« PreviousContinue »
BRIEF REMARKS ON A LATE LONG DEBATE IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. Ma North,
of obtaining emancipation, as that of I am going to say something new endeavouring to deserve it. They will upon the Catholic Question. Nay, terrify the English nation into subsuppress that incredulous laugh, my mission; and, with shame be it said, worthy friend ; I am very serious, Í they find people in the British Senate assure you: I love a joke as well as with folly sufficiently monstrous to most people, but I can be serious too echo this sentiment. "How miserably upon awful occasions. I think I would short-sighted is this policy. How in: have been serious in contemplating the adequately, how falsely do they judge ruins of what had been London, just of the English nation, who suppose it after the great fire in the year sixteen is to be bullied, or to be frightened, hundred and something, and I am into anything. We were not frightsure I am serious after reading three ened when all Europe stood in arms long long nights' debate upon the Ca- against us, led on by the unquenchtholic Question. I well know what a able hatred, and lofty abilities of Botedious tough subject I have got to naparte; and shall we give way to the deal with "tis like a piece of Indian menaces of the Irish Papists? rubber, and drag it out to what length “Oh,” but say the Catholic advoe you may, even to the length of three cates in general, and the Times newse nights' debate, the moment it slips paper in particular, “ this is all very from your fingers, slap it goes back fine talk, you may pretend to be of again to its old place and dimensions. fended at intimidation, but we say the I do not mean, however, to grapple enemy is at the gate, and however galla with the great question upon its own ing it may be to your pride, you must merits, if any it have ; but I have yield to their menaces, or they will something to say about the three nights' compel you after a fashion, to you debate, which hath not before been still more humiliating." Good God ! said or sung; and in the course of my is it not enough to rouse the anger, brief remarks, I hope to expose some the loud determined opposition of of the fallacies which are but too com- every English heart, to hear such a monly attendant upon the considera- falsehood as this put forth in order to tion of the Roman Catholic claims. influence his vote. Falsehood! I wish
The first thing that strikes me, I could find a stronger word. It is from a view of the debate, is that impossible to conceive anything more this question is considered and argued false. There is no enemy, nor num? throughout as an Irish question. This ber of enemies, in Ireland or elsewhere, is perhaps natural enough, from the that England is not able to meet and very important share which Ireland to defeat, if they attempt to force her has in it; but still I cannot help to do that which she is unwilling to thinking it rather hard on the English yield. The Irish Papists force EngRoman Catholics, that their claims land! Ridiculous !- But I return to should be lost sight of in the wide the debate. and boisterous sea of Irish politics ;- The Catholic advocates rested their first, because whatever has anything claims upon two grounds, that of the to do with Ireland is pretty sure to obligation of treaties, and that of exgo wrong-the course of Irish affairs, pediency; which two were subdivided like that of love, “never did run into,-claims founded on the Treaty smooth ;" and next, because the Enge of Limeric, claims founded on the lish Roman Catholics are a much more pledges given at the Union, the expe=' respectable, better-behaved class of diency of doing something to relieve subjects than are the Irish, and there the dreadful state of Ireland, and the fore more deserving of being favour- expediency of giving the Irish Roman ably regarded. This claim, by the by, Catholics what they asked, to prevent on the ground of good behaviour, them rising up, and taking it by vio. seems to be entirely lost sight of by lence. the Irish Catholics, or to be thrown The fate of the first two arguments by as a thing not worth regarding. was ridiculous enough, considering the No, no, they are an “ organized pompous manner and the lengthy rent-paying, seditious-speech-making speech with which they were intropeople; quite above so homely a means duced. Sir Francis Burdett informed
his auditory that the case of the peti- of the men who could venture to bring tioners rested upon two grounds, the forward such arguments upon such a Treaty of Limeric, and the pledges subject. As to the treaty of Limeric, entered into at the Union. He assu. clear as the case is against the conred the honourable members, that he struction sought to be put upon it by should establish the violation of the Sir Francis and some of his friends, one and of the other; and on this yet he might perhaps have expected ground he called for their decision in that, from the remoteness of its date, his favour. Then he talks on for six he should be able, notwithstanding the columns good measure, addressing presence of Mr Peel and the Solicitorhimself to these topics, and to these General, to make something of the topics only, and subjoins, that “this “ambiguities," as Mr Brougham was is the case on the part of the Roman pleased to call them, which must atCatholics," and he hopes and trusts tend the circumstances of a treaty he has made it out to the satisfaction made in a disturbed country nearly of the House. Such was the Quinbus 140 years ago. But to attempt to Flestrin of the Catholic claims which argue the House into what Mr Pitt's Sir Francis set up, adorning his cham- pledge was at the Union, while those pion with a curious quilted garment, were still living and sitting in the composed of numerous irrelevant quo- House, who had heard Mr Pitt declare, tations, pedantically culled from all in words as plain as words could be, manner of Latin authors. But lo! on that no pledge at all was given-this, the third day of the debate we find him indeed, was a stretch of oratorical augenubus minor, down on his knees, dacity that Sir Francis and the Knight cheated of his fair proportions, biting of Kerry have some reason to take the dust, with North, and Huskisson, credit for. I shall pass over the inc. and Brougham, (et tu, Brute!) pelting decent attack of Sir Francis upon the him into contempt and derision. Mr venerable ornament of the Upper House North, while he takes up the helmet of Parliament, the late Lord Chancellor. of necessity, and the sword of expe. If he be not himself sorry and ashamed diency, hopes that the advocates of by this time that he was betrayed into this measure will never again found such indecency, Sir Francis is not the any argument upon such untenable man I took him for. With all the vio. footing as the Treaty of Limeric, or lence of his party spirit, I thought he the Articles of Union, and deeply de- possessed some of the good feelings of plores that these shambling legs were the class to which he belongs, and as ever allowed to put their foot into the one of the landed gentlemen of Eng. debate. Mr Huskisson most unkinda land, I believed him incapable of the ly protests that he agrees not in Sir low malignity which a deliberate apFrancis's view of these questions, but probation of his own language .conin Mr Peel's, and the Solicitor-Gene- cerning the late Lord Chancellor would ral's; but Winchelsea Harry gives the indicate. unkindest cut of all, by hastening to Another matter seemingly rather out say, that though he still thiuks there of the record, into which Sir Francis are perhaps some ambiguities, which thought proper to travel after the six might be favourably construed, he columns on the treaty and the pledwill not drag back the honourable ges were got over, was the “ scandal : members to the consideration of argu- about Queen Elizabeth ;" for if she ments, which are now below par on indeed had displayed any favour or every side of the House. Such was affection for the Roman Catholic body, the fate of this grand case, ushered in she would have shewn herself a very with so pompous an air of irrefragabi- foolish old woman, and not what she lity. These notable arguments, which most certainly was, one of the greatoccupied the attention of the House
of est sovereigns that ever a great people Commons of the United Kingdom for was blessed withal. How sickening - the greater part of two nights' debate, it is to hear such stuff talked in the
are on the third abandoned by all as House of Commons! Who does not too absurd and ridiculous to be worth know, that Elizabeth, (glory and hoany consideration in the question at nour to her memory,) after a long and issue.
patient endurance of Popish plots for Nor is there any wonder in this, her assassination, for insurrection, and but rather in the extraordinary front invasion, was at length compelled to
make root and branch-work with the It is now time to come to the other Papists, after a fashion consistent with branch of the argument of the Roman the vigour of her character. There is Catholic advocates, as applied to the å curious and interesting treatise still present state of Ireland. I am inteextant, known by the style and title rested in the welfare of Ireland, and of Hume's History of England, which, I know the country well. With that notwithstanding the more modern and interest and that knowledge I do not shining lights, afforded by Doctors hesitate to pronounce the late descripLingard and Hallam, is still much tions of its present state, the most as. read, and most potently believed by toundingly audacious artifice to carry a the major part of the reading populae measure by storm that ever was ats tion of this kingdom. Now this Hume tempted to be palmed upon the counAatly affirms, that after the seminary try. It was worthy of the ferocious of Rheims pronounced, in its wisdom, genius of the Times newspaper, which that the Pope's bull, excommunica- boasts, I believe, the honour or the ting and deposing Elizabeth, was dic. infamy of the device. If any English tated by the immediate inspiration of gentleman, who does not much con, the Holy Spirit, and after they had cern himself about the peculiar af, sent cargoes of ecclesiastics to her do- fairs of Ireland, and there are many minions to preach up sedition, and of the worthiest to whom the descriptreason, and murder, the Queen found tion will apply, could bring himself to it expedient to hang up fifty Popish believe one tittle of the representapriests, and to banish a yet greater tions he listened to on that debate, rea number, within a very few years, for presentations, too, made by men who the good of the nation, and the secu. had an opportunity of knowing and rity of her Majesty's government. judging of the truth, he must have That this terrible woman, whom carried away with him an impression Sir Francis would impose on them for of the existing state of Ireland, so a wise and magnanimous confider in grossly exaggerated, as to lose all rePapists, actually declared to her Par- semblance to a true picture, in the liament, that she considered the Ro- mis-shapen proportions of a hideous manists inveterate enemies to her per- caricature. son; and obtained their concurrence It is very unfortunate for the repu, to a law by which the exercise of the tation of Ireland, that those who are Roman Catholic religion, was now at pleased to be oratorical upon her polength totally suppressed. That the litical and domestic condition, to law for the capital punishment of whatever party they may belong, think priests, and of such as harboured them, they find their account in magnifying was enacted and executed on account with all the force of their eloquence, of the treasonable views and attempts that which is bad in the country, and of the Roman Catholic sect, and did lightly passing over the other parts of not require any other overt act of the picture. The Roman Catholic adtreason to be proved against the indi- vocate says, “ look at the dreadful viduals who suffered the penalty. So state of the country, and then if you much for the love and regard which can," or some say, " if you dare, rethe good Queen Bess bore to the Pa- fuse that emancipation, which is the pists.
only cure.”—The opponent of the Cam It may, moreover, be found in the tholic claims draws a similar picture narrative of the same Hume, that up of the dreadful state of the country, to the period of the Revolution, cele but founds an opposite argument up, brating, or attending mass, was an in- on it, and asks, will you place power dictable offence; that during the reigo in the hands of wretches so wicked of Charles II., “ the old persecue and ferocious?"-And these worthy ting laws of Elizabeth," as the liberal people, irreverently, ycleped saints, historian expresses it," still subsisted shocked at the Popish superstitions, in their full vigour," and that the im- describe Ireland as the very sink of munities which the law now guarane all that is corrupt and abominable, tees to Roman Catholics, in the exer- and call upon their brethren to subcise of their religion, are as much su- scribe for Bibles and other good books, perior to the privileges they were en- to send some of the light of religious titled to, in Charles the II.'s reign, as knowledge into a place
most the temporal power of the Pope was horrible deeds are continually enact, then superior to what it is now. ing under cover of the thick cloud of VOL. XXIV.
spiritual darkness. Thus, on every come to that dreadful state, (which hand, Ireland is assailed by exagge God forbid they should come to,) and ration of her faults and her misfore which there is in reality and truth no tunes, and the already monstrous heap reason to apprehend, that it were neof her imputed misdeeds gradually cessary to withdraw the English increases, like those cairns upon spots troops, and leave the population of where some horrid murder has been Ireland to fight for the sovereignty of committed, upon which, by supersti- it; I maintain, and the Catholics tious custom, every hand as it passes themselves know it to be true, that Aings another stone. Again and again, they would be conquered. What I say, that there is nothing in Ireland means this imposing word “organito warrant these dark and terrifying -zation?" If Mr Fitzgerald wishes the descriptions. The country is still fere country to believe, that the respecte tile, and beautiful beyond compare; able and wealthy part of the Roman the people are in general kind-heart- Catholic body, are organized in such ed, hospitable, and good-natured, and a way as to be wielded as one man, though they are unsteady, passionate, he wishes it to believe that which is and easily led into wrong, yet they not the fact. The Catholic Associaare perfectly manageable by a union tion, which those who have been on of kindness with firmness; and if the the spot, and have looked at the matmass be turbulent, it is chiefly because ter with their own eyes, know very a few men are allowed to exercise, well does not comprise the realstrength without control or punishment, their of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, foolish and wicked plans, for the dise but is, with some dozen or two of turbance of the people.
exceptions, a crew of vulgar, illiterate, Nor is it to be wondered at that they uninfluential brawlers—this Cathopersevere, since not only are they left lic Association is no doubt in regular unpunished, but their power and their communication with the priests, and importance is everywhere, even in the the priests have considerable influence Houses of Parliament, spoken of so over the very lowest of the people, seriously, and yet so erroneously, that whose ignorance they may take adthey must feel their vanity most ex- vantage of to lead them into error ; ceedingly gratified, and they are in- but here is the whole machinery of vited to go on in a course which places this wonderful “ organization.” No them, according to the orators, not doubt to certain Irish members this only on a level with, but above, the organization appears a very formi. legitimate government of the country. dable affair, for by means of it the
“ The people,” says the Knight of Association may keep them in, or Kerry, in his place in Parliament, turn them out of, their seats; but the “ are organized, the country is orga- reason it can do this, is because the nized.”. “ He did not mean to say, law unfortunately places the elective that this organization was intended franchise in the hands of the very for bad purposes, but he did say that lowest of the people ; and, if this law it existed, and that it was an awful were amended as it ought to be, I circumstance, that a country in such a have no doubt that the importance of state of disaffection to the Government, this dreaded organization would sink from disappointed hope and protract. very fast in Parliamentary estimation. cd expectations, could be wielded and But if it were true, that this organizadirected as one man.” Now this is tion and wonderful power did really said of all Ireland, and undoubtedly, exist, and, if it be also true, that the if it were true, it would be a fact very people are so extremely wicked as frightful and alarming; butitisnot true they are described to be, what are we that the country could be wielded as to think of the persons who wield one man; on the contrary, it is true, that this power, and yet who take no steps whatever preponderance the Roman to prevent the frequent commission of Catholics of Ireland may have in nu- dreadful crimes ? merical force, yet-for I am forced to If the Popish leaders have not the the painful comparison, by the way in power ascribed to them, then the arwhich Mr Fitzgerald has thought fit gument for emancipation, grounded to state the matter—it is more than upon it, falls to the ground ; if, on balanced by the superior wealth, in the other hand, they have the
power, telligence, and firmness of the oppo- and will not exercise it for the presite party ; and if the affairs of Ireland vention of crime in the country, then they are undeserving of emancipation, Brien of Thomond,” says the histoand ought not to obtain it. It will rian," having submitted to King Henperhaps be said, and with some ap- ry, Donchad of Ossory, dreading the pearance of truth too, that they do advantages which his rival might acnot prevent, but encourage crime, for quire by his forward zeal, hastened to the sake of making the aspect of the the King, and submitted to become country more terrifying to the Eng- his tributary and vassal.” The conlish; but, if this were true, what po- duct of the other Irish chiefs was sie litician could advise that to people milar. The manners, customs, and capable of thus acting, additional po- language of nations may alter and imHitical power should be given ? I say prove;
but there are certain great nagiven, for as to the Irish Catholics ta- tional characteristics which, however king it by force, it is, as I said before, modified, remain in their leading fearidiculous. They have no notion of tures the same. England, as long as any such thing. It is possible, but we know her, has been sturdy, inflexit is not at all likely, that the mass of ible England. She never would be bul. the population who have nothing to lied or driven into anything, nor will lose, might be led into insurrection, she yet. Scotland would never abide and a dreadful scene of slaughter the stranger to dwell within her quarwould then ensue ; but who would be ters; but whether he came with bow their leaders? The Roman Catholics and spear, or with surplice and prayer of Ireland who possess property, know book, she drove him forth; and still too well the value of what they have, she stands, maintaining her own laws to risk it by any such desperate meas and her own religion. Ireland—wild sure. They must know, that unless Ireland, the land of quick feeling and they take delight in slaughter, they unsettled principles, never was conwould obtain no good from the at- stant or unanimous in any purpose, tempt, but that confiscation of proper. nor is she now. Leave her to herself, ty, banishment, and death in the field, and treachery and disunion would conor on the scaffold, would be to them- tinue to tear her in pieces.
“ United selves the final and dreadful conse- as one man !" changed indeed must quences. But I do them wrong in she be, before that can be truly said supposing for a moment, that it is of her. fear of the consequences which re- Still the insecurity of life and prostrains them. It is a calumny to im- perty in Ireland is dreadfully, shamepute“ disaffection” to them; and, fully exaggerated by the orators. whatever the forty-shillingfreeholders, In some districts, particularly the lay or ecclesiastical, might be dispo- county of Tipperary, there certainly sed to do, I am sure the Roman Cac does prevail a dreadful recklessness of tholic gentlemen of Ireland would, if human life, of which the consequences an insurrection broke out to-morrow, are too horrible to be described; but instead of supporting it, give it their even this is the result of feuds amongst zealous opposition.
themselves. They have a wild notion, « Ireland united as one man!” Alas! that
own people should submit for Ireland's national honour, never to the lawless regulations which they did she exhibit such a union; never lay down amongst themselves; and, did a foreign foe plant his foot on the while it is a shocking truth that, in the Irish shore, that he did not find some county of Tipperary, an Irishman who of her own people ready to join him, takes a farm from which another has for the sake of revenging their intes- been ejected, may be murdered in the tine quarrels. What is the disgraceful daylight, without his neighbours inlegend of Irish history-is Dermod terfering to prevent the crime, or to forgotten, who, for the sake of aven. secure the criminal, an Englishman ging himself upon Roderic, brought who had taken the same farm would the English invaders into the heart of probably escape ; they would consider his native country? Shall we not re- him without the pale of their revenge, member, that when Henry the Second which is truly with them, as Lord Bamarched through the land as a con- con defines it, “a kind of wild jusqueror, instead of meeting with oppo- tice.” But the horrid state of Tipperary sition, and “a country united as one is by no means general over the whole map," disunion and private hatred laid country; and I myself know of inthe country prostrate at his feet? “O'. stances in the county Limeric, whero