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ficicncy of good defigns and private virtues. Thq truth is, that the perlonal qualities of individuals are loft in the irretrievable difficulty of political fituation. In the actual <ircumftances of our conftitution, Ireland cannot, without exertions more than human, be effectually ferved by herreprefentatives. Our Parliament, like the late Court of France, is the center of a fyftem that goads and irritates the people, and which never can ceafe to draw down on Ireland a repetition of the difatters we have witneffed. That fyftem branches too widely to be counteracted by beneficent intentions, however prevalent, in any of its members. Partial agency, or temporary efforts are inadequate to correct the general mifcbief. It was not the fault of Lewis XVI. that his fubjects were withdrawn from their allegiance. It was not the confequence of acts of harlhnefs, proceeding from the monarch, or from thofe who cooperated with him in the duties of legillation. Although not fo actively benevolent, the intentions of Lewis XV. were not lefs upright than thofe of his fucceffor. The game laws, the collection of the revenue, the power of fubaltern men, the habitual contempt of the lower people, the defective conftitution of a noble cqft, widely diffufed through all the claries of life, and interfering with the pride and ambition, and with every other pretenfion of men, whofe birth was hot adorned by privileges,* all thefe concurring circumftances of irritation had acted long and fenfibly upon the people, and when the fyren voice of reform founded in their ears, they liflened to its promifes and were feduced.
* Where they were not thwarted, the rule of the French gentry was afTe&ioniie and gentle, but it was capricious and did iu( brook oppcfition.
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J can account for the perverfioa of the public mind- boiii in France and Ireland; but I do nof. •regard with lefs horror the outrages, to which jt led; nor would 1 lecoinrnend in either cafe lefs activity in repelling the licentioufnefs that arqfe from it. If he King of France had, on the firft appearance of infubordipation, employed, like the Br|tifti Monarch, his hitherto untainted force, he had acted well and wifely for humanity. But indeed, he would have been unpardonable, if he bad fat down after his victory, to that very conftitut\on, to which the refractory temper was, with juftice, to be attributed. To the good fortune of fubduing his mifguided fubjects, our Sovereign adds the nobler enterprife of reclaiming $he.m.f The riot of Paris, and that of London in >78o, ought to have been fuppreued by the fame jneafures; but the former fbould have given occafion to a ferious. train of reflections; which the latteri the moil groundless perhaps and .unprovoked Qf all popular rifings, did not in any reffpect call for. The caufes. that tend to produce diforders and commotions in the ftate, are matters for the confideration of the.ftatefman, not of the jnagiftrate. Let civil fociety at all hazards be preferved; but examine by what means civil fociety came to be thus imminently in peril. Neither the views of the leaders in this late confpiracy, nor the temper of thofe who took the field, could have anfwered the purpofe of improvement to this country. Their fuccefs, dearly purchafed by the miferies of war, waged at our own doors, and between the tendered connexions, could have only added to our other calamities, the dominion of a people, who in many countries have tafted of
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t This appears to be the objeft of Lord Cornwallis's million to Ireland, and the exa£t character of his government.
power, and in all abufcd it; or, if fortune favored the infurgents againft their ally and their enemy, their climax of victorious hope would be the anar,chy of an armed multitude. With them no terms were to be made; from them only defolation was to be expe&ed. What then ?—Means inadmiflible were employed. Is the improvement to be rejected, which is fafe and practicable?
I muft offer my protell againft another mifcbnftruction. Let not my objections to our mode of limiting the monarchy, be deemed an impeachment of the principle. We are not fo fituated, that it mould be neceflary to decide between a 'government of will and caprice, and the rule of law and courfe of fettled juftice.* Political, is the bulwark of civil liberty. I have learned as much as any other perfon to reverence that form of fociety, under which the lifter nation has rifen to unparalleled profperity. I. admire the fyftem through all its branches and inflitutions; but if in the entire mechanifm I were to felect that article, which appears moft effential to the perfection of the whole, I fhould point without hefitation to Parliament, and applaud the utility of that inftitution, which, revifing the
» * The gentleman, to whom this letter is addrefled, imputed
to my former publication, the confufion of civil with political liberty. 1 apprehend that I am not guilty of that error; but I confider the ftate itielf to exift merely for the good of the individuals who compofe it. Political liberty, or the privileges of he ftate, is confequently inferior to civil freedom, or the advanages of the individuals. The former-is the means, the latter is the end. The one is merely fublervient and auxiliary to the other. I adopt Mr. Hume's fentiments on this fubjecT-, " We are to look upon all the vaft apparatus of our Government, as having ultimately no other obje£t or purpofe but the diftribution of juftice; or in other words, the fupport of the twelve Judges. ■ Kings and parliaments, fleets and armies, Minifters, and Privy Counfellors, are all in their end fubfervient to the part ef Adminiftiation"—Eflay on Government.
exercife of authority, corrects its tendency to degenerate- My argument was directed againft the fuperfluous extenfion pf the piinciple of Parliamentary controut, and againft an unprofitable and delufive imitation of Britifh forms. When we pronounce this juft eulogium on the Britifh government, that it is calculated to provide for liberty,* and correfponds to its deftination, we draw the line with.accuracy, that difcriminates it from our own. I am not indifferent to political freedom, nor inattentive to the means by which it is to be procured, or to the value of the enjoyment; but I muft not therefore be expected to purfue my object through obftacles, to which a difference of circumftances has given rife, and which that difference renders infurmountable. Is he the enemy of liberty who fays of France, that it is not free, or of Athens that it was not happy f There are ew fhades of rinfinilitude between the conftituions of America -tnd France, but there is a difparity in the habits of life, and in the divifion of property; need I tell you how unlike is the agency of either government upon its fubjedls? The very inftitutions, under which Rome flourifhed at 'one period, after a change of manners, proved her weaknefs, and the caufe of her deftrucHon. The civil privileges enjoyed under the Britifh government are of nniverfal application; but the Britifh diftribution of powers is not adapted to
• A political writer of very and defervedly high reputation, has made an eulogium on the Englifh conftitution to which I fo fully accede, that I am willing to yield the argument, if the defcription can be made to apply to the gorem^ ment of Ireland. "The Britifh Government is the only one in the annals of mankind, whirh has aimed at diffufiiig liberty through a multitude of people, fpread ever a wide extent of territory."—Profeflbr Millar's View of the F.nglifh Government.
many countries; and ftill contemplating the ab-. fence of thole leading interefts, which are .deftined in that fyftem, to be the protection of the people, I muftclafs Ireland among tne exceptions. Neither Wale3 nor Scotland appear to me to afford proper materials for a mixed monarchy, but both nations enjoy that advantage, engrafted on the capability of England, Ireland Hands, at leaft as mucfci as the latter, in need of this afliftance, You do. not aft in thefpiiit of enlightened attachment, but in a ridiculous and pedantic bigotry, when you chain yourfelf down to the forms of Britxfh liberty. You ougtn to propofe for your objecT the focial happind's, that thefe forms confer; and you ftiould purfue it by whatever means it is mqft eafily attainable. The praflice, as we have before obferved, is wofully at variance with theARebry of bur government. When it is attempted to reconcile them by merely internal regulations, difficulties occur, which are not to be approached without the imminent hazard of anaichy; whilft neither the Hate is endangered, nor are .its material inftitutions, by incorporating the Iegiflative councils of the empire; and by that meafure the powers and influences would be cleared away, which arfe£t the people unfavourably.* .Let me add, that this cir'cumftance of diftinSt and independent authorities in the fame ftate, is anomalous in hiftory. All other governments have fended to uni-r ty in legiflation.
But this inaptitude of Britilh inftitutions to the Irilh ftate, palfes generally unnoticed in our political
* I mean diftinct'y to aflert this propofition, that an Union with Great Britain is calculated to produce the beneficial confequences of a reform in Parliament, without throwing into the democracy of the country a weight or power, which the experience of the age convinces us, is not to be exercifed without abufe, or conferred without indifcretion.