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of a Primate Boulter. Had there been a few in the Irish Parliament possessed of the originality, energy, honesty, and capacity of Swift, the management of political affairs, and the true interests of the country, would have speedily been improved, instead of being shamefully neglected. Swift created a public opinion ; Swift inspired hope, courage, and a spirit of justifiable resistance in the people ; Swift taught Irishmen they had a country to love, to raise, and to cherish. No man who recals the affectionate respect paid by his countrymen to Swift while he lived—to his
when dead—can impute political ingratitude to be amongst the vices of the Irish people.
I have spoken of Primate Boulter and his hatred of Swift. Our survey of the state of Ireland, political and parliamentary, at this period, would be incomplete without noticing the chief person, for several years, in the local government of Ireland. Two volumes have been published, entitled “Letters written by his Excellency, Hugh Boulter, Lord Primate of all Ireland;" and in the preface it is stated “that these letters are, and in all probability will ever remain, the most authentic history of Ireland for that space of time in which they were written.”
The polite Chesterfield laid down a maxim, that it was surprising with how little wisdom a nation could be governed. It may be more surprising to find that a kingdom can be governed without any wisdom whatever. Primate Boulter, as the confidential agent of Walpole, ruled Ireland, not in the spirit of a statesman, but in the spirit of a jobber, and of the worst description, an ecclesiastical jobber. His candid letters
prove he had a narrow, illiberal mind, little learning, less piety, no generosity, no love for the country he ruled and abused, and no admiration for the genius of her most distinguished sons. He passed his time, not in study or contemplation, but in watching the faces of his brethren on the episcopal bench. If he heard a cough from the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. King, he immediately informed the Secretary of State in London of the important fact, adding—“There may be occasion for speedily thinking of a successor for him. If it please God to remove him, your Excellency shall have my thoughts by the first opportunity.” And what were these precious thoughts? Why, that no native should be allowed to fill the place! "My Lord Chancellor and I have been computing that if some person be not now brought over from England to the Bench, there will be thirteen Irish to nine English bishops here, which we think will be a dangerous situation.”
Again :- -“ We think it of great consequence that it should be given to an Englishman. I am sorry the Lord Lieutenant should insist so much for one who is as dangerous an Irishman as any on the Bench.”
His Grace of Dublin does not die: another despatch to the Archbishop of Canterbury. " His Grace of Dublin has been very ill, but seems now to have got over the present shock. I wish his place may be well filled, whenever it pleases God to remove him.”
Again :-"I must acquaint your Lordship that the Bishop of Elphin is an enterprising man, and I do not doubt, if promoted, he would soon set himself at the head of the Irish interest here." The same base policy is repeated over and over again (usque ad nauseam), from the beginning to the end of the book. No disquisition on fitness, on the piety of the candidate, on learning or eloquence, on the true interests of the Church, or of the Christian religion. The only idea expressed is—“If he drops, I request his place may be supplied from England, to strengthen the English interest here. It is absolutely necessary that the place should be bestowed on a native of England.” As of the Church, so of the law. The Chief Justice Whitshed drops-Primate Boulter pronounces a panegyric on his friend-hints he was cut down by a storm of malice; i.e., Swift's prosecution-hopes his place, and the place of Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, may be filled from England. This he relies on as a main point to be established, and also that every other vacancy in the same post should be so supplied from England. The Primate does not conceal his aversion for Swift, and for Archbishop King, a native. When the Primate touches on the Irish Parliament and its powers, we are edified:
“ It is possible some discontented people may endeavour to bring the affair into Parliament, and make some reflecting votes on the Council here, which, by our constitution, has a power to check the proceedings of both Lords and Commons. I think they will not be able to carry any vote on that point ; but if they do, I am sure the only check here on their heat at any time will be taken away, except his Majesty is pleased to support the Council.”
The Primate again shows up the Irish Parliament:
“I am afraid the weight and power of the Privy Council is not sufficiently understood in England, which makes me beg leave to acquaint your Grace, that the approving or rejecting of the magistrates of all the considerable towns in this kingdom is in the Council here; and that as the correcting or rejecting of any bills from either House of Parliament is in them, if they are increased much more, the Privy Council of England may have more trouble from a Session of Parliament here than they have at present. I can assure your Grace, the English interest was much stronger at the Board four years ago than it is now. I must, at the least, beg the favour that no addition be made to the Council here, till
my Lord Chancellor and I are acquainted who are designed to be added, and have time to give our sentiments about them; though it will be less invidious to make no addition at all.”
It is no less painful than humiliating to the Irish inquirer into the Parliamentary constitution of his country, to read the above-mentioned letter so soon after the glorious Revolution. Let it be recollected we are informed in the preface these letters contain the true history of Ireland for the period they cover. Boulter's view of the importance of Ireland and its affairs to Englishmen and the rest of mankind, may be gathered from a sentence in a letter to the Bishop of London :
“ Your Lordship is in the busy scene of life, and I in a kingdom where little happens worth communicating to any abroad: and I must own as nothing but a disturbance can make room for affairs of consequence passing here, I most heartily wish we may still continue of as little concern to others as we are at present.” This
may shock our national pride, but we must bear it. In wading through these instructive epistles, I came upon a reference to the appointment of Berkeley to the bishopric of Cloyne. “As to a successor to the bishoprick of Cloyne, my Lord Lieutenant looks upon it as settled in England that Dean Berkeley is to be made Bishop here on the first occasion. I have therefore nothing to say on that head, but that I wish the Dean's promotion may answer the expectation of his friends in England.” I collect from the above passage that the appointment of Berkeley was effected against the Primate's wishes, Berkeley being a native, and that it was managed in England.
Who was Berkeley, whose illustrious name I am thus compelled to mention in conjunction with Boulter? The acutest of thinkers—to be classed amongst the profoundest of philosophers-amongst the best of men. The additions Berkeley made to the stock of human knowledge were brilliant and important. His learning, fancy, and taste have been confessed by all; and the critics said he was well qualified to promote the re-union of philosophy and of the fine arts, so essential to both. Berkeley was admired by every man of genius in England; he was the intimate friend of Steele, of Addison, of Swift. By Pope he was beloved : he, I fear a sceptic, gave "to Berkeley every virtue under heaven." Adam Smith pronounced the “ new theory of vision” to be one of the finest examples of philosophic analysis that is to be found in our own or any other language. There cannot be a doubt that Burke stored his mind with the ideas of Berkeley, and enriched his thoughts with the fine philosophy of our distinguished countryman.
But it is not with his renown as a philosophical discoverer, that I am now so much concerned, as with his political writings.
Berkeley held the same theory of government with Swift, and, like him, laboured to raise and civilize the country of his birth. Hear the words of the Christian patriot :
“Public spirit, that glorious principle of all that is great and good, is so far from being cherished or encouraged, that it is become ridiculous in this enlightened age, which is taught to laugh at everything that is serious as well as sacred.”
On the eve of any session of Parliament, those words might be addressed to every member of the Senate :
“Concord and union among ourselves is rather to be hoped for as an effect of public spirit than proposed as a means to promote it. Candid, generous men, who are true lovers of their country, can never be enemies to one half of their countrymen, or carry their resentments so far as to ruin the public for the sake of a party. Now I have fallen upon the mention of our parties. I shall beg leave to insert a remark or two,