Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

invincible dike against that inundation. This you have a thousand mattocks and pickaxes lifted up to demolish. You make a sad story of the Pope. 0 seri studiorum! It will not be difficult to get many called Catholics to laugh at this fundamental part of their religion. Never doubt it. You have succeeded in part, and you may succeed completely. But in the present state of men's minds and affairs, do not flatter yourselves that they will piously look to the head of our Church in the place of that Pope whom you make them forswear, and out of all reverence to whom you bully and rail and buffoon them. Perhaps you may succeed in the same manner with all the other tenets of doctrine and usages of discipline amongst the Catholics ; but what security have you, that, in the temper and on the principles on which they have made this change, they will stop at the exact sticking-places you have marked in your articles? You have no security for anything, but that they will become what are called Franco-Jacobins, and reject the whole together. No converts now will be made in a considerable number from one of our sects to the other upon a really religious principle. Controversy moves in another direction.

Next to religion, property is the great point of Jacobin attack. Here many of the debaters in your majority, and their writers, have given the Jacobins all the assistance their hearts can wish. When the Catholics desire places and seats, you tell them that this is only a pretext, (though Protestants might suppose it just possible for men to like good places and snug boroughs for their own merits,) but that their real view is, to strip Protestants of their property To my certain knowledge, till those Jacobin

lectures were opened in the House of Commons, they never dreamt of any such thing; but now the great professors may stimulate them to inquire (on the new principles) into the foundation of that property, and of all property. If you treat men as robbers, why, robbers, sooner or later, they will become.

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

Indeed, my dear Sir, there is not a single particular in the Francis-Street declamations, which has not, to your and to my certain knowledge, been taught by the jealous ascendants, sometimes by doctrine, sometimes by example, always by provocation. Re member the whole of 1781 and 1782, in Parliament and out of Parliament; at this very day, and in the worst acts and designs, observe the tenor of the ob jections with which the College-Green orators of the ascendency reproach the Catholics. You have observed, no doubt, how much they rely on the affair of Jackson. Is it not pleasant to hear Catholics reproached for a supposed connection with whom?

- with Protestant clergymen! with Protestant gentlemen! with Mr. Jackson! with Mr. Rowan, &c., &c.! But egomet mi ignosco. Conspiracies and treasons are privileged pleasures, not to be profaned by the impure and unhallowed touch of Papists. Indeed, all this will do, perhaps, well enough, with detachments of dismounted cavalry and fencibles from England. But let us not say to Catholics, by way of argument, that they are to be kept in a degraded state, because some of them are no better than many of us Protestants. The thing I most disliked in some of their speeches (those, I mean, of the Catholics) was what is called the spirit of liberality, so much and so diligently taught by the ascendants, by which they are made to abandon their own particular interests, and to merge them in the general discontents of the country. It gave me no pleasure to hear of the dissolution of the committee. There were in it a majority, to my knowledge, of very sober, well-intentioned men; and there were none in it but such who, if not continually goaded and irritated, might be made useful to the tranquillity of the country. It is right always to have a few of every description, through whom you may quietly operate on the many, both for the interests of the description, and for the general interest.

Excuse me, my dear friend, if I have a little tried your patience. You have brought this trouble on yourself, by your thinking of a man forgot, and who has no objection to be forgot, by the world. These things we discussed together four or five and thirty

1

years ago. We were then, and at bottom ever since,
of the same opinion on the justice and policy of the
whole and of every part of the penal system. You
and I, and everybody, must now and then ply and
bend to the occasion, and take what can be got. But
very sure I am, that, whilst there remains in the law
any principle whatever which can furnish to certain
politicians an excuse for raising an opinion of their
own importance, as necessary to keep their fellow-
subjects in order, the obnoxious people will be fretted,
harassed, insulted, provoked to discontent and disor-
der, and practically excluded from the partial advan-
tages from which the letter of the law does not ex-
clude them.
Adieu ! my dear Sir,
And believe me very truly yours,

EDMUND BURKE.

BEACONSFIELD, May 26, 1795.

[blocks in formation]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »