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but doubtlefs, the ftate of Ireland, nifties upon your mind as itdoes on mine, and forms a flriking illuftration. The perfons moft diftinguilhed, by political, and almoft by perfonal difinclination to that material branch of the people, the Catholics, are to be found among the parliamentary interefts; tbofe who endeavour principally to make Popery a bugbear, are men in office under corporations, and fubordinately under government. I have no idea that any particular difapprobation of religious tenets enters into this hoftility. The term of divifion is convenient; but if any other equally anfwered the defign, it would equally be made ufe of. You may talk, and I am fure you believe it, of advances to conciliate. The minifters of the Crown perceived the wretched policy under which this country languished, and they procured laws to be enacted favourable to the Catholics. * Many liberal and enlightened Proteftants did cordially adopt the change. But, of that party, all thofe who by the coarfenefs of their habits, or of their underftardiog, may be faid to conflitute the vulgar, obferved with great fpleen the advancement of men to the order of fellow citizens, whom they had been accuftomed to regard as fubordinate; and their jealoufy was countenanced by a large portion of the powerful. The novelty of their fituation, the warmth of controverfy, but above all the unneighbourly temper that broke out, whilft the repeal of the popery laws was agitated, did betray
* In 1778 the firft relaxation of the Popery laws took place, and lb much was the merit of this meafure to be attributed to the royal interpofition, that when in the beginning of the feflion, a bill, far lefs extenfive, was propofed, it was contemptuoufly rejected. On the firft attempt the Hdufe was left to itfelf.
many of the Catholics into political indifcferion.f On the whole, what you confider advances to conciliate, were accompanied by circum(lances which appear to me to have rather repelled each people fromtheother. The texture that legiflation attempted to weave, mariners unravelled as affiduoufly. There are families in Ireland, who,having a died for generations upon this crooked policy of diiunion, have at length loft the clue to their conduct, and candidly conceive that whilft inflamed by paffion they purfue their interell, they are cultivating a fober and judicious principle. Tradition, educa|ion, intercourfe have contributed, fo entirely to work into the frame of their minds, the anti-popular prepoffeflion, that in the modern manifeftations of zeal for Proteftantifm, as a political not a religious defignation, there is infinitely lefs of predetermination than of chara&er.
To a body thus conftitutedj the crown muft under our prefent forms refort, in order to carry on the government without obftruttion; and its confent muft be procured by the terms I have fpeci
f I-allude here to a'fts of alienation, not from the ftate, but from the individuals in authority. As to the rebel lion,I conceive the remote operation of the popery laws to have conduced to it, by throwing too much power into the hands of private gentlemen, by preventing the diffufion of property, and fo creating a lawlefs character in the common people; but certainly it had nothing in if of political pretentions of the one party againft the other. If the rebellion had not been flipprefled, there is no doubt it muft have proved fatal to religion in general. The people here, precifely as in France, were fanaticifed by Deifts. If they had proceeded much farther, they would have been induced, as they were in France, to leave their Paftors in a minority of timid devotees and women, and the former pretenfions of that clergy to popularity, would h ive occafioned to them a very bitter perfecutinn. I lay with confidence rhat the fentiments I here expiefs, were, pending and previous to the late commotions, entertained by the heads of the Catholic clergy in this kingdom. fed. Now can you for an inftant argue that this is a fujtable organ for the management of the molt divided people on the earth, and of the moft jarling mterefts? Ttfelf a principal in the difpute, itfelf the foul and prime mover of the conflict. Let the Crown be relieved from this neceffity, encouragement and protection will be difpenfed according to the feelings and intereft of the Sovereign; that is, in other words, they will be difpenfed indifcriminately; for the fituation of a Prince places him above the views and quarrels which pafs from private into public life; he cannot be fenfible to any other divifion of his people, than of thofe who are, or who are not refractory to his government; thofe who make his dominions flourifh, or thofe whonegleft them. Here are my premifes: Ireland ftands eminently in need_ of an impartial Adminiftration ;«NriM|Whpr predif-» pofed to difunion and unfocial humours, by religious difference, it requires a vigorous, a fteady, and an even-handed government to reftrain or counteract the unhappy propenlity. Can you deny my conclufion, that it is not fo confonant to the welfare of the country, to be governed by perfons, who are themfelves engaged in the diitracting factions, as by a power that nature and fituation render indifferent, and which in addition, ; prefents an equal affurance for our civil liberties? If with you, I attributed to accident, any part of the temper which we all deplore, I fhould be difpofed with you to expect the remedy from time and patience. The hiftory of Europe for a few years back, that rich harvclt of experience, has inftructed me not to admire the fhort cut to political improvement. But it is here I beg leave particularly to remind you, that the fourceof our country's mibfortunes leems to lie deeper than you conclude from your examination-.—They muft
be traced to influences and interefts, arifing from the organization of our conftUution, and which contain a renovating principle of difcord, calculated to endure to the utmoft term of its. exiibjnee; where there is partiality in the exercife, or.diflnbution of power, he who is called on to obey, w,ilL to the end of time perform his.duty'with, reluctance. Where there is even the appearance or. fufpiclon of partiality, the fubjecl: will not be cordial. I do not accule our parliamentary leaders of any conduct: that is rare, extraordinary, or unprecedented. Power is grateful, and few. who have a fituation to preferve, are philofophically fcrupulous in employing the means, which are mod eafy and effectual for their puipofe. The foible.is of human nature, and for that very reafon to human nature I would apply myfelf, and endeavour.to ^CounteraAflj^egeral infirmity, by principles of equally extenfive operation. The heads of the nation are fubjected to certain influences and interefls; let the mifguiding motives he removed, and the conduct of thofe whom they affect will receive a new direction, and through the land new fprings of adtion w ill be generally communicated. This is not a narrow or a palliative policy, but broad and fundamental, fuch as the exigency demands ; and in analogy to the means, by which, when the heart is found, you feek to reclaim your friend, to rectifythe faults of habit, and the errors either of his < ducation or his judgment. Reform the Irifh Houfe of Commons, and you have a democracy; the confequence is unavoidable, if the alteration be on any very capacious fcale; and if it benot, the oligarchy is merely fhifted into other hands, without any acceffion to the popular jnterelt from the transfer. Repeal the diftiuguifhihg laws; good ; but you cannot by your act of Parliament reach the fpirit of diftin&ion. The tenden
cy to difunion will fubfift, with all the irritating circumftances that accompany that temper, fo long as thefe interefts are preferved, which give to perfons of the very firft influence in the land, a powerful inducement to encourage it. And they never will want a pretence; for whilft the lower people are wretched, they will be turbulent; and the name of a common religion will furnilh the ground of jealous accufation againft the Catholics of more improved condition. Interested men will circulate the charge, and felfilhnefs and credulity will combine to fupply believers. Political parties will attach themfelves as it may fuit their purpofe, either to the fide of thofe who are unwilling to acknowledge a fuperior, or of thefe, who, with lefs appearance of propriety, refufe to admit an equal. It may be very defireable for party leaders to place themfelves at the head of the Catholics, but that body can never, to any material extent, be more than the footftool of factions; a fituation I lhould apprehend, neither enviable nor advantageous, and from which, he is their friend, who defires to refcue them: they are moft generally dependant, are moft expofed to the abufe of power", and ftand moft in need of protection. What, although amidft fcrambles for authority, fome of that body might get within the precincts of the oligarchy. Catholic, or peafant, of by whatever name you pleafe to call them, the people would not, therefore, be exonerated from the heavy hand of power. Perhaps you will tell me that this propenlity to divifion, is the inherent vice of free conftitutions. True it is fo; we are not therefore to encreafe the caufes of difference, in number and malignity. Without this inconvenience, we can have the fecure enjoyment of civil liberty, under the fan&ion and fuperintendance of a popular aflembly, with the advantage of reprefentation, in my opinion, to an adequate extent j