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war, — in all those points to be guided by her, and, in a word, with her to live and to die. At bottom, Ireland has no other choice, -I mean, no other rational choice.
I think, indeed, that Great Britain would be ruined by the separation of Ireland; but as there are degrees even in ruin, it would fall the most heavily on Ireland. By such a separation Ireland would be the most completely undone country in the world, - the most wretched, the most distracted, and, in the end, the most desolate part of the habitable globe. Little do many people in Ireland consider how much of its prosperity has been owing to, and still depends upon, its intimate connection with this kingdom. But, more sensible of this great truth than perhaps any other man, I have never conceived, or can conceive, that the connection is strengthened by making the major part of the inhabitants of your country believe that their ease, and their satisfaction, and their equalization with the rest of their fellow-subjects of Ireland are things adverse to the principles of that connection, or that their subjection to a small monopolizing junto, composed of one of the smallest of their own internal factions, is the very condition upon which the harmony of the two kingdoms essentially depends. I was sorry to hear that this principle, or something not unlike it, was publicly and fully avowed by persons of great rank and authority in the House of Lords in Ireland.
As to a participation on the part of the Catholics in the privileges and capacities which are withheld, without meaning wholly to depreciate their importance, if I had the honor of being an Irish Catholic, I should be content to expect satisfaction upon that
subject with patience, until the minds of my adversaries, few, but powerful, were come to a proper temper: because, if the Catholics did enjoy, without fraud, chicane, or partiality, some fair portion of those advantages which the law, even as now the law is, leaves open to them, and if the rod were not shaken over them at every turn, their present condition would be tolerable; as compared with their former condition, it would be happy. But the most favorable laws can do very little towards the happiness of a people, when the disposition of the ruling power is adverse to them. Men do not live upon blotted paper. The favorable or the hostile mind of the ruling power is of far more importance to mankind, for good or evil, than the black-letter of any statute. Late acts of Parliament, whilst they fixed at least a temporary bar to the hopes and progress of the larger description of the nation, opened to them certain subordinate objects of equality ; but it is impossible that the people should imagine that any fair measure of advantage is intended to them, when they hear the laws by which they were admitted to this limited qualification publicly reprobated as excessive and inconsiderate. They must think that there is a hankering after the old penal and persecuting code. Their alarm must be great, when that declaration is made by a person in very high and important office in the House of Commons, and as the very first specimen and auspice of a new government.
All this is very unfortunate. I have the honor of an old acquaintance, and entertain, in common with you, a very high esteem for the few English persons who are concerned in the government of Ireland; but I am not ignorant of the relation these transitory
ministers bear to the more settled Irish part of your
Great disorders have long prevailed in Ireland. It
If anything could astonish one at this time, it is the war that the rulers in Ireland think it proper to carry on against the person whom they call the Pope, and against all his adherents, whenever they think they have the power of manifesting their hostility. Without in the least derogating from the talents of your theological politicians, or from the military abilities of your commanders (who act on the same principles) in Ireland, and without derogating from the zeal of either, it appears to me that the Protestant Directory of Paris, as statesmen, and the Protestant hero, Buonaparte, as a general, have done more to
destroy the said Pope and all his adherents, in all their capacities, than the junto in Ireland have ever been able to effect. You must submit your fasces to theirs, and at best be contented to follow with songs of gratulation, or invectives, according to your humor, the triumphal car of those great conquerors. Had that true Protestant, Hoche, with an army not infected with the slightest tincture of Popery, made good his landing in Ireland, he would have saved you from a great deal of the trouble which is taken to keep under a description of your fellow-citizens obnoxious to you from their religion. It would not have a month's existence, supposing his success. This is the alliance which, under the appearance of hostility, we act as if we wished to promote. All is well, provided we are safe from Popery.
It was not necessary for you, my dear Sir, to explain yourself to me (in justification of your good wishes to your fellow-citizens) concerning your total alienation from the principles of the Catholics. I am more concerned in what we agree than in what we differ. You know the impossibility of our forming any judgment upon the opinions, religious, moral, or political, of those who in the largest sense are called Protestants, - at least, as these opinions and tenets form a qualification for holding any civil, judicial, military, or even ecclesiastical situation. I have no doubt of the orthodox opinion of many, both of the clergy and laity, professing the established religion in Ireland, and of many even amongst the Dissenters, relative to the great points of the Christian faith: but that orthodoxy concerns them only as individuals. As a qualification for employment, we all know that in Ireland it is not necessary that they should profess any
religion at all: so that the war that we make is upon certain theological tenets, about which scholastic disputes are carried on æquo Marte, by controvertists, on their side, as able and as learned, and perhaps as well-intentioned, as those are who fight the battle on the other part. To them I would leave those controversies. I would turn my mind to what is more within its competence, and has been more my study, (though, for a man of the world, I have thought of those things,)- I mean, the moral, civil, and political good of the countries we belong to, and in which God has appointed your station and mine. Let every man be as pious as he pleases, and in the way that he pleases; but it is agreeable neither to piety nor to policy to give exclusively all manner of civil privileges and advantages to a negative religion, (such is the Protestant without a certain creed,) and at the same time to deny those privileges to men whom we know to agree to an iota in every one positive doctrine which all of us who profess the religion authoritatively taught in England hold ourselves, according to our faculties, bound to believe. The Catholics of Ireland (as I have said) have the whole of our positive religion : our difference is only a negation of certain tenets of theirs. If we strip ourselves of that part of Catholicism, we abjure Christianity. If we drive them from that holding, without engaging them in some other positive religion, (which you know by our qualifying laws we do not,) what do we better than to hold out to them terrors on the one side, and bounties on the other, in favor of that which, for anything we know to the contrary, may be pure atheism?
You are well aware, that, when a man renounces