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Bibles with Protestant notes, and how can they do otherwise, without giving up their religion? They deny, on oath, that the infallibility of the Pope is any necessary part of the Catholic faith. They, on oath, declare that Catholic people are forbidden to worship images, and saints, and relics. They, on oath, abjure the temporal power of the Pope, or his right to absolve any Catholic from his oath. They renounce, on oath, all right to forfeited lands, and covenant, on oath, not to destroy or plot against the Irish Protestant church. What more can any man want, whom any thing will content?
Some people talk as if they were quite teazed and worried by the eternal clamors of the Catholics; but if you are eternally unjust, can you expect any thing more than to be eternally vexed by the victims of your injustice? You want all the luxury of oppression, without any of its inconvenience. I should think the Catholics very much to blame, if they ever ceased to importune the legislature for justice, so long as they could find one single member of parliament who would advocate their cause.
The putting the matter to rest by an effort of the county of York, or by any decision of parliament against them, is utterly hopeless. Every year increases the Catholic population, and the Catholic wealth, and the Catholic claims, till you are caught in one of those political attitudes to which all countries are occasionally exposed, in which you are utterly helpless, and must give way to their claims; and if you do it then, will do it badly. You may call it an arrangement, but arrangements made at such times are much like the bargains between a highwayman and a traveller-a pistol on one side, and a purse on the other the rapid scramble of armed violence, and the unqualified surrender of helpless timidity. If you think the thing must be done at some time or another, do it when you are calm and powerful, and when you need not do it.
There are a set of high-spirited men who are very much afraid of being afraid; who cannot brook the idea of doing any thing from fear, and whose conversation is full of fire and sword, when any apprehension of resistance is alluded to; I have a perfect confidence in the high and unyielding spirit, and in the military courage of the English; and I have no doubt, but that many of the country gentlemen who now call out No Popery, would fearlessly put themselves at the head of their embattled yeomanry to control the Irish Catholics. My objection to such courage is, that it would be exercised unjustly, and probably exercised in vain. I should deprecate any rising of the Catholics as the most grievous misfortune which could happen to the empire and to themselves. They had far better endure all they do endure, and a great deal worse, than try the experiment. But if they do try it, you may
depend on it, they will do it at their own time, and not at yours. They will not select a fortnight in the summer, during a profound peace, when corn and money abound, and when the Catholics of Europe are unconcerned spectators. If you make a resolution to be unjust, you must make another resolution to be always strong, always vigilant, and always rich; you must commit no blunders, exhibit no deficiencies, and meet with no misfortunes; you must present a square phalanx of impenetrable strength, for keen-eyed revenge is riding round your ranks; and if one heart falter, or one hand tremble, you are lost.
You may call all this threatening: I am sure I have no such absurd intention, but wish only, in sober sadness, to point out what appears to me to be the inevitable consequences of the conduct we pursue. If danger be not pointed out and insisted on, how is it to be avoided? My firm belief is, that England will be compelled to grant ignominiously, what she now refuses haughtily. Remember what happened respecting Ireland in the American war, In 1779, the Irish, whose trade was completely restricted by English laws, asked for some little relaxation, some liberty to export her own products, and to import the products of other countries; their petition was flung out of the House with the utmost disdain, and by an immense majority. In April 1782, 70,000 Irish volunteers were under arms; the representatives of 170 armed corps met at Ulster, and the English parliament (the lords and commons both on the same day and with only one dissentient voice, the ministers moving the question) were compelled, in the most disgraceful and precipitate manner, to acknowlege the complete independence of the Irish nation, and nothing but the good sense and moderation of Grattan prevented the separation of the two crowns.
It is no part of my province to defend every error of the Catholic church I believe it has many errors, though I am sure these errors are grievously exaggerated and misrepresented. I should think it a vast accession to the happiness of mankind, if every Catholic in Europe were converted to the Protestant faith. The question is not, Whether there shall be Catholics, but the question (as they do exist, and you cannot get rid of them,) is, What are you to do with them? Are you to make men rebels, because you cannot make them Protestants? and are you to endanger your state, because you cannot enlarge your church? England is the ark of liberty: the English church I believe to be one of the best establishments in the world. But what is to become of England, of its church, its free institutions, and the beautiful political models it holds out to mankind, if Ireland should succeed in connecting itself with any other European power hostile to England? I join in the cry of No Popery, as lustily as any man in the streets, who
does not know whether the Pope lives in Cumberland or Westmoreland; but I know that it is impossible to keep down European popery and European tyranny, without the assistance or with the opposition of Ireland. If you give the Irish their privileges, the spirit of the nation will overcome the spirit of the church: they will cheerfully serve you against all enemies, and chant a Te Deum for your victories over all the Catholic armies of Europe. If it be true, as her enemies say, that the Roman Catholic church is waging war all over Europe, against common sense, against public liberty; selling the people to kings and nobles, and laboring for the few against the many: all this is an additional reason why I would fortify England and Protestantism by every concession to Ireland; why I should take care that our attention was not distracted, nor our strength wasted by internal dissension; why I would not paralyse those arms which wield the sword of justice among the nations of the world, and lift up the buckler of safety. If the Catholic religion in Ireland be an abuse, you must tolerate that abuse to prevent its extension and tyranny over the rest of Europe. If you will take a long view instead of a confined view, and look generally to the increase of human happiness, the best check on the increase of Popery, the best security for the establishment of the Protestant church is, that the British empire shall be preserved in a state of the greatest strength, union, and opulence. My cry then is, No Popery; therefore emancipate the Catholics, that they may not join with foreign Papists in time of war. Church for ever; therefore emancipate the Catholics, that they may not help to pull it down. King for ever; therefore emancipate the Catholics, that they may become his loyal subjects. Great Britain for ever; therefore emancipate the Catholics, that they may not put an end to its perpetuity. Our government is essentially Protestant; therefore, by emancipating the Catholics, give up a few circumstances which have nothing to do with the essence. The Catholics are disguised enemies; therefore, by emancipation, turn them into open friends. They have a double allegiance; therefore, by emancipation, make their allegiance to their King so grateful, that they will never confound it with the spiritual allegiance to their Pope. is very difficult for electors, who are much occupied by other matters, to choose the right path amid the rage and fury of faction: but I give you one mark, vote for a free altar; give what the law compels you to give to the establishment; (that done) no chains, no prisons, no bonfires for a man's faith, and, above all, no modern chains and prisons under the name of disqualifications and incapacities, which are only the cruelty and tyranny of a more civilized age; civil offices open to all, a Catholic or a Protestant alderman, a Moravian, or a church of England, or a Wesleyan justice; no
oppression, no tyranny in belief: a free altar, an open road to heaven; no human insolence, no human narrowness, hallowed by the name of God.
Every man in trade must have experienced the difficulty of getting in a bill from an unwilling paymaster. If you call in the morning, the gentleman is not up; if in the middle of the day, he is out; if in the evening, there is company. If you ask mildly, you are indifferent as to the time of payment; if you press, you are impertinent. No time and no manner can render such a message agreeable. So it is with the poor Catholics: their message is so disagreeable, that their time and manner can never be right. "Not this session. Not now: on no account at the present time; any other time than this. The great mass of the Catholics are so torpid on the subject, that the question is clearly confined to the ambition of the few; or the whole Catholic population is so leagued together, that the object is clearly to intimidate the mother country." In short, the Catholics want justice, and we do not mean to be just; and the most specious method of refusal is, to have it believed that they are refused from their own folly, and not from our fault.
What if O'Connel (a man certainly of extraordinary talents and eloquence) is sometimes violent and injudicious? What if O'Gorman or O'Sullivan have spoken ill of the Reformation? Is a great stroke of national policy to depend on such childish considerations as these? If these chains ought to remain, could I be induced to remove them by the chaste language and humble deportment of him who wears them? If they ought to be struck away, would I continue them, because my taste was offended by the coarse insolence of a goaded and injured captive? would I make that great measure to depend on the irritability of my own feelings, which ought to depend on policy and justice? The more violent and the more absurd the conduct of the Catholics, the greater the wisdom of emancipation. If they were always governed by men of consummate prudence and moderation, your injustice in refusing would be the same, but your danger would be less. The levity and irritability of the Irish character are pressing reasons why all just causes of provocation should be taken away, and those high passions enlisted in the service of the empire.
In talking of the spirit of the Papal empire, it is often argued that the will remains the same; that the Pontiff would, if he could, exercise the same influence in Europe; that the Catholic church would, if it could, tyrannize over the rights and opinions of mankind: but if the power be taken away, what signifies the will? If the Pope thunder in vain against the kingdoms of the earth, of what consequence is his disposition to thunder? If mankind are too enlightened and too humane to submit to the cruelties and
hatreds of a Catholic priesthood: if the Protestants of the empire are sufficiently strong to resist it, why are we to alarm ourselves with the barren volition, unseconded by the requisite power? I hardly know in what order or description of men I should choose to confide, if they could do as they would; the best security is, that the rest of the world will not let them do as they wish to do; and having satisfied myself of this, I am not very careful about the rest.
Our government is called essentially Protestant; but if it be essentially Protestant in the distribution of offices, it should be essentially Protestant in the imposition of taxes. The treasury is open to all religions, parliament only to one. The tax-gatherer is the most indulgent and liberal of human beings; he excludes no creed, imposes no articles; but counts Catholic cash, pockets Protestant paper; and is candidly and impartially oppressive to every description of the Christian world. Can any thing be more base, than when you want the blood or the money of Catholics to forget that they are Catholics, and to remember only that they are British subjects; and when they ask for the benefits of the British constitution, to remember only that they are Catholics, and to forget that they are British subjects?
No Popery was the cry of the great English Revolution, because the increase and prevalence of Popery in England would, at that period, have rendered this island tributary to France. The Irish Catholics were, at that period, broken to pieces by the severity and military execution of Cromwell, and by the penal laws. They are since become a great and formidable people. The same dread of foreign influence makes it now necessary that they should be restored to political rights. Must the friends of rational liberty join in a clamor against the Catholics now, because in a very different state of the world they excited that clamor a hundred years ago? I remember a house near Battersea-bridge which caught fire, and there was a general cry of "Water, water." Ten years after, the Thames rose, and the people of the house were nearly drowned. Would it not have been rather singular to have said to the inhabitants, "I heard you calling for water ten years ago, why dont you call for it now?"
There are some men who think the present times so incapable of forming any opinions, that they are always looking back to the wisdom of our ancestors. Now, as the Catholics sat in the English parliament to the reign of Charles II. and in the Irish parliament, I believe, till the reign of King William, the precedents are more in their favor than otherwise; and to replace them in parliament, seems rather to return to, than to deviate from, the practice of our ancestors.