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little embarrassed by the example of England, which he could not quite make up his mind either to follow or renounce.
The English Bill has put us under no small degree of difficulty. The circumstances of the two countries, with respect to Roman Catholics, are so different, that what may be extremely advisable in the one, may be just the reverse in the other; and, therefore, for us precisely to follow your Bill, would be to adopt a principle which in its consequences might be productive of the greatest mischief. Nevertheless, if we do not go so far, the Roman Catholics of Ireland will be highly discontented; and if we go further, we shall throw too much power into their hands.
That Lord Buckingham removed Mr. Hobart's objections as to the wisdom of conformity in legislating for the Roman Catholics in both countries, is indicated in a subsequent letter ; but that Mr. Hobart differed from his Lordship as to the prudence of maintaining a Government opposition between the two sects is no less apparent. Lord Buckingham's influence in moderating Mr. Hobart's opinions on other points is frankly admitted. Mr. Hobart gave up his objections to admitting the Catholics to the bar, or even to the army or navy, if England should think fit to set the example; but civil offices, or the elective franchise, he still considered highly dangerous.
My opinion, I speak with great deference, does not concur with yours, as to the little importance of supporting the Protestants against the Catholics; it is, in my mind, the link which binds the two countries: break that, and you endanger the connection. Every means should be exerted to prevent the struggle taking place; and, therefore, every indulgence that with any degree of safety can be given to the Roman Catholics, and more particularly at this time, ought to be extended to them. Notwithstanding a variety of objections, I cannot help thinking that the safest principle for the Parliament of Ireland to adopt, is, that of following England upon all questions relative to Roman Catholics; but it is of the utmost consequence, that the Government of England should accede to no measure upon that subject, without a due consideration of its effect in Ireland, and fairly weigh the benefits to be attained in the one country, against the disadvantages that may arise in the other.
The example of England, if adopted as a principle, may be extremely useful as a means of resisting inconvenient pretensions urged here; for, whether avowedly adopted or not, it will always be made use of by the Roman Catholics when they have anything to gain by it; and ultimately they must be successful upon that ground. I would therefore admit them to the bar ; and if England opens the army and navy to them, it should follow of course here; but admission to civil offices, or anything that led to voting for Members of Parliament, or sitting in either House, would, I conceive, be highly dangerous in this country; because I am a friend to the Protestant ascendancy, and that can be maintained only through the medium of a Protestant Parliament, aided by a profitable encouragement to those who profess that faith.
The times are growing so enlightened, or so depraved, that a man need not live very long, to have a chance of seeing all religious distinctions abolished; but so long as things remain in their present state, I am strongly impressed with the idea, that the connection between England and Ireland in a great degree depends upon the maintenance of the Protestant ascendancy. It is the principle which attaches the Parliament of Ireland to Great Britain; it is the security for the property of those whose influence gives them power in this country; it is the strength of English government in Ireland. If ever the Roman Catholics should acquire power enough to render the prospect of regaining their properties sufficiently promising for the attempt, they must begin by the destruction of English government. I do therefore consider it indispensably necessary to give every degree of influence to the Protestant interest; but that would be as a drop of water to the sea, unless that interest was supported by the power of England. But as I do not believe John Bull would much like to expend his money in a struggle between the Protestants and Roman Catholics of Ireland, merely on a crusade principle, I would not have him called upon in a case wherein the ground to be maintained was not similar to that which had been sanctioned by the British Parliament, and might therefore, in a certain degree, be considered as the cause of the empire.
You desire me to turn my thoughts to a permanent system. The only permanent, practicable system that I can discover, is, that there should at all times be a perfect understanding and concurrence between the Governments of the two countries upon this subject; that no step affecting the Catholics should be taken in England without a minute attention to Ireland; and that the people of that persuasion should be on the same footing in the two countries.
The entire passage may be accepted as an epitome of the principle on which Lord Westmoreland's Administration in Ireland was conducted; and this authentic exposition of it is invested with some claim to historical importance.
A letter from Lord Grenville in the beginning of the session refers to certain new arrangements which were in progress in the Cabinet, but which did not materially affect its constitution.
LORD GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM,
St. James's Square, Feb. 4th, 1791. MY DEAR BROTHER,
I should have written to you before on the subject of the arrangements, if I had been able to say anything satisfactory or decisive to you about them. But I think it right to mention to you the state of the business, in order that you may know exactly how it stands. An unexpected difficulty has arisen where we least looked for it, on the part of Lord Hawkesbury, who has declined exchanging the Duchy for the Mint, although he has been distinctly told that the Cabinet is to be given him with the latter, and not with the former. Whether he is playing any game in this we are unable to discover, but such is the answer which he has given, after having taken time to consider of it. This, as you see, at once stops the whole business in limine, unless some solution can be found for the difficulty; and I must confess I do not now see what solution there is for it. It was not till two days ago that this great man gave his answer, and therefore it is still, I think, by no means impossible that his stomach may come down when he sees Pitt determined to abide by this as a condition of the other, which there is indeed no temptation to grant him without it. On the whole it may be only a piece of magnificence, in order to give to his admission to the Cabinet the appearance of a favour done by him, instead of one received. But of all this you are as well able to judge as ourselves, and none of us have anything to go upon but conjecture. A few days may probably enable us to form a better judgment, and for that we must wait.
It is, I am sure, unnecessary for me to say how much this unexpected difficulty has hurt both Pitt and myself. I am racking my brains to find a remedy for it, and shall be truly happy if any such should occur either to you or to us.
The accounts of our dear Catherine are now such as I hope to put all idea of present danger out of the question ; but it has been a most alarming attack, and I fear is only the earnest of much suffering and frequent illness from the same cause, the existence of which seems now to be but too clearly ascertained.
Everybody in London has been ill. I have not escaped my usual cold, but am now getting well. I rejoice in the satisfactory account which the Bulkeleys give of you.
Ever, my dear brother,
They have suddenly stirred in Ireland a question about spirits, beer, &c., which they seem to understand no more of than I do, who have had no opportunity of learning anything about it. Lord W., in one of his private letters, mentions some plan of yours about hops, and I think I recollect something passing between us on the subject, but have no trace what it was. I have a clerkship vacant in my office : can it be made useful to any object of yours ?
You probably know also that Selwyn's death gives me the disposal of his office in Barbadoes, of between £400 and £500 per annum, but it can be held only by a resident. I feel myself bound, in the first instance, to offer to Nepean, who is killing himself by his labour here, to give it to any proper person who will vacate anything for it here. If that fails, you know I have no other idea of patronage than that of consulting your wishes, or serving our joint objects.
A little stray light is thrown upon this question of spirits and beer in Ireland by Mr. Hobart in a letter to Lord Buckingham. The great evil which demoralized the Irish, including, it appears, even the country gentlemen, was