« ForrigeFortsæt »
thirsty, and naked, and sick, and in prison,” at the last gasp of existence, for want of the common necessaries of life, the man who three times administered relief, would be robbed of his entire estate, real and personal, as a reward for his charity !* Can the vocabulary of execration afford terms of reproach adequate to brand the turpitude of such a system, and of its vile authors ?
Throughout the whole habitable globe, even among the most barbarous of the human race, respect and reverence for parents have been universally inculcated, except in devoted Ireland. The fifth command of the decalogue explicitly orders,
“ Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” This is the first command with a promise of reward” for its observance; but no punishment is annexed to the violation. Deuteronomy, however, goes further, and pronounces a curse on those who even slight their parents :
“ Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or mother.” And Jesus Christ, the light of whose Gospel the
*“Any person that shall, from the first of May, knowingly conceal or entertain any such archbishop, bishops, &c. hereby required to depart out of this kingdom, or that after the said day shall come into this kingdom, shall, for the first offence, forfeit twenty pounds; for the second, double that sum; and if he offend the third time, shall forfeit all his lands and tenements of freehold or inheritance during his life; and also all his goods and chattels !!!!"592
592 Robins, 452.
ROB YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.
Irish legislators pretended to spread, renewed and enforced the command,
Honour thy father and thy mother."1593 But what was the dictate of the hideous code to prevent the growth of Popery?” Did it support or countenance the observance of this holy law of Moses and of Jesus Christ ? No: it said, in language fit for pirates and robbers, Forswear your religion, and then you have legal sanction to plunder your father and mother, and bring their gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.* In return for all their cares, their solicitudes, their pains, their affection, strip them of that property which ought to support your brothers and sisters. This was the unequivocal spirit of Irish legislation, on the subject of filial duty.
When any child or children of any Roman Catholic, other than the eldest son, whose case was provided for before, conformed to the Protestant religion, the father was obliged to give in, upon oath, to the court of chancery, a statement of the real and bona fide value of all his estate, real and personal; and make such provision for the pre
*“The eldest son, so conforming, immediately acquires, and in the life time of his father, the permanent part, what our law calls the reversion and inheritance of the estate, and he discharges it by retrospect; and annuls every sort of voluntary settlement made by the father ever so long before his conversion. This he may sell or dispose of immediately, and alienate it from the family for ever."
593 Matth. xix. 19.
594 Burke, V. 187.
sent and future maintenance of the conforming child or children, as the court might order. 595
Of this code of laws, it may be fairly averred, that, had all the penitentiaries in Europe been ransacked, to form a legislature for Ireland,—had Cartouche and his gang taken possession of the Parliament-house, they could not have devised a more rapacious or cruel system.
There is hardly a code in the world, that does not afford some instances of unjust and immoral laws, enacted in moments of delusion or faction. But this is the only one universally and undeviatingly profligate and depraved, of which every provision and paragraph violated some law of God or man, and the plainest dictates of eternal justice,—and which legalized robbery, and punished with death acts of humanity, teaching schools, the celebration of marriage, &c. &c.
The professed object of the hypocritical tyrants who framed this “ ferocious system," as Burke appropriately styles it, was to rescue the objects of its rapacity from the darkness of Popish idolatry. But they might worship Jupiter Ammon, Juno, Venus, Mars, Bacchus, and Apollo, with the Romans; the sun, with the Guebres; or Apis, with the Egyptians; they might even disbelieve in God altogether.* Provided they forswore transubstantiation and the Pope's authority, they became pure and immaculate; their property and persons
* See Burke's view of the subject, supra,
595 Robins, 459
THE MOTE AND THE BEAM.
were secure; and, under the forms and ceremonies of the law of the land, they then acquired a right to rob and plunder the blind idolatrous Papists whom they had abandoned.
Whoever has travelled through these pages, and duly considered the villany of those statutes, and of the legislators by whom they were enacted; the horrible scenes of oppression, fraud, and murder, which they could not fail to produce; the universal demoralization that must have followed their operation,-cannot fail to agree with Tillotson, that, so far as respected the devoted island whose fate we deplore, it were
“ Better there were no revealed religion, and that human nature were left to the conduct of its own principles and inclinations, which are much more mild and merciful, much more for the peace and happiness of human society, than to be actuated by a religion that inspires men with so vile a fury, and prompts them to commit such outrages.'596 Tillotson applied this strong position to other parts of Christendom; but shut his eyes to the wickedness, the profligacy, and the immorality of the code in force in his native country;*_S0 much easier is it to take the mote out of our neighbour's eye, than the beam out of our own.
We have now, however, in this enlightened country, bigoted clergymen, who cant, and whine, and turn up the whites of their eyes, deploring
* The English laws on this subject were as wicked and cruel as the Irish.
596 Tillotson, I11.19.
and reviling the persecuting spirit of Madrid, and Lisbon, and Paris, and Rome, and Goa; but, like Tillotson, deaf, and blind, and dumb, to the atrocious system of persecution for ages in operation in England and Ireland. If they attend to the maxim of Jesus Christ, “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone,” they will lay an eternal embargo on their tongues, upon this odious, this detestable subject. Sat verbum.
Here we close:-and ask the reader, to whatever nation, religion, party, or faction, he may belong, whether there ever existed a more horrible system of tyranny? And whether resistance to it, in any of its stages, whatever might have been the result, would not have deserved a nobler name than the odious one of Rebellion?
“ Rebellion! foul, dishonouring word,
Whose wrongful blight so oft has stain'd
Of mortal ever lost or gain'd.
Has sunk beneath that withering name,
Had wafted to eternal fame!