Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

ifestly beneficial to both kingdoms, has been defeated.

Your mistake with regard to me lies in supposing that I did not, when his removal was in agitation, strongly and personally represent to several of his Majesty's ministers, to whom I could have the most ready access, the true state of Ireland, and the mischiefs which sooner or later must arise from subjecting the mass of the people to the capricious and interested domination of an exceeding small faction and its dependencies.

That representation was made the last time, or very nearly the last time, that I have ever had the honor of seeing those ministers. I am so far from having any credit with them, on this, or any other public matters, that I have reason to be certain, if it were known that any person in office in Ireland, from the highest to the lowest, were influenced by my opinions, and disposed to act upon them, such an one would be instantly turned out of his employment. You have formed, to my person a flattering, yet in truth a very erroneous opinion, of my power with those who direct the public measures. I never have been directly or indirectly consulted about anything that is done. The judgment of the eminent and able persons who conduct public affairs is undoubtedly superior to mine; but self-partiality induces almost every man to defer something to his own. Nothing is more notorious than that I have the misfortune of thinking that no one capital measure relative to political arrangements, and still less that a new military plan for the defence of either kingdom in this arduous war, has been taken upon any other principle than such as must conduct us to inevitable ruin.

In the state of my mind, so discordant with the tone of ministers, and still more discordant with the tone of opposition, you may judge what degree of weight I am likely to have with either of the parties who divide this kingdom, - even though I were en. dowed with strength of body, or were possessed of any active situation in the government, which might give success to my endeavors. But the fact is, since the day of my unspeakable calamity, except in the attentions of a very few old and compassionate friends, I am totally out of all social intercourse. My health has gone down very rapidly; and I have been brought hither with very faint hopes of life, and enfeebled to such a degree as those who had known me some time ago could scarcely think credible. Since I came hither, my sufferings have been greatly aggravated, and my little strength still further reduced; so that, though I am told the symptoms of my disorder begin to carry a more favorable aspect, I pass the far larger part of the twenty-four hours, indeed almost the whole, either in my bed or lying upon the couch from which I dictate this. Had you been apprised of this circumstance, you could not have expected anything, as you seem to do, from my active exertions. I could do nothing, if I was still stronger, not even si meus adforet Hector.

There is no hope for the body of the people of Ireland, as long as those who are in power with you shall make it the great object of their policy to propagate an opinion on this side of the water that the mass of their countrymen are not to be trusted by their government, and that the only hold which England has upon Ireland consists in preserving a certain very small number of gentlemen in full posses

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

sior of a monopoly of that kingdom. This system has disgusted many others besides Catholics and Dissenters.

As to those who on your side are in the opposition to government, they are composed of persons several of whom I love and revere. They have been irritated by a treatment too much for the ordinary patience of mankind to bear into the adoption of schemes which, however argumentatively specious, would go practically to the inevitable ruin of the kingdom. The opposition always connects the emancipation of the Catholics with these schemes of reformation : indeed, it makes the former only a member of the lat ter project. The gentlemen who enforce that opposition are, in my opinion, playing the game of their adversaries with all their might; and there is no third party in Ireland (iror in England neither) to separate things that are in themselves so distinct,-I mean the admitting people to the benefits of the Constitution, and a change in the form of the Constitution itself.

As every one knows that a great part of the constitution of the Irish House of Commons was formed about the year 1614 expressly for bringing that House into a state of dependence, and that the new representative was at that time seated and installed by force and violence, nothing can be more impolitic than for those who wish the House to stand on its present basis (as, for one, I most sincerely do) to make it appear to have kept too much the principle of its first institution, and to continue to be as little a virtual as it is an actual representative of the commons. It is the degeneracy of such an institution, 80 vicious in its principle, that is to be wished for. If

men have the real benefit of a sympathetic representation, none but those who are heated and intoxicated with theory will look for any other. This sort of rep resentation, my dear Sir, must wholly depend, not on the force with which it is upheld, but upon the prudence of those who have influence upon it. Indeed, without some such prudence in the use of authority, I do not know, at least in the present time, how any power can long continue.

If it be true that both parties are carrying things to extremities in different ways, the object which you and I have in common, that is to say, the union and concord of our country on the basis of the actual representation, without risking those evils which any change in the form of our legislature must inevitably bring on, can never be obtained. On the part of the Catholics (that is to say, of the body of the people of the kingdom) it is a terrible alternative, either to submit to the yoke of declared and insulting enemies, or to seek a remedy in plunging themselves into the horrors and crimes of that Jacobinism which unfortunately is not disagreeable to the principles and inclinations of, I am afraid, the majority of what we call the Protestants of Ireland. The Protestant part of that kingdom is represented by the government itself to be, by whole counties, in nothing less than open rebellion. I am sure that it is everywhere teeming with dangerous conspiracy.

I believe it will be found, that, though the principles of the Catholics, and the incessant endeavors of their clergy, have kept them from being generally infected with the systems of this time, yet, whenever their situation brings them nearer into contact with the Jacobin Protestants, they are more or less infected with their doctrines.

It is a matter for melancholy reflection, but I am fully convinced, that many persons in Ireland would be glad that the Catholics should become more and more infected with the Jacobin madness, in order to furnish new arguments for fortifying them in their monopoly. On any other ground it is impossible to account for the late language of your men in power. If statesmen, (let me suppose for argument,) upon the most solid political principles, conceive themselves obliged to resist the wishes of the far more numerous, and, as things stand, not the worse part of the community, one would think they would naturally put their refusal as much as possible upon temporary grounds, and that they would act towards them in the most conciliatory manner, and would talk to them in the most gentle and soothing language: for refusal, in itself, is not a very gracious thing; and, unfortunately, men are very quickly irritated out of their principles. Nothing is more discouraging to the loyalty of any description of men than to represent to them that their humiliation and subjection make a principal part in the fundamental and invariable policy which regards the conjunction of these two kingdoms. This is not the way to give them a warm interest in that conjunction.

My poor opinion is, that the closest connection between Great Britain and Ireland is essential to the well-being, I had almost said, to the very being, of the two kingdoms. For that purpose I humbly conceive that the whole of the superior, and what I should call imperial politics, ought to have its residence here; and that Ireland, locally, civilly, and commercially independent, ought politically to look up to Great Britain in all matters of peace or of

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »