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· Well, thus we are bound up; though every sentient being in Great Britain and Ireland cursed the compact and all its articles, they must, • to the last syllable of recorded time,' be bound together by this contract between two metaphysical enti. ties. But be it si:-No one proposes to infringe upon this con. tract, or to dissolve it. As we must leave the laily, even of the favoured religion, out of the question, let us look to the manner in which the Protestant ecclesiastical establishment may be destroyed. There are but two ways, we think, in which this can be done-by a deliberate act of the Legislature, or by a rebellion of the Catholics, and a separation from England; for, if the body of Ireland were once lost, that'ethereal essence,' of which Me Webber speaks in so sublime a strain, would be lost with it. Now, by the emancipation of the Catholics, we contend, that the danger of the destruction of Protestantism by an act of the Legislature is not increased, and its danger of destruction by rebellion is infinitely diminished.
If the Catholics are admitted into Parliament in the greatest proportion which their numbers and importance will warrant, they must still form a small minority. If they entertain designs hostile to the Protestant establishment, they will immediately be discovered;-as it is quite impossible tbat they should at the same time keep themselves concealed, and be busy in making proselytes. If they do take measures, therefore, to increase their own consequence, they will be looked on with the same jealousy with which all other innovators are regarded;—they will be shut out from the share they would otherwise have in the employments and honours of the State :-and all this for what? That their clergy inight be more rich and more idle; that the religious offices might be more negligently administered ; and that the interests of Catholicism, as a sect, might be in the main injured. They would have to carry on this Bellum Episcopale without any prospect of success; and, after the forfeiture of their political hopes, would be as far from the attainment of their religious end as ever. The continuance of such a contest does not seem much to be apprehended from the known principles of human nature. All men could not be alike under the domination of the priests; and those would be least subject to this domination who would be best qualified to advance a political cause. In proportion as they become men of the world in proportion to the variety of their knowledge, and to the earnestness with which they enter into political pursuits—they must get rid of something of the bigot. What reason have we to expect, that, when the Catholics of Ireland shall be put on the same footing with ihe Catholics of other countries, they will be less
susceptible to the influence of education, and the practical lessons of toleration to be derived from an intercourse with other sects? Though at present persons of all opinions, except the Catholics, are admitted into the House of Commons, there can be no assembly of men in which the difference of religious opinions is more rarely discoverable in the words or actions of its members. So far, therefore, from a possibility of success, a proposal for a transfer of the ecclesiastical property of Ireland would scarcely obtain a thought as a Parliamentary measure. That 50 cannot be equal to 500, is a position to which few persons can be blind, in a question affecting their own interests and reputation.
There remains the alternative of rebellion and separation from Great Britain. Let us see how far the probability of such an occurrence would be increased or diminished by the admission of the Catholics to the privileges which they claim. At present, the Catholics of wealth and consequence possess all the means of influencing the people which any Aristocracy can possess. It is in the space between this Aristocracy and the Government, that the chain of connexion is broken. They have this additional claim to respect, this peculiar source of power over the other members of their religion, that they have suffered, and continue to suffer, privations in a common cause. As they have so much power of doing mischief, it is proposed to give them an additional motive not to turn this power against the interests of the State. They may be told, indeed, that they have already sufficient protection for their persons and property. If man had only to fatten himself like an ox in a stallif he had no desire of fame, or power, or action--no emulation nor envy the argument might have weight. But let us see how it stands, as human nature is actually constituted. The Catholics have protection in the enjoyment of their property, however considerable; therefore they should be contented, without any share of the political power. Such is the argument of the advocates of exclusion. The Catholics have protection for their persons and property, therefore they are not contented without a share of political power ;—such is the way in which the nature of man answers that argument. It is precisely because they are not harassed and plundered, that other wants and desires spring up in their minds, and that these wants lead to dangerous aspirations and endeavours. The question, we must recollect, is not between the Protestants and the Catholics as to the meaning of words, but is a question discussed by the Protestants among themselves, as to the security of their empire. If we could exenterate the Catholics-deprive them of passions and preju
dices, and stuff them, as Burke expressed it, like birds in a museum, with paltry sheets of blurred paper, with Mr Peel's speeches, and Dr Duigenan's pamphlets, and Bishop Fowler's charges--we might have the matter quietly settled by nice distinctions between the right to protection and the right to power. But as we cannot do this, these questions of right are fri. volous. The question we must solve is,---whether the Catholic gentleman will for ever Jabour to make those, over whom he has any influence, well affected to a government that excludes him from the means of honour and power, to which his Protestant neighbour is admitted ;-whether he will shed his blood freely to prevent a separation, by which alone he can hope to enjoy advantages to which he at least must imagine he has a just title? The admission of the Catholies of Ireland into the Parliament of the United Kingdom, would not only sooth the feelings of the whole body, but it would afford a security against rebellion worth all the oaths of allegiance and ecclesiastical arrangements. During the American contest, when the hope of subduing the colonies by force began to fail, it was proposed, by Adam Smith, to offer the privilege of returning a cer. tain number of representatives to the British Parliament to each of the States which would detach itself from the Confederacy. By this expedient, he observed, a new method of acquiring . importance-a new and more dazzling object of ambition. would be presented to the leading men of each colony. In
stead of piddling for the little prizes which are to be found in
what may be called the paltry raffle of colony faction, they • might then hope, from the presumption which men naturally 6 have in their own ability and good fortune, to draw some of • the great prizes which sometimes come from the wheel of the
great state lottery of British politics.' + There might have been some difficulty in the application to the case of America; but the principle is inexpugnable. Men, in politics, as in all other games of chance, like to play for high stakes; and, when they have once adventured for these, cannot reduce themselves to play for small ones. If the men of wealth and talents among the Irish Catholics, with the more numerous class of those who think they have talent, and expect to have wealth, were once permitted to have a fair chance of obtaining a share in the power of the British empire, besides the disinclination which all men have to hazard their lives and properties in violent revolutions, they would be reluctant to narrow the sphere of their importance. When they once had taken part in directing or mos
difying the exertions of a great united empire in four quarters of the world, it appears to us inost unlikely that they should ever give up this distinction, for the chance of establishing a second-rate power, and a more exclusive domination over their bogs or dairy land.
Could they on this fair mountain leave to feed,' to gratify the natural predilection of the hierarchy for tithes and manors, they would soon become identified with British feelings, and incorporated in British parties ;--the power which they possess, in comparison with that of the priests, would, in the ordinary progress of society, become daily more considerable, and would soon outweigh that of the disaffected ecclesiastics. By the measure of emancipation too, it must be remembered that the Government is not precluded from any future arrangement by which the Catholic clergy may be prevailed on to give up a portion of their independence for pecuniary advantages. The opponents of the Catholic claims have remarked, that it is proposed, in all the measures which have been suggested, to bestow advantages on the laity or aristocracy, and to demand concessions from the clergy; and they predict, from this circumstance, that these measures will not be satisfactory. Thera is some appearance of reason in this remark; butif, as we have attempted to show, the emancipation of the Catholics be, even without any of the proposed securities, likely to render the empire more tranquil and less vulnerable, a concordat with the Code iholic clergy may be well reserved for discussion hereafter,
When the power of a disaffected clergy to render the people disaffected is spoken of, it must be recollected, that, in the present state of the Catholics of Ireland, there is a reciprocal action of this sort. Dr Stock, who was Protestant Bishop of Killala when the French landed there in 1798, and who, from his constant residence in the country, had the best opportunity of making himself acquainted with the character of the people, in his Narrative of what passed on that trying occasion, (p. 91), attributes the disaffection of the priests to the necessity which they felt of following the inclination of their flocks. Volun• tary contribution,' he observes, the main resource of the - priest, must depend upon his popularity. Live with me, and • live as I do. Oppress me not with superior learning or re* finement. Take thankfully what I choose to give you, and * earn it by compliance with my political creed and conduct,
Such, when translated, is the language of the Irish cottager to his priest.' Mr Wakefield, in his account of Galway, obseryes, that if the priests, in their sermons, exhort their parisk
ioners to be loyal and obedient subjects, they are suspected of being in the pay of Government. +
Mr Peel begs the House of Commons to reflect how difficult it is to predict the consequences of much less important alterations than those proposed. He desires every man who is yet undecided, to weigh the substantial blessings which he knows to • have been derived from the Government that is, against all • the speculative advantages which is promised from the Go• vernment that is to be.' This commonplace is rarely misapplied; for, according to the very statements of those who have opposed emancipation that of Mr Foster, for instance is it not just as difficult to predict the consequences of the present system, if it be persevered in ? Is it not more difficult to imagine that they should prove otherwise than fatal? Yet the substantial blessings of the present system should make us hesitate to change it !- What, in the name of heaven, are these boasted blessings? In any country of Europe, is life and property more insecure than in Ireland ? Is there any country in which so large a class feels itself degraded, and in which the favoured class stands in such fear of those above whom it is elevated? To prevent such a state of things—to prevent robbery and murder, and heartburnings and terror-is deemed the principal end of government. Yet Mr Peel trembles to expose Irejand to a change. We recollect a speech ascribed to this gentleman not long ago by the Parliamentary Reports. It seems he gave a description of the state of Ireland. He affirmed that committees of assassination sat in judgment on obnoxious indi. viduals. He related an instance of the execution of this sentence. A magistrate—according to Mr Peel a benevolent and respectable magistrate-was shot by a band of ruffians at a place through which he had to pass, and which was previously marked out as the scene of the death ; and as the guns were fired, and the victim fell, numbers of people who had assembled on the tops of houses or turf stacks to witness the event, shouted in approbation. Can it be conceived, that people who could applaud such a crime as this, do not feel themselves degraded, and imagine that the law was made for a favoured caste, and not for them?
Mr Wakefield, in the work above mentioned, says— Some • persons assert that the Catholics are not degraded ; but the • circumstances which might be produced to prove the contrary, • are too striking and too numerous to admit of any doubt,