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I trust it will not be taken amiss, if, as an Inhabitant and Freeholder of this County (one indeed among the most inconsiderable), I assert my right of dissenting (as I do dissent fully and directly) from any resolution whatsoever on the subject of an alteration in the Representation and Election of the Kingdom at this time. By preserving this right, and exercising it with temper and moderation, I trust I cannot offend the Noble Proposer, for whom nó man professes, or feels, more respect and regard than I do. A want of concurrence in every thing, which can be proposed, will in no sort weaken the energy, or distract the efforts, of men of upright intentions upon those points, in which they are agreed. Assemblies, that are met, and with a resolution to be all of a mind, are assemblies, that can have no opinion at all of their own.
The first proposer of any measure must be their master. I do not know that an amicable variety of sentiment, conducted with mutual good will, has any sort of resemblance to discord; or that it can give any advantage whatsoever to the enemies of our common cause. On the contrary, a forced and fictitious agreement (which every universal agreement must be) is not becoming the cause of freedom. If, however, any
evil should arise from it (which I contess I do not é foresee), I am happy that those, who have brought
forward new and arduous matter, when very great doubts, and some diversity of opinion, must be
foreknown, are of authority and weight enough to stand against the consequences.
I humbly lay these my sentiinents before the County. They are not taken up to serve any interests of my own, or to be subservient to the interests of any man or set of men under heaven. I could wish to be able to attend our Meeting, or that I had time to reason this matter more fully by Letter; but I am detained here upon our business -What you have already put upon us is as much as we can do. If we are prevented from going through it with any effect, I fear it will be in part owing not more to the resistance of the enemies of our cause, than to our imposing on ourselves such tasks as no human faculties, employed as we are, can be equal to. Our worthy Members have shown distinguished ability and zeal in support of our Petition. I ain just going down to a Bill brought in to frustrate a capital part of your desires. The Minister is preparing to transfer the cognizance of the publick accounts from those, whom you and the Constitution have chosen to control them, to unknown persons, creatures of his own. For so much he annihilates Parliament.
I have the honour, &c. Charles-street,
EDMUND BURKE. 12th April, 1780.
RELATIVE TO THE
LAWS AGAINST POPERY IN IRELAND.
Fragments of a Tract on the Popery Laws.
PROPOS E, first, to make an Introduction, in
order to show the propriety of a closer inspec; tion into the affairs of Ireland ; and this takes up the first Chapter; which is to be spent in this introductory matter, and in stating the Popery Laws in general as one leading cause of the imbecility of the Country
* The condition of the Roman Catholicks in Ireland appears to have engaged the attention of Mr. Burke at a very early period of his political life. It was probably soon after the year 1765 that he formed the plan of a work upon that subject, the fragments of which are now given to the Publick. No title is prefixed to it in the original manuscript; and the Plan, which it has been thought proper to insert' here, was evidently designed' merely for the convenience of the Author. Of the Y.3.
Ch. II. states particularly the Laws themselves, in a plain and popular manner.
Ch. III. begins the Remarks upon them, under the heads of, ist. The Object, which is a numerous people. 2dly. Their means, a restraint on Property. 3dly. Their instruments of execution, corrupted morals; which affect the national prosperity.
Ch. IV. The impolicy of those Laws as they affect the national security.
first Chapter some unconnected fragments only, too imperfect for publication, have been found. Of the second there is a considerable portion, perhaps nearly the whole; but the Copy, from which it is printed, is evidently a first rough draught. The third Chapter, as far as it goes, is taken from a fair corrected Copy; but the end of the second part of the first head is left unfinisbed; and the discussion of the second and third heads was either never entered upon, or the Manuscript containing it has unfortunately been lost. What follows the third Chapter appears to have been designed for the beginning of the fourth, and is evidently the first rough draught; and to this we have added a fragment, which appears to have been a part either of this or the first Chapter.
In the Volume, with which it is intended to close this posthumous publication of Mr. Burke's Works, we shall have occasion to enter into a more particular account of the part, which he took in the discussion of this great political question. At present it may suffice to say, that the Letter to Mr. Smith, the second Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe, and the Letter to his Son, which here follow in order the Fragment on the Popery Laws, are the only writings upon this subject found amongst his papers in a state fit to appear in this stage of the Publication.
What remain are some small fragments of the Tract, and a few Letters coutaining no new matter of importance.
Ch. V. Reasons, by which the Laws are supported, and answers to them.
In order to lay this matter with full satisfaction before the reader, I shall collect into one point of view, and state, as shortly and as clearly as I am able, the purport of these Laws, according to the objects, which they affect, without making at present any further observation upon them but just what shall be necessary to render the drift and intention of the Legislature, and the tendency and operation of the Laws, the more distinct and evident.
I shall begin with those, which relate to the possession and inheritance of landed property in Popish hands. The first operation of those Acts upon this object was wholly to change the course of descent by the common Law; to take away the right of primogeniture; and, in lieu thereof, to substitute and establish a new species of Statute, Gavelkind. By this Law, on the death of a Papist possessed of an estate in fee simple, or in fee tail, the land is to be divided by equal portions between all the male children; and those portions are likewise to be parcelled out, share and share alike, amongst the descendants of each son, and so to proceed in a similar distribution ad infinitun. From this regulation, it was proposed that some