Page images
PDF
EPUB

for the service both of Whig and Tory, without entering into their respective merits. First, it is impossible for either party to ruin the other, without involving themselves and their posterity in the same ruin. Secondly, it is very

feasible for either party to get the better of the other, if they could first get better of themselves; and instead of indulging the little womanish passions of obstinacy, resentment, and revenge, steadily promote the true interest of their country, in those great clear points of piety, industry, sobriety of manners, and an honest regard for posterity, which, all men of sense agree, are essential to public happiness. There would be something so great and good in this conduct, as must necessarily overbear all calumny and opposition. But that men should act reasonably, is rather to be wished than hoped. Before I leave this subject, I cannot but take notice of that most infamous practice of bribery, than which nothing can be more opposite to public spirit, since every one who takes a bribe plainly owns that he prefers his private interest to that of his country. This corruption has become a national crime, having infected the lowest as well as the highest amongst us, and is so general and notorious, that as it cannot be matched in former ages, so it is to be hoped it will not be imitated by posterity.”

We have then a sketch-how fine !-of a nation like ours, ruined by corruption.

“ Whether it be in the order of things, that civil states should have, like natural products, their several periods of growth, perfection, and decay; or whether it be an effect, as seems more probable, of human folly, that as industry produces wealth, so wealth should produce vice, and vice ruin. God grant the time be not near, when men shall

say: « This Island was once inhabited by a religious, brave, sincere people, of plain uncorrupt manners, respecting inbred worth

66

rather than titles and appearances; assertors of liberty, lovers of their country, jealous of their own rights, and unwilling to infringe on the rights of others; improvers of learning and useful arts, enemies to usury, tender of other men's lives, and prodigal of their own; inferior in nothing to the eld Greeks or Romans, and superior to each of those people in the perfections of the other. Such were our ancestors during their rise and greatness; but they degenerated; grew servile flatterers of men in power; adopted epicurean notions; became venal, corrupt, imperious; which drew upon them the hatred of God and man, and occasioned their final ruin.”” His remedy for the evils he lamented was a restoration of public spirit.” May these words be engraven on our hearts.

We give a few brief specimens of the maxims of Berkeley

“A patriot will admit that there may be honest men, and more, that honest men may differ."

“ He that always blames or always praises is no patriot.”

66 Whether it is not the true interest of both nations to become one people ? and whether either be sufficiently apprised of this ?”

Suppose the bulk of our inhabitants had shoes to their feet, clothes to their backs, and beef in their bellies, might not such a state be eligible for the public, even though the squires were condemned to drink ale and cider ?”

“Whether there be upon the earth any Christian or civilised people so beggarly, wretched, or destitute, as the common Irish ?”

“Whether, nevertheless, there is any other people whose wants may be more easily supplied from home ?”

" What should hinder us from exerting ourselves, using our hands and brains, doing something or other, man, woman, and child, like the other inhabitants of God's earth ?”

“Whether, in imitation of the Jesuits at Paris, who admit Protestants to study in their colleges, it may not be right for us also to admit Roman Catholics into our College, without obliging them to attend chapel duties, or catechisms, or divinity lectures ? and whether this might not keep money in the kingdom, and prevent the prejudices of a foreign education ?”

“ Whether a wise state hath any interest nearer heart than the education of youth ?"

I have referred to the writings of Berkeley, not to praise his philosophy, but to exhibit, as a great example to the youth of our country, his system of politics, his patriotism, his active benevolence, his public spirit. The contrast is striking between Berkeley and Boulter. The one will be remembered while the language lasts: the other, who held the highest offices in the state, will be forgotten in the charity of oblivion, or remembered to be despised. Berkeley adorned the Church of Christ—fulfilled his divine mission; and while he did his work faithfully at home, he comprehended the world in his Christian sympathy and unbounded charity.

The portrait of this native scholar adorns the Examinationhall of your venerable University. The nobleness of his nature shines in his divine countenance: nor is the portrait the less interesting, that it was drawn by the hand of his wife.

We ought not to forget that we also possessed at this time another prelate—King, Archbishop of Dublin, who was an ornament of the Church, and an honour to his country. Like Swift, whose friend he was

like Berkeley, he was national and patriotic, and therefore was hated by Primate Boulter, whose narrow understanding conceived, that whoever wished well to Ireland wished ill to England. Archbishop King had been twice confined in the Tower by order of James II. ;-upon the retreat of James from the Boyne, King was appointed Bishop of Derry by our deliverer.

After he became a bishop, he published “The State of the Protestants of Ireland under the late King James' Government"_"a history," says Burnet, " as truly as it is finely written.” The Origin of Evil," as a speculative and original work, is commended and remembered. He resembled Swift in his wit, of which an instance was afforded when visited by the Primate, whose place King had every right to expect. King received his visitor sitting, and observed, “Your grace will excuse me, as I am unfit to rise.” In the Irish Parliament, Archbishop King led the national party among the Bishops, and, like Swift and Berkeley, showed that a good churchman might be a good patriot.

History, from age to age, yields her useful lessons ; she teaches, if we will learn. Sir Robert Walpole was one of the most sagacious statesmen that ever administered the affairs of England; watchful, wise, skilled in politics, full of resources, loyal to his Sovereign, and attached to the Constitution as settled at the Revolution. King George hardly comprehended England or the English ; but he believed in Walpole: so did his clever Queen, Caroline; and when the Queen and Walpole packed off King George to Hanover, to talk German and to review his regiments, they governed England with admirable judgment. Walpole baffled all the designs of the Stuarts, penetrated the schemes of their adherents, and kept the crown in the house of Hanover.

His character as a minister has been finely drawn by Burke. Nevertheless, this statesman, when he dealt with the affairs of Ireland, put the government into the hands of such a 'man as Primate Boulter, who had more power than the Lord Lieutenant, then generally absent; and having chosen Boulter as his confidential minister, closed his ears against the arguments and advice of the ablest men in Ire

H

passage from

land. Had Walpole resided in our island, I should have said, with Mr. Froude, that the humidity of our climate had damped his

energy, and relaxed the vigour of his understanding. But that the keen Saxon intellect, in the keen Saxon air, should have chosen such an instrument for government as Primate Boulter, is surprising. I can only account for the choice on the assumption that the strongminded statesman selected the little-minded prelate because he could do no harm to England, and no good to Ireland, and therefore was the right man in the right place.

A lesson of a different kind, but also instructive, may be derived from the opposite opinions expressed by distinguished authors on the policy pursued and on the powers asserted by the Parliament of England in opposition to the Parliament of Ireland. I have read to

you

the the biography of Swift, by Sir Walter Scott, in which the practical grievances under which Ireland laboured are vividly described, the policy which allowed such evils censured, the arguments of Swift applauded, and the obstinacy of Walpole condemned. Swift succeeded Molyneux, after an interval of twenty years. Lord Macaulay, in his brilliant History, discusses the same policy at the same period—expresses a contemptuous disdain for the Irish view of the question ; denies that Molyneux was an Irishman, though he was born in Ireland, and represented the University of Dublin ; denies that the Parliament of England was wrong in asserting the right to bind Ireland by Statutes to which Ireland by her Parliament never assented;-denies that Ireland had a right to have had an independent Parliament; asserts that she was in the same condition as the other countries colonized by England—that over a colony the Parliament of the mother country exercised authority, and in that manner did so over Ireland when necessary, despite the remonstrances of her patriots or her

« PreviousContinue »