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But suppose them to be as well inclined as I know that I am, to do the Catholics all kind of justice, I declare I would not, if it were in my power, take that patronage on myself.I know I ought not to do it. I belong to another community, and it would be intolerable usurpation for me to affect such authority, where I conferred no benefit, or even if I did confer (as in some degree the seraglio does) temporal advantages. But, allowing that the present Castle finds itself fit to administer the government of a church which they solemnly forswear, and forswear with very hard words and many evil epithets, and that as often as they qualify themselves for the power which is to give this very patronage, or to give anything else that they desire ; yet they cannot insure themselves that a man like the late Lord Chesterfield will not succeed to them. This man, while he was duping the credulity of Papists with fine words in private, and commending their good behaviour during a rebellion in Great Britain, (as it well deserved to be commended and rewarded,) was capable of urging penal laws against them in a speech from the throne, and of stimulating with provocatives the wearied and half-exhausted bigotry of the then parliament of Ireland. They set to work, but they were at a loss what to do; for they had already almost gone through every contrivance which could waste the vigour of their country: but after much struggle, they produced a child of their old age, the shocking and unnatural act about marriages, which tended to finish the scheme for making the people not only two istinct parties for ever, but keeping them as two distinct species in the same land. Mr. Gardiner's humanity was shocked at it, as one of the worst parts of that truly barbarous system, if one could well settle the preference, where almost all the parts were outrages on the rights of humanity and the laws of nature.
Suppose an atheist, playing the part of a bigot, should be in
power again in that country, do you believe that he would faithfully and religiously administer the trust of appointing pastors to a church, which, wanting every other support
, stands in tenfold need of ministers who will be dear to the people committed to their charge, and who will exercise a really paternal authority amongst them ? But if the superior power was always in a disposition to dispense conscien
tiously, and like an upright trustee and guardian of these rights which he holds for those with whom he is at variance, has be the capacity and means of doing it? How can the lord-lieutenant form the least judgment of their merits, so as to discern which of the Popish priests is fit to be made a bishop? It cannot be : the idea is ridiculous.--He will hand them over to lord-lieutenants of counties, justices of the peace, and other persons, who for the purpose of vexing and turning to derision this miserable people, will pick out the worst and most obnoxious they can find amongst the clergy to set over the rest. Whoever is complained against by his brother will be considered as persecuted: whoever is censured by his superior will be looked upon as oppressed : whoever is careless in his opinions, and loose in his morals, will be called a liberal man, and will be supposed to have incurred hatred, because he was not a bigot. Informers, talebearers, perverse and obstinate men, flatterers, who turn their back
upon their flock, and court the Protestant gentlemen of the country, will be the objects of preferment. And then I run no risk in foretelling, that whatever order, quiet, and morality you have in the country, will be lost. A Popish clergy, who are not restrained by the most austere subordination, will become a nuisance, a real public grievance of the heaviest kind, in any country that entertains them : and instead of the great benefit which Ireland does' and has long derived from them, if they are educated without any idea of discipline and obedience, and then put under bishops who do not owe their station to their good opinion, and whom they cannot respect, that nation will see disorders, of which, bad as things are, it has yet no idea. I do not say this, as thinking the leading men in Ireland would exercise this trust worse than others. Not at all. No man, no set of men living are fit to administer the affairs, or regulate the interior economy, of a church to which they are enemies.
As to government, if I might recommend a prudent caution to them,-it would be, to innovate as little as possible, upon speculation, in establishments, from which, as they stand, they experience no material inconvenience to the repose of the country,-quieta non movere.--I could say a great deal more ; but I am tired ; and am afraid your Lordship is tired too. I have not sat to this letter a single quarter of an hour without interruption. It has grown long, and probably contains many repetitions, from my total want of Ieisure to digest and consolidate my thoughts; and as to my expressions, I could wish to be able perhaps to measure them more exactly. But
my intentions are fair, and I certainly mean to offend nobody.
Thinking over this matter more maturely, I see no reason for altering my opinion in any part. The act, as far as it goes, is good undoubtedly. It amounts, I think, very nearly to a toleration, with respect to religious ceremonies; but it puts a new bolt on civil rights, and rivets it to the old one, in such a manner, that neither, I fear, will be easily loosened. What I could have wished would be, to see the civil advantages take the lead; the other, of a religious toleration, I conceive, would follow in a manner) of course. From what I have observed, it is pride, arrogance, and a spirit of domination, and not a bigoted spirit of religion, that has caused and kept up
oppressive statutes. I am sure I have known those who have oppressed Papists in their civil rights, exceedingly indulgent to them in their religious ceremonies, and who really wished them to continue Catholics, in order to furnish pretences for oppression. These persons never saw a man (by converting) escape out of their power, but with grudging and regret. I have known men, to whom I am not uncharitable in saying, (though they are dead) that they would have become Papists in order to oppress Protestants ; if, being Protestants, it was not in their power to oppress Papists. It is injustice, and not a mistaken conscience, that has been the principle of persecution, at least as far as it has fallen under my observation. However, as I began, so I end. I do not know the map of the country. Mr. Gardiner, who conducts this great and difficult work, and those who support him, are better judges of the business than I can pretend to be, who have not set my foot in Ireland these sixteen years. I have been given to under. stand, that I am not considered as a friend to that country: and I know that pains have been taken to lessen the credit that I might have had there.
I am so convinced of the weakness of interfering in any business, without the opinion of the people in whose business I interfere, that I do not know how to acquit myself of what I have now done.--I have the honour to be, with high regard and esteem,
And humble servant, &c.
SIR H. LANGRISHE, BART. M P.
ON TIE SUBJECT OF THE
ROMAN CATHOLICS OF IRELAND,
THE PROPRIETY OF ADMITTING THEM TO THE ELECTIVE FRANCHISE, CONSISTENTLY WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF THE CONSTITUTION
AS ESTABLISHED AT THE REVOLUTION
1792. MY DEAR SIR,
Your remembrance of me, with sentiments of so much kindness, has given me the most sincere satisfaction. It perfectly agrees with the friendly and hospitable reception which my son and I received from you, some time since, when, after an absence of twenty-two years, I had the happiness of embracing you, among my few surviving friends.
I really imagined that I should not again interest myself in any public business. I had, to the best of moderate faculties, paid my club to the society, which I was born in some way or other to serve; and I thought I had a right to put on my night-gown and slippers, and wish a cheerful evening to the good company I must leave behind. But if our resolutions of vigour and exertion are so often broken or procrastinated in the execution, I think we may be excused, if we are not very punctual in fulfilling our engagements to indolence and inactivity. I have indeed no power of action; and am almost a cripple, even with regard to thinking: but you descend with force into the stagnant pool; and you cause such a fermentation, as to cure at least one impotent creature of his lameness, though it cannot enable him either
run or to wrestle.