Page images
PDF
EPUB

Parliaments; that, although it was impolitic, England had a right to put down the woollen manufacture in Ireland; that it was all nonsense to say woollen manufactures would spring up in the Bog of Allen; that Ireland would have had no woollen manufactures whether the obnoxious law had passed or not; that the Parliament of England was greatly incensed with Molyneux for stating the Case of Ireland so ably and so boldly, and that, had he not escaped by death, he would have been impeached for his presumption. There is, I am constrained to say, a singular want of generosity towards Ireland in the sentiments expressed by this eminent Whig writer; at the same time, the conclusion Macaulay arrived at upon the whole matter was sound, and is the moral of my discourse, namely, that to conduct the affairs of an empire with two independent Parliaments, would be impossible; and that one or other of two alternatives must be the result of the attempt-incorporation or separation. I am grateful, as an Irishman, to the successor of Shakespeare, the Wizard of the North-Sir Walter Scott--for his generous, kindly reflections on our history and our wrongs. His writings will be the delight of every nation, and of every age. I resent the tone and spirit of Lord Macaulay towards Ireland in his bewitching book, while I am obliged to adopt, or to yield to his logical conclusions.

In our remembrances of the eminent men of our Church who adorned the annals of literature, and lived when Boulter ruled, we ought not to forget the poet Parnell, a friend of Swift, and of Pope, and of all the wits of his age member of the Scribblers' Club, mentioned in the memoirs of the literary men of fame, and whose life has been written by Dr. Johnson and by Goldsmith. He was an admirable scholar, is believed to have helped Pope largely in his poetical translation of Homer, while he wrote the life of the

a

great poet prefixed to the translation, or, as it was called by some, the poem of Pope. Archbishop King was friendly to the native who possessed genius, and appointed Parnell to the vicarage of Finglas : in possession of that preferment, he died of a rare disease-grief for the loss of a beautiful and intellectual wife. The name of Parnell is, in our day, connected with a devotion to works of Christian charity, as well deserving the respect of good men as his poetic fame. It is also honourably distinguished in our political and parliamentary history.

Learning has ever been cultivated by the Clergy of our Church, and it ever ought; it is not incompatible with zeal and piety, but sheds a lustre on both : and when we close the volumes which contain the labours of King, of Parnell, of Berkeley, of Swift, we may, with a just pride, also recollect their virtues, their patriotism, their benevolence. When, in later times, Magee wrote his fine work on the Atonement, he strengthened belief and confirmed faith, which a thousand conceited essays cannot disturb. When Archdeacon Russell collected the poetical remains of Wolfe, he did an act of pious friendship, while he showed that within the breast of a laborious, ill-paid curate of our Church, may lurk the genius

When two English scholars published, in Cambridge, the masterly writings of Archer Butler, now gone to his rest (I speak only of the dead), they performed their gracious task in order to preserve and diffuse amongst Englishmen the knowledge of the labours of an Irish Churchman, who cultivated letters while he expounded the principles of our faith, with power of reasoning and splendour of eloquence rarely displayed. Surely the talents bestowed by the Creator cannot be directed to a nobler purpose than in instructing his creatures, increasing the spiritual treasures of the Church - in expounding God's

of a poet.

Word, and proclaiming his praise : and surely the Churchman, as well as the Parliament man, may love his country, and be a patriot.

We pause in our review of the parliamentary life of Ireland. You will examine carefully and closely the laws, the policy, the principles of government, which prevailed at this critical period of our history. You will see clearly in what fashion the affairs of Ireland were then administered—to what condition she was reduced under the fostering care of an Irish Parliament. You will perceive how England's sagacious Minister preferred the shallow advice of the narrow-minded Primate Boulter, to the wise and patriotic counsels of Swift. The consequences were tremendous.

I agree with Burke, that no writer has assigned higher motives or sounder reasons for patriotic conduct, than Swift has done in his Sermon on “Doing Good to our Fellow-men.”

I have read the sermon more than once, and it is none the worse that it was preached by a patriot. There never was a country in which the doctrine laid down by Swift was more necessary to be taught than in Ireland. If it was essential for your forefathers to hear it then, it is highly expedient for their descendants to hear it now.

What was the text ? — "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men” (Galatians vi. 10.) What was the discourse? Listen

6 This love of the public or of the commonwealth, or love of our country, was in ancient times properly known by the name of virtue, because it was the greatest of all virtues, and was supposed to contain all virtues in it: and many great examples of this virtue are left us on record scarcely to be believed or even conceived in such a base, corrupted, wicked age as this we live in. In those times it was common for men to sacrifice their lives for the good of their country, although they had neither hope nor belief of future rewards ; whereas in our days, very few make the least scruple of sacrificing a whole nation, as well as their own souls, for a little present gain, which often hath been known to end in their own ruin in this world, as it certainly must in that to come. Have we not seen men, for the sake of some petty employment, give up the very natural rights and liberties of their country and of mankind, in the ruin of which themselves must at last be involved. Are not these corruptions gotten among the meanest of our people, who, for a piece of money, will give their votes at a venture for the disposal of their own lives and fortunes, without considering whether it be to those who are most likely to betray or to defend them. But here I would not be misunderstood. By the love of our country—I do not mean loyalty to our king; for that is a duty of another nature : a man may be loyal in the common sense of the word, without one grain of public good at his heart. Witness this very kingdom we live in. I verily believe that since the beginning of the world, no nation upon earth ever showed (all circumstances considered) such high constant marks of loyalty in all their actions and behaviour as we have done ; and at the same time, no people appeared more utterly void of what is called public spirit. I am certainly persuaded that all your misfortunes arise froin no other original cause than that general disregard among us of the public welfare. Solomon tells us of a poor who saved a city by his counsel. It hath often happened that a private soldier, by some unexpected brave attempt, hath been instrumental in obtaining a great victory. How many obscure men have been authors of very useful inventions whereof the world now reaps the benefits. Whoever is blessed with a true public spirit, God will certainly put it into his way to make use of that blessing, for the ends it was given

wise man,

him, by some means or other; and therefore it hath been observed in most ages, that the greatest actions for the benefit of the commonwealth have been performed by the wisdom or courage, the contrivance or industry of particular men, and not of numbers; and that the safety of a kingdom hath often been owing to those hands from whence it was least expected.”

The moral of this discourse is plain. The expression of loyalty might be loud and insincere, or its existence might be real and lasting, and yet be unaccompanied by that public spirit essential to the preservation of freedom, which is, in fact, loyalty to our country, and as much the duty of the good Christian as loyalty to the throne.

The theory of Swift was worthy of a true patriot, that in the combination of loyalty to the sovereign with the unshaken love of country, lay the safety alike of the people and the throne. I agree with Swift, and bless his memory for the policy he has proclaimed—the principle he asserted. They maintain the tranquillity of a state in vindicating the liberty of the people.

Be therefore prompt in your duty to your country; and when you wish to know how best to discharge that duty, recal the maxims of Berkeley—the sermon of Swift. Keep alive within your breasts that public spirit from which all great actions spring. Let it not be shown in silly speeches, or vapid declamation, but in thought, in action, in conduct throughout the business of your lives. Without public spirit, you are a nation of walking dead men. Make head against difficulty—struggle to overcome evil with good-never deride the misfortunes of your country—but strive to remedy or relieve them. Be sincere in all things; and when you speak, speak like freemen. No country is worth living in where the men of that country only look to self, and the selfish interests of the fleeting hour; no country was ever permanently great and prosperous without public spirit in her sons.

« PreviousContinue »