst them, was met at the door by
sixteen women, all naked, excepting their loose mantles, whereof
eight or ten were very fair; with which strange sight his eyes being
dazzled, they led him into the house, and then sitting down by the
fire, with crossed legs, like tailors, and so low as could not but
offend chaste eyes, desired him to sit down with them.  Soon after,
O'Kane, the lord of the country, came in all naked, except a loose
mantle and shoes, which he put off as soon as he came in; and,
entertaining the Baron after his best manner in the Latin tongue,
desired him to put off his apparel, which he thought to be a burden
to him, and to sit naked.

"'To conclude, men and women at night going to sleep, he thus naked
in a round circle about the fire, with their feet towards it.  They
fold their heads and their upper parts in woollen mantles, first
steeped in water to keep them warm; for they say, that woollen
cloth, wetted, preserves heat (as linen, wetted, preserves cold),
when the smoke of their bodies has warmed the woollen cloth.'

"The cause of this extreme poverty, and of its long continuance, we
must conclude, arose from the peculiar laws of property which were
in force under the Irish dynasties.  These laws have been described
by most writers as similar to the Kentish custom of gavelkind; and,
indeed, so little attention was paid to the subject, that were it
not for the researches of Sir J. Davis, the knowledge of this
singular usage would have been entirely lost.

"The Brehon law of property, he tells us, was similar to the custom
(as the English lawyers term it) of hodge-podge.  When any one of
the sept died, his lands did not descend to his sons, but were
divided among the whole sept:  and, for this purpose, the chief of
the sept made a new division of the whole lands belonging to the
sept, and gave every one his part according to seniority.  So that
no man had a property which could descend to his children; and even
during his own life his possession of any particular spot was quite
uncertain, being liable to be constantly shuffled and changed by new
partitions.  The consequence of this was that there was not a house
of brick or stone among the Irish down to the reign of Henry VII.;
not even a garden or orchard, or well-fenced or improved field;
neither village or town, or in any respect the least provision for
posterity.  This monstrous custom, so opposite to the natural
feelings of mankind, was probably perpetuated by the policy of the
chiefs.  In the first place the power of partitioning being lodged
in their hands, made them the most absolute of tyrants, being the
dispensers of the property as well as of the liberty of their
subjects.  In the second place, it had the appearance of adding to
the number of their savage armies; for where there was no
improvement or tillage, war was pursued as an occupation.

"In the early history of Ireland, we find several instances of
chieftains discountenancing tillage; and so late as Elizabeth's
reign, Moryson says, that 'Sir Neal Garve restrained his people from
ploughing, that they might assist him to do any mischief.'"--(pp.

These quotations and observations will enable us to state a few
plain facts for the recollection of our English readers: --lst,
Ireland was never subdued till the rebellion in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth.  2nd, For four hundred years before that period the two
nations had been almost constantly at war; and in consequence of
this, a deep and irreconcilable hatred existed between the people
within and without the pale.  3rd, The Irish, at the accession of
Queen Elizabeth, were unquestionably the most barbarous people in
Europe.  So much for what had happened previous to the reign of
Queen Elizabeth; and let any man, who has the most superficial
knowledge of human affairs, determine whether national hatred,
proceeding from such powerful causes, could possibly have been kept
under by the defeat of one single rebellion--whether it would not
have been easy to have foreseen, at that period, that a proud,
brave, half-savage people, would cherish the memory of their wrongs
for centuries to come, and break forth into arms at every period
when they were particularly exasperated by oppression, or invited by
opportunity.  If the Protestant religion had spread in Ireland as it
did in England, and if there had never been any difference of faith
between the two countries--can it be believed that the Irish, ill-
treated and infamously governed as they have been, would never have
made any efforts to shake off the yoke of England?  Surely there are
causes enough to account for their impatience of that yoke, without
endeavouring to inflame the zeal of ignorant people against the
Catholic religion, and to make that mode of faith responsible for
all the butchery which the Irish and English for these last two
centuries have exercised upon each other.  Everybody, of course,
must admit, that if to the causes of hatred already specified there
be added the additional cause of religious distinction, this last
will give greater force (and what is of more consequence to observe,
give a NAME) to the whole aggregate motive.  But what Mr. Parnell
contends for, and clearly and decisively proves, is that many of
those sanguinary scenes attributed to the Catholic religion are to
be partly imputed to causes totally disconnected from religion; that
the unjust invasion, and the tyrannical, infamous policy of the
English, are to take their full share of blame with the sophisms and
plots of Catholic priests.  In the reign of Henry VIII., Mr. Parnell
shows that feudal submission was readily paid to him by all the
Irish chiefs; that the Reformation was received without the
slightest opposition; and that the troubles which took place at that
period in Ireland are to be entirely attributed to the ambition and
injustice of Henry.  In the reign of Queen Mary there was no
recrimination upon the Protestants--a striking proof that the
bigotry of the Catholic religion had not at that period risen to any
great height in Ireland.  The insurrections of the various Irish
princes were as numerous during this reign as they had been in the
two preceding reigns--a circumstance rather difficult of
explanation, if, as is commonly believed, the Catholic religion was
at that period the main-spring of men's actions.

In the reign of Elizabeth, the Catholic in the pale regularly fought
against the Catholic out of the pale.  O'Sullivan, a bigoted Papist,
reproaches them with doing so.  Speaking of the reign of James I.,
he says, "And now the eyes even of the English Irish (the Catholics
of the pale) were opened; and they cursed their former folly for
helping the heretic."  The English Government were so sensible of
the loyalty of the Irish English Catholics that they entrusted them
with the most confidential services.  The Earl of Kildare was the
principal instrument in waging war against the chieftains of Leix
and Offal.  William O'Bourge, another Catholic, was created Lord
Castle Connel for his eminent services; and MacGully Patrick, a
priest, was the State spy.  We presume that this wise and MANLY
conduct of Queen Elizabeth was utterly unknown both to the
Pastrycook and the Secretary of State, who have published upon the
dangers of employing Catholics even against foreign enemies; and in
those publications have said a great deal about the wisdom of our
ancestors--the usual topic whenever the folly of their descendants
is to be defended.  To whatever other of our ancestors they may
allude, they may spare all compliments to this illustrious Princess,
who would certainly have kept the worthy confectioner to the
composition of tarts, and most probably furnished him with the
productions of the Right Honourable Secretary as the means of
conveying those juicy delicacies to a hungry and discerning public.

In the next two reigns, Mr. Parnell shows by what injudicious
measures of the English Government the spirit of Catholic opposition
was gradually formed; for that it did produce powerful effects at a
subsequent period he does not deny; but contends only (as we have
before stated) that these effects have been much overrated, and
ascribed SOLELY to the Catholic religion when other causes have at
least had an equal agency in bringing them about.  He concludes with
some general remarks on the dreadful state of Ireland, and the
contemptible folly and bigotry of the English--remarks full of
truth, of good sense, and of political courage.  How melancholy to
reflect, that there would be still some chance of saving England
from the general wreck of empires, but that it may not be saved,
because one politician will lose two thousand a year by it, and
another three thousand--a third a place in reversion, and a fourth a
pension for his aunt!  Alas! these are the powerful causes which
have always settled the destiny of great kingdoms, and which may
level Old England, with all its boasted freedom, and boasted wisdom,
to the dust.  Nor is it the least singular, among the political
phenomena of the present day, that the sole consideration which
seems to influence the unbigoted part of the English people, in this
great question of Ireland, is a regard for the personal feelings of
the Monarch.  Nothing is said or thought of the enormous risk to
which Ireland is exposed--nothing of the gross injustice with which
the Catholics are treated--nothing of the lucrative apostasy of
those from whom they experience this treatment:  but the only
concern by which we all seem to be agitated is, that the King must
not be vexed in his old age.  We have a great respect for the King;
and wish him all the happiness compatible with the happiness of his
people.  But these are not times to pay foolish compliments to
kings, or the sons of kings, or to anybody else; this journal (the
Edinburgh Review) has always preserved its character for courage and
honesty; and it shall do so to the last.  If the people of this
country are solely occupied in considering what is personally
agreeable to the King, without considering what is for his permanent
good, and for the safety of his dominions; if all public men,
quitting the common vulgar scramble for emolument, do not concur in
conciliating the people of Ireland; if the unfounded alarms, and the
comparatively trifling interests of the clergy, are to supersede the
great question of freedom or slavery, it does appear to us quite
impossible that so mean and so foolish a people can escape that
destruction which is ready to burst upon them--a destruction so
imminent that it can only be averted by arming all in our defence
who would evidently be sharers in our ruin--and by such a change of
system as may save us from the hazard of being ruined by the
ignorance and cowardice of any general, by the bigotry or the
ambition of any minister, or by the well-meaning scruples of any
human being, let his dignity be what it may.  These minor and
domestic dangers we must endeavour firmly and temperately to avert
as we best can; but at all hazards we must keep out the destroyer
from among us, or perish like wise and brave men in the attempt.


1.  Whitelaw's History of the City of Dublin. 4to.  Cadell and

2.  Observations on the State of Ireland, principally directed to
its Agriculture and Rural Population; in a Series of Letters written
on a Tour through that Country.  In 2 vols.  By J. C. Curwen, Esq.,
M.P.  London, 1818.

3.  Gamble's Views of Society in Ireland.

These are all the late publications that treat of Irish interests in
general, and none of them are of first-rate importance.  Mr.
Gamble's "Travels in Ireland" are of a very ordinary description,
low scenes and low humour making up the principal part of the
narrative.  There are readers, however, whom it will amuse; and the
reading market becomes more and more extensive, and embraces a
greater variety of persons every day.  Mr. Whitelaw's "History of
Dublin" is a book of great accuracy and research, highly creditable
to the industry, good sense, and benevolence of its author.  Of the
"Travels" of Mr. Christian Curwen we hardly know what to say.  He is
bold and honest in his politics, a great enemy to abuses, vapid in
his levity and pleasantry, and infinitely too much inclined to
declaim upon commonplace topics of morality and benevolence.  But,
with these drawbacks, the book is not ill-written, and may be
advantageously read by those who are desirous of information upon
the present state of Ireland.

So great and so long has been the misgovernment of that country,
that we verily believe the empire would be much stronger if
everything was open sea between England and the Atlantic, and if
SKATES AND COD-FISH swam over the fair land of Ulster.  Such
jobbing, such profligacy, so much direct tyranny and oppression,
such an abuse of God's gifts, such a profanation of God's name for
the purposes of bigotry and party spirit, cannot be exceeded in the
history of civilised Europe, and will long remain a monument of
infamy and shame to England.  But it will be more useful to suppress
the indignation which the very name of Ireland inspires, and to
consider impartially those causes which have marred this fair
portion of the creation, and kept it wild and savage in the midst of
improving Europe.

The great misfortune of Ireland is that the mass of the people have
been given up for a century to a handful of Protestants, by whom
they have been treated as Helots, and subjected to every species of
persecution and disgrace.  The sufferings of the Catholics have been
so loudly chanted in the very streets, that it is almost needless to
remind our readers that, during the reigns of George I. and George
II., the Irish Roman Catholics were disabled from holding any civil
or military office, from voting at elections, from admission into
corporations, from practising law or physic.  A younger brother, by
turning Protestant, might deprive his elder brother of his
birthright; by the same process he might force his father, under the
name of a liberal provision, to yield up to him a part of his landed
property; and, if an eldest son, he might, in the same way, reduce
his father's fee-simple to a life-estate.  A Papist was disabled
from purchasing freehold lands, and even from holding long leases;
and any person might take his Catholic neighbour's house by paying 5
pounds for it.  If the child of a Catholic father turned Protestant
he was taken away from his father and put into the hands of a
Protestant relation.  No Papist could purchase a freehold or lease
for more than thirty years, or inherit from an intestate Protestant,
nor from an intestate Catholic, nor dwell in Limerick or Galway, nor
hold an advowson, nor buy an annuity for life.  50 pounds was given
for discovering a Popish archbishop, 30 pounds for a Popish
clergyman, and 10s. for a schoolmaster.  No one was allowed to be
trustee for Catholics; no Catholic was allowed to take more than two
apprentices; no Papist to be solicitor, sheriff, or to serve on
Grand Juries.  Horses of Papists might be seized for the militia,
for which militia Papists were to pay double, and to find Protestant
substitutes.  Papists were prohibited from being present at
vestries, or from being high or petty constables:  and, when
resident in towns, they were compelled to find Protestant watchmen.
Barristers and solicitors marrying Catholics were exposed to the
penalties of Catholics.  Persons plundered by privateers during a
war with any Popish prince were reimbursed by a levy on the Catholic
inhabitants where they lived.  All Popish priests celebrating
marriages contrary to 12 Geo. I., cap 3, were to be HANGED!

The greater part of these incapacities are removed, though many of a
very serious and oppressive nature still remain.  But the grand
misfortune is that the spirit which these oppressive laws engendered
remains.  The Protestant still looks upon the Catholic as a degraded
being.  The Catholic does not yet consider himself upon an equality
with his former tyrant and taskmaster.  That religious hatred which
required all the prohibiting vigilance of the law for its restraint
has found in the law its strongest support; and the spirit which the
law first exasperated and embittered continues to act long after the
original stimulus is withdrawn.  The law which prevented Catholics
from serving on Grand Juries is repealed; but Catholics are not
called upon Grand Juries in the proportion in which they are
entitled by their rank and fortune.  The Duke of Bedford did all he
could to give them the benefit of those laws which are already
passed in their favour.  But power is seldom entrusted in this
country to one of the Duke of Bedford's liberality, and everything
has fallen back in the hands of his successors into the ancient
division of the privileged and degraded castes.  We do not mean to
cast any reflection upon the present Secretary for Ireland, whom we
believe to be upon this subject a very liberal politician, and on
all subjects an honourable and excellent man.  The Government under
which he serves allows him to indulge in a little harmless
liberality; but it is perfectly understood that nothing is intended
to be done for the Catholics; that no loaves and fishes will be lost
by indulgence in Protestant insolence and tyranny; and, therefore,
among the generality of Irish Protestants, insolence, tyranny, and
exclusion continue to operate.  However eligible the Catholic may
be, he is not elected; whatever barriers may be thrown down, he does
not advance a step.  He was first kept out by law; he is now kept
out by opinion and habit.  They have been so long in chains that
nobody believes they are capable of using their hands and feet.

It is not, however, the only or the worst misfortune of the
Catholics that the relaxations of the law are hitherto of little
benefit to them; the law is not yet sufficiently relaxed.  A
Catholic, as everybody knows, cannot be made sheriff; cannot be in
parliament; cannot be a director of the Irish Bank; cannot fill the
great departments of the law, the army, and the navy; is cut off
from all the high objects of human ambition, and treated as a marked
and degraded person.

The common admission now is that the Catholics are to the
Protestants in Ireland as about four to one, of which Protestants
not more than ONE HALF belong to the Church of Ireland.  This, then,
is one of the most striking features in the state of Ireland.  That
the great mass of the population is completely subjugated and
overawed by a handful of comparatively recent settlers, in whom all
the power and patronage of the country is vested, who have been
reluctantly compelled to desist from still greater abuses of
authority, and who look with trembling apprehension to the
increasing liberality of the parliament and the country towards
these unfortunate persons whom they have always looked upon as their
property and their prey.

Whatever evils may result from these proportions between the
oppressor and oppressed--to whatever dangers a country so situated
may be considered to be exposed, these evils and dangers are rapidly
increasing in Ireland.  The proportion of Catholics to Protestants
is infinitely greater now than it was thirty years ago, and is
becoming more and more favourable to the former.  By a return made
to the Irish House of Lords in 1732 the proportion of Catholics to
Protestants was not two to one.  It is now (as we have already
observed) four to one; and the causes which have thus altered the
proportions in favour of the Catholics are sufficiently obvious to
any one acquainted with the state of Ireland.  The Roman Catholic
priest resides; his income entirely depends upon the number of his
flock; and he must exert himself or he starves.  There is some
chance of success, therefore, in HIS efforts to convert; but the
Protestant clergyman, if he were equally eager, has little or no
probability of persuading so much larger a proportion of the
population to come over to his Church.  The Catholic clergyman
belongs to a religion that has always been more desirous of gaining
proselytes than the Protestant Church; and he is animated by a sense
of injury and a desire of revenge.  Another reason for the
disproportionate increase of Catholics is that the Catholics will
marry upon means which the Protestant considers as insufficient for
marriage.  A few potatoes and a shed of turf are all that Luther has
left for the Romanist; and, when the latter gets these, he instantly
begins upon the great Irish manufacture of children.  But a
Protestant belongs to the sect that eats the fine flour and heaves
the bran to others; he must have comforts, and he does not marry
till he gets them.  He would be ashamed if he were seen living as a
Catholic lives.  This is the principal reason why the Protestants
who remain attached to their Church do not increase so fast as the
Catholics.  But in common minds, daily scenes, the example of the
majority, the power of imitation, decide their habits, religious as
well as civil.  A Protestant labourer who works among Catholics soon
learns to think and act and talk as they do; he is not proof against
the eternal panegyric which he hears of Father O'Leary.  His
Protestantism is rubbed away, and he goes at last, after some little
resistance, to the chapel where he sees everybody else going.

These eight Catholics not only hate the ninth man, the Protestant of
the Establishment, for the unjust privileges he enjoys--not only
remember that the lands of their father were given to his father--
but they find themselves forced to pay for the support of his
religion.  In the wretched state of poverty in which the lower
orders of Irish are plunged, it is not without considerable effort
that they can pay the few shillings necessary for the support of
their Catholic priest; and when this is effected, a tenth of the
potatoes in the garden are to be set out for the support of a
persuasion, the introduction of which into Ireland they consider as
the great cause of their political inferiority, and all their
manifold wretchedness.  In England a labourer can procure constant
employment, or he can, at the worst, obtain relief from his parish.
Whether tithe operates as a tax upon him, is known only to the
political economist:  if he does pay it, he does not know that he
pays it, and the burden of supporting the Clergy is at least kept
out of his view.  But in Ireland, the only method in which a poor
man lives is by taking a small portion of land in which he can grow
potatoes:  seven or eight months out of twelve, in many parts of
Ireland, there is no constant employment of the poor; and the potato
farm is all that shelters them from absolute famine.  If the Pope
were to come in person, seize upon every tenth potato, the poor
peasant would scarcely endure it.  With what patience, then, can he
see it tossed into the cart of the heretic rector, who has a church
without a congregation, and a revenue without duties?  We do not say
whether these things are right or wrong, whether they want a remedy
at all, or what remedy they want; but we paint them in those colours
in which they appear to the eye of poverty and ignorance, without
saying whether those colours are false or true.  Nor is the case at
all comparable to that of Dissenters paying tithe in England; which
case is precisely the reverse of what happens in Ireland, for it is
the contribution of a very small minority to the religion of a very
large majority; and the numbers on either side make all the
difference in the argument.  To exasperate the poor Catholic still
more, the rich graziers of the parish, or the squire in his parish,
pay no tithe at all for their grass land.  Agistment tithe is
abolished in Ireland, and the burthen of supporting two Churches
seems to devolve upon the poorer Catholics, struggling with plough
and spade in small scraps of dearly-rented land.  Tithes seem to be
collected in a more harsh manner than they are collected in England.
The minute sub-divisions of land in Ireland--the little connection
which the Protestant clergyman commonly has with the Catholic
population of his parish--have made the introduction of tithe
proctors very general, sometimes as the agent of the clergyman,
sometimes as the lessee or middleman between the clergyman and the
cultivator of the land, but, in either case, practised, dexterous
estimators of tithe.  The English clergymen in general are far from
exacting the whole of what is due to them, but sacrifice a little to
the love of popularity or to the dread of odium.  A system of tithe-
proctors established all over England (as it is in Ireland), would
produce general disgust and alienation from the Established Church.

"During the administration of Lord Halifax," says Mr. Hardy, in
quoting the opinion of Lord Charlemont upon tithes paid by
Catholics, "Ireland was dangerously disturbed in its southern and
northern regions.  In the south principally, in the counties of
Kilkenny, Limerick, Cork, and Tipperary, the White Boys now made
their first appearance; those White Boys who have ever since
occasionally disturbed the public tranquillity, without any rational
method having been as yet pursued to eradicate this disgraceful
evil.  When we consider that the very same district has been for the
long space of seven-and-twenty years liable to frequent returns of
the same disorder into which it has continually relapsed, in spite
of all the violent remedies from time to time administered by our
political quacks, we cannot doubt but that some real, peculiar, and
topical cause must exist, and yet neither the removal, nor even the
investigation of this cause, has ever once been seriously attempted.
Laws of the most sanguinary and unconstitutional nature have been
enacted; the country has been disgraced and exasperated by frequent
and bloody executions; and the gibbet, that perpetual resource of
weak and cruel legislators, has groaned under the multitude of
starving criminals; yet, while the cause is suffered to exist, the
effects will ever follow.  The amputation of limbs will never
eradicate a prurient humour, which must be sought in its source and
there remedied."

"I wish," continues Mr. Wakefield, "for the sake of humanity and for
the honour of the Irish character, that the gentlemen of that
country would take this matter into their serious consideration.
Let them only for a moment place themselves in the situation of the
half-famished cotter, surrounded by a wretched family clamorous for
food, and judge what his feelings must be when he sees the tenth
part of the produce of his potato garden exposed at harvest time to
public CANT, or if he have given a promissory note for the payment
of a certain sum of money to compensate for such tithe when it
becomes due, to hear the heart-rending cries of his offspring
clinging round him, and lamenting for the milk of which they are
deprived by the cows being driven to the pound to be sold to
discharge the debt.  Such accounts are not the creations of fancy;
the facts do exist, and are but too common in Ireland.  Were one of
them transferred to canvas by the hand of genius, and exhibited to
English humanity, that heart must be callous indeed that could
refuse its sympathy.  I have seen the cow, the favourite cow, driven
away, accompanied by the sighs, the tears, and the imprecations of a
whole family, who were paddling after, through wet and dirt, to take
their last affectionate farewell of this their only friend and
benefactor at the pound gate.  I have heard with emotions which I
can scarcely describe, deep curses repeated from village to village
as the cavalcade proceeded.  I have witnessed the group pass the
domain walls of the opulent grazier, whose numerous herds were
cropping the most luxuriant pastures, while he was secure from any
demand for the tithe of their food, looking on with the most
unfeeling indifference."--Ibid., p. 486.

In Munster, where tithe of potatoes is exacted, risings against the
system have constantly occurred during the last forty years.  In
Ulster, where no such tithe is required, these insurrections are
unknown.  The double Church which Ireland supports, and that painful
visible contribution towards it which the poor Irishman is compelled
to make from his miserable pittance, is one great cause of those
never-ending insurrections, burnings, murders, and robberies, which
have laid waste that ill-fated country for so many years.  The
unfortunate consequence of the civil disabilities, and the Church
payments under which the Catholics labour, is a rooted antipathy to
this country.  They hate the English Government from historical
recollection, actual suffering, and disappointed hope, and till they
are better treated they will continue to hate it.  At this moment,
in a period of the most profound peace, there are twenty-five
thousand of the best disciplined and best appointed troops in the
world in Ireland, with bayonets fixed, presented arms, and in the
attitude of present war:  nor is there a man too much--nor would
Ireland be tenable without them.  When it was necessary last year
(or thought necessary) to put down the children of reform, we were
forced to make a new levy of troops in this country; not a man could
be spared from Ireland.  The moment they had embarked, Peep-of-Day
Boys, Heart-of-Oak Boys, Twelve-o'-clock Boys, Heart-of-Flint Boys,
and all the bloody boyhood of the Bog of Allen, would have proceeded
to the ancient work of riot, rapine, and disaffection.  Ireland, in
short, till her wrongs are redressed and a more liberal policy is
adopted towards her, will always be a cause of anxiety and suspicion
to this country, and in some moment of our weakness and depression,
will forcibly extort what she would now receive with gratitude and

Ireland is situated close to another island of greater size,
speaking the same language, very superior in civilisation, and the
seat of government.  The consequence of this is the emigration of
the richest and most powerful part of the community--a vast drain of
wealth--and the absence of all that wholesome influence which the
representatives of ancient families, residing upon their estates,
produce upon their tenantry and dependents.  Can any man imagine
that the scenes which have been acted in Ireland, within these last
twenty years, would have taken place, if such vast proprietors as
the Duke of Devonshire, the Marquis of Hertford, the Marquis of
Lansdowne, Earl Fitzwilliam, and many other men of equal wealth, had
been in the constant habit of residing upon their Irish as they are
upon their English estates?  Is it of no consequence to the order
and the civilisation of a large district, whether the great mansion
is inhabited by an insignificant, perhaps a mischievous attorney, in
the shape of agent, or whether the first and greatest men of the
United Kingdoms, after the business of Parliament is over, come with
their friends and families, to exercise hospitality, to spend large
revenues, to diffuse information, and to improve manners?  This evil
is a very serious one to Ireland; and, as far as we see, incurable.
For if the present large estates were, by the dilapidation of
families, to be broken to pieces and sold, others equally great
would, in the free circulation of property, speedily accumulate; and
the moment any possessor arrived at a certain pitch of fortune, he
would probably choose to reside in the better country--near the
Parliament, or the Court.

This absence of great proprietors in Ireland necessarily brings with
it, or if not necessarily, has actually brought with it, the
employment of the middlemen, which forms one other standing and
regular Irish grievance.  We are well aware of all that can be said
in defence of middlemen; that they stand between the little farmer
and the great proprietor as the shopkeeper does between the
manufacturer and consumer; and, in fact, by their intervention, save
time, and therefore expense.  This may be true enough in the
abstract; but the particular nature of land must be attended to.
The object of the man who makes cloth is to sell his cloth at the
present market, for as high a price as he can obtain.  If that price
is too high, it soon falls; but no injury is done to his machinery
by the superior price he has enjoyed for a season--he is just as
able to produce cloth with it, as if the profits he enjoyed had
always been equally moderate; he has no fear, therefore, of the
middleman, or of any species of moral machinery which may help to
obtain for him the greatest present prices.  The same would be the
feeling of any one who let out a steam-engine, or any other machine,
for the purposes of manufacture; he would naturally take the highest
price he could get; for he might either let his machine for a price
proportionate to the work it did, or the repairs, estimable with the
greatest precision, might be thrown upon the tenant; in short, he
could hardly ask any rent too high for his machine which a
responsible person would give; dilapidation would be so visible, and
so calculable in such instances, that any secondary lease, or
subletting, would be rather an increase of security than a source of
alarm.  Any evil from such a practice would be improbable
measurable, and remediable.  In land, on the contrary, the object is
not to get the highest prices absolutely, but to get the highest
prices which will not injure the machine.  One tenant may offer and
pay double the rent of another, and in a few years leave the land in
a state which will effectually bar all future offers of tenancy.  It
is of no use to fill a lease full of clauses and covenants; a tenant
who pays more than he ought to pay, or who pays even to the last
farthing which he ought to pay, will rob the land, and injure the
machine, in spite of all the attorneys in England.  He will rob it
even if he means to remain upon it--driven on by present distress,
and anxious to put off the day of defalcation and arrear.  The
damage is often difficult of detection--not easily calculated, not
easily to be proved; such for which juries (themselves perhaps
farmers) will not willingly give sufficient compensation.  And if
this be true in England, it is much more strikingly true in Ireland,
where it is extremely difficult to obtain verdicts for breaches of
covenant in leases.

The only method, then, of guarding the machine from real injury, is
by giving to the actual occupier such advantage in his contract,
that he is unwilling to give it up--that he has a real interest in
retaining it, and is not driven by the distresses of the present
moment to destroy the future productiveness of the soil.  Any rent
which the landlord accepts more than this, or any system by which
more rent than this is obtained, is to borrow money upon the most
usurious and profligate interest--to increase the revenue of the
present day by the absolute ruin of the property.  Such is the
effect produced by a middleman; he gives high prices that he may
obtain higher from the occupier; more is paid by the actual occupier
than is consistent with the safety and preservation of the machine;
the land is run out, and, in the end, that maximum of rent we have
described is not obtained; and not only is the property injured by
such a system, but in Ireland the most shocking consequences ensue
from it.  There is little manufacture in Ireland; the price of
labour is low, the demand for labour irregular.  If a poor man be
driven, by distress of rent, from his potato garden, he has no other
resource--all is lost:  he will do the impossible (as the French
say) to retain it; subscribe any bond, and promise any rent.  The
middleman has no character to lose; and he knew, when he took up the
occupation, that it was one with which pity had nothing to do.  On
he drives; and backward the poor peasant recedes, loses something at
every step, till he comes to the very brink of despair; and then he
recoils and murders his oppressor, and is a White Boy or a Right
Boy;--the soldier shoots him, and the judge hangs him.

In the debate which took place in the Irish House of Commons, upon
the Bill for preventing tumultuous risings and assemblies, on the
31st of January, 1787, the Attorney-General submitted to the House
the following narrative of facts.

"The commencement," said he, "was in one or two parishes in the
county of Kerry; and they proceeded thus.  The people assembled in a
Catholic chapel, and there took an oath to obey the laws of Captain
Right, and to starve the clergy.  They then proceeded to the next
parishes on the following Sunday, and there swore the people in the
same manner; with this addition, that they (the people last sworn)
should on the ensuing Sunday proceed to the chapels of their next
neighbouring parishes and swear the inhabitants of those parishes in
like manner.  Proceeding in this manner, they very soon went through
the province of Munster.  The first object was the REFORMATION OF
TITHES.  They swore not to give more than a certain price per acre,
not to assist or allow them to be assisted in drawing the tithe, and
to permit NO PROCTOR.  They next took upon them to prevent the
collection of parish cesses, next to nominate parish clerks, and in
some cases curates, to say what church should or should not be
repaired, and in one case to threaten that they would burn a NEW
church if the OLD one were not given for a mass-house.  At last they
proceeded to regulate the price of lands, to raise the price of
labour, and to oppose the collection of the hearth-money and other
taxes.  Bodies of 5,000 of them have been seen to march through the
country unarmed, and, if met by any magistrate, THEY NEVER OFFERED
THE SMALLEST RUDENESS OR OFFENCE; on the contrary, they had allowed
persons charged with crimes to be taken from amongst them by the
magistrate ALONE, unaided by any force.

"The Attorney-General said he was well acquainted with the province
of Munster, and that it was impossible for human wretchedness to
were GROUND TO POWDER by relentless landlords; that, far from being
able to give the clergy their just dues, they had not food or
raiment for themselves--the landlord grasped the whole; and sorry
was he to add that, not satisfied with the present extortion, some
landlords had been so base as to instigate the insurgents to rob the
clergy of their tithes, not in order to alleviate the distresses of
the tenantry, but that they might add the clergy's share to the
cruel rack-rents they already paid.  The poor people of Munster
SUPPOSED EQUAL TO BEAR."--"Grattan's Speeches," vol. i., p. 292.

We are not, of course, in such a discussion to be governed by names.
A middleman might be tied up by the strongest legal restriction, as
to the price he was to exact from the under-tenants, and then he
would be no more pernicious to the estate than a steward.  A steward
might be protected in exactions as severe as the most rapacious
middleman; and then, of course, it would be the same thing under
another name.  The practice to which we object is the too common
method in Ireland of extorting the last farthing which the tenant is
willing to give for land rather than quit it:  and the machinery by
which such practice is carried into effect is that of the middleman.
It is not only that it ruins the land; it ruins the people also.
They are made so poor--brought so near the ground--that they can
sink no lower; and burst out at last into all the acts of
desperation and revenge for which Ireland is so notorious.  Men who
have money in their pockets, and find that they are improving in
their circumstances, don't do these things.  Opulence, or the hope
of opulence or comfort, is the parent of decency, order, and
submission to the laws.  A landlord in Ireland understands the
luxury of carriages and horses, but has no relish for the greater
luxury of surrounding himself with a moral and grateful tenantry.
The absent proprietor looks only to revenue, and cares nothing for
the disorder and degradation of a country which he never means to
visit.  There are very honourable exceptions to this charge:  but
there are too many living instances that it is just.  The rapacity
of the Irish landlord induces him to allow of the extreme division
of his lands.  When the daughter marries, a little portion of the
little farm is broken off--another corner for Patrick, and another
for Dermot--till the land is broken into sections, upon one of which
an English cow could not stand.  Twenty mansions of misery are thus
reared instead of one.  A louder cry of oppression is lifted up to
heaven, and fresh enemies to the English name and power are
multiplied on the earth.  The Irish gentleman, too, extremely
desirous of political influence, multiplying freeholds, and
splitting votes; and this propensity tends of course to increase the
miserable redundance of living beings, under which Ireland is
groaning.  Among the manifold wretchedness to which the poor Irish
tenant is liable, we must not pass over the practice of driving for
rent.  A lets land to B, who lets it to C, who lets it again to D.
D pays C his rent, and C pays B.  But if B fails to pay A, the
cattle of B, C, D are all driven to the pound, and after the
interval of a few days sold by auction.  A general driving of this
kind very frequently leads to a bloody insurrection.  It may be
ranked among the classical grievances of Ireland.

Potatoes enter for a great deal into the present condition of
Ireland.  They are much cheaper than wheat; and it is so easy to
rear a family upon them, that there is no cheek to population from
the difficulty of procuring food.  The population therefore goes on
with a rapidity approaching almost to that of new countries, and in
a much greater ratio than the improving agriculture and
manufacturers of the country can find employment for it.  All
degrees of all nations begin with living in pig-styes.  The king or
the priest first gets out of them; then the noble, then the pauper;
in proportion as each class becomes more and more opulent.  Better
tastes arise from better circumstances; and the luxury of one period
is the wretchedness and poverty of another.  English peasants, in
the time of Henry VII., were lodged as badly as Irish peasants now
are; but the population was limited by the difficulty of procuring a
corn subsistence.  The improvements of this kingdom were more rapid;
the price of labour rose; and with it the luxury and comfort of the
peasant, who is now decently lodged and clothed, and who would think
himself in the last stage of wretchedness if he had nothing but an
iron pot in a turf house, and plenty of potatoes in it.  The use of
the potato was introduced into Ireland when the wretched
accommodation of her own peasantry bore some proportion to the state
of those accommodations all over Europe.  But they have increased
their population so fast, and, in conjunction with the oppressive
government of Ireland retarding improvement, have kept the price of
labour so low, that the Irish poor have never been able to emerge
from their mud cabins, or to acquire any taste for cleanliness and
decency of appearance.  Mr. Curwen has the following description of
Irish cottages:-

"These mansions of miserable existence, for so they may truly be
described, conformably to our general estimation of those
indispensable comforts requisite to constitute the happiness of
rational beings, are most commonly composed of two rooms on the
ground floor, a most appropriate term, for they are literally on the
earth, the surface of which is not unfrequently reduced a foot or
more to save the expense of so much outward walling.  The one is a
refectory, the other the dormitory.  The furniture of the former, if
the owner ranks in the upper part of the scale of scantiness, will
consist of a kitchen dresser, well provided and highly decorated
with crockery--not less apparently the pride of the husband than the
result of female vanity in the wife:  which, with a table, a chest,
a few stools, and an iron pot, complete the catalogue of
conveniences generally found as belonging to the cabin:  while a
spinning-wheel, furnished by the Linen Board, and a loom, ornament
vacant spaces that otherwise would remain unfurnished.  In fitting
up the latter, which cannot on any occasion or by any display add a
feather to the weight or importance expected to be excited by the
appearance of the former, the inventory is limited to one, and
sometimes two beds, serving for the repose of the whole family!
However downy these may be to limbs impatient for rest, their
coverings appear to be very slight, and the whole of the apartment
created reflections of a very painful nature.  Under such
privations, with a wet mud floor and a roof in tatters, how idle the
search for comforts!"--Curwen, i., pp. 112, 113.

To this extract we shall add one more on the same subject.

"The gigantic figure, bareheaded before me, had a beard that would
not have disgraced an ancient Israelite--he was without shoes or
stockings--and almost a sans-culotte--with a coat, or rather a
jacket, that appeared as if the first blast of wind would tear it to
tatters.  Though his garb was thus tattered, he had a manly
commanding countenance.  I asked permission to see the inside of his
cabin, to which I received his most courteous assent.  On stooping
to enter at the door I was stopped, and found that permission from
another was necessary before I could be admitted.  A pig, which was
fastened to a stake driven into the floor, with length of rope
sufficient to permit him the enjoyment of sun and air, demanded some
courtesy, which I showed him, and was suffered to enter.  The wife
was engaged in boiling thread, and by her side, near the fire, a
lovely infant was sleeping, without any covering, on a bare board.
Whether the fire gave additional glow to the countenance of the
babe, or that Nature impressed on its unconscious cheek a blush that
the lot of man should be exposed to such privations, I will not
decide; but if the cause be referable to the latter, it was in
perfect unison with my own feelings.  Two or three other children
crowded round the mother:  on their rosy countenances health seemed
established in spite of filth and ragged garments.  The dress of the
poor woman was barely sufficient to satisfy decency.  Her
countenance bore the expression of a set melancholy, tinctured with
an appearance of ill health.  The hovel, which did not exceed twelve
or fifteen feet in length and ten in breadth, was half obscured by
smoke--chimney or window I saw none; the door served the various
purposes of an inlet to light and the outlet to smoke.  The
furniture consisted of two stools, an iron pot, and a spinning-
wheel, while a sack stuffed with straw, and a single blanket laid on
planks, served as a bed for the repose of the whole family.  Need I
attempt to describe my sensations?  The statement alone cannot fail
of conveying to a mind like yours an adequate idea of them--I could
not long remain a witness to this acme of human misery.  As I left
the deplorable habitation the mistress followed me to repeat her
thanks for the trifle I had bestowed.  This gave me an opportunity
of observing her person more particularly.  She was a tall figure,
her countenance composed of interesting features, and with every
appearance of having once been handsome.

"Unwilling to quit the village without first satisfying myself
whether what I had seen was a solitary instance or a sample of its
general state, or whether the extremity of poverty I had just beheld
had arisen from peculiar improvidence and want of management in one
wretched family, I went into an adjoining habitation, where I found
a poor old woman of eighty, whose miserable existence was painfully
continued by the maintenance of her granddaughter.  Their condition,
if possible, was more deplorable."--Curwen, i., pp. 181-183.

This wretchedness, of which all strangers who visit Ireland are so
sensible, proceeds certainly in great measure from their accidental
use of a food so cheap, that it encourages population to an
extraordinary degree, lowers the price of labour, and leaves the
multitudes which it calls into existence almost destitute of
everything but food.  Many more live in consequence of the
introduction of potatoes; but all live in greater wretchedness.  In
the progress of population, the potato must of course become at last
as difficult to be procured as any other food; and then let the
political economist calculate what the immensity and wretchedness of
a people must be, where the further progress of population is
checked by the difficulty of procuring potatoes.

The consequence of the long mismanagement and oppression of Ireland,
and of the singular circumstances in which it is placed, is, that it
is a semi-barbarous country--more shame to those who have thus ill-
treated a fine country and a fine people; but it is part of the
present case of Ireland.  The barbarism of Ireland is evinced by the
frequency and ferocity of duels--the hereditary clannish feuds of
the common people and the fights to which they give birth--the
atrocious cruelties practised in the insurrections of the common
people--and their proneness to insurrection.  The lower Irish live
in a state of greater wretchedness than any other people in Europe
inhabiting so fine a soil and climate.  It is difficult, often
impossible, to execute the processes of law.  In cases where
gentlemen are concerned, it is often not even attempted.  The
conduct of under-sheriffs is often very corrupt.  We are afraid the
magistracy of Ireland is very inferior to that of this country; the
spirit of jobbing and bribery is very widely diffused, and upon
occasions when the utmost purity prevails in the sister kingdom.
Military force is necessary all over the country, and often for the
most common and just operations of Government.  The behaviour of the
higher to the lower orders is much less gentle and decent than in
England.  Blows from superiors to inferiors are more frequent, and
the punishment for such aggression more doubtful.  The word
GENTLEMAN seems, in Ireland, to put an end to most processes at law.
Arrest a gentleman!!!--take out a warrant against a gentleman--are
modes of operation not very common in the administration of Irish
justice.  If a man strike the meanest peasant in England, he is
either knocked down in his turn, or immediately taken before a
magistrate.  It is impossible to live in Ireland without perceiving
the various points in which it is inferior in civilisation.  Want of
unity in feeling and interest among the people--irritability,
violence, and revenge--want of comfort and cleanliness in the lower
orders--habitual disobedience to the law--want of confidence in
magistrates--corruption, venality, the perpetual necessity of
recurring to military force--all carry back the observer to that
remote and early condition of mankind, which an Englishman can learn
only in the pages of the antiquary or the historian.  We do not draw
this picture for censure but for truth.  We admire the Irish--feel
the most sincere pity for the state of Ireland--and think the
conduct of the English to that country to have been a system of
atrocious cruelty and contemptible meanness.  With such a climate,
such a soil, and such a people, the inferiority of Ireland to the
rest of Europe is directly chargeable to the long wickedness of the
English Government.

A direct consequence of the present uncivilised state of Ireland is,
that very little English capital travels there.  The man who deals
in steam-engines, and warps and woofs, is naturally alarmed by Peep-
of-Day Boys, and nocturnal Carders; his object is to buy and sell as
quickly and quietly as he can, and he will naturally bear high taxes
and rivalry in England, or emigrate to any part of the Continent, or
to America, rather than plunge into the tumult of Irish politics and
passions.  There is nothing which Ireland wants more than large
manufacturing towns to take off its superfluous population.  But
internal peace must come first, and then the arts of peace will
follow.  The foreign manufacturer will hardly think of embarking his
capital where he cannot be sure that his existence is safe.  Another
check to the manufacturing greatness of Ireland is the scarcity, not
of coal, but of good coal, cheaply raised--an article in which (in
spite of papers in the Irish Transactions) they are lamentably
inferior to the English.

Another consequence from some of the causes we have stated is the
extreme idleness of the Irish labourer.  There is nothing of the
value of which the Irish seem to have so little notion as that of
time.  They scratch, pick, dawdle, stare, gape, and do anything but
strive and wrestle with the task before them.  The most ludicrous of
all human objects is an Irishman ploughing.  A gigantic figure--a
seven-foot machine for turning potatoes in human nature--wrapt up in
an immense great-coat, and urging on two starved ponies, with
dreadful imprecations and uplifted shillala.  The Irish crow
discerns a coming perquisite, and is not inattentive to the
proceedings of the steeds.  The furrow which is to be the depository
of the future crop is not unlike, either in depth or regularity, to
those domestic furrows which the nails of the meek and much-injured
wife plough, in some family quarrel, upon the cheeks of the
deservedly punished husband.  The weeds seem to fall contentedly,
knowing that they have fulfilled their destiny, and left behind
them, for the resurrection of the ensuing spring, an abundant and
healthy progeny.  The whole is a scene of idleness, laziness, and
poverty, of which it is impossible, in this active and enterprising
country, to form the most distant conception; but strongly
indicative of habits, whether secondary or original, which will long
present a powerful impediment to the improvement of Ireland.

The Irish character contributes something to retard the improvements
of that country.  The Irishman has many good qualities:  he is
brave, witty, generous, eloquent, hospitable, and open-hearted; but
he is vain, ostentatious, extravagant, and fond of display, light in
counsel, deficient in perseverance, without skill in private or
public economy, an enjoyer, not an acquirer--one who despises the
slow and patient virtues--who wants the superstructure without the
foundation, the result without the previous operation, the oak
without the acorn and the three hundred years of expectation.  The
Irish are irascible, prone to debt and to fight, and very impatient
of the restraints of law.  Such a people are not likely to keep
their eyes steadily upon the main chance like the Scotch or the
Dutch.  England strove very hard at one period to compel the Scotch
to pay a double Church, but Sawney took his pen and ink, and finding
what a sum it amounted to became furious and drew his sword.  God
forbid the Irishman should do the same!  The remedy now would be
worse than the disease; but if the oppressions of England had been
more steadily resisted a century ago, Ireland would not have been
the scene of poverty, misery, and distress which it now is.

The Catholic religion, among other causes, contributes to the
backwardness and barbarism of Ireland.  Its debasing superstition,
childish ceremonies, and the profound submission to the priesthood
which it teaches, all tend to darken men's minds, to impede the
progress of knowledge and inquiry, and to prevent Ireland from
becoming as free, as powerful, and as rich as the sister kingdom.
Though sincere friends to Catholic emancipation, we are no advocates
for the Catholic religion.  We should be very glad to see a general
conversion to Protestantism among the Irish, but we do not think
that violence, privations, and incapacities, are the proper methods
of making proselytes.

Such, then, is Ireland at this period--a land more barbarous than
the rest of Europe, because it has been worse treated and more
cruelly oppressed.  Many of the incapacities and privations to which
the Catholics were exposed have been removed by law, but in such
instances they are still incapacitated and deprived by custom.  Many
cruel and oppressive laws are still enforced against them.  A tenth
part of the population engrosses all the honours of the country; the
other nine pay a tenth of the product of the earth for the support
of a religion in which they do not believe.  There is little capital
in the country.  The great and rich men are called by business, or
allured by pleasure, into England; their estates are given up to
factors, and the utmost farthing of rent extorted from the poor,
who, if they give up the land, cannot get employment in
manufactures, or regular employment in husbandry.  The common people
use a sort of food so very cheap that they can rear families who
cannot procure employment, and who have little more of the comforts
of life than food.  The Irish are light-minded--want of employment
has made them idle; they are irritable and brave, have a keen
remembrance of the past wrongs they have suffered, and the present
wrongs they are suffering from England.  The consequence of all this
is, eternal riot and insurrection, a whole army of soldiers in time
of profound peace, and general rebellion whenever England is busy
with her other enemies or off her guard!  And thus it will be, while
the same causes continue to operate, for ages to come, and worse and
worse as the rapidly increasing population of the Catholics becomes
more and more numerous.

The remedies are time and justice, and that justice consists in
repealing all laws which make any distinction between the two
religions; in placing over the government of Ireland, not the
stupid, amiable, and insignificant noblemen who have too often been
sent there, but men who feel deeply the wrongs of Ireland, and who
have an ardent wish to heal them; who will take care that Catholics,
when eligible, shall be elected; who will share the patronage of
Ireland proportionally among the two parties, and give to just and
liberal laws the same vigour of execution which has hitherto been
reserved only for decrees of tyranny, and the enactments of
oppression.  The injustice and hardship of supporting two Churches
must be put out of sight, if it cannot or ought not to be cured.
The political economist, the moralist, and the satirist, must
combine to teach moderation and superintendence to the great Irish
proprietors.  Public talk and clamour may do something for the poor
Irish, as it did for the slaves in the West Indies.  Ireland will
become more quiet under such treatment, and then more rich, more
comfortable, and more civilised; and the horrid spectacle of folly
and tyranny, which it at present exhibits, may in time be removed
from the eyes of Europe.

There are two eminent Irishmen now in the House of Commons--Lord
Castlereagh and Mr. Canning--who will subscribe to the justness of
every syllable we have said upon this subject, and who have it in
their power, by making it the condition of their remaining in
office, to liberate their native country, and raise it to its just
rank among the nations of the earth.  Yet the Court buys them over,
year after year, by the pomp and perquisites of office; and year
after year they come into the House of Commons, feeling deeply, and
describing powerfully, the injuries of five millions of their
countrymen--and CONTINUE members of a government that inflicts those
evils, under the pitiful delusion that it is not a Cabinet Question,
as if the scratchings and quarrellings of Kings and Queens could
alone cement politicians together in indissoluble unity, while the
fate and torture of one-third of the empire might be complimented
away from one minister to another, without the smallest breach in
their Cabinet alliance.  Politicians, at least honest politicians,
should be very flexible and accommodating in little things, very
rigid and inflexible in great things.  And is this NOT a great
thing?  Who has painted it in finer and more commanding eloquence
than Mr. Canning?  Who has taken a more sensible and statesmanlike
view of our miserable and cruel policy than Lord Castlereagh?  You
would think, to hear them, that the same planet could not contain
them and the oppressors of their country--perhaps not the same solar
system.  Yet for money, claret, and patronage, they lend their
countenance, assistance, and friendship to the Ministers who are the
stern and inflexible enemies to the emancipation of Ireland!

Thank God that all is not profligacy and corruption in the history
of that devoted people--and that the name of Irishman does not
always carry with it the idea of the oppressor or the oppressed--the
plunderer or the plundered--the tyrant or the slave!  Great men
hallow a whole people, and lift up all who live in their time.  What
Irishman does not feel proud that he has lived in the days of
GRATTAN? who has not turned to him for comfort, from the false
friends and open enemies of Ireland? who did not remember him in the
days of its burnings and wastings and murders?  No Government ever
dismayed him--the world could not bribe him--he thought only of
Ireland--lived for no other object--dedicated to her his beautiful
fancy, his elegant wit, his manly courage, and all the splendour of
his astonishing eloquence.  He was so born and so gifted that
poetry, forensic skill, elegant literature, and all the highest
attainments of human genius were within his reach; but he thought
the noblest occupation of a man was to make other men happy and
free; and in that straight line he went on for fifty years, without
one side-look, without one yielding thought, without one motive in
his heart which he might not have laid open to the view of God and
man.  He is gone!--but there is not a single day of his honest life
of which every good Irishman would not be more proud than of the
whole political existence of his countrymen--the annual deserters
and betrayers of their native land.


Memoirs of Captain Rock, the celebrated Irish Chieftain; with some
Account of his Ancestors.  Written by Himself.  Fourth Edition.
12mo.  London, 1824.

This agreeable and witty book is generally supposed to have been
written by Mr. Thomas Moore, a gentleman of small stature, but full
of genius, and a steady friend of all that is honourable and just.
He has here borrowed the name of a celebrated Irish leader, to
typify that spirit of violence and insurrection which is necessarily
generated by systematic oppression, and rudely avenges its crimes;
and the picture he has drawn of its prevalence in that unhappy
country is at once piteous and frightful.  Its effect in exciting
our horror and indignation is in the long run increased, we think--
though at first it may seem counteracted--by the tone of levity, and
even jocularity, under which he has chosen to veil the deep sarcasm
and substantial terrors of his story.  We smile at first, and are
amused, and wonder, as we proceed, that the humorous narrative
should produce conviction and pity--shame, abhorrence, and despair.

England seems to have treated Ireland much in the same way as Mrs.
Brownrigg treated her apprentice--for which Mrs. Brownrigg is hanged
in the first volume of the Newgate Calendar.  Upon the whole, we
think the apprentice is better off than the Irishman; as Mrs.
Brownrigg merely starves and beats her, without any attempt to
prohibit her from going to any shop, or praying at any church her
apprentice might select:  and once or twice, if we remember rightly,
Brownrigg appears to have felt some compassion.  Not so Old England,
who indulges rather in a steady baseness, uniform brutality, and
unrelenting oppression.

Let us select from this entertaining little book a short history of
dear Ireland, such as even some profligate idle member of the House
of Commons, voting as his master bids him, may perchance throw his
eye upon, and reflect for a moment upon the iniquity to which he
lends his support.

For some centuries after the reign of Henry II., the Irish were
killed like game, by persons qualified or unqualified.  Whether dogs
were used does not appear quite certain, though it is probable they
were, spaniels as well as pointers; and that, after a regular point
by Basto, well backed by Ponto and Caesar, Mr. O'Donnel or Mr.
O'Leary bolted from the thicket, and were bagged by the English
sportsman.  With Henry II. came in tithes, to which, in all
probability, about one million of lives may have been sacrificed in
Ireland.  In the reign of Edward I. the Irish who were settled near
the English requested that the benefit of the English laws might be
extended to them; but the remonstrance of the barons with the
hesitating king was in substance this:  "You have made us a present
of these wild gentlemen, and we particularly request that no
measures may be adopted to check us in that full range of tyranny
and oppression in which we consider the value of such a gift to
consist.  You might as well give us sheep, and prevent us from
shearing the wool, or roasting the meat."  This reasoning prevailed,
and the Irish were kept to their barbarism, and the barons preserved
their dive stock.

"Read 'Orange faction' (says Captain Rock) here and you have the
wisdom of our rulers, at the end of near six centuries, in statu
quo.  The grand periodic year of the stoics, at the close of which
everything was to begin again, and the same events to be all reacted
in the same order, is, on a miniature scale, represented in the
history of the English Government in Ireland, every succeeding
century being but a new revolution of the same follies, the same
crimes, and the same turbulence that disgraced the former.  But
'Vive l'ennemi!' say I:  whoever may suffer by such measures,
Captain Rock, at least, will prosper.

"And such was the result at the period of which I am speaking.  The
rejection of a petition, so humble and so reasonable, was followed,
as a matter of course, by one of those daring rebellions into which
the revenge of an insulted people naturally breaks forth.  The
M'Cartys, the O'Briens, and the other Macs and O's, who have been
kept on the alert by similar causes ever since, flew to arms under
the command of a chieftain of my family; and, as the proffered
HANDLE of the sword had been rejected, made their inexorable masters
at least feel its EDGE."--(pp. 23-25.)

Fifty years afterwards the same request was renewed and refused.  Up
again rose Mac and O, a JUST AND NECESSARY WAR ensued; and after the
usual murders, the usual chains were replaced upon the Irishry.  All
Irishmen were excluded from every species of office.  It was high
treason to marry with the Irish blood, and highly penal to receive
the Irish into religious houses.  War was waged also against their
Thomas Moores, Samuel Rogerses, and Walter Scotts, who went about
the country harping and singing against English oppression.  No such
turbulent guests were to be received.  The plan of making them
poets-laureate, or converting them to loyalty by pensions of 100
pounds per annum, had not then been thought of.  They debarred the
Irish even from the pleasure of running away, and fixed them to the
soil like negroes.

"I have thus selected," says the historian of Rock, "cursorily and
at random, a few features of the reigns preceding the Reformation,
in order to show what good use was made of those three or four
hundred years in attaching the Irish people to their English
governors; and by what a gentle course of alternatives they were
prepared for the inoculation of a new religion, which was now about
to be attempted upon them by the same skilful and friendly hands.

"Henry VII. appears to have been the first monarch to whom it
occurred, that matters were not managed exactly as they ought in
this part of his dominions; and we find him--with a simplicity which
is still fresh and youthful among our rulers--expressing his
SURPRISE that his subjects of this land should be so prone to
faction and rebellion, and that so little advantage had been
hitherto derived from the acquisitions of his predecessor,
notwithstanding the fruitfulness and natural advantages of Ireland.
Surprising, indeed, that a policy, such as we have been describing,
should not have converted the whole country into a perfect Atlantis
of happiness--should not have made it like the imaginary island of
Sir Thomas More, where 'tota insula velut una familia est!'--most
stubborn, truly, and ungrateful, must that people be, upon whom, up
to the very hour in which I write, such a long and unvarying course
of penal laws, confiscations, and Insurrection Acts has been tried,
without making them in the least degree in love with their rulers.

"Heloise tells her tutor, Abelard, that the correction which he
inflicted upon her only served to increase the ardour of her
affection for him; but bayonets and hemp are no such 'amoris
stimuli.'  One more characteristic anecdote of those times and I
have done.  At the battle of Knocktow, in the reign of Henry VII.,
when that remarkable man, the Earl of Kildare, assisted by the great
O'Neal and other Irish chiefs, gained a victory over Clanricard of
Connaught, most important to the English Government, Lord
Gormanstown, after the battle, in the first insolence of success,
said, turning to the Earl of Kildare, 'We have now slaughtered our
enemies, but, to complete the good deed, we must proceed yet
further, and--cut the throats of those Irish of our own party!'  Who
can wonder that the Rock family were active in those times?"--(pp.
33, 35.)

Henry VIII. persisted in all these outrages, and aggravated them by
insulting the prejudices of the people.  England is almost the only
country in the world (even at present) where there is not some
favourite religious sport, where absurd lies, little bits of cloth,
feathers, rusty nails, splinters, and other invaluable relics, are
treasured up, and in defence of which the whole population are
willing to turn out and perish as one man.  Such was the shrine of
St. Kieran, the whole treasures of which the satellites of that
corpulent tyrant turned out into the street, pillaged the sacred
church of Clonmacnoise, scattered the holy nonsense of the priests
to the winds, and burnt the real and venerable crosier of St.
Patrick, fresh from the silversmith's shop, and formed of the most
costly materials.  Modern princes change the uniform of regiments;
Henry changed the religion of kingdoms, and was determined that the
belief of the Irish should undergo a radical and Protestant
conversion.  With what success this attempt was made, the present
state of Ireland is sufficient evidence.

"Be not dismayed," said Elizabeth, on hearing that O'Neal meditated
some designs against her government; "tell my friends, if he arise,
it will turn to their advantage--THERE WILL BE ESTATES FOR THOSE WHO
WANT."  Soon after this prophetic speech, Munster was destroyed by
famine and the sword, and near 600,000 acres forfeited to the crown,
and distributed among Englishmen.  Sir Walter Raleigh (the virtuous
and good) butchered the garrison of Limerick in cold blood, after
Lord Deputy Gray had selected 700 to be hanged.  There were, during
the reign of Elizabeth, three invasions of Ireland by the Spaniards,
produced principally by the absurd measures of this princess for the
reformation of its religion.  The Catholic clergy, in consequence of
these measures, abandoned their cures, the churches fell to ruin,
and the people were left without any means of instruction.  Add to
these circumstances the murder of M'Mahon, the imprisonment of
O'Toole and O'Dogherty, and the kidnapping of O'Donnel--all truly
Anglo-Hibernian proceedings.  The execution of the laws was rendered
detestable and intolerable by the queen's officers of justice.  The
spirit raised by these transactions, besides innumerable smaller
insurrections gave rise to the great wars of Desmond and Hugh
O'Neal; which, after they had worn out the ablest generals,
discomfited the choicest troops, exhausted the treasure, and
embarrassed the operations of Elizabeth, were terminated by the
destruction of these two ancient families, and by the confiscation
of more than half the territorial surface of the island.  The last
two years of O'Neal's wars cost Elizabeth 140,000 pounds per annum,
though the whole revenue of England at that period fell considerably
short of 500,000 pounds.  Essex, after the destruction of Norris,
led into Ireland an army of above 20,000 men, which was totally
baffled and destroyed by Tyrone, within two years of their landing.
Such was the importance of Irish rebellions two centuries before the
time in which we live.  Sir G. Carew attempted to assassinate the
Lugan Earl--Mountjoy compelled the Irish rebels to massacre each
other.  In the course of a few months 3,000 men were starved to
death in Tyrone.  Sir Arthur Chichester, Sir Richard Manson, and
other commanders, saw three children feeding on the flesh of their
dead mother.  Such were the golden days of good Queen Bess!

By the rebellions of Dogherty, in the reign of James I., six
northern counties were confiscated, amounting to 500,000 acres.  In
the same manner, 64,000 acres were confiscated in Athlone.  The
whole of his confiscations amount to nearly a million acres; and if
Leland means plantation acres, they constitute a twelfth of the
whole kingdom according to Newenham, and a tenth according to Sir W.
Petty.  The most shocking and scandalous action in the reign of
James, was his attack upon the whole property of the province of
Connaught, which he would have effected, if he had not been bought
off by a sum greater than he hoped to gain by his iniquity, besides
the luxury of confiscation.  The Irish, during the reign of James
I., suffered under the DOUBLE evils of a licentious soldiery and a
religious persecution.

Charles I. took a bribe of 120,000 pounds from his Irish subjects,
to grant them what in those days were called Graces, but in these
days would be denominated the Elements of Justice.  The money was
paid, but the graces were never granted.  One of these graces was
curious enough:  "That the clergy were not to be permitted to keep
henceforward any private prisons of their own, but delinquents were
to be committed to the public jails."  The idea of a rector, with
his own private jail full of Dissenters, is the most ludicrous piece
of tyranny we ever heard of.  The troops in the beginning of
Charles's reign were supported by the weekly fines levied upon the
Catholics for non-attendance upon established worship.  The
Archbishop of Dublin went himself at the head of a file of
musketeers, to disperse a Catholic congregation in Dublin--which
object he effected after a considerable skirmish with the priests.
"The favourite object" (says Dr. Leland, a Protestant clergyman, and
dignitary of the Irish Church) "of the Irish Government and the
English Parliament, was THE UTTER EXTERMINATION of all the Catholic
inhabitants of Ireland."  The great rebellion took place in this
reign, and Ireland was one scene of blood and cruelty and

Cromwell began his career in Ireland by massacring for five days the
garrison of Drogheda, to whom quarter had been promised.  Two
millions and a half of acres were confiscated.  Whole towns were put
up in lots, and sold.  The Catholics were banished from three-
fourths of the kingdom, and confined to Connaught.  After a certain
day, every Catholic found out of Connaught was to be punished with
death.  Fleetwood complains peevishly "that the people DO NOT
LORD WILL APPEAR."  Ten thousand Irish were sent as recruits to the
Spanish army.

"Such was Cromwell's way of settling the affairs of Ireland; and if
a nation IS to be ruined, this method is, perhaps, as good as any.
It is, at least, more humane than the slow, lingering process of
exclusion, disappointment, and degradation, by which their hearts
are worn out under more specious forms of tyranny; and that talent
of despatch which Moliere attributes to one of his physicians is no
ordinary merit in a practitioner like Cromwell: --"C'est un homme
expeditif, qui aime a depecher ses malades; et quand on a mourir,
cela se fait avec lui le plus vite du monde."  A certain military
Duke, who complains that Ireland is but half conquered, would, no
doubt, upon an emergency, try his hand in the same line of practice,
and, like that 'stern hero' Mirmillo, in the Dispensary,

"While others meanly take whole months to slay,
Despatch the grateful patient in a day!"

"Among other amiable enactments against the Catholics at this
period, the price of five pounds was set on the head of a Romish
priest, being exactly the same sum offered by the same legislators
for the head of a wolf.  The Athenians, we are told, encouraged the
destruction of wolves by a similar reward (five drachms); but it
does not appear that these heathens bought up the heads of priests
at the same rate, such zeal in the cause of religion being reserved
for times of Christianity and Protestantism."--(pp. 97-99.)

Nothing can show more strongly the light in which the Irish were
held by Cromwell than the correspondence with Henry Cromwell
respecting the peopling of Jamaica from Ireland.  Secretary Thurloe
sends to Henry, the Lord Deputy in Ireland, to inform him that "a
stock of Irish girls and Irish young men are wanting for the
peopling of Jamaica."  The answer of Henry Cromwell is as follows:-
"Concerning the supply of young men, although we must use force in
taking them up, YET IT BEING SO MUCH FOR THEIR OWN GOOD, and likely
to be of so great advantage to the public, it is not the least
doubted but that you may have such a number of them as you may think
fit to make use of on this account.

"I shall not need repeat anything respecting the girls, not doubting
to answer your expectations to the full IN THAT; and I think it
might be of like advantage to your affairs there and ours here if
you should think fit to send 1,500 or 2,000 boys to the place above
mentioned.  WE CAN WELL SPARE THEM; and who knows but that it may be
the means of making them Englishmen--I mean, rather, Christians?  As
for the girls, I suppose you will make provisions of clothes, and
other accommodations for them."  Upon this, Thurloe informs Henry
Cromwell that the council have voted 4,000 GIRLS, AND AS MANY BOYS,
to go to Jamaica.

Every Catholic priest found in Ireland was hanged, and five pounds
paid to the informer.

"About the years 1652 and 1653," says Colonel Lawrence, in his
Interests of Ireland, "the plague and famine had so swept away whole
counties, that a man might travel twenty or thirty miles and not see
a living creature, either man, or beast, or bird, they being all
dead, or had quitted those desolate places.  Our soldiers would tell
stories of the places where they saw smoke--it was so rare to see
either smoke by day or fire or candle by night."  In this manner did
the Irish live and die under Cromwell, suffering by the sword,
famine, pestilence, and persecution, beholding the confiscation of a
kingdom and the banishment of a race.  "So that there perished,"
says Sir W. Petty, "in the year 1641, 650,000 human beings, whose
bloods somebody must atone for to God and the King!"

In the reign of Charles II., by the Act of Settlement, four millions
and a half of acres were for ever taken from the Irish.  "This
country," says the Earl of Essex, Lord Lieutenant in 1675, "has been
perpetually rent and torn since his Majesty's restoration.  I can
compare it to nothing better than the flinging the reward on the
death of a deer among the pack of hounds, where every one pulls and
tears where he can for himself."  All wool grown in Ireland was, by
Act of Parliament, compelled to be sold to England; and Irish cattle
were excluded from England.  The English, however, were pleased to
accept 30,000 head of cattle, sent as a gift from Ireland to the
sufferers in the great fire! and the first day of the Sessions,
after this act of munificence, the Parliament passed fresh acts of
exclusion against the productions of that country.

"Among the many anomalous situations in which the Irish have been
placed, by those 'marriage vows, false as dicers' oaths,' which bind
their country to England, the dilemma in which they found themselves
at the Revolution was not the less perplexing or cruel.  If they
were loyal to the King de jure, they were hanged by the King de
facto; and if they escaped with life from the King de facto, it was
but to be plundered and proscribed by the King de jure afterwards.

"'Hac gener atque socer coeant mercede suorum.'--VIRGIL.

"'In a manner so summary, prompt, and high mettled,
Twixt father and son-in-law matters were settled.'

"In fact, most of the outlawries in Ireland were for treason
committed the very day on which the Prince and Princess of Orange
accepted the crown in the Banqueting-house; though the news of this
event could not possibly have reached the other side of the Channel
on the same day, and the Lord-Lieutenant of King James, with an army
to enforce obedience, was at that time in actual possession of the
government, so little was common sense consulted, or the mere
decency of forms observed, by that rapacious spirit, which nothing
less than the confiscation of the whole island could satisfy; and
which having, in the reign of James I. and at the Restoration,
despoiled the natives of no less than ten millions six hundred and
thirty-six thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven acres, now added
to its plunder one million sixty thousand seven hundred and ninety-
two acres more, being the amount altogether (according to Lord
Clare's calculation) of the whole superficial contents of the

"Thus, not only had ALL Ireland suffered confiscation in the course
of this century, but no inconsiderable portion of it had been twice
and even thrice confiscated.  Well might Lord Clare say, 'that the
situation of the Irish nation, at the Revolution, stands
unparalleled in the history of the inhabited world.'"  (pp. 111-

By the Articles of Limerick, the Irish were promised the free
exercise of their religion; but from that period to the year 1788,
every year produced some fresh penalty against that religion, some
liberty was abridged, some right impaired, or some suffering
increased.  By acts in King William's reign, they were prevented
from being solicitors.  No Catholic was allowed to marry a
Protestant; and any Catholic who sent a son to Catholic countries
for education was to forfeit all his lands.  In the reign of Queen
Anne, any son of a Catholic who chose to turn Protestant got
possession of the father's estate.  No Papist was allowed to
purchase freehold property, or to take a lease for more than thirty
years.  If a Protestant dies intestate, the estate is to go to the
next PROTESTANT heir, though all to the tenth generation should be
Catholic.  In the same manner, if a Catholic dies intestate, his
estate is to go to the next Protestant.  No Papist is to dwell in
Limerick or Galway.  No Papist is to take an annuity for life.  The
widow of a Papist turning Protestant to have a portion of the
chattels of deceased in spite of any will.  Every Papist teaching
schools to be presented as a regular Popish convict.  Prices of
catching Catholic priests, from 50s. to 10 pounds, according to
rank.  Papists are to answer all questions respecting other Papists,
or to be committed to jail for twelve months.  No trust to be
undertaken for Papists.  No Papist to be on Grand Juries.  Some
notion may be formed of the spirit of those times, from an order of
the House of Commons, "that the Sergeant-at-Arms should take into
custody all Papists that should presume to come into THE GALLERY!"
(Commons' Journal, vol. iii., fol. 976.)  During this reign the
English Parliament legislated as absolutely for Ireland as they do
now for Rutlandshire, an evil not to be complained of, if they had
done it as justly.  In the reign of George I., the horses of Papists
were seized for the militia, and rode by Protestants; towards which
the Catholics paid double, and were compelled to find Protestant
substitutes.  They were prohibited from voting at vestries, or being
high or petty constables.  An act of the English Parliament in this
reign opens as follows: --"Whereas attempts have been lately made to
shake off the subjection of Ireland to the Imperial Crown of these
realms, be it enacted," etc. etc.  In the reign of George II. four-
sixths of the population were cut off from the right of voting at
elections by the necessity under which they were placed of taking
the oath of supremacy.  Barristers and solicitors marrying Catholics
are exposed to all the penalties of Catholics.  Persons robbed by
privateers during a war with a Catholic State are to be indemnified
by a levy on the Catholic inhabitants of the neighbourhood.  All
marriages between Catholics and Protestants are annulled.  All
Popish priests celebrating them are to be hanged.  "This system"
(says Arthur Young) "has no other tendency than that of driving out
of the kingdom all the personal wealth of the Catholics, and
extinguishing their industry within it; and the face of the country,
every object which presents itself to travellers, tells him how
effectually this has been done."--Young's Tour in Ireland, vol. ii.,
p. 48.

Such is the history of Ireland--for we are now at our own times; and
the only remaining question is, whether the system of improvement
and conciliation begun in the reign of George III. shall be pursued,
and the remaining incapacities of the Catholics removed, or all
these concessions be made insignificant by an adherence to that
spirit of proscription which they professed to abolish?  Looking to
the sense and reason of the thing, and to the ordinary working of
humanity and justice, when assisted, as they are here, by self-
interest and worldly policy, it might seem absurd to doubt of the
result.  But looking to the facts and the persons by which we are
now surrounded, we are constrained to say that we greatly fear that
these incapacities never will be removed till they are removed by
fear.  What else, indeed, can we expect when we see them opposed by
such enlightened men as Mr. Peel--faintly assisted by men of such
admirable genius as Mr. Canning--when Royal Dukes consider it as a
compliment to the memory of their father to continue this miserable
system of bigotry and exclusion, when men act ignominiously and
contemptibly on this question, who do so on no other question, when
almost the only persons zealously opposed to this general baseness
and fatuity are a few Whigs and Reviewers, or here and there a
virtuous poet like Mr. Moore?  We repeat again, that the measure
never will be effected but by fear.  In the midst of one of our just
and necessary wars, the Irish Catholics will compel this country to
grant them a great deal more than they at present require or even
contemplate.  We regret most severely the protraction of the
disease, and the danger of the remedy; but in this way it is that
human affairs are carried on!

We are sorry we have nothing for which to praise Administration on
the subject of the Catholic question, but it is but justice to say,
that they have been very zealous and active in detecting fiscal
abuses in Ireland, in improving mercantile regulations, and in
detecting Irish jobs.  The commission on which Mr. Wallace presided
has been of the greatest possible utility, and does infinite credit
to the Government.  The name of Mr. Wallace in any commission has
now become a pledge to the public that there is a real intention to
investigate and correct abuse.  He stands in the singular
predicament of being equally trusted by the rulers and the ruled.
It is a new era in Government when such men are called into action;
and if there were not proclaimed and fatal limits to that
ministerial liberality, which, so far as it goes, we welcome without
a grudge and praise without a sneer, we might yet hope that, for the
sake of mere consistency, they might be led to falsify our
forebodings.  But alas! there are motives more immediate, and
therefore irresistible; and the time is not yet come when it will be
believed easier to govern Ireland by the love of the many than by
the power of the few, when the paltry and dangerous machinery of
bigoted faction and prostituted patronage may be dispensed with, and
the vessel of the State be propelled by the natural current of
popular interests and the breath of popular applause.  In the
meantime, we cannot resist the temptation of gracing our conclusion
with the following beautiful passage, in which the author alludes to
the hopes that were raised at another great era of partial
concession and liberality, that of the revolution of 1782, when,
also, benefits were conferred which proved abortive because they
were incomplete, and balm poured into the wound, where the envenomed
shaft was yet left to rankle.

"And here," says the gallant Captain Rock, "as the free confession
of weakness constitutes the chief charm and use of biography, I will
candidly own that the dawn of prosperity and concord which I now saw
breaking over the fortunes of my country, so dazzled and deceived my
youthful eyes, and so unsettled every hereditary notion of what I
owed to my name and family, that--shall I confess it--I even hailed
with pleasure the prospects of peace and freedom that seemed opening
around me; nay, was ready, in the boyish enthusiasm of the moment,
to sacrifice all my own personal interest in all future riots and
rebellions to the one bright, seducing object of my country's
liberty and repose.

"When I contemplated such a man as the venerable Charlemont, whose
nobility was to the people like a fort over a valley, elevated above
them solely for their defence; who introduced the polish of the
courtier into the camp of the freeman, and served his country with
all that pure Platonic devotion which a true knight in the time of
chivalry proffered to his mistress; when I listened to the eloquence
of Grattan, the very music of freedom, her first fresh matin song,
after a long night of slavery, degradation, and sorrow; when I saw
the bright offerings which he brought to the shrine of his country--
wisdom, genius, courage, and patience, invigorated and embellished
by all those social and domestic virtues, without which the loftiest
talents stand isolated in the moral waste around them, like the
pillars of Palmyra towering in a wilderness!--when I reflected on
all this, it not only disheartened me for the mission of discord
which I had undertaken, but made me secretly hope that it might be
rendered unnecessary; and that a country which could produce such
men and achieve such a revolution, might yet--in spite of the joint
efforts of the Government and my family--take her rank in the scale
of nations, and be happy!

"My father, however, who saw the momentary dazzle by which I was
affected, soon drew me out of this false light of hope in which I
lay basking, and set the truth before me in a way but too convincing
and ominous.  'Be not deceived, boy,' he would say, 'by the
fallacious appearances before you.  Eminently great and good as is
the man to whom Ireland owes this short era of glory, OUR work,
believe me, will last longer than his.  We have a power on our side
that "will not willingly let us die;" and, long after Grattan shall
have disappeared from earth like that arrow shot into the clouds by
Alcestes, effecting nothing, but leaving a long train of light
behind him, the family of the ROCKS will continue to flourish in all
their native glory, upheld by the ever-watchful care of the
Legislature, and fostered by that "nursing-mother of Liberty," the

End of the Project Gutenberg eText Peter Plymley's Letters etc.


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