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But the legislation of James was still more inju. rious than the sword of his predecessors. The planting of the barbarians in the defenceless provinces of the Roman Empire do not exhibit, in violence and rapine, a more horrible system than the colonization executed by the first of the Stuarts. The tremendous and desolating scenes of the Commonwealth succeeded. These, it would be patriotic, perhaps, to bury in oblivion, had not the British Chronicles rendered silence impossi. ble. Every thing that malice and bigotry could conceive, that craft or falsehood could invent, or that ignorance and national antipathy could be lieve, was attributed to the Irish name and nation, and repeated in all the drunkenness of success, and with all the cowardice of security. The sword of extermination had passed over the land, and the soldier sat down to banquet on the hereditary pos, sessions of the natives; but he added insult to his guilt, and meanness to his cruelty. As he obtained his power by violence, he endeavoured to defend it by fraud. Calumnies were invented, which the historian recorded, and the clergyman preached, The most improbable fabrications of the one were swelled and coloured by the zeal of the other ; and the stupid lies of the journalist were exage. rated, with a bitterness and force peculiar to the profession, by those who impiously called them. selves the Ministers of the Gospel, An aniver, sary and preachers were appointed to propagate those falschoods; and the Irish, under the penal.
ties of fine, incarceration, or still more terrible punishments, were prohibited from apology or reply.
In the mean time another revolution occurred, other murders, and other confiscations. The cap, tains of William were enriched by the pillage of the country, the flower of the Irish gentry were condemned to poverty and exile, and the wretched residue were trampled upon, like the grass of their fields. What William and the revolution parliament left undone was accomplished by the Irish parliament of Queen Anne, The memory of Draco has been calumniated, and the Helots of Sparta have been disgraced, by comparing the laws of the one, and the condition of the other, to the penal code and to the papists of Ireland. The system in the course of half a century brought destruction on the island, and had France been in 1780, what she was in 1800, I question whether England would be, in 1810, the mistress of the ocean.
It is unnecessary, gentlemen, to state the progress of the relaxation of the popery laws, or the ungracious reluctance with which that relaxation was wrung from the legislature. After a tardy interval of fifteen years, from the date of Mr. Gardiner's first bill until the year 1793, little was accomplished for the catholics, though much, it must be acknowledged, was done for Ireland. Seventeen years have elapsed since that latter period, in one of which the British connection was seriously me
naeed, while in another, to preserve that connec. tion, she sacrificed her independence. When the Irish legislature attributed the rebellion to your discontent, the English government offered you emancipation for your support. Hence a double and contradictory charge has been preferred against you, of kindling the insurrection, which was to consume all the ties by which this country is bound to England, and of precipitating a measure which promised to render the bonds of union indissoluble. These calumnies, if like the coefficients in an algebraic equation, they were not mutually destructive, are refuted by the testimony of experience and the decorum of your demeanour. Persevere, and, at no' distant period, your efforts must necessarily prove successful.
Six centuries and an half have elapsed since our connection with England. During that gloomy and calamitous interval, she has maintained, as I have said, relatively at least, a foremost rank among the nations of Europe. In peace, and in war, in civil discord, or amid the more implacable fury of religious zeal, England was the hope, or the terror, or the arbitress of contending states. Her colonies planted her name, her commerce declared her opulence, and her navy diffused her renown at the opposite extremities, if geographers will allow the phrase, of the habitable world. But that wealth, which should have inspired generosity, rendered her insolent; that power
which enabled her to combine justice with prudence, she converted into an engine of oppression. With a free constitution, or, if the epithet be disputed, with those equivalents" which, in the present civilized state of society and imperfect condition of man, must be received as a tantamount blessing, with the forms and language of freedom in her councils and among her people, she trampled, in her intercourse with our country, upon the dearest rights of mankind, and violated, in her public acts, and in her private intrigues, the first principles of national honor. Nor did she ever recant her doctrines with regard to Ireland, nor relax the iron dominion she had obtained, until the combined fleets of France and Spain rode in the British Channel, till the island was consigned to the defence of the Volunteers, and America had renounced her allegiance. IN HER DURESS she yielded the volatile image of a constitution, and the more substantial advantage of trade. Shocking as the idea may be, Ireland dates the commencement of her prosperity from the epoch of England's disgrace.
In 1793, England was again at the eve of a great crisis, she was about to plunge into a war, doubtful in its policy, indeterminable in its duration, and unpopular, at least in Ireland. But the Irish nation was to be won, although its parliament should be degraded. The repeal of 1793, instead of being an offering at the altar of justice, was a sacrifice to circumstances. Since this period, although every thing around them has changed,
there has been no change in the condition of the Catholics. England herself has incurred a most fearful alteration. From being the spring and soul of every confederacy; from having her gold in every province, and her emissary in every court; from having her trade in every harbour, and her influence almost in every house on the continent; she is obliged to withdraw within the verge of her own coasts, while her deadly enemy assumes the controul, if not the absolute command, of con federated Europe. ENGLAND IS AGAIN IN DURĖSS, and experience and Mr. Grattan have informed you, that DURÉSS alone is the season of her libe. rality.
Proceed then, gentlemen ; regard not the advice of your hollow friends, nor of such of your own body as may be connected with such friends. You are too powerful, too independent, too numerous to consign yourself to any party. You have never yet been served by one, although you have received repeated injuries by your connection, or at least experienced bitter mortifications. They may have been earnest in their devotion to your cause, but they never have had the ability to accomplish your deliverance. This, gentlemen, must be performed by yourselves. Your moral, mental, and physical power must find, in spite of lukewarmness, bigotry or resistance, its natural level. Every sign in the political horizon, every symptom of the times, foretels the rapid approach of your freedom, and almost ascertains the precise period of your success.