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matter is absurd and ridiculous; and while ever the idea of mutual marriages, inheritances, purchases and privileges subsist, can never be carried into execution with common sense or common justice.
I do not know how gentlemen of Ireland reconcile such an idea to their own liberties, or to the natural use and enjoyment of their estates. If any of their children should be left in a minority, and a guardian should think, as many do, it matters not whether properly or no) that his Ward had better be educated in a School or University here, than in Ireland, is he sure, that he can justify the bringing a Tax of ten per-cent. perhaps twenty, on his pupil's estate, by giving what, in his opinion, is the best education in general, or the best for that pupil's particular character and circumstances? Can he justify his sending him to travel, a necessary part of the higher style of education, and, notwithstanding what some narrow writers have said, of great benefit to all countries, but very particularly so to Ireland? Suppose a guardian, under the authority or pretence of such a Tax of police, had prevented our dear friend, Lord Charlemont, from going abroad, would he have lost no satisfaction ? Would his friends have lost nothing in the companion? Would his country have lost nothing in: the cultivated taste, with which he has adorned it in so many ways ? His natural elegance of mind would undoubtedly do a great deal; but I will ven
ture to assert, without the danger of being contradicted, that he adorns his present residence in Ireland much the more for having resided a long time out of it. Will Mr. Flood himself think he ought to have been driven by Taxes into Ireland, whilst he prepared himself, by an English education, to understand and to defend the rights of the subject in Ireland, or to support the dignity of Government there, according as his opinions, or the situation of things, may lead him to take either part, upon respectable principles? I hope it is not forgot, that an Irish Act of Parliament sends its youth to England for the study of the Law, and compels a residence in the Inns of Court here for some years. Will you send out with one breath, and recall with another? This Act plainly provides for that intercourse, which supposes the strictest union in laws and policy, in both which the intended Tax supposes an entire separation.
It would be endless to go into all the inconveniences this Tax will lead to, in the conduct of private life, and the use of property. How many infirm people are obliged to change their climate, whose life depends upon that change? How many families straitened in their circumstances are there, who from the shame, sometimes from the utter impossibility otherwise of retrenching, are obliged to remove from their country, in order to preserve their estates in their families. You begin, then, 10 burthen these people precisely at the time, when their circumstances of health and fortune render them rather objects of relief and commiseration.
I know very well, that a great proportion of the money
subordinate country will flow towards the metropolis. This is unavoidable. Other inconveniences too will result to particular parts : -and why? Why, because they are particular parts ; each a member of a greater, and not an whole within itself. But those members are to consider; whether these inconveniences are not fully balanced, perhaps more than balanced, by the united strength of a great and compact body. I am sensible too of a difficulty, that will be started against the application of some of the principles, which I reason upon, to the case of Ireland. It will be said, that Ireland, in many particulars, is not bound to consider itself as a part of the British body; because this country, in many instances, is mistaken enough to treat you as foreigners, and draws away your money by Absentees, without suffering you to enjoy your natural advantages in trade and commerce. No man living loves restrictive regulations of any kind less than myself; at best,. nine times in ten, they are little better than laborious and vexatious follies. Often, as in your case, they are great oppressions, as well as great“ absurdities. But still an injury is not always a reason for retaliation; nor is the folly of others, with regard to us, a reason for imitating it, with regard to them. Before we attempt to retort, we
ought to consider, whether we may not injure our. selves even more than our adversary; since in the contest, who shall go the greatest length in absurdity, the victor is generally the greatest sufferer. Besides, when there is an unfortunate emulation in restraints and oppressions, the question of strength is of the highest importance. It little becomes the feeble to be unjust. Justice is the shield of the weak; and when they choose to lay this down, and fight naked in the contest of mere power, the event will be what must be expected from such imprudence.
I ought to beg your pardon for running into this length. You want no arguments to convince
you on this subject; and you want no resources of matter to convince others. I ought too to ask pardon for having delayed my answer so long; but I received your letter on Tuesday, in town, and I was obliged to come to the country on business. From the country I write at present; but this day I shall go to town again. I shall see Lord Rockingham, who has spared neither time nor trouble in making a vigorous opposition to this inconsiderate measure. I hope to be able to send
which will give you information of the steps he has taken. He has pursued this business with the foresight, diligence, and good sense, with which he generally resists unconstitutional attempts of Government. A life of disinterestedness, generosity, and publick
spirit, spirit, are his titles to have it believed, that the effect, which the Tax
his private property, is not the sole nor the principal motive to his exertions. I know he is of opinion, that the opposition in Ireland ought to be carried on with that spirit, as if no aid was expected from this country; and here, as if nothing would be done in Ireland-many things have been lost by not acting in this manner.
I am told that you are not likely to be alone in the generous stand you are to make against this unnatural monster of Court popularity. It is said, Mr. Hussey, who is so very considerable at present, and who is every thing in expectation, will give you his assistance. I rejoice to see (that very rare spectacle) a good mind, a great genius, and publick activity, united together, and united so early in life. By not running into every popular humour, he may depend upon it the popularity of his character will wear the better.
Non ponebat enim rumores ante salutem;
Ergo postque magisque viri nune gloria claret. Adieu, my dear Sir. Give my best respects to Lady Bingham; and believe me, with great truth and esteem,
Your most obedient Beaconsfield, and most humble Servant, 30th October, 1773.
Edm. Burke. To Sir Cha. Bingham.